Repurposing old hardware - HP Mini 5103 Xpenology Device

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There are no real questions here, just sharing my experience of trying to repurpose old hardware and bring it new life. Hopefully you can too! 
I came across an old HP Mini 5103 Netbook I had unused. It wasn't capable in running light weight linux OS's very well but didn't want to throw it out. I checked the specs:

  • Intel Atom N455 Processor (1.66 GHz, 512KB L2 cache, 667 MHz FSB)
  • 2GB DDR3 1333 MHz SDRAM
  • Dedicated 10/100/1000 NIC
  • 250GB 2.5" 7200RPM HDD
  • 3 USB Ports
  • 1 SD Card Slot
  • 6-cell (66 WHr) high capacity Li-Ion Battery
  • Low power consumption (approximately 15w on average)


I realized this is really a close match to most entry level Synology NAS devices. My only concerns were the lack of additional SATA ports (1 hard drive).

I thought I would give it a test with the latest xpenology, and it works remarkably well. I found it responsive in the UI and strangely more responsive than my current (higher performance) device.


This led me to question, Can I get a couple hard drives on here? We'll we only have one 250GB Sata 2.5" 9.5mm drive.

I have a 500GB USB drive laying around and thought, this drive is USB, but could USB drives be added to an SHR Raid?

With a google search I found this video of xpenology interpreting USB drives as regular HDD's by changing some settings in /etc.defaults/synoinfo.conf: 


I found this useful in proving the point that you can add USB drives and interpret them as internal SATA drives.

I made the following changes to my config


### Increase disk capacity

### Disable esata port discovery

### Increase internal drive discovery

### Enable synology SHR
# Ref
support_syno_hybrid_raid ="yes"

### Disable usb discovery

Once I made these changes I could restart and see any USB drives plugged in were viewed as internal drives



Now I created a Disk group and Volume that was SHR for mixed drive sizes to get the most out of them.


I found after a restart I would have a Degraded Raid, I think this may have to do with the USB being slower to discover and looks like a drive was removed and added on boot. I can rebuild the raid and its good again. But this is something to consider regarding stability.


My next attempt is to get 2 external hard drives and raid them without the internal SATA drive, they may be more consistent being the same connection and handle a reboot with out a degraded state. If thats the case, I think its a real winner for repurposing old hardware.


I also came across an old 4GB SDCard, and thought, instead of the USB, why not use the SD for booting and that would be 3 free USB ports for External HDD's. I found this post 

I followed the same process, inserted the SD Card into the Mini, copied the PID and VID and setup the boot loader on the SD Card. After that, I set the bios to boot from SDCard and restarted. When going to the URL it sees the device as a "new hardware" and you "recover" the device. After that SD Card boot was all good.


If all goes well with the USB HDD Raid where it can handle a reboot, I may consider getting some big external USB HDD's and raid them.

Some use cases for this would be:

- a backup location for my primary xpenology box (good to run upgrades on before doing the primary)
- store media files that are network shared (movie streaming, music etc) that aren't a major concern of losing and don't require massive disk performance

- with a working battery (mine is dead, but may consider getting a replacement) it has its own build in UPS, so it could handle power outages etc. and could be used in remote places like your parents house for remote access and other centralized services you manage for others

- home automation box

- the list goes on.


This setup is probably not recommended for stable use but more of a stretching the boundaries of what can be done with xpenology when your hardware is limited or your use case is experimental.



*** Edit ***

Ended up going with an internal 2TB HDD and 3 external 4TB HDD's for a total of 9TB usable space with SHR. Velcro attached the drives to the lid and strangely enough the metal finish was a brown tone like the HP case, this was a coincidence. 












Edited by shrabok
Added pictures of end result
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  • 3 months later...

@shrabok: Thank you very much for your article and your experiences with this idea. icon_e_smile.gif.bb4a27290a182ac60e4a070b209c5c5e.gif


I have a few questions:


- Do your end configuration is a SHR1 Volume consisting the 2 TB internal hard disk AND all external USB-Drives or do you use the internal drive as a "basic" drive without redundancy and have made a SHR1-Array only with the external USB-Drives?


- Does your SHR1 Volume survive a reboot without breaking the the array? Or are you forced to rebuild the array after every reboot?


- do you get issues with the sleep mode of the USB drives? Most of them have a real aggressive power save mode build in and maybe this will lead to problems. For my USB drives (which are currently working as normal external USB drives) I have written a little script which runs at start to disable the sleep mode (or better explained to lower the load/unload-cycles).

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Hi @Balrog,


- My configuration is SHR1 with all 4 drives (1 x 2TB internal and 3 x 4TB external/usb combined). I like to think of my 2TB internal drive as my rock to maintain stability within the array. Not sure if thats valid logic but it seems to work well and also I think we get a little boost in read/write speed because of the performance of the SATA drive.


- When I reboot my array survives but I need to perform rescan of the drives. The data is accessible and there is no issue accessing the data in that state. I believe its the boot/os partition that requires the rescan not the data partition used by SHR. My thoughts on this are, synology puts a os partition on each disk attached to the device, in the case a drive fails it has a backup. But since the USB HDD's are not loading as quick as a SATA HDD it sees that there are missing disks and requests a rebuild/rescan/parity check. This is just my assumption.


- Currently my HDD hibernation settings are set to never. I don't think my drives ever sleep. I have not experienced any issues or delay pulling files etc.

Hi @mysy,

I currently use a UPS with my primary xpenology device which runs as a Synology UPS Server. If power goes out it will also tell this device to go into safe mode. I wouldn't recommend using my configuration for your primary xpenology device with important data.


This is my secondary device which I was trying to get some use out of old hardware. It also gave me a huge capacity at a low cost. The data I have on this device I'm willing to lose and I also find it useful for testing updates to xpenology/synology and if you need a large backup location (say for your primary xpenology device) its a good option.


I've had a single power outage on this device. The raid needed rebuilding but recovered properly. I think as long as you're not writing at that time you have a low risk of corruption and if you use a UPS (which implemented after this event) you can avoid significant failures.



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Here's a few screenshots of what happens after a reboot




As you can see below the my SHR1 Volume is Normal and system is healthy, but there was a failure accessing "system partition"



You can see all the USB drives had a system partition failure but not the SATA. Which is why I included it as part of my SHR1 Raid.




Once a Repair is run everything is Normal again.




Once Repair is clicked everything is normal but in the background it's repairing the volumes. If you try to reboot you'll see



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Thanks for the pictures!
It seems that you are right with the idea of the internal hdd as a "save harbour" for the dsm itself. The dsm partition is a mirror and the "repair" forces a sync which seems to be needed as the usb harddisks are recognised slower than internal hdd harddisks.

But if this is the only issue I think you can live with it especially as this is only a backup system. :-)

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System partition is the multi-drive RAID1 across all member drives where DSM is stored.  The array is getting initialized during boot without the USB drives being online and so it goes critical.  Using USB as array members is non-standard so something isn't quite going right during boot.  Repairing the system partition is just resyncing that RAID1.


Edit: didn't see Balrog's post but he basically says the same.

Edited by flyride
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