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Use a Linksys NSLU2 NAS appliance on 10.3 Network
Today I got one of the new $99 NAS appliances by Linksys and can confirm that it works just fine with 10.3. Like the the BuffaloTech LinkStation, the NSLU2 is basically an embedded fileserver: It's a small box that you attach one or two external USB harddrives (or a USB flashdrive) to. Once properly connected and configured, the storage space on the drives is made available over your network. It provides a cheap way to add storage capacity to a small network in a hurry.

For those of you who are wondering 'why use a NAS gadget in the first place?,' look at it this way: For $99, you get a web-configurable embedded SMB server that comes in a case the size of an old 8-track tape. If one were to build a Free/Open-BSD box as a standalone SMB server, not only would it cost more and take up more space/electricity, but it would take several hours to assemble, install, configure and test everything. I had the NSLU2 working within 30 minutes of unwrapping the box. Here's a nice (non-Mac-specific) review of the NSLU2.

First, here are some of the not-so-good things I found with the NSLU2:
  • Like most Linksys products, official Mac-support is non-existent. Fortunately, the NLSU2 is just an embedded Samba server running on top of Linux, and not that hard to figure out. One hurdle was getting the web configuration going without installing the included PC-only software. Knowing that most Linksys devices use the factory default 192.168.1.x subnet, I did a broadcast ping (i.e. to and watched what responded. I found the NSLU2 configured at I don't know if this is address is universal. Also, the default administrator login AND password strings are both: admin (unlike Linksys routers where only the password is significant, you need to enter both the username and the password).
  • Does SMB sharing only. (Other NASes like the LinkStation offer AFP sharing).
  • Built-in Samba is configured for workgroup mode only (i.e. no win domains supported).
  • USB drives are not hot swappable.
  • Only 100Mb Ethernet (this is true of other similar NAS devices, not just the NSLU2). Gigabit Ethernet would have been preferred, however at $99, I'm not complaining too loudly.
  • Like the LinkStation, the NSLU2 formats the external hard drives with a linux ext3 filesystem. I understand why this is done, but it still would have been nice if the drives were formatted with with FAT32 or NTFS, so that they were at least directly readable under OS X. Keep an eye on this hint for possible future followups regarding ext3.
  • Finally, face it: a consumer-grade embedded fileserver like the NSLU2 has limited memory and CPU power. If you need a high-performance fileserver, this isn't it.
While there seems to be a lot going against this device, here are some of the advantages, and the reasons I feel it is a worthy product overall:
  • It's $99.
  • It works. Despite the Linksys lack of Mac support, they are, after all, owned by Cisco. Cisco is no stranger to NAS, nor to network technology in general.
  • Web interface makes configuration a snap.
  • Really neat hard drive backup capabilities built-in.
  • While a FireWire interface would have been preferred (by Mac users), USB 2.0 really isn't that bad. Reminder: When shopping for external drives/enclosures for use with this device, be sure to get ones that are USB 2.0 capable.
  • Currently 2.33 / 5
  You rated: 1 / 5 (6 votes cast)

Use a Linksys NSLU2 NAS appliance on 10.3 | 7 comments | Create New Account
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Use it as much more than that too
Authored by: menace690 on Aug 18, '04 12:24:22PM

Check out this article. You can make that SAN device an iTunes server an much much more

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Slashdot on NSLU2 hacking
Authored by: victory on Aug 19, '04 06:53:31AM
Yeah, as menace690 pointed out, Slashdot ran a nice article on NSLU2 hacking*, shortly after I submitted the above hint/review, otherwise I'd have mentioned it.

Here are a few links featured in the ./ article:

Linux on the NSLU2

and two other articles by the author of that page: Here's the first and the second

Looks like the NSLU2 may become a hacker's favorite, like the venerable Linksys WRT54g...

* that's 'hacking' in the non-evll sense....

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Serving EyeTV data from NSLU2
Authored by: victory on Aug 19, '04 07:43:43AM
One other interesting use of the NSLU2 for EyeTV owners:

At home, I have a desktop Mac with an EyeTV USB that I use as a central PVR to record my favorite shows. I always thought it would be great to have the EyeTV app save it's recordings to a shared folder on a fileserver (such as on the NSLU2) instead of the Mac's local HD. The idea was to allow me to watch these recorded shows on another Mac (using either the EyeTV app or the Quicktime player), by pointing to that same network folder.

Well, I regret to report that the NSLU2 doesn't quite have the processing muscle to allow proper recording/playback of EyeTV MPEG-1 files WHILE HANDLING FILE I/O FROM ANOTHER NETWORK CLIENT. In other words, it's not a good idea to have EyeTV record directly to a shared folder on the NSLU2 since it may get interrupted when attempting to serve another client.

What I'm experimenting with at this point is to have the desktop Mac (with the EyeTV box) record directly to local HD as usual, but have a nightly cron script run a utility to mirror/synchronize the local EyeTV data files with copies on a shared folder on the NSLU2. Thus far, I'm able to play these copies smoothly (assuming I'm the only one accessing the NSLU2) on my PBG4 over an 802.11g link.

NOTE: Two clarifications:

1. I'm not implying the EyeTV will work by attaching it directly to the NSLU2 box (it won't). You still need to have the EyeTV attached to a Mac as usual.

2. I'm trying to find a way to watch pre-recorded shows, NOT watch a live TV stream from the EyeTV. For live streaming and control, try something like this

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Use a Linksys NSLU2 NAS appliance on 10.3
Authored by: mattmoss on Sep 22, '04 10:24:44PM

One of the nice things about the NLSU2 is that is has some basic backup facilities built into the device. I was easily able to setup the device to do a full backup of two Windwos XP machines. (Setting up the shares on the XP machines was much more of a pain than setting up the NLSU2.)

However, I had a problem backing up my iBook. I setup a samba share to the whole drive (/Volumes/drivename) in smb.conf. The NLSU2 had no problem finding it and starting the backup. But it went wrong when it hit automount/Servers, which contained a symbolic link back to /. The link wasn't recognized as a link but rather a folder, so I have this nice, many many levels deep folder on the drive.

I don't know if this is a fault of samba, or OSX, or the NLSU2... it worked fine on my Windows machine (backing up all of C:), so I'm not sure exactly where the problem lies.

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Use a Linksys NSLU2 NAS appliance on 10.3
Authored by: HolyMacaroni on Sep 29, '04 06:34:05AM

Great post, Victory.

I wish to set up a NAS device (with RAID mirrored drives) to act as a Multimedia library. I want to point an EyeHome (or similar, any tips?) at it to view files on the telly, I want to record TV progs to it (is an EyeTV 410 connected to a Mac the best option, or do you know of a PVR device with ethernet that can sit by the telly?). Finally as the icing on the cake I would like to keep an up to date list of the NAS files on a Wifi Palm and use it to select and play them on the telly without having to interupt the family viewing.

Has anyone any ideas on this?

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Problems with Belkin Router and Linksys NSLU2 NAS appliance on 10.3
Authored by: brenny on Oct 14, '04 10:30:04AM

I can't get my NSLU2 working on 10.3 - any help would be much appreciated.

I have a Belkin router running the network. I plugged the NSLU2 directly into my main Mac and went to to configure it. I then plugged it into the Belkin router and then reconnected the router back into my main Mac. Nothing shows up when browsing the network. I've tried configuring as DHCP and fixed but still no joy. I also can't see it if it's plugged straight into the Mac. USB disk is formatted correctly.

Also does anybody know a way I can configure the NSLU2 without having to plug it directly into my Mac i.e. through the router?


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NSLU2 not for Mac Users..
Authored by: alexmathew on Oct 15, '06 10:27:56PM

Not for a Mac user. I have this device and I intend to sell it as soon as I find a repalcement.
- the EXT2FS driver to mount EXT3 drives does not work with NSLU2's Journalled EXT3 format - so the drives CANNOT be accessed via USB or FIrewire on a Mac - you can see the drives in Disk Utility but you cannot mount them via the EXT2FS preference pane.
- Using FAT32 is unacceptable due to the 2GB file size limit and more importantly - you cannot change the default admin password if you dont have an EXT3 formatted drive attached!! This is a major security hole - your data floating around on the network without even a password (actually a dumb password).
- if you accept the default EXT3 format, if the NSLU2 stopped working there is no way to recover the data without buying another NSLU2!

This device is not for Mac OS X users.

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