Slugging away

I’ve been sitting on a Linksys NSLU2 for a few weeks until I time to hack at it. That time came today. The NSLU2 (called a slug) is a Linksys NAS device, which runs Linux natively. There are two USB 2.0 ports, and a wired ethernet port. The CPU runs at 133MHz normally, but that can be bumped up to 266MHz by removing a resistor from the board. Thanks for the NSLU2 Linux project you can also run your own distro on them, and do cool random things. Oh, and they’re cheap at about $60 to $90 US.

So, let’s talk about the install of Debian on this thing. First off, you need to use the Linksys user interface to configure the network settings. I recommend a static IP, because otherwise it’s going to use DHCP, which will make it hard to find later…

There is a Debian installer option, which uploads firmware via the Linksys web interface, and then you run through the installation with ssh. That’s a great idea, and I would be much more keen on it if it had worked. I gave it a couple of tries, and then declared it not working.

Instead, I went for the DebianSlug image, which isn’t as Debiany as the Debian installer option. Think ipkg instead of dpkg. You need to grab the firmware image, and a program called upslug2, for which you can find a source download at SourceForge. Do the normal source building thing with upslug2.

Next, you need to grow another arm, and try the magical reset sequence, which is documented under the heading “Flashing the image” on this page. Then, run upslug like this:

    $ sudo ./upslug2 -i path to firmware image from before
    LKG7D1E09 00:0f:66:7d:1e:09 Product ID: 1 Protocol ID:0 Firmware Version: R23V63 [0x2363]
    Upgrading LKG7D1E09 00:0f:66:7d:1e:09
        . original flash contents  * packet timed out
        ! being erased             - erased
        u being upgraded           U upgraded
        v being verified           V verified
        <status> <address completed>+<bytes transmitted but not completed>
        * timeout occured          + sequence error detected
       7983f+000000 ...u------------------------------------------------------------

This takes a while. Be patient, it probably hasn’t crashed. Probably.

The slug will reboot, and now you can ssh into it to play. Use the username root, and the password opeNSLUg. At this point it’s a useful computer, and you can keep it like this if you don’t mind using ipkg for everything and dealing with the rather limited set of packages available. If you need pointers on where to go from here, then I recommend you try a turnup help on the command line, and play with ipkg update and it
s friends ipkg list and ipkg install. There are more instructions here if you want them.