Figure 1: The Linksys NSLU2
When I first read the review of the new Linksys Network Storage Unit device (NSLU2) I was definitely interested. It looked to be small, silent, inexpensive and flexible enough to provide backup and file storage to my network.
My only concerns were reports that it would only work with Microsoft Windows and that it formatted its disks with a proprietary filesystem . But throwing caution to the wind, I found a deal on the web, ordered it and a couple of days later, it arrived in the mail.
After I hooked up an external drive, connected to it with my web browser and configured it using the web interface, the NSLU2 was serving files on my home network in no time. Despite Linksys' documentation to the contrary, using it with MacOS X and Linux was no problem, since both operating systems support the Microsoft SMB file server protocol used by the box. Installation complete, right? Wrong. I was just getting started.
As nice as this tiny silent unit was, I couldn't leave well-enough alone. I knew it had more potential since internally the little box ran Linux. With dual USB 2.0 ports and a 10/100 Ethernet connection, this little box has many possibilities. How about NFS along with SMB ? Or maybe a print server to go with the file storage?
Using a USB/Serial converter I could use my X10 interface unit to do some simple home automation. A USB/Ethernet converter could turn the unit into a little router, or a USB/802.11bg converter could create a wireless access point. Full control of the USB ports would really open up new possibilities, but how to get into it?