NSLU2
An NSLU2
ManufacturerLinksys
TypeNAS
Release dateJune 15, 2004 (2004-06-15)
Lifespan2004–2008
Operating systemLinux based
CPU266 MHz ARM Intel XScale IXP420
Memory32 MB SDRAM, 8 MB flash
StorageExternal hard drive/flash disk
ConnectivityUSB, Network
Power5V DC Adapter
Dimensions2.1 x 9.1 x 13 cm
Mass0.2 kg

The NSLU2 (Network Storage Link for USB 2.0 Disk Drives) is a network-attached storage (NAS) device made by Linksys introduced in 2004 and discontinued in 2008. It makes USB flash memory and hard disks accessible over a network using the SMB protocol (also known as Windows file sharing or CIFS). It was superseded mainly by the NAS200 (enclosure type storage link) and in another sense by the WRT600N and WRT300N/350N which both combine a Wi-Fi router with a storage link.

The device runs a modified version of Linux and by default, formats hard disks with the ext3 filesystem, but a firmware upgrade from Linksys adds the ability to use NTFS and FAT32 formatted drives with the device for better Windows compatibility. The device has a web interface from which the various advanced features can be configured, including user and group permissions and networking options.

Hardware

The device has two USB 2.0 ports for connecting hard disks and uses an ARM-compatible Intel XScale IXP420 CPU. In models manufactured prior to around April 2006, Linksys had underclocked the processor to 133 MHz, though a simple hardware modification to remove this restriction is possible. Later models (circa. May 2006) are clocked at the rated speed of 266 MHz. The device includes 32 MB of SDRAM, and 8 MB of flash memory. It also has a 100 Mbit/s Ethernet network connection. The NSLU2 is fanless, making it completely silent.

User community

Stock, the device runs a customised version of Linux. Linksys was required to release their source code as per the terms of the GNU General Public License. Due to the availability of source code, the NSLU2's use of well-documented commodity components and its relatively low price, there are several community projects centered around it, including hardware modifications, alternative firmware images, and alternative operating systems with varying degrees of reconfiguration.

Hardware modifications

NSLU2 Side View

Unofficial hardware modifications include:

Alternative firmware

NSLU2 Mainboard/PCB

Most of the alternative firmware projects are no longer functional. However OpenWrt claims to still be working to maintain support for the device.[7]

There were two main replacement firmware images available for the device: the first is Unslung which was based on the official Linksys firmware with some improvements and features added.[8] Optware packages were available to expand functionality. The other was SlugOS/BE (formerly OpenSlug), which was based on the OpenEmbedded framework.[9] SlugOS/BE allowed users to re-flash the device with a minimal Linux system including an SSH server to allow remote access. Once installed, the operating system had to be moved to an attached hard disk due to the lack of space available on the flash memory. Once this had been done, a wide range of additional packages were available to be installed from an Internet repository.

It was also possible to run Debian,[10] Gentoo,[11] FreeBSD,[12] NetBSD,[13] OpenBSD,[14] and Ubuntu[15][16] on the device.

The ability to run an unrestricted operating system on the device opened up a whole new range of uses. Some common uses were a web server, mail server, DAAP server (iTunes), XLink Kai, UPnP AV MediaServers, BitTorrent client, FreeSWITCH, asterisk PBX[17] and network router (with the attachment of a USB network interface/USB modem). German programmer Boris Pasternak developed the weather server program/server Meteohub as an inexpensive way to gather weather sensor data from personal weather stations ("PWS") and allow it to be posted on a number of online weather services including Weather Underground, Weatherbug, Citizens Weather Observation Program (CWOP), and many others.

An NSLU2 with Unslung firmware could be interfaced with a Topfield TF5800 personal video recorder (PVR) to allow an electronic programme guide (EPG) to be automatically downloaded from the Internet and transferred to the PVR.[18]

Problems

Awards

The NSLU2 won the "Most Innovative in Networking" Reader Award in the Tom's Hardware 2004 Awards.

Similar Devices

See also

References

  1. ^ "Overclocking (De-Underclocking) the NSLU2". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2005-12-27.
  2. ^ FatSlug
  3. ^ Kernel Bug Tracker Bug 7760
  4. ^ ObeseSlug
  5. ^ "NSLU2 ForcePowerAlwaysOn". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
  6. ^ NSLU2 Add an LCD Display via the I2C
  7. ^ OpenWrt NSLU2 table of hardware page
  8. ^ "The Unslung firmware". Archived from the original on 2007-06-13. Retrieved 2005-12-27.
  9. ^ "The OpenSlug firmware". Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved 2005-12-27.
  10. ^ Debian on NSLU2
  11. ^ Gentoo on the NSLU2
  12. ^ FreeBSD on the NSLU2
  13. ^ NetBSD on the NSLU2
  14. ^ OpenBSD booted and ran on Linksys NSLU2
  15. ^ ARM Port of Ubuntu
  16. ^ Ubuntu NSLU2 User group
  17. ^ Asterisk PBX on NSLU2
  18. ^ About rt2mei, software to download EPG data from the Internet to a Topfield PVR
  19. ^ Instructions for Using Windows Vista with a Network File Server (NAS)
  20. ^ Windows 7 and NSLU2
  21. ^ "NSLU2 ForcePowerAlwaysOn". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-10-29.