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How-To install Xpenology on your Bare Metal (PC/Server) Setup


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Hi!

Since I could not find any actual (updated) post guiding on how to use the updated loaders for Xpenology, and since I am NOT using Proxmox (I rather not have the overhead and don't need the extra abilities for now), I would like to present to all noobs and Xpenology enthusiasts starting out on this really cool journey, my guide on How-to create a Synology-like  NAS machine (First a short-hand version, and after, the full version):

 

  1. Get a Bare metal PC/NAS build.
  2. Download your desired Loader.  RR/ARPL, and ARC are the common options.
  3. Burn the loader onto a fast USB flash drive.
  4. Setup your Bare metal PC Bios boot order to load your USB flash drive FIRST.
  5. Plug said flash drive into the PC, and boot
  6. Select model and version
  7. Select and add addons and configure them as necessary
  8. Build the loader
  9. Boot the loader
  10. Enter the DSM via the supplied web IP address

 

And here is for the meat and potatoes of it:

 

 

  1. You'll need a bare metal setup. You've probably heard the term before, but basically it means a constructed PC, almost any PC, without an operating system installed (so a virgin , one HDD/M2 NVME/SATA NVME storage at the minimum, to install the DSM environment). As for recommendations for what to use? It depends on your requirements really. Synology/Xpenology Machines are quite versatile, especially when you build them on a (more) powerful basis. But the range is Huge. You can get away with an ancient platform such as i7-26xx based PC, or go all the way to 12th-13th-14th gen CPU (although it is less recommended due to compatibility issues and drivers support). The sweet spot, for me, is 7th-9th gen CPU platforms. If you wish to save power, go for a "T" CPU (desktop CPUs with T at the end of the model name, are using much less power. Usually around 35W vs 65W-140W of the more powerful Intel CPUs).
  2. Once you have an assembled PC, you can head over (on another PC unless you have a temporary windows installation on the bare metal machine) to download the Loader. The Loader is as it says - a way to load the DSM - which is the Synology Operating system. Nowadays, there are basically two automated loaders (automated as they save you from having to work harder on building your specific loader for your requirements): RR/ARPL, and ARC. Both work in a very similar way that will be explained soon. You go to the releases section on the right of the page, and download the latest version. For instance: arc-24.5.26.img.zip for ARC, or rr-24.5.5.img.zip for RR. Then you will unzip the image from the zip file. you'll get a file with the suffix img.
  3. Next, you will need to use a program such as Rufus, or Belena Etcher to "burn" the img file you got, into a USB flash drive. I find Belena Etcher is simpler for that, but Rufus would work just as well. The resulting flash drive will have 3 partitions that may not be read by your windows PC. That's totally normal and fine. It will still work and boot. Do make sure you have at least a 16GB/32GB fast flash drive, as I have heard of slower (USB 2.0) flash drives that will simply not boot properly. Also, remember that the loader runs directly from the flash drive. NOT from your PC hardware. There are some workarounds, but I see no issue in keeping it that way. I simply use a fast tiny drive such as Samsung fit.
  4. Turn on your new NAS PC and go into bios (usually it's Del or F1/F2/F12 to enter bios). Then go and find the Boot order and make sure that your USB flash drive is set to boot first. You can disable any other boot drive/network (You will boot from the flash drive in any case for an Xpenology machine).
  5. Save the changes in the bios, and shut down. Then, plug in your flash drive if you haven't already, and turn the PC on again. You should get this screen after it boots: RR-1.thumb.png.b4e6125d2a71b308b312f6efee538b34.png

If your PC does not have a video card (integrated or discreet), you can still access the output using your network. You will need to find out what IP the machine will use, so you still might need to have a video card just to find that first.. But there are network sniffers out there like wireshark that can also scan your local network and find what new IP connected to it.

So, in this example, you can see on the top of the image, a line with some information. When you first boot, this line will be shorter, as no DSM model or version will be selected yet. But once you select a model and version, the information will reflect on that top line.

The menu shows you many options. We start with "choose a model":

RR-2.thumb.png.e24b205b500b5f1e6f724d48a634c914.png

 

This list is MASSIVE and daunting! So which model should you choose?? 

Well, that's the million dollar question. If you go to Synology's website you can see all the models and some information about each. They are to match a person's budget and requirements. Some are more for office use and some are even for (up-to) mid-sized companies. There are also NAS models that are meant for video surveillance. Those are usually with "SA" at the start of the model name.

Whichever model you choose, you can see some extra text next to it. That indicates the original hardware base used in the actual Synology Device. So, "r1000" for instance indicates AMD based hardware. You can find out more information regarding that here.

However, it doesn't really matter. Your hardware may differ A LOT from the original hardware in a Synology machine, but the Xpenology loader you use will bridge any (or at least most) such differences, and allow your machine to work. I did find that some models do work better with my hardware than others, but I can't give you specifics as your hardware may be quite different than mine.

After you selected a machine model (move with keyboard arrows and then navigate with tab and click ok), we move to the version selection (on the first screen): RR-3.thumb.png.1430eeb77e20b6d1e09cf028fb87a531.png

 

Optimally, you will want to select the newest product version (naturally), but if you are using especially old hardware, you might want to opt for an older version. As you can see, with this newest loader version, there are only two options. If you want older ones, you might have to get a older loader to match. Once you select it and click ok, you'll get this screen: RR-4.thumb.png.bbe4d73a14b57ff67e6e9ec4e2b94cc5.png

 

and click ok as well.

Then you are back again to the main screen. Next go to addons:

 RR-5.thumb.png.190e6c51a345020e88d3c5723c52dcb2.png

 

Here you can select some addons you may want to add before you build your very own loader image.

You can see the list by choosing "show all addons"

RR-6.thumb.png.aa015d0e2f3c6666981ffd4efdb57ac9.png

 

Interesting ones are: hdddb for better compatibility with non listed hard drives and other storage (no parameters needed), cpuinfo for correct showing of your hardware in the DSM control panel info screen (again, no parameters required unless your info is not found correctly or automatically, in which case you can enter it manually), i915le10th which is to allow support for intel integrated graphics solutions (up to and including 10th gen Intel CPUs) - but only on certain models, as not all Synology models support integrated CPUs (they are mostly used for video transcoding), nvmecache which is to allow usage of your M2 NVME to be used as a cache to accelerate read/write speeds (you will need to create a SSD Cache inside your machine for this to work and use SSD advisor), sensors which are to report temperatures of your pc parts (hard drives, CPU, case fan and so on) - from my experience it does work too well, but will give you necessary information regarding your storage temperatures which is VERY important), and last is storagepanel which allows you to change the visible model/size in your DSM. What do I mean? Say you picked a simple DS224+ model which is a modest 2-Bay synology machine, but you are actually running 5 hard drives and one M2 NVME. If you don't make changes under storagepanel, all you'll see is a two bay model in your DSM (you will still be able to use all 5 disks). In order for the DSM interface to reflect your hardware correctly, you will enter the proper choice in parameters (when it is asked when you add this addon). In this case you will put TOWER_5_Bay 1X1  which indicates a similar Synology model, but one with room for 5 disks. It will actually put a photo of such a device for you to see when you log into the DSM. So the first part (TOWER_5_Bay) is to indicate the type of the model (tower) and how many bays. The second part (1X1) indicates how many M2 NVME devices are there. So, if you have two M2 NVME devices, it would be 1X2 instead.

However...  be mindful that there is a list of possible items that you can put in (other than TOWER_5_Bay and so on), which is (as far as I know): 

TOWER_4_Bay 1X4 # RACK_0_Bay RACK_2_Bay RACK_4_Bay RACK_8_Bay RACK_10_Bay RACK_12_Bay RACK_10_Bay_2 RACK_16_Bay RACK_20_Bay RACK_24_Bay RACK_60_Bay TOWER_1_Bay TOWER_2_Bay TOWER_4_Bay TOWER_4_Bay_J TOWER_4_Bay_S TOWER_5_Bay TOWER_6_Bay TOWER_8_Bay TOWER_12_Bay

 

This list is actually inside a storagepanel.sh file (a script file) from the loader installation itself. I don't recommend trying values that are not in this list as it may just cause issues.

Another thing I noticed is, that if you select a RACK model (such as SA6400 for instance), you can only use a RACK value. It simply won't let you put in another (such as a TOWER value). At least it didn't let me. If you don't change the storagepanel value, you'll get a default picture. Which may be a 24 bay rack..

 

Okay. So once you have added each of the addons you want, you go back to the main menu, and click on "Build the loader". This will take a while (can be a few minutes at least), once it is done, it will again go back to the main menu, and you can click on "Boot the loader". That will give you a screen where the DSM is booted, and after a minute or two you'll get something like this: 

RR-7.thumb.png.f0922cb5275baba0d0857401ac403698.png

 

This is the Loader boot up screen. As it mentions in the yellow text that will appear after a bit, you will need to go into your DSM interface after a few more minutes via https://x.x.x.x:5000 (where x.x.x.x is your NAS IP address - same as the loader IP address, but on port 5000 rather than on port 7681 as the loader)

 

I hope you find it useful and easier to install the new loaders with this guide. I wish I had one like this to avoid some of the pitfalls along the way.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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