NSLU2 – a.k.a. the Slingbox

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I went up to Walmart to pickup a few items and noticed the Linksys NSLU2 on the shelf had been marked down from $88 to $25. I have been pondering the purchase of such a device for some time. This particular device connects to any USB hard drive to provide network storage without a complete computer system. At that price, it was irresistable even though it looked like it had been opened, returned, and shrink wrapped again.

I wasn’t able to connect to it via my router/switch, which I knew was most likely caused by the fact that I use a different subnet from the Linksys default. I temporarily changed my computer’s IP and hooked to it directly and was then able to access the admin interface to change the IP and other settings without difficulty. Nothing beats returned/reduced price electronic goods from Walmart that are in perfect condition!

The device includes one USB port specifically for USB flash/thumb drives and another port for a USB hard drive. I already have a flash/thumb drive and I also have a USB 5.25″ drive enclosure (I just need to get a good hard drive to place inside it). After digging around through the manual I learned something surprising that wasn’t stated (or at least not clearly) on the box. It only supports Ext3 partitions! I couldn’t just plug an NTFS/FAT32 drive into and then later plug it into a Windows based computer.

So I started searching on the net and the first hit lead to www.nslu2-linux.org. Chalk another win for the open-source community! I downloaded new firmware and was then able to use NTFS/FAT32 partitions in addition to other software, such as stand-alone Web server.

I’ll be toying with this new device over the next month.

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