Proprietary Linux distro on the Thecus N5200
I have a Thecus N5200 (lucky me). The latest firmware have a module system, where you can basically install things via the web gui. I installed an SSH module, and had a sniff around, prompting a few questions.
Here's a load of background info:
N5200 Resources - Thecus Wiki
It's basically a 600MHz celeron system, with 256 MB mem, 64 MB (yes MB!) flash disk, and 5 SATA bays, with a hardware RAID controller. There's no keyboard/graphics adapter. No one seems to know why flavour of linux its running, or even what it might be derived from.
Now, I'd like to get a fuller distro on there, probably Ubuntu, or at least DamnSmallLinux. I've thought of a few options, and I wondered if you could provide some opinions or advice?
1) Add a 1gig memory stick, and a 2 or 4 gig flash disk, for under £30 ($60), and install Ubuntu. BUT a) I don't know how I'd get the distro onto the flash disk, as there's no head on the server (or keyboard). Also, I would lose all the functionality and webgui that the Thecus distro provides
2) Don't change the hardware, but use DSL (should fit on the 64mb flash disk)
3) Somehow create my own 'firmware' BIN and uploaded it through the thecus webgui. But how would I do that, and what if it goes wrong?
4) How can I be sure not to lose the RAID array itself? Presumably, if it's hardware, it's state it persisted independent of the OS, and I can just mess around with the distro, and just mount the array?
5) Do you think it's worth keeping the Thecus webgui? All I need it for is to ensure the RAID status is healthy, and potentially for rebuilding or migrating in the future. Is there an alternative?
6) I saw a page (in German unfortunately) that seems to install Debian on this box AND keeps things like the LCD panel working, as well as all the normal Thecus webgui functions. However, although the linux commands are there, I don't know enough to understand them without explanation. Can someone with a little more knowledge look, and interpret what's going on just from the linux stuff?
Thecus n5200 Debian - Chaoswiki
Basically, my ideal would be this
1) A simple linux distro I can ssh into and add to with apt-get, including tools to monitor and configure the RAID array (preferably without the need to rebuild), and maybe some more generic web gui.
2) A nice-to-have would be the LCD working, but not essential
3) The ability to go back to the Thecus build if it all goes wrong, again whilst preserving the RAID array.