SourceForge Interview: OpenMediaVault (OMV)

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Over at SourceForge, the September “Community Choice” Project of the Month is OpenMediaVault (OMV), a next-generation network attached storage (NAS) solution based on Debian Linux. The platform offers services such as SSH, (S)FTP, SMB/CIFS, DAAP media server, RSync, and BitTorrent client (amongst others). The project manager, Volker Theile took a few moments to talk about the history and purpose of OMV, which he began in 2009.

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Tell me about the OpenMediaVault project, please.

OMV is an open-source network attached storage (NAS) solution. It is designed to be used without deep knowledge of the software and the operating system. The user should be able to install and use it within minutes and with minimal configuration options. OMV is not a Webmin replacement. The core system provides some default services like FTP, CIFS/SMB, NFS or RSync and can be enhanced via plugins.

What made you start this project?

I wanted to develop a software solution that allows me to easily set up a NAS in my home network. During my time as the project leader and main developer of the FreeNAS project, I realized that the code base couldn’t fulfill the plans and vision I had for the software. For example, it was not possible to easily integrate a plugin infrastructure. Additionally I was unhappy with the package maintenance, too much time was wasted with compiling and stripping down software components. Then I decided to recode the whole project with Debian GNU/Linux, which was not desirable to the FreeNAS community, where I had contributed since 2006, so I started OpenMediaVault in 2009.

Has the original vision been achieved?

The foundation for my original vision will be achieved with OMV 1.0, which will be released soon. But new ideas are already being born during this time so there is a continuous flow of work.

Who can benefit the most from your project?

Users who do not have the knowledge, skills, or time to set up a NAS and all its services on their own will benefit the most.

What is the need for this particular network-attached storage solution?

In my opinion, all existing solutions out there are too big and complex, or provide features that are unnecessary for a normal/casual user. Because of that, OMV is reduced to its main purpose, to be a NAS. In addition it is free and can be used on nearly any hardware that is supported by Debian GNU/Linux.

What’s the best way to get the most out of using OpenMediaVault?

Thanks to the Debian project, users have access to a thousand additional software packages, even if they are not fully integrated into the Web GUI or the system backend, as is the case with OMV plugins, which allow them to customize the system to their needs. OMV uses shell scripts to generate system and service configuration files. These scripts can be customized via environment variables when the default values do not fit the user’s needs. Since OMV tries to respect Debian rules and use a Debian infrastructure when possible, power users expand the software’s potential through customization. Nevertheless, our default configuration helps anyone get results without deep knowledge.

What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?

Continuous software improvements, bug fixes that address the users’ wishes, and forum moderators who help solve real everyday issues build up our community. I’d also like to single out the translators who help translate the Web GUI and other system parts into various languages.

Have you all found that more frequent releases helps build up your community of users?

I am not sure, but I assume that more frequent minor releases give users a feeling that the project is alive, which might help propel them towards using OMV.

What is the next big thing for OpenMediaVault?

The release of version 1.0.

How long do you think that will take?

The release date is set for the near future.

Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?

Yes.

If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for OpenMediaVault?

Using a more powerful database backend for the configuration.

Why?

So we can implement the configuration restore feature which is badly missing at the moment.

Any reason you can’t do that now?

We want to keep backward compatibility and not lose all of our existing plugins.

Is there anything else we should know?

I am presently working on ideas how to implement the missing configuration restore feature!

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