Choosing the right operating system for your NAS Media Server is essential. I recommend that you use a Linux / BSD rather than a windows based OS mainly because they require far less hardware resources. Another benefit is that common Linux / BSD distributions are available for free. If you have experience with any Linux distribution, you should consider using a server os based on that distribution. I have experience with CentOS 6 (running a VPS on it) Debian 7 (home server) and Ubuntu 12/13 (home server). I can recommend all three of them since they are all pretty stable, and since they are common distributions they have a large community.
This means you will find plenty of support for them on the internet. Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian and almost the same. The difference is in depth and not that important for home use. You should choose the one you feel more comfortable with.
CentOS is a derivative of Red Hat Enterprise Linux which comes at a cost. When you are not sure which distribution, you can take look here for a short description of popular Linux based server operating systems. You can also try out and compare distributions using a Virtual Machine. Orcale’s Virtual Box runs on both Windows and Linux.
The following steps are based on the current server version (13.10) of Ubuntu and explains how to set up your NAS. So if you are unfamiliar with Linux and want to set up your own nas, feel free to to read further – even if you are familiar with Linux.
How to burn a CD/DVD or make a bootable USB drive
This example will feature Ubuntu, but the other distrobutions should be similar. First we need to download the newest version of the Ubuntu server 64bit version from here.
While you are downloading your .iso file, you can choose how you want to install Ubuntu on your machine. You can either install from a USB drive or a CD/DVD.
To run from an USB drive, UNetbootin is a good choice and runs on all common operating systems. The site provides a good explanation how to copy your .iso to an usb drive. When your USB drive is prepared you can start installing it onto your new NAS server.
Select your language
Select ‘Install Ubuntu Server’
Select your language again
Select your location
Select Yes to detect your keyboard layout
Press the keys to detect your keyboard layout
Your layout should be detected now
Wait while Ubuntu loads some components
Enter a computer name
Enter your Name (you can enter whatever you want)
Enter your desired user name
Select a password for the new user
Choose if you want to encrypt your home folder
press ‘no’ if you don’t know what to choose
Is your timezone correct detected?
Use entire disk or set up different partitions with LVM.
If you don’t know what to do choose Guided – use entire disk
Select the drive that you want to use for your installation
Press Yes to start the installation
Wait while Ubuntu copies the files to your filesystem
When you use a proxy insert your information here
Wait while Ubuntu is downloading missing packages
Choose No automatic updates
Choose OpenSSH Server – you can install everything else later
Wait while Ubuntu download and install the selected packages
Install the GRUB bootloader
Be careful when you install Ubuntu along with Windows
Gratulationz – your installtion is done.
Remove your CD / USB and press continue