Synology NAS alternative to Nethserver

While I’m messing around trying to get Nethserver running on an old Mac mini and waiting for parts I’ve been browsing here and see loads of folk use and seen to like Synology NAS boxes for their backups.

So I did the research with the intention of adding one to my proposed Mac mini / Proxmox / Netheserver setup.

But hang on, everything I want Nethserver to do, Synology can do too.

In the time I’m spending trying to set up a Mac to use Proxmox I could have just bought a Synology DS918 (I think) and had it up and running.

Currently we have a Mac mini Server running as a file server, email, calendar and address book. Why don’t I just unplug that and replace it with a NAS? What do I need Nethserver for?

You want whatever tool will get the job done for you and your needs. Can your NAS do everything you want? Only you can possibly know that. I for example use a FreeNas box for all my bulk storage/versioning/backup needs that get uploaded into an S3 bucket every hour. I have NS then as a my primary Active Directory/Email/Nextcloud provider where I map my AD users with SMB shares to FreeNas in Nextcloud via External Storage. Why don’t I just run NextCloud on top of my FreeNas box instead of putting it on NethServer similar to your situation? I keep my NS install around because it work’s out of the box, has 2fa & Fail2Ban readily available to deploy and it keeps my primary storage separate in scope & function from other services.

Just my $0.02.

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Hi David

I use Synology NAS a lot, and I’m quite happy with them!

But I use them as NAS, period!

I don’t want the clunky DNS Server, nor their AD. In fact there are a lot of usuable Linux Stuff available in Synology.


A lot of the stuff is quite dated, eg. Python. Sure you can install eg Docker & Home Assistant on Synology - but you get stuck with a VERY old Home Assistant setup!

And a lot of their Open Source “Projects” or Plug Ins are really terribly documented. Example: DICOM, an Image Storage for hospitals and doctors (DICOM is a worldwide standard in medical stuff, X-Rays and Ultrasonic among others).
I have a couple of doctors as clients, and DICOM Storage would be useful in their case. And it’s not that I can’t handle DICOM stuff, I’ve setup a couple of Macs to do the job, (using Horos), and they work well now for years…

The usual NAS stuff works well, so does disk management. And some Home Media features work well too.

But, a lot of linux stuff is just badly dated!

My 2 cents

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90% of my Nethserver are running as a virtual machine on Proxmox. AFAIK its not possible to run Synolo… legally as a virtual machine.

Thats just one reason for me, there are a lot more for using Nethserver. Last but not least its much more fun to use Nethserver instead of Synolo… :grinning:

Edit: Sorry forgot maybe the biggest plus, Its the - Nethserver Community - !



With Synology Hardware you CAN legally run Synology’s DSM (That’s what their “OS” is called) as a KVM - but you must use their environment / hardware. I wouldn’t touch it with a long pole!

It may have a legit reason for schooling or such, but I don’t need a virtual NAS in a low CPU powered NAS…


I agree several services that NethServer offers, are also available on a Synology NAS. But the hardware of the Synologu NAS is in a lot of cases the bottleneck. Poor CPU, very limited RAM…
NethServer can be installed on any x64 based system.
If you think Synology has more to offer for you, it is also possible to install the Synology OS on default hardware. See
IMO NethServer is a lot more flexible and has several more options.
And if you need to use a firewall/gateway, I would never use a device that also is used for storing (sensitive/personal) data.


Simply Hardware. And Hardware maintenance contracts.
Your NAS is a nice piece of silicon, with lot of expansion options. But… What if:

  • you need a 10GB Ethenet connection
  • you need 64 or 128GB of ram
  • you need more network cards
  • you need more cpu power
  • you need a 4 business hour tech assistance for the hardware

All these options are not possible even with wonderful NAS as Synology, at least without buying a new box (most of the times you don’t need to change disks as well).
For some setups, NethServer can be a solution, but maybe is not your solution. Or mine.
Do you think that DS918 is everything you need as network services? Go for it. Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re not.

In any case I am really sure of what nethserver do not have currently: Apps for mobiles.

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Quite agree with the above, although Synlogy does have single and dual 10 GBE for some of their Midrange Models (eg DS1819+ and others)…
But more CPU? More RAM than 32/64 GB? Hardware Support 4h InSitu? No way!

But: All Mobiles do have a IMAP Client available, for all a NextCloud Client is available, so are Calender and Adressbooks. NethServer is just uisng (mostly) out of the Box Apps.
So there ARE Apps for NethServer, just not programmed, sold or distributed by NethServer/Nethesis…

I wouldn’t use a Synology as a generic One Server for All.
But I wouldn’t dream of using a NethServer as a NAS either!

Let each do their Jobs, what they do best!

My 2 cents

I guess that depends on what you consider to be the job of a NAS. If it’s just SMB file sharing, Neth can of course do that just fine (even if it inexplicably requires an AD environment to do so with user-level access control). NFS too, I think. But if you’re wanting advanced features (or any sort of GUI RAID management), no, Neth is not the tool for you. FreeNAS, on the other hand…

Another point, though, that I don’t think has been made in this thread: If you need any of these services to be accessible to the Internet, make sure that Synology’s version of those services is in fact secured for this purpose. It’s easy, for example, to set up a mail server. It’s much less easy to set one up that conforms to modern security standards and recommendations. Ditto for a web server. The fact that you can install a mail server on that Synology box, doesn’t mean it would be (or even could be made) safe to use on the Internet. Note that I’m not saying these things aren’t safe–I don’t know either way. But security should be a concern here.



As I mentionned a bit earlier:

And it’s not only Python. Owncloud, Nextcloud and a LOT of stuff is dated - great for security… :frowning:

And I use about 30 Synologys…

But Disk management and File Sharing, also Synching - those Jobs are done well.

My 2 cents

A lot of stuff is dated in CentOS too, though they’re pretty good at backporting security fixes. It’s a valid point, but mine was a little different–even assuming current software, if it’s configured poorly, you’ll have a problem. You can install the most recent version of postfix, but if it’s configured as an open relay, it will be spamming the Internet in a matter of minutes.

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I’d say: You’ve got a VERY legimate point there.
And NethServers out of the box config is quite secure… :slight_smile:

RedHat / Centos do a good job on backporting. Synology only bothers if the component is required by their own software, otherwise it’s left “as is”.

Configuring a halfway secure webserver / mailserver does require a bit of know how, otherwise you’ll soon get blacklisted as a spammers treat…

Fully Agree!


Another point to consider: Synology is pretty expensive for the hardware you get. About four years ago, I bought hardware for my FreeNAS build. Dual Xeon E5s, 128GB of RAM, and a 36-bay chassis (with dual redundant power supplies), about US$1200. The biggest Enterprise Synology model I can find has 16 bays, 8 GB RAM, a max of 64 GB (my motherboard supports up to 1TB of RAM, if I wanted to spend the money), and costs $5600 diskless.

Edit: OK, I’m cheating with that comparison; I bought my server used. Trying to spec out something new that would be comparable isn’t easy, but something roughly comparable to that enterprise Synology model would be the Supermicro SuperStorage 5028R-E1CR12L. It’s 12 bays (and 2U) rather than 16 bays and 3U. but with a much faster CPU and 4x the RAM (the minimum configuration I could spec), it’s under $3k.

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DIY is always less expensive than buying a finished product…

If you know what you’re doing, it’s usually MUCH better - unless you got one of those “built on a Monday” boards, as we call them here…


Happens in the best families…
Had a client who ordered a brand new HP Server, really decent box. In the first week we had 4 RAID outages. No, it wasn’t any of the SAS disks, it was a hairline fault on the RAID backplane, invisible to the naked eye… The poor guy from HP exchanged almost all the hardware 3 times, until he brought along a complete new server. That finally worked…



Hardware fails, sometime as new. But define the “self constructed” always cheaper than branded hardware seems weird to me.
Anyway, let’s keep track please sirs.


Most people, myself & DanB included (methinks) often forget calculating in time in such DIY projects. Time we’re NOT earning money… DanB is a state payed lawyer, I’m self employed in IT. These costs / time accumulate…

A bought box will usually work as expected, and will last 5-6 years or more. I have Synologys which are 10 years old now. Still working, with a newer disk. Of course they’re delegated to third rate tasks… (Those 2 clients don’t want to get rid of it as long as it’s working, it’s their first NAS… Sentimentality…). From that point of view, such a NAS was a great buy! 10 years, and only one disk replacement (Both are only 1 bay NAS…) in that time!

Then again, one also has to enumerate the “learning” and “experience” factors… Fun can be as invaluable as learning!

My 2 cents

Not necessarily, but that wasn’t the comparison. My server was sold by SuperMicro as a complete product; I’ve changed CPUs (wasn’t really necessary, but a pair of E5-2670s was too cheap to pass up) and added drives. The reason it was so much cheaper was that I bought it used. The comparison in my second paragraph is also to a new, pre-built system. It can run any OS you want, including Synology’s by way of XPEnology. I’d put FreeNAS on it, of course. And it’s just over half the price of Synology’s unit.

But that’s enterprise gear. For the smaller use case, it’s a lot harder to piece together (much less buy pre-made) something that matches the form factor of, say, a four-bay Synology unit. But if you can accept a larger form factor, you can still get lots more capability for the same money (or, alternatively, pay lots less for the same capability).

Once again, I’m not talking about DIY, at least with respect to the hardware. That can (though it doesn’t necessarily) save even more money, but the comparisons I’m using are to preconfigured servers–just add disks. If you want them shipped with the disks, I’m sure both Syno and SuperMicro (or their resellers) can do that too, but that just complicates the comparison.

Edit: But I suppose @DavidG should take this with a bit of a grain of salt, as this is the Nethserver forum. If we thought Synology (or something else) was a suitable replacement, we’d probably be using that instead.

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BTW did you read this about Supermicro?

That’s a stunt almost only possible for the chinese. Sure the NSA could pull the same stunt, but on whose hardware? Are there any actually built in the US anymore? :slight_smile:

Stuxnet and so on aren’t quite that level… :frowning:

Still, as here says, could still be a fake - or possible…

My 2 cents

Please… @Andy_Wismer your OT capability can be so wide oriented to fit a lots of interesting but not Topic-related info, considerations, side toughs
Take a read to the topic name before put another info the topic.
P.S. about 15-18 months old info…

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I don’t know if I read that particular piece, but I was certainly aware of the Bloomberg article at the time. I also remember it being (at least) borderline xenophobic; a great deal of what passed for “argument” was the repeated fact that the Supermicro managers (from Taiwan) and their personnel in mainland China both spoke Mandarin, while the American personnel didn’t. I was at the time, and remain, skeptical, not least because Bloomberg isn’t a publication I’d expect to have both reporters and editors sufficiently knowledgeable to vet such a story (but then, would you expect a lawyer to have a well-informed opinion on this subject?). And, of course, in what’s now a year and a half since the piece first appeared, there’s still no smoking gun.

You don’t think NSA could operate in a plant in, say, Taiwan? Or Latvia? With or without the cooperation of the local government?

While the Bloomberg article is (IMO) fanciful, and while I don’t believe the specific hack it claims actually did happen, it highlights a real concern for security of your supply chain. If your IT equipment, or major components of that equipment, are manufactured in not-completely-friendly countries (which sadly includes the US, even for US citizens/residents), that’s a risk you’ll need to assess and mitigate or tolerate. And this will be a concern with any manufacturer’s products–unless you’re completely vertically integrated (every step of the process, from the mine/well to the finished product, is under your control), you’re going to be relying on another party to provide you something. And that something could be defective or even malicious.

But as this applies to Supermicro, it also applies to Dell, HP, and Synology. And I suspect that if you aren’t either a state-level actor or a major corporation, the risk is quite minimal.