Nevertheless, m0n0wall's simplicity is its strength. It is easy to set up and maintain. Documentation boasts setup times of less than 15 minutes, which is about how long it took me.
OpenFiler is a SAN/NAS appliance based on rPath Linux. According to its creator, OpenFiler actually began life atop Fedora Linux, moved to CentOS, and final settled on rPath, attracted by that Linux's impressive package-management environment. OpenFiler can operate at either the SAN or NAS level -- or both simultaneously.
OpenFiler's feature set is impressive. It provides drivers for a wide array of peripheral busses: It can talk to disk drives on IDE, SAS, SATA, SCSI, or iSCSI interfaces. If you need RAID, OpenFiler is compatible with hardware from Adaptec, LSI Logic, Intel, and others. Further, it can handle file systems up to 60TB in size. Its supported Ethernet controllers include Fast, Gigabit, and 10 Gigabit controllers from Intel and Broadcom. In spite of these bounteous capabilities, its actual processor and memory requirements are modest. A standard x86 system with 256MB of RAM, 1GB of disk space for the OS image, and at least one Ethernet card is all you need to get going.
There's not much to see in the console when you boot an OpenFiler system. You can log in to the console or through SSH and execute Linux commands in case you need to modify boot scripts and configuration files. But as with m0n0wall and IPCop, management of OpenFiler is through the administration user GUI hosted on a built-in Web server. (If you need access to shell commands, the GUI provides a secure shell terminal via a Java applet.)
The tabbed administration GUI leads you to sections wherein you can configure several components. Among them are users and groups. This requires you to select either LDAP or Windows as the authentication system. If you don't have a Windows server available, OpenFiler comes with the open source OpenLDAP server.
You also have the ability to configure volumes. Here you identify the attached disk drives, select the file system type with which they will be formatted (XFS or ext3; future versions hope to provide ext4 and btrfs), define volume groups, and -- finally -- create actual volumes that users can access.
Additionally, you can configure quotas, which control user group consumption of disk resources; you can establish shares, which makes named file system locations accessible by SMB and NFS; and you can manage mirrors, backups, and snapshots.
There's much more; consequently, OpenFiler's administration and management system requires some learning time. (This is less a fault of OpenFiler and more the simple fact that OpenFiler can support so many different configurations.) The online installation instructions will get you started, but if you don't feel up to a bout of self-education and need additional guidance, you can purchase an OpenFiler support package from the product's Web site. In any case, if you need either a SAN or a NAS system, OpenFiler is well worth the time you'll spend getting it installed and tuned.
Ubuntu Studio targets three broad categories of media support: audio, graphics, and video. During the installation of the system, you choose one or more of those three categories. So, for example, you could have an installation of Ubuntu Studio geared solely to audio -- the configuration I chose -- or you could install a mixed audio/video workstation.