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Under the Covers

I couldn't easily get into the box to take pictures of the motherboard. But Mvix documents that the processor is an ARM-based StorLink SL3516, with a Realtek RTL8211C for Ethernet, 64 MB of RAM and 8 MB of flash.

SSH is supported, I could easily log in to poke around a bit more. I found a 2.6.15.7-h1 Linux kernel with drivers for the Ralink RT73 family of wireless USB dongles. So keep that in mind if want to try this feature out. I also saw that my box contained 128 MB of RAM instead of the 64 MB that Mvix documents.

I was curious about the lockup I had when I attempted to use the Torrent features, so I watched the system while I tried again, and was able to see the problem. Before I tried out the feature, I could see that there were seven instances of Apache running. But after hitting the Torrent web page, I had 52!

A quick check of the Apache error log showed the following message: "server reached MaxClients setting, consider raising the MaxClients setting". That explains why the Box was still running, but no longer serving web requests. Evidently Mvix has a bug here that needs to be addressed.

One advantage to having SSH access was that I could then interactively restart Apache instead of having to reboot the whole box. That's why I really appreciate it when manufacturers supply this feature, at least for administrators.

Poking around a bit more, I found a reference to "Gluesys" and a search of their web-site turned up a nearly identical product, with that same "Con Man" picture so Gluesys may be the ultimate OEM of this product.

As far as other utilities in use, along with standard Linux components, the iTunes support was via mt-daapd (now called firefly), and PHP and MySql were being used for the Blog feature. With all of this GPL licensed software on the product, you would expect to see source code availability as required by the GPL license, but I could find no reference. Mvix's web site had GPL downloads for a different product, but not for the MvixBOX. Hopefully this is just an oversight on Mvix's part that will be corrected soon.

Closing Thoughts

This was an interesting little box. The "Community" focus of this device was unusual for a home-based NAS and could be appreciated by those wanting to set up message boards, Blogs, and shared resources for a group of users. But the bug I turned up with BitTorrent was a show-stopper if that's a feature you need. Hopefully Mvix will get a fix out soon.

Mvix also has some work to do with respect to RAID recovery, but at least it did come back from the simulated failure. The performance of the product was on the (very) low end for this class of NAS, so that might be a concern if you really intend to host a lot of users simultaneously or if you want to be moving a lot of data around.

As compared to similar low-end products such as the D-Link DNS-323 or the Synology DS207, you'll have to do some trade-offs. The D-Link is cheaper, but it lacks USB expansion capabilities and has a smaller software feature-set. And the Synology is higher-priced and has a different focus than the MvixBOX.

So as usual, it depends on what your needs are. If you're primarily looking for high performance, keep looking. But if you want to set up a little server with a Portal geared toward a community of users, the MvixBOX just might be a good fit.

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