Best SBC with a NVMe for a NAS?

I don’t have a lot of experience with the SBC market and it’s tricky to dig up all the options…

If anyone can help i’m looking for the best single board computer for running stock Debian Buster out of the box (not Raspbian or Armbian), boot to an onboard NVMe slot and act as a LAN port connect NAS. Preferably a device without embedded wireless or Bluetooth.

Why stock Debian?
I’m trying to minimize the layers of 3rd party intervention between the OS and the hardware for the sake of security, simplicity and ease of management.

Thank you DLNC,

Edit: Quick note, stock Debian requires a x32 or amd64 processor, i’m open to an ARM solution if the hardware/price ratio is just way superior but amd64 is preferred

I can only think of one option that might fit your bill. Although I don’t know how well Debian Buster runs on it.

I’m thinking of the Radxa Rock Pi 4 Model B.

Here’s some specs of it:

  • RK3399 based SoC (6 cores)
  • Up to 4 GB Dual Channel 3200 MHz LDDR4 RAM
  • 2,4 and 5 Ghz AC wifi and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2x USB 3 ports
  • 2x USB 2 ports
  • 40 PIN GPIO
  • M.2 connector with support for 2TB M.2 SSD

I am not aware of any single board computers with an NVMe slot, but there are lots with USB 3.0. You could get a USB 3.0 to NMVe adapter and plug it in. Most now days seem to have gone to eMMC slot because the boards are getting smaller, or trying to get more stuff on the boards. I have noticed many boards are starting to use the abandoned mini HDMI port now. I say “abandoned” because back a few years ago, many devices like tablets had a mini HDMI port, then they all disappeared from using it.

I am sure it also won’t be long before they start using USB Type C with USB 3.1 due to smaller size port, and faster speed.

For NAS, I would not be using Buster. Instead use the already pre-made OpenMediaVault which is built for all sorts of storage options. It even includes a web interface.

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NanoPC-T4 seems to be a good contender too on the ARM font.


Yeah, that seems to be about the same hardware as the Rock Pi 4. :slight_smile:

The main thing I like about the NanoPC-T4 is the NVMe drive can be installed underneath where the Rock Pi 4 needs a special shield to mount it with an extender.

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I saved OpenMediaVault to check out later, thank you for the recommendation Trent I may pass it on.

The reason I want basic Linux is because all I need is rsync over sshfs so going more extravagant unnecessarily increases my attack surface. This is obviously total overkill but best practice is best when practiced.

Try the AMD Ryzen Embedded V1202B. Its x86-64 based but of course its going to be a bit pricy. But it checks the NVMe and processor requirements. There is also LattePanda.

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@ulfnic, be warned that OpenMediaVault is not a pure Debian. It takes stock Debian, then creates top-level folders that are not DFSG-compatible. It also might do some deep magic with apt-pinning. OpenMediaVault does things Its Own Way. So be wary of any “sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade”. You are placing total trust in any apt-pinning being thought through by an enlightened master, effectively. Backing up the whole OS first is advisable, if you are on an ARM board. For real!

If you really want to use OpenMediaVault, I strongly suggest you stick with AMD64. If your NAS is simpler, and requires only, say, Syncthing, then ARM would be great. I see you only want rsync and sshfs. I would suggest checking out Syncthing, as I’m not too keen on sshfs.

I learned all of the above the hard way (on OMV4), myself, and my learning experiences are on the Armbian and OpenMediaVault forums. Watch out for the “Enlightened DragonSlayer” on those forums as well. :wink: He’s the one who will correct you harshly, if you aren’t as experienced as he is.

I would further advise anyone entering the SBC world of non-Raspberry Pi boards to lurk around in the Armbian forums (amd perhaps others?), to get the current lowdown on any prospective board. Any hardware feature which does not have mainline kernel support should be scrutinized carefully, and doubted by default, IMHO.

Here’s the rule of thumb I use on Armbian’s download page: if a given board is “Supported” (their term), and the kernel version is the latest LTS, and there is a green bar (not orange or red) saying “Stable”, then it’s safe for “non-Dragonslayers” to proceed.

But even then, Armbian is not the pure Debian you were looking for. To meet all your objectives simply, I would just say stick with AMD64 somehow, and pay a little more if necessary.

Nice find. (Edit: upon closer look, I wish Udoo would not have picked Realtek for their GbE.)

At the end of the day, this might be the best option, in the sense of being worth paying more to skip any and all hassles which the ARM world introduces (including all the excruciating investigation which is needed to fulfil “Due Diligence”).

@ulfnic, I think your original list of requirements are praiseworthy, and paying more in order to fulfil that list is to make a statement of the worth of these praiseworthy ideals.