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Creating a Virtual NAS Appliance


Generally the first step anyone makes in a homelab journey is sharing their files over the local network. This is typically using one of two protocols:

  • smb, the windows based file sharing protocol
  • nfs, the linux based file sharing protocol

Good news is we can quite easily do both! Most people use a dedicated appliance for this: Synology is quite popular in the homelab community. I recommend it, synologies are great!

We’re going a bit more… manual in this guide.


To follow this guide, you will need:

  • A locally installed proxmox
  • An attached (internal or external) storage device


In this section, we will:

  • Create a VM and physically attach a hard-disk to the VM
  • Install a base ubuntu virtual machine for our NAS OS

Choosing a NAS Operating System

Answering this question is surprisingly difficult. There’s a lot of options. A lot of options. Let’s list them!

With the exception of that last option, every one of these systems makes opinionated decisions about how your data is stored. For a homelab we want flexibility: if we didn’t, we would just be using a Synology appliance (still a good idea!) So let’s go with ubuntu and cockpit!

Downloading the ISO

Well by default, a Virtual NAS appliance is.. well… virtual. we’re leaving Proxmox to do what it does best, and installing a new operating system for our appliance. This follows the philosophy of process isolation: Letting a device do only one thing and do it well.

First we need to fetch the ISO installer for ubuntu. We can do so by directly downloading ubuntu server 20.04 LTS (which is the current version supported by 45-drives).

  • Navigate to the local storage section of your proxmox node and choose download from url under iso images

  • Query and download the ubuntu ISO (currently

Installing Ubuntu

Once the ISO is downloaded, you’ll have to create a virtual machine:

  • Choose Create VM at the top and give the OS a name


You’ll notice a Create CT option there, which is to create a container (as opposed to a VM). We’ll come back to that, but containers don’t interact nicely with NFS and drive passthrough so we’ll make this a virtual machine

  • Choose the ISO you just downloaded, and head next

  • Include the Qemu Agent in the next screen

  • next-next-next your way through. The defaults should be fine (1cpu and 2gb of ram, a fileshare doesn’t require much resources). Now you have a Virtual Machine!

Attaching a Hard-Disk

Now we need to start attaching your NAS storage. This can be done in one of two ways:

  • Passing through the individual drives (better if you’re using on board/passthrough SATA connectors)
  • Passing through the whole drive controller (better if you’re using a hardware RAID controller)


To pass through a RAID card, you need to enable IOMMU (if your device supports it). You can read up on that here.

We’re using individual drives.


You may want to install ubuntu on the VM first before attaching the drives just to avoid any accidental erasure. For brevity we’re gonna do it now.

  • Make sure your drive is actually present on the host. You can check this under node→disks

  • Great, let’s pass it through. choose the shell option and identify your drive by running: ls /dev/disk/by-id

  • We can then attach that disk by running qm set <vm ID> <bus number> <full drive path>

  • We can confirm that it’s attached by looking at the VM under cbserv03

  • While we’re at it, let’s also exclude directly attached disks from backup and replications

Install Ubuntu

  • Install ubuntu now! Just hit start and go to the console


This guide won’t step you through the whole ubuntu install process, there’s plenty of guides around to do that.

  • Install while enabling SSH, don’t worry about any additional packages.

Moving On

Alright, let’s now start with Configuring a Virtual NAS Appliance.