Merging file systems for a simple NAS with MergerFS

MergerFS is a simple tool for bunching together disks, volumes, and arrays.

I had to make many decisions when setting up my personal network-attached storage box. I needed a machine capable of sharing files on my local network with Samba [1]. I also wanted to be able to use the system as a Plex streaming server [2] and to run virtual machines occasionally to test out new Linux distributions. I didn’t need the system to be mission critical or high performing. A big motivation for setting this server up was to learn more about Linux. With that in mind, it should not be too surprising that I built it using spare parts.

The files I wanted to store on this server were mainly replaceable media files. A high-end file system such as ZFS sounded amazing, but it was more than I needed in this case, and ZFS wasn’t really financially viable because of RAM costs. I just wanted to get the most mileage out of my hard disk space, redundancy be damned. All critical information, such as personal files, would be backed up to multiple machines and to someone else’s computer (Alphabet’s, to be precise).

I did plan on using a RAID-0 array – for speed rather than redundancy. Using a Plex and Samba server on a home network meant that the bulk of the data would be written once and read occasionally, and that speeds of even shingled magnetic recording-based spinning drives would be more than adequate. However, one issue was the need to support Windows and the desire to format the drives to NTFS so that, in the event of a hardware failure or operator error, the drive could be removed and installed into a 3.5-inch external enclosure on a nearby Windows system.


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