Linksys NSLU2 – Network Storage for the people

I’d been looking for a backup solution for a while, and yesterday I found it in the very small shape of the Linksys NSLU2 – Network Storage Link for USB 2.0 Disk Drives. There’s been a lot of talk recently about hacking these tiny embedded Linux boxes, but I just want to store stuff from my Linux machines and Catherine’s eMac.

I bought it, an external USB2.0 3.5″ drive case, and a 160GB Seagate driver yesterday from Canada Computers on College St for under C$350, including tax. It took about half an hour to assemble it, install it, and format the drive from the web interface.

I find it’s easiest to make named users — and tell the unit to make a subdirectory for that user — than fiddle about with other methods of making shares. You’ll also need to enable smbfs (File Systems → Network file Systems → SMBFS support in your kernel config) on your Linux machines.

I have created three shares: scruss (for me), craine (for Catherine) and mp3 (for our shared MP3 collection). I have created relevant directories from /mnt, and chmoded them to the appropriate user. These are the lines I have added to my fstab:

//squirrel/scruss	/mnt/smb_scruss	smbfs	username=scruss,password=******,rw,users	0 0
//squirrel/mp3		/mnt/mp3	smbfs	username=mp3,password=******,rw,users	0 0

I renamed the NSLU2 squirrel to fit in with the Canadian rodent theme I’ve got going with the other machines around here.

With Catherine’s eMac, I’ve found I have to use the OS X 10.1 / .nsmbrc method. Once you have the shares defined in the .nsmbrc file, you can call them up by doing Connect to Server and specifying something like smb://netbiosname/share, like smb://squirrel/craine.

The NSLU2 looks like it will be rock-solid. It has a couple of quirks — it formats the drive in Linux ext3 format, it will shut down at the slightest hint of a power glitch, and it’s rather slow — but I can put up with slowness if the data’s secure.

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