It's been a while since I last wrote about the NSLU2. In that article, I hinted about the availability of a 1500 application repository that would be available for installation on the NSLU2. Well, due to some directory structure incompatibilities, those 1500 packages are still over the horizon, but that doesn't mean that progress has stopped - far from it.
The development community is thriving, and at my last count, there were 277 packages available, including biggies such as gcc, Apache, MySql, PHP and Perl. So If you're looking for a inexpensive, light-use LAMP server that fits in the palm of your hand and uses about as much power as a night-light, then maybe the NSLU2 will fit the bill.
There have been a few other changes since my last article where we installed the Unslung alternate NSLU2 firmware. The Unslung firmware now boots entirely out of flash, and the root filesystem itself is contained in flash. This means that if you only need a couple of small packages, you can install them in the flash filesystem and run the box without a hard drive at all.
Alternatively, instead of using a hard-drive for additional storage, support is in-place for using a flash disk for the extra storage. This little box is flexible! If you'd like to see just how flexible it is, check out this list to see what people are doing with their NSLU2.
As for myself, I've kept my NSLU2 busy as a media server. It's been quite handy when testing devices such as the Buffalo Link Theater, the Netgear MP115, and the Viewsonic WMA 100. All of these devices, and many others on the market, support the standard UPnP protocol for streaming audio and video files. There's even a free UPnP client/server plug-in for Windows Media Player.
In my case, a UPnP server running on the NSLU2 feeds content across the network to client devices connected to my stereo and television. But, if you look through the list of packages available for the NSLU2, you won't find a UPnP server. That's because there don't appear to be any viable open-source implementations of the audio / video portions of the protocol. But there's at least one company out there who sees the potential of using the NSLU2 as a media server.
German company Twonkyvision is marketing a UPnP server that, among other platforms, supports an Unslung-modified NSLU2, and is the server that I've been using for my reviews. In this article, I'll walk you through the process of setting it up on the NSLU2 so it can serve content to your UPnP-compatible device.