ReadyNAS Ultra 4 – Rsync over SSH

You might wonder why an article about the ReadyNAS Ultra 4 is filed under the Linux category but there is a very good reason for this. Under the hood the ReadyNAS Ultra range (and the Pro range) are basically just little Debian based machines running Intel Atom x86 processors. This, from my point of view, is a really good thing because it means I can make up for some of it’s short comings.

A Quick Rant

Don’t get me wrong here, I love my ReadyNAS it’s got pretty much every feature I could want, it wasn’t too expensive, it’s fast, it’s reliable (as far as I can tell) and it even looks good. Hell, even the fan noise is pretty good. But, and it’s a big but, I bought an Ultra 4 because I believed that I could rsync backup between the NAS and other machines. I assumed, stupidly, that it would rsync over SSH since just about everyone does that now. What I found to my dismay though was that only the Pro (business) versions have the ability to tunnel rsync over SSH. This is a monumental disappointment to me and a real let down on what is otherwise a fantastic little machine. To really rub salt into the wound the Pro version of this machine can be had for only £30 to £40 more and I would have happily shelled out the difference for this feature.

Interestingly I’m not the only person to have this problem. If you search for rsync on the ReadyNAS forums they are littered with posts from people who made the same assumption I did. The usual response is: can you send it back and get the Pro version. Unfortunately in my case I can’t send it back as my better half managed to spill wine on the quick start guide.

Solving the Problem

So, what to do about the problem?

Before you get all carried away and follow these instructions it’s worth pointing out that you probably won’t be able to get help from technical support after this (unless you factory reset the machine) and if you are using your NAS as a backup you risk losing your backup. Without further ado, since the ReadyNAS is, essentially, just a Debian based computer I installed the SSH root access (you’ll need the x86 version if you have an Ultra) add-on and logged into the box. A quick poke around the file system shows it to be a pretty typical if somewhat cut down Debian install. There’s no emacs 🙁 but there is vi 😐 so all is not lost on the configuration file editing front.

What I wanted the NAS to do was run essentially this command

rsync -azv --delete /backups

which would sync a copy of my home directories from my remote server in the backup share of the NAS. I already run this process on another local Linux box I have but that is all the machine does and I would rather not have to maintain it if at all possible. Ideally I’d like to be able to set this command up as a frontview backup job so that when I press the backup button on the front of the NAS it backups up the remote server.

Step One – Does is Work

The first thing I wanted to try was running the command by hand to see if the system has all the capabilities I’d expect. I opened a shell and entered the command (changing the paths where appropriate) and set it going. It prompted me for a password which I gave it and I was delighted to see it start downloading from the remote server.

Step Two – Read the Forums

Yes, read the forums. There are a few very knowledgeable people kicking about the ReadyNAS forums so it’s well worth seeing if there is a better solution to the problem. In particular have a read of this thread.