Just want to share my experiences with using the cheap Raspberry PI (2nd gen with 512MB RAM) and a 64GB SD-Card as a mini NAS to hold my music collection in the country house.
Bottom line: it works beautiful!
Detailed story: after trying different solutions to hold the music collection in the country house (laptop, hdd connected to router and an old beaten up NAS - all failures in one or another way) I made the "investment" in a Raspberry PI with a 64GB SD-Card. The Raspberry PI is a credit-card sized ARM-based computer with Ethernet (2nd gen Raspberry), 512MB RAM and an SD-Card slot. No fans or moving parts, power is supplied from a micro-USB so a normal phone charger (1A minimum) will do.
Various Linux-distributions are available but I went for the Debian port Raspbian.
Installing the OS is as simple as downloading a Zip-file and then using a Windows application to transfer the OS to the SD-Card. Initial boot gives various options, most important is to extend the root filesystem to span the whole disk. After a reboot to get the full 64GB available for use, the pre-compiled samba packages were installed and a minimum of configuration was made to create a share for all music. After a time-consuming process of copying the 48GB of music it was time to test.
I was amazed to see that the small server is handling 4 players without any problems or even breaking a sweat.
Provoking the system by heavy browsing of the library, pushing forward and back, cross-fading etc did not cause any stutter or lags at all - amazing.
The total cost of this sever (with a SanDisk 64GB SD-Card being the bulk of the cost) with power supply and a nice plastic casing for the Raspberry ended up being around $180 (including Swedish taxes).
* make sure you grab a tested SD-Card, check the lists!
* make sure the power supply is up to the job, 1A is needed
* the casing is really needed, the board is completely naked and without any physical or ESD protection
- homepage of the Raspberry project
- Farnell, one European reseller
- the official Wiki - all you ever need to know
- the list of tested SD-Cards