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Linksys NSLU2 - the answer to your NAS requirements - and more!



After the frustrating experiences i had with the Teac HD35-NAS (see my review), i looked around for an alternative solution. I didn't need to look around lot, until i found a product that perfectly fits me.

(it's actually smaller than a normal cd case, and about twice as thick)



The Linksys NSLU2 is a small device with very low power consumption that's ment to be used in connection with the USB drive enclosures you probably already own. But there's more - it runs Linux, and a very active community already evloved, bringing ports of common Linux Distributions like Debian to the "Slug" - as the device is called.

Read around the www.nslu2-linux.org page, and try to find someone *not* satisfied with the device - i wasn't able to. There are lots of users reporting what kind of stuff they do on the WhatPeopleAreReallyUsingTheirSlugsFor page. You also may want to de-underclock the device from 133 to 266 MHz, which is pretty easy.

I'll get a VGA USB Dongle and see if i can use this device as a very cheap thin client (it's only 79 EUR in 20% VAT austria, so it's probably even cheaper in .de). The possibilities are endless! I LOVE it!

Oh, and, yes, there is a 2-staged bootloader on there, so a failed firmware flash won't brick it, unlike the Teac HD35-NAS.

On that: i had correspondence with Dennis from www.aroundmyroom.com, who offers a customized firmware on his web-page, so he obviously has some inside knowledge. He enlightened me that the device does NOT have any rescue system for failed firmware flashes. Actually, i googled a lot more, and found out the device is based around a chip from RDC, the RDC2882, and has many rebranders: Hotway HD9-U2LA, Usbex LanDrive, FANTEC LD-H35NU2-2, FANTEC LD-M35NU2 -2, Macpower Pleiades USB/LAN, Mapower KC31N (which also looks *exactly* the same despite the logo. they have an extensive FAQ (german only, sorry!), also covering the hidden reset jumper and how to use it). I found all these via 2 very long forum threads here and here. I'll use the device as USB client for the Slug now ;)

TEAC HD35-NAS customer review



Hi, it's been some time, but here i am again, with a customer review of the TEAC HD35-NAS, a network hard drive minus the blinky-shinynes of most other vendors. The casing is made of aluminium, and is a little bigger than you are used to from usb-only drives - i guess because it doubles as heat absorber, the cooling fins suggest this. Despite of those, there still is a small, yet pretty loud fan in the rear of the casing...

klickst du groessa

It offers SMB and FTP Access to the disk, and doubles as a USB drive, though you can't use both methods at the same time. As soon as you connect the USB cable, the network is disabled. It can be configured to do DHCP requests, and user managemenet for FTP and SMB is possible on a per-directory basis. This, of course, is not enforced if used as USB disk, so you still need to block physical access on LAN parties and the like if you store sensitive data nex to your pr0n. This is especially true because the passwords of configured users are stored in PLAIN TEXT in a file called nasuser.cfg in the root of the drive!

Another odd thing, the 'public' directory is re-created in the root of the disc on every boot-up. It's not shared automatically again, it's just created. Helloo~oo, this needs to be called 'pub', not 'public'! ;-)

Network access speed is lame. I never got more than 2.5 MB/s out of it. So i ended up attaching it to my router via USB, and sharing it via the router's samba. Not quite what i wanted... i don't get why most of these devices don't have Gigabit ethernet, anyways - if i really need Gigabit ethernet for anything, it's network disks! The device was so slow, I couldn't play back movies using the Freecom Network MediaPlayer without stuttering, they would play for a few minutes without any problems, but then I needed to pause and resume constantly. The 2.5 MB/s was measured with FTP and SAMBA, both under Linux and Windows.

The Firmware is updatable either via the Web-Frontend or via TFTP. I wouldn't really suggest you try updating to the latest firmware, NAS-BASIC41, though. It screwed my device. And with screwed i mean, it's now a usb-only casing with a much too loud fan. No, there don't seem to be any rescue bootstrap tftp requests. Even the power-light behind that big blue button doesn't light up anymore. And yes, i had the prerequisites they mention on their firmware upgrade page. So i tried posting a support request on their web page, which didn't yield a reply. Still searching for a solution, i wrote a mail to support@teac.com which bounced with "599 Mailbox access for support@teac.com refused", so i tried support@teac.de, which was delivered on the 4th of July (which is not a holiday here :) at 14:10. Here is the Mail:

From: Thomas Jakobi <thomas dot jakobi at hpc dot at>
To: support at freecom dot de
Subject: HD35-NAS BASIC41 firmware upgrade

hello,

a few months ago i bought a HD35-NAS, and despite the relatively slow network performance i was satisfied and the device fit my needs.

last week i noticed the firmware update to NAS-BASIC41, published on the 2nd of June 2006. As i already did the firmware updates to NAS-BASIC32
and NAS-BASIC34 without any problems, i immediately fetched the image. i had the required LOADER 067 (i double-checked) and tried to
upgrade.

The upgrade didn't seem to do any good though - my device does not do DHCP requests anymore, and a (pretty time-consuming) scan in the default
IP range (192.168.x.x) showed it hadn't allocated any of those, either.

It still works as a USB drive, but the blue led behind the 'power' switch doesn't even light up anymore!

I'm used to some kind of rescue TFTP GET built into embedded devices like these, but i couldn't see any using tcpdump.

HELP! Please don't tell me my disk has degraded to an oversized usb-disk! What are the magic buttons i have to touch so i can bootstrap the
firmware again?

The serial number of the device is: 50XXXX

Thomas

P.S.: i already wrote a message on the support sheet on your web page, but i didn't get a reply. please, don't make me feel sorry for my decision
to buy teac!

P.P.S.: i build embedded hardware myself, so you may just skip the marketing and redirect this to a technician, i will understand him/her.



No reply as of now. I'll let you know if they do. I don't think they will, i waited 2 weeks after posting a simliar text on their web page.

In summary, as you can guess, i do NOT recommend the drive.

Netgear TA612V user report



i bought a netgear ta612v a while ago, and i totally regret it. the device is called a 'voice over ip telephony adapter', and is sold in austria and germany, afaik. the box doesn't say it, but the device is bound to work ONLY with sipgate.de/sipgate.at 's services.

Once you connected the device (which only works if it gets to do the dial-in via pppoe/pptp, yuck!), you visit a web page at sipgate, where you enter the device's MAC address. A configuration file for your associated account is then sent to your device automagically. you can't disable this service - neither can you configure *any* of the important voice over ip settings. netgear promised to ship a drilled-open firmware a time ago, but as of yet they didn't, and several polite requests and later rants to the support page (i'm a customer, damn it!) didn't help.

so i let the white box do my dial-in and routing, feeling *very* uncomfortable. though, i have to admit, the routing part worked pretty well, the box only froze once in about 6 months of uptime.

another thing is the availability of the SIP lines. the phone line worked, say, 70% of the time, and i had to do *very* dirty tricks using DISA (direct inward system access) on my main asterisk box to get it working the way i wanted. also, i had to register a second account at sipgate just to get my regular sip calls forwared to the connected phone. getting every DTMF digit twice (or not at all) at the recieving end made things even worse.

so that's it for the netgear ta612v. apart from it being a proprietary dsl dialup router you can rely on, it sucks big time. finally doing the next order of voip hardware for my company over at beronet's online shop, i ordered an IAXy for my private use, and gave the netgear junk away.

stay tuned for a report, the shipment should arrive next week ;-)