Lenovo / Iomega ix2 NAS

Last year, I bought an Iomega ix2 NAS, a simple box which can hold 2 hard disks for network attached storage. Since then, the company was bought by Lenovo, which does the support now.

iomega-storcenter-ix2-2tb-2x-1tb

It was a pretty cheap deal, and came included with two 3 TB Seagate disks for having 6 TB of storage, or 3 TB in RAID 1. The product also cames in a “cloud” edition, which has some additional software tweaks, but is essentially the same hardware. Unfortunately, the out-of-the-box firmware has some serious issues.

Here are some tips / remarks:

  • Upgrade the firmware as soon as you get this thing out of the box, and preferably before you connect it to the internet. Mine came out of the box with a 3.x version of the firmware. In order to upgrade to the newest (4.x) firmware, you’ve got to upgrade using ix2-ng-4.0.2.9960.tgz before updating to 4.1.114.3342 (the latest version at time of writing). Firmware can be found here. It’s a pretty hefty download (+200 Mb) and upgrading firmware can take a while (uploading the tarball to the device, extracting, installing, rebooting). Be prepared to wait.
    • Kudos to Lenovo for keeping this device up to date with latest patches for SSL and services running on it – not a lot of vendors doing this.
  • Configure access control: By default, the NAS allows any computer connected to your network to grab files. That’s generally a bad idea.
  • Disable the built-in media server: Last time I tested, the delivered Twonky media server in the firmware was an older version with a huge bug: if it encounters any file on the system with the .mp4 extension (a popular media format), the indexer will fail, and indexing will begin again. Indefinitely. I only noticed this after a few months. I thought the blinking blue led was indicating RAID check activity, and shrugged it off, but it was actively torturing my hard disks. This led to the machine running very hot and a hard disk failure after 4 months already. This might have been fixed in more recent firmware versions, but I would suggest not taking the gamble. Pretty pissed that this got into released firmware. If you’ve got a constant blinking blue light for days, find out what’s causing it.
    media_server_off
  • SSH access: In order to get SSH access to this Linux box (yes, it runs a fairly old kernel: Linux 2.6.31.8 armv5tel), you need to enable diagnostics mode in the firmware. This is very vaguely explained in the documentation, but since 4.x you can set root password using the web interface. If your SSH connection still fails after setting this up, try logging in using soho+(yourpassword). So if your password is apples, log in using sohoapples. This is a leftover from the 3.x firmware.
  • If you want to do more with the box (have some standard tools, top, bash, nano, vim…) you can install fun_plug, a script allowing to install software and configure a shell. All info on the fun_plug homepage.
  • This thing has a pretty slow CPU, so response time can be long, especially when it’s already doing something (syncing RAID, …). Disable any services you don’t need.
    services
  • This is /proc/cpuinfo:
    Processor : Feroceon 88FR131 rev 1 (v5l)
    BogoMIPS : 1589.24
    Features : swp half thumb fastmult edsp
    CPU implementer : 0x56
    CPU architecture: 5TE
    CPU variant : 0x2
    CPU part : 0x131
    CPU revision : 1
    Hardware : Feroceon-KW
    Revision : 0000
    Serial : 0000000000000000

After all the tweaking, the box now runs quietly, backing up my data over ssh.

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