Adding And Using Drobo Apps

There were a number of functions that a Drobo + DroboShare can provide when you use Drobo Apps and this was a big plus point for me.

What are Drobo Apps?  As Drobo is basically a pared-down Linux PC, it has the ability to run scripts, cron tasks and user/community developed applications.  Although it is still early days, there are already enough Drobo Apps to get you started.  A Drobo App is a free application that has been written by a member of the Drobo developer community for public use and these are available for download from the Drobo Apps webpage (although I recommend that you check the developer’s own site for support or later releases of the code).

I wanted to have following functionality for my Drobo + DroboShare (note, it appears that to use Drobo Apps you must also have a DroboShare):

  • FTP
  • SSH
  • Use as an Apple Time Capsule

There are many other applications for streaming media, serving iTunes playlists and even to turn Drobo into a webserver…..

The very first thing to install is the Drobo Apps Admin Utility.  This allows you to install and configure applications much quicker (although the default method is not exactly tedious) but it also gives you a handy “Drobo re-boot” facility.

As this was my first Drobo App I had to use the default method for installing an application.  Now bear with me as I describe the method below:

1.  Enable Drobo Apps from the Drobo Dashboard –> Advanced Controls –> DroboShare Setup –> Drobo Apps

Enable Drobo Apps

Enable Drobo Apps

2.  Open your Drobo volume in Finder/Windows Explorer and drill down to the DroboApps directory

3.  Download your desired app from the Drobo Apps page.

4.  Do not expand the file you just downloaded and copy it into the DroboApps directory

Drobo Apps Finder Folder

Drobo Apps Finder Folder

(My finder view above actually shows 2 applications installed (mt-daapd (iTunes server) and my first application droboadmin)

5.  So once you have the compressed (download) file in the DroboApps directory, you simply reboot Drobo and it will unpack and install it automatically.  There are 2 methods for rebooting Drobo:

  1. Go into the Drobo Dashboard –> Advanced Controls –> Tools and then select Standby (not the one in DroboShare)
  2. If you already have the Drobo Admin App installed you can restart Drobo from the Admin App homepage (menu item on the left of the page)

You can add further Drobo Apps using the method I describe above or you can install a selected range of apps directly from the Drobo Admin App.

Add Drobo Apps Directly From The Admin Application

Add Drobo Apps Directly From The Admin Application

The next application I wanted was Dropbear SSH.  This enables SSH access (from an terminal application) into your Drobo.  Other Drobo application have this application as a prerequisite, so even if you aren’t planning on SSH-ing into your Drobo you may well need it anyway.

I also wanted to have FTP access to my Drobo.  To do this you require an FTP daemon running on Drobo.  Pure FTPd was installed to provide FTP functionality.

I installed Dropbear SSH and Pure FTPd directly from the Drobo Apps Admin “install applications” page, so I did not have to download the application and copy the compressed file to my Drobo.  The Drobo Apps Admin application took care of everything, including the Drobo restart.

The last functionality I required from my Drobo setup was the ability to use it as an Apple Time Capsule (used as the drive for Apple Time Machine backups).  I know there is a method for forcing Time Machine to use non-Time Capsule supported devices but there is then the danger of completely filling your external drive with Time Machine backups.  There is a Drobo App which addresses both of these issues (non-supported Time Capsule devices and filling your external drive with Time Machine backups) called BackMyFruitUp.

In order to use BackMyFruitUp, I had to add some swap memory to Drobo (recommended in the BackMyFruitUp documentation) and rename my Drobo and DroboShare to their default names.

You can add up to 512MB of swap memory to your Drobo (allowing you to run more simultaneous applications with greater performance) by simply plugging in a USB drive to the spare USB port on Drobo and installing the Add Swap Memory application.

Renaming my DroboShare and Drobo was marginally more difficult.  To rename your Drobo, you have to connect it to your Mac (if you have formatted it with the +HFS file system) locally (using the Firewire or USB cable) and then rename it in the DroboDashboard.

Drobo Rename Volume Error

Drobo Rename Volume Error

Set DroboShare Name

Set DroboShare Name

Now I could install BackMyFruitUp and I recommend you use the instructions provided on the developer’s site.  (Note: I have limited Time Machine to use no more than 600GB of my Drobo.  I had read somewhere that you only need to allow twice the size of your Mac’s HDD and mine has a 300GB HDD)

Once installed, my iMac’s Time Machine settings recognised Drobo as a valid volume and I could start using Time Machine (which has already saved me a few times in the space of a week as I consolidated my iTunes and iPhoto libraries).

Time Machine Running And Progress Bar

Time Machine Running And Progress Bar

As you can see from the screenshot above, I had quite a large amount of data to backup during my first Time Machine run.  There was about 250GB of data to write and it took around 8 hours for this first write.  The hourly backups that Time Machine makes are much smaller and much quicker now (less than 5 minutes normally).

So now I have redundant, protected storage that is making Time Machine backups of my iMac which I can also remotely access using SSH or FTP.  I have not used either of the iTunes or UPnP/DLNA serving applications as my iMac is running Rivet and I am using SqueezeCenter to stream my music.

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11 Responses to Adding And Using Drobo Apps

  1. Joseph says:

    Nice post thanks. I am having the problem in that everytime I format and rename the volume “Drobo” it applies the name “Drobo1″ ..and because of this the whole process breaks down. When I connect via usb to the mac it is named “Drobo” but when connected via Droboshare it is named “Drobo1″ .. is there any other way I can rename the volume and remove that annoying little “1″?

  2. brlauk says:

    I’ll check when I’m next in front of my Mac (later today). Do you mean that you want to have a single volume label on your Mac and for it to detect and mount the Drobo regardless of whether it is using Ethernet (DroboShare) or USB (Drobo only)?

    My network volume (using DroboShare) is also tagged as Drobo1 but this has not caused me any problems (yet).

  3. Brian, great article! I was hoping you might have come by an SSH client for the DroboShare? I was hoping to use RSYNC over SSH to backup my DroboShare to a remote linux box.

    Doug Jaworski

  4. brlauk says:


    Yes there is a SSH DroboApp (which I have installed and used for cron tasks). It is called Dropbear SSH and here’s a link:

  5. John says:

    This is probably an easy question, but I am having trouble actually getting to the Drobo Admin Utility once I have it installed. I assume it’s the IP address of the DroboShare, but I am having trouble getting there.

  6. brlauk says:


    It’s the IP address of the DroboShare and port 8080. SO something like this:

  7. Jean Louis Imperial says:

    How do you manage the PureFTPd on the Drobo after you install it?

  8. brlauk says:

    I just used the basic instructions here: but I did not do any complicated with it.

  9. Simon says:

    Hey all

    I have the same problem as Doug Jaworski. I’m looking for a SSH **client**.

    And this is not included in the Dropear DroboApp (unfortunatly only the SSH Server will get installed…)

    Anyone came across a SSH client for Drobo FS?


  10. Ken Wiens says:

    I have installed apache, admin and pure-ftp. All I wanted was an ftp server and the documentation has all said it is so easy it will be running in 5 minutes. I’m stuck way back though. How do you even access the configuration part of the ftp-server?

    As far as I can tell this isn’t documented anywhere so I assume it must be obvious – but I can’t find it. I did find (contrary to the instructions) that you do have to expand the zip file that you download, but after that the reboot does appear to install things. I can access the admin utility at ip:8080/droboadmin. How do you access the ftp server though? I tried substituting :21 for the 8080 but no go.
    The admin utilioty lists apps that you can configure but pure-ftp isn;t in that list.

    I looked in the log file and found:

    /mnt/DroboFS/Shares/DroboApps/ line 1: /mnt/DroboFS/Shares/DroboApps/pure-ftpd: Permission denied
    /mnt/DroboFS/Shares/DroboApps/ line 1: /mnt/DroboFS/Shares/DroboApps/pure-ftpd: Permission denied

    I suspect this is the cause, but don’t have a clue how to proceed!

    Any suggestions on what to do with this?


  11. Joan Lavrijs says:

    allthough a little late

    log in with ssh (dropbear)
    chmod 700 /mnt/DroboFS/Shares/DroboApps/pure-ftpd/pure-ftpd
    chmod 700 /mnt/DroboFS/Shares/DroboApps/pure-ftpd/

    that is all

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