On The Inside
Figure 4 shows the top side of the DockStar circuit board. The DockStar is powered by the Marvell 1.2 GHz Sheeva Plug CPU with 128 MB of RAM. This is virtually the same platform as found in Pogoplug’s device. The Gigibit Ethernet port is a Marvell 88E1116R and the bottom view of the board reveals the 512 MB of Samsung flash memory.
Figure 4: Board - top
As you would expect from a consumer oriented product, setup is quite simple. Seagate includes a three step quick start guide that shows you how to connect the DockStar to the network, insert or connect a drive, and then directs you to the Pogoplug activation web page. Figure 5 shows the three setup steps.
Figure 5: FreeAgent DockStar setup
Once you’ve connected to your network (with an internet connection), the status LED will glow a solid green indicating that it is communicating with Pogoplug. The registration process gives you a confirmation that Pogoplug has found your device and that you can continue with account activation. Thereafter, you merely enter your email address, a password, and optionally a screen name, and Pogoplug creates the account. Pogoplug will send an activation link to the email address you entered. Once you click on that link, you’re all set to go. All of the hard work normally associated with sharing a device on the Internet, such as port forwarding or possibly setting up a DDNS account is done in the background.
In my tests, prior to activation, I browsed my local network both in Windows and on my Mac. The DockStar appeared as FsdaXXXXXX where XXXXXXX is the last six digits of the DockStar’s MAC address. I was able to successfully map the volume under Windows and mount the volume on the Mac OS desktop. It’s important to note that there is no user or group security on the local network. The only security that’s available is through Pogoplug as you decide which folders to share.
After activation, however, I noted that the DockStar’s FreeAgent drive no longer appeared either via Windows browsing or on the Mac Finder because Pogoplug disables SAMBA for security reasons during registration. You can, however, optionally re-enable SAMBA for each mounted drive under Pogoplug’s Windows File Sharing menu as shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Windows File Sharing options
Even with Windows File Sharing enabled, however, I had difficulty mapping (or mounting) the shared devices through the Windows explorer or the Mac Finder. Pogoplug’s tech support, however, was able the help me resolve the problem.
Apparently there’s a bug related to Samba that when you insert additional USB drives, they may not show up in Windows networking. Toggling the newly installed device to disabled and then re-enabling it restarts Samba for that device, and seems to have solved the problem. Pogoplug is aware of the problem and will perhaps fix it in a firmware update that they can automatically push out to the DockStar.