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NSLU2 and it's possiblities

The awesome little device from Cisco (fka Linksys) contains a ARM 133Mhz processor, consumes around 5 watt, has a 100Mb ethernet port and 2 USB ports.

Installing Debian


This tutorial is written for "Debian/NSLU2 (armel) 5.0.2 Stable Release" aka Lenny - http://www.slug-firmware.net/d-dls.php running on a NSLU2.

A. Using the GUI based method

If your NSLU2 contains the original firmware, or if it supports an upload function, this method applies to you.

  • Connect the NSLU2 (Ethernet, Power, USB storage to port 2), turn it on.
  • In Administration/(admin/admin)/Advanced/Disk format the storagedevice.
  • Go to Upgrade mode and choose the new firmware (di-nslu2.bin) press install and wait about 5 minutes to complete the firmware replacement. After the upgrade is completed, the nslu2 will reboot itself.

Three beeps will confirm it is ready to install Debian 5.

A. Using the upslug2 method

If your NSLU2 contains a firmware release with no support to upload this method applies to you.

  • Connect the NSLU2 (Ethernet, Power, No storage device plugged in yet).
  • Use a paperclip and hold down the reset button, press the nslu2 on and wait till the yellow led turns orange. After that, immediately release the paperclip. If all is well, the led will flash alternately orange and green. Now the NSLU2 is in upgrade mode.
  • Use upslug2 to upload the firmware to the nslu2
  1. sudo ./upslug2 -d en1 -i di-nslu2.bin

NSLU2 00:1a:70:a1:b0:9e Product ID: 1 Protocol ID: 0 Firmware Version: R23V63 [0x2363] Upgrading LKGA1B09E 00:1a:70:a1:b0:9e

   . 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 occurred         + sequence error detected
   56017f+000000 ...UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUu--------------------
  • After the firmware is flashed, it wil reboot itself

Rebooting... done

Three beeps will confirm it is ready to install Debian 5.

B. Let's install debian

  • Login to the NSLU2 using ssh installer@192.168.x.y/install. Check you DHCP server for the correct IP address or use nmap -sP to find it.
  • The installation of debian will start automatically.
  • The actual installation can take up to 4 hour (depending on the ftp location you have choosen). It took me about 1.5 hours.
  • After the installation, the kernel will be written to the NSLU2 and it will reboot itself.
  • Wait after rebooting a couple of minutes until the nslu2 is ready for action. Now login using ssh with your given credentials.
  • One of the first commands to use is apt-get install ntpdate and ntpdate to set the correct date/time.

Have phun with you debian installation.

  • Services to run
  - File-/ Print-/ Mail, Apache and MySql can be choosen from the installation described above.
  - iTunes server (FireFly): apt-get install mt-daap
  • Peripherals and others
  - Videorecording
  - Webcam - MacAlly IceCam2
    Just plugging in this webcam into the USB port results in
      [42950183.850000] usb 1-1: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 3
      [42950184.100000] usb 1-1: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
      [42950184.110000] usb 1-1: New USB device found, idVendor=0ac8, idProduct=0332
      [42950184.120000] usb 1-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=0
      [42950184.130000] usb 1-1: Product: Macally USB2.0Camera
      [42950184.130000] usb 1-1: Manufacturer: SolidYear
      [42950186.890000] Linux video capture interface: v2.00
      [42950187.020000] uvcvideo: Found UVC 1.00 device Macally USB2.0Camera (0ac8:0332)
      [42950187.070000] input: Macally USB2.0Camera as /class/input/input1
      [42950187.110000] usbcore: registered new interface driver uvcvideo
      [42950187.110000] USB Video Class driver (v0.1.0)
      [42950188.340000] usbcore: registered new interface driver snd-usb-audio
      After installing and configuring webcam (#apt-get install webcam #vi /etc/webcam.conf) it results in an image :)
      Resolution could be enhanced, this shot was taken with dimmed light so in day-/full light it should be mucht better.
      Ps. This webcam shot is moved by the webcam app. to /var/www so it can directly be viewed via my browser.
  - Mouse
  - LCD Display
  - Adding a serial port
  - Overclocking
      20090929: I think I bricked it by using the clipper method. It runs about 10min @266Mhz with lenny and than chokes. Heating problem? I'll try to cool it down using a small fan.