TrueNas Scale Installation without access to BIOS

Sorry for the horribly long post…
As most folks with QNAP NAS devices that don’t have HDMI/PCIe options, installing TrueNAS has been a bust (Because we can’t get into the BIOS).

I thought I would jeopardize my QNAP TS-h973AX so…A couple of weeks ago, I thought to try an experiment. I bought a 16gb DOM (To replace the Stock one) and a male 10 pin to USB cable. I wanted to keep the stock DOM as it was, so if/when things went sideways, I wouldn’t have to set up QuTS again.

I created my install USB, plugged it and my DOM into my Windows 11 PC, went into the BIOS and set the boot drive to the USB, I pointed the install to the DOM and when it finished, removed the USB, set the DOM as my Boot drive in my BIOS and completed the installation of Scale (I suppose it could be done with Core too).
Once it finished I shut the PC down (And fixed my boot options). Installed the DOM into my QNAP NAS, and installed an SSD for a data pool. When I connected the network cable and power, I was in TrueNAS Scale.

I had full functionality, and really found no problems setting up pools and accounts etc, it saw the 64gb ECC RAM. But here’s where things went a little off track.

I could see the rear 140mm fan turning, it wasn’t full speed but there was air flow. I had left the device powered on for about 8 hours, with only a single SSD in the enclosure and the 5-3.5" drive sleds were left out. I was seeing idle temps steady at about 68°C. I had thought that possibly it was measuring the Junction temps and not the core temps, but when I shut the unit down you could tell that there was definitely a lot of heat in the case. I’ve since reverted back to QuTS and am seeing if I can pick the brains of far better minds than mine in this area.

A couple questions as to what might be causing this come to my mind.

Would I have created some performance issues with Scale since I did my installation in a different device with different hardware? Would Scale “adjust itself” based on the new hardware found and “forget” the other hardware that was there during the installation?

If not, would there be a way to “clean up” the installation? I wondered if this could be the cause of the extra heat(?). Possibly system resources having processes running for hardware not actually there?

EDIT***** In a nutshell, When you move a Windows 11/10 OD disk to a different machine, windows will recognize the different hardware and will install the drivers on it’s own. Will TrueNAS Scale do that too?

Thanks for any input or advice

To the best of my knowledge, no.
It may run powertop --auto-tune during install (I think I saw this during a reinstall I did yesterday), but worst case you could just re-run this via CLI or as a post-init task.

As you mention drivers, should mention that TrueNAS doesn’t install drivers per-se, it comes with drivers for a pretty wide range of hardware (it can’t go out and grab them from something like the Windows Update Catalog like MS does, that would be far too easy).

Now to preface, I have literally never so much as seen a QNAP system before, so I can only speculate, but is it possible that fan control is handled in software with QuTS? Maybe it is running at a constant RPM under TrueNAS?
I’ve been doing a little reading and apparently you may need to turn off “smart fan control” in the BIOS and just let it rip at 100%.

I’d also have a play around with replacing the thermal compound, I can’t imagine they use the best around and you may be able to drop a couple C by repasting.

Thanks for taking the time to read my version of War and Peace and replying @essinghigh,
I’m going to reply a little backwards today…

I believe that your research is correct, the fan control is managed in the BIOS but unfortunately there is no access to the BIOS at this time. The device has no video on the SOC and no PCIe options (HOPING a solution could be coming). I can add new thermal compound, but with the QuTS OS re-installed it’s sitting at a cool 38°C at idle and the fan is off when at idle. I’m really beginning to believe the high temps is due to an issue with the installation itself and some conflicts in what TrueNas thinks the hardware should be and isn’t.

I’m VERY new to TrueNAS, so thanks for the information on “drivers”, I assumed there would be some similarities there but apparently not.
I’ll look into the powertop - -auto-tune, I don’t know what that does, but I’ll research that and see if that has any impact.

Again, thanks very much for your time

What is that fan connected to? Somwhere on the mainboard I suppose, so it can be controlled by the software?

Can you unplug that connection and connect it (there are various cheap adapter cables available for that) directly to a 5V line from the power supply?

That way it should run at full speed and the temperature should go way down. If the noise is ok - great. If not possibly replace the fan with a Noctua one.

Thanks @pmh
It is connected to the one of the MB headers. I connected it to one of the other headers and it performed the same. I’ll order a adapter and give it a try (I already replaced the stock 140mm with a Noctua :wink: )
Thanks for the idea

Some enclosures are designed for filled drive bays. I know Enterprise disk bays generally have to be filled with a disk or a filler panel inserted for proper air flow.

Is all your TrueNAS testing without filled drive bays?

That may be your problem, air is not flowing down the pre-designed channels.

Thanks @Arwen The testing was done without the drives/drive cages installed. My device is a desktop not an enterprise grade system, but it’s worth a shot!
Thanks again

Here’s another “horribly long post” :wink:

@mooglestiltzkin found his fans weren’t running, so set them to max.

This seems to be the biggest issue with going to TrueNAS on a QNAP.

@Matt_Johnson may have found a solution

Thanks @Stux, I’ll add that last point about the QNAP-EC to my list of things to try when I’m able to test again (Maybe later this week, I hope).

There are the unfortunate ones like myself and others that purchased QNAP models that don’t have a way of seeing the BIOS, there is no HDMI or a PCIe slot to connect a graphics card to (There’s no work around that I’ve been able to find yet) so it’s become WAY more janky to do that normal

When I was looking for a solution my fall back was going to be a hardware PWM fan controller. There are a bunch of weird products that have a thermocouple and the ability to control a fan or two. They looked small enough to sneak somewhere in the case. Finding the correct one that you can easily power and will fit in the case might be a pain.

If you go that route post what you use. I don’t like that i have to redo my setup every time I update/patch.

I’ll see if I can find a solution. There is a “decent” amount of room in the case, providing the solution isn’t huge. I think the big challenge will be getting the 12v power to it

Well it took a bit of work, but I was able to install TrueNAS Scale on my QNAP TS-h973AX without accessing the BIOS, and it’s running very well and the temps have completely become “normal”.

The main thing I did differently from the 1st attempt, was after the installation completed and prompted to reboot, I didn’t reboot, I shut it down. I installed the TrueNAS DOM into the h973AX, installed my drives, connected the network cable and powered it on. I let it run for “about” 10 min or so (to allow the installation to complete headless), did a quick scan on my network and found the IP Address and was able to get to the UI.
CPU temps are sitting in the low 40°C’s, sometimes going into the 50’s when I load the CPU.

I’ve not found any reason why I would need/want to go back to QuTS, the system is running that well