He Was The NAS

We were keeping all our music and pictures on a little WD "My Cloud Home" device - a very simple 4TB Network Attached Storage device. It worked well for a couple of years, but recently it started dropping off the network periodically. So I figured it was time to replace it.

I did my research and settled on a Synology DS220+ - a two-bay RAID NAS with an actual (and accessible) operating system and more features than I would ever need. Got it home, hooked it up, gave it a couple of hours to copy all the files from the WD box, then started mapping drive letters to the new network path. All very straightforward.

And then I got to the Sonos stuff. Sonos accesses your music files with a network path and a user/pwd. But, it couldn't see the new NAS. Google immediately turned up a ton of articles about why - it's because Sonos uses an old and obsolete communications protocol (Smb 1) that the NAS wouldn't support by default. I could tell the NAS to use Smb1, but the more I read, the less that seemed like a good idea. Smb1 isn't just obsolete, it's insecure. And turning it on potentially compromises the security of your whole network.

The WD My Could Home also used Smb 1, apparently, but I didn't know about it at the time.

Sonos is rumored to be working on supporting Smb 2 or 3, but they haven't said when it will be ready. So I had to figure out something...

Luckily, there are lots of options to deal with this. I could use a program called Plex to manage all our music. It's a centralized media server - clients talk to Plex and it will encode and stream the music (or movies) to them. Not ideal, because it would mean having to copy any new music from the iTunes world to the Plex world. And, I couldn't get it to work anyway. Sonos wouldn't talk to Plex for some reason, so I ditched that idea.

Eventually I found a post in the Sonos forum archives that dealt with this exact situation in a very clever and satisfyingly geeky way. First, install Docker on the NAS (took like three mouse clicks). Then create a docker container (basically, a virtual computer isolated from the world) that does one thing: provide read-only access to the music files using Smb 1. Sonos can talk to the container with Smb 1, and the container can read the music files. And that's all it can do. This way, even if someone bothers to hack Smb 1 and get into the container, the only thing they're going to find is a read-only view of our MP3s. They can't see out of the container and might not even know they're in one.

We use Docker all the time at work because it's a great way to deliver and run software, but I never thought I'd find a use for it at home. Now I have!

5 thoughts on “He Was The NAS

  1. Rob Caldecott

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just hook Sonos up to Spotify or another streaming service? I’m curious. I still buy mp3s too but actually playing them on multiple devices is such a faff I’ve given in to having Spotify everywhere instead.

    I still pay for stuff I like because we all know streaming doesn’t really pay the bills for smaller bands but damn streaming is so bloody convenient. But I tend to slap the files I’ve bought onto Google Drive so they’re backed up as I just don’t think I can be bothered with local storage. I have a My Book but it’s not been connected for years (just as well, it is not secure and WD had a major hack a while back).

    Although I did trial YouTube Music last year which lets you upload your own collection to a locker so you can stream it using their app (locker services don’t seem to be popular now though, Amazon abandoned their service a while ago.)

    I think owning music is starting to feel like something only “old” people do!

  2. Cleek

    Mrs does Spotify on Sonos, but I still only listen to the albums I’ve bought. We don’t have much external bandwidth (0.75 up), so uploading anything big would suck.

    I tried Apple Music, which would let me stream everything I own (that apple knows about). But turns out that I just like owning the files myself.

    Yeah, feels old.

  3. russell

    my wife and I listen to a lot of stuff that is more or less obscure, so the streaming services don’t really fit the bill. plus, we just have a great big sh*tload of music – maybe 14k tracks – so there’s a sunk cost factor as well.

    FWIW our home thing is NAS -> streamer -> DAC -> tube pre -> solid state monoblocks -> speakers. We have speakers in different rooms (hardwired) so there’s a speaker selector in there as well, which has no electronics whatsoever – it’s just wires and switches, soldered point to point.

    Our NAS is a Synology, forget the model but basically same as cleek’s. The streamer is a Sonore microrendu, which is a pretty solid little gadget. DAC is a non-oversampling ladder DAC to minimize digital processing.

    What I would really, really, really like is vinyl or CD -> low watt tubes -> highly efficient speakers, but we had to account for my wife’s low tolerance for weird-looking gear, and the fact that we already had such a ton of music in digital form.

  4. cleek Post author

    how old am i?

    well, i preordered Parquet Courts’ latest, a month or so ago. they released three tracks (the singles, i guess) over that time, but i refuse to listen to them because i bought the album and i want to hear the album. and i do this for every pre-order: i won’t listen until it’s all available.

    it’s so silly.

    luckily, the full Parquet Courts’ album came out today.

    i do miss the discrete hifi setup that’s sitting in boxes in our guest closet. but, the convenience of Sonos wins because nobody else in the house wants to learn how to control all the various components we’d need. we have a passive speaker selector still in the loop, but it only controls the wired speakers on our back porch, and i don’t know why we’d need to turn them off. i should probably pull that out.

  5. russell

    “nobody else in the house wants to learn how to control all the various components we’d need.”

    if my wife and I ever divorce, it will be over this very topic.


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