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Do you mean that you want to boot Linux from a NAS device? I don't know how this would work, since you would need Ethernet connectivity during the boot process.
You can of course install Linux on **any** machine and access it thru a terminal client. NAS is just storage with a very small OS---so I doubt that this is going to work.
More info on what your end goal is.....
I use a computer to largely function as a NAS (although it also serves as a web host and database host as well). NFS (Network File System) is really all you need. You can put the remote storage into your file system and when it is mounted, you can write to it as if it were part of the hard disk in the local computer. It isn't secure enough to use across the Internet, but for LAN use, it is fine.
I was actually going to ask the same question and there is a major problem with FreeNAS, it runs a dedicated server. So what software should I download to run a NFS server on an already established Linux System?
although there must be plenty of other tutorials around. A lot of people use SAMBA instead, as it is also works with any Windows PCs on the LAN.
Are you planning on sharing your filesystem over the internet (not just a LAN)? I really would advise you against that unless you know exactly what you are doing. How about running a web server if you want to make some files public?
There is a conflict between size/ease of setup and getting the packages you need. Some flash-based distros have limited numbers of packages available and no facilities for compiling from source. But now you can install something like Debian on a modest USB drive and have all the packages you might ever want available.
Thanks a bunch...now all I need is to find a lightweight distro to run on a flash drive...that'll be easy...I hope.
I recommend Puppy Linux. Works great. it loads completely into RAM to help prolong flash drive life, and then saves RAM periodically to the flash drive. Oh, and it's easy to use. And also easy to install software.