Rockstor is a Linux based NAS (Network Attached Storage) system.  It's, of course, free and open source, and is akin to systems like TrueNAS, Open Media Vautl, etc.  Rockstor is based on CentOS Linux, so the underlying system is extremely stable.

Much like TrueNAS (used to be FreeNAS), Rockstor is installed using an attached monitor, mouse, and keyboard; but once installed is accessed and managed via the network through a terminal shell, or the very nice browser-based user interface.

One of the great things about Rockstor is their plugin application system.  Where TrueNAS uses BSD jails to add on extra functionality like NextCloud, Backups, and so on; Rockstor makes use of Docker images to add on the same functionality and more.

In this series, we'll go through the install and basic setup of Rockstor (a long first video, but very worth it in my opinion).  Next, we'll cover the intermediate setup of Storage, Users, Backups, and more.  Finally, we'll cover the plugin system which uses Docker under the hood, called RockOns.

Installation

First, you'll need at least an 8 GB USB flash drive.  We'll download the Rockstor .iso file from the site https://sourceforge.net/projects/rockstor/files/ (yes it's a sourceforge link, but that's the site they use).  

Download the full ISO from the blue button.  This will be an ISO which include CentOS Linux and Rockstor ready to go.

You can always attempt to install Rockstor manually, but I won't be covering that here.

Once the ISO is downloaded, burn it to your USB flash drive (NOTE: This will delete all data from the flash drive) using a program like Balena Etcher.

Next, we want to take our flash drive, and plug it into the USB slot of the machine we want to install Rockstor on, then power up the machine using the machine manufacturer's hotkey to bring up the boot menu.

NOTE: Each manufacturer uses different hotkeys for bringing up boot menu access.  You'll need to find out which hotkey your machine manufactureer uses.

Once you find the boot menu, locate your flash device in the list, and select it.  Note, you can install Rockstor as UEFI, or via the legacy bios system.  Choose your preferred boot method, and press Enter to start the boot process of Rockstor.

Once booted into the graphical user interface for install, you'll want to check each section by highlighting it and using the Enter key to open it, or by clicking it with your mouse.  Make sure the information in the section is accurate.  Pay special attention to any sections with the warning symbol (a triangle with an exclamation point in it).

In particular, ensure that your destination drive is selected correctly.  You should have multiple drives / partitions listed, and you want to make sure to install Rockstor on the correct drive.

Additionally, make sure that your network hardware is

  1. Detected correctly
  2. Setup properly with a correct IP address.
  3. If using Wireless, ensure you've entered your Wireless information and that the system can connect to your Wireless system. ( NOTE: I highly recommend using a wired connection if at all possible for something like a NAS.)

Once you've checked each section, and setup the appropriate settings, you can click the "Begin Installation" button in the bottom right.   This will begin the installation process. While it's running, you can go ahead and setup your root user password.  Please use a strong password.  This means a password that is at least 10 characters in length, mixed upper and lower case, includes a number or two, and a special symbol or two...and is not a dictionary word, nor does it include (in any form) your username.

Post Install

When the installation completes, you'll be told to reboot, remove the USB flash drive, and your new Rockstor system will start up.  At this point, you need to connect from a web-browser on a remote machine.

You should now be able to go to https://rockstor.local on a modern web-browser.  If, however, you don't get your server to resolve using the machine name, then try it by IP address (for instance mine runs at 192.168.7.160).  So, I would try https://192.168.7.160

Once you get to the page, you'll first need to accept the self signed certificate.   Next, create your first (admin) user, and login. Once you've accepted the certificate, you'll be brought to the Dashboard.  WARNING: You'll get a little pop-up about updating each time you bring up the Dashboard.  Feel free to Ignore it initially, and just start using your new Rockstor install.

Clean Up Items

Now that you're in the GUI of the Rockstor NAS, you'll be able to follow along in my videos fairly simply.  But, in order to make sure you can update your system, you'll want to add your user to the "wheel" group.

To do this, ssh to your rockstor machine with

ssh root@rockstor.local

Enter the root password you setup during installation, and you'll be logged into the CentOS shell.

Now do the following:

usermod -aG wheel <your admin user username>

for instance, my admin user is brian so I set my user as part of the wheel group with:

usermod -aG wheel brian

Now you can exit the shell, and go refresh your rockstor.local page.  Log out, and back in, then you can perform actions such as updating the system via the GUI, as well as take sudo actions from the web-based terminal shell built into the Rockstor UI.

Storage and Users

Check out the full install video to see the basics of setting up storage Pools, Storage, and Shares, as well as Users for the system.  We'll go more in depth in the next video with a more intermediate look at Storage and Users for Backups, etc. in Part II of this series.