Notes on the NSLU2 & Firmware

Discussion in 'Cisco/Linksys Network Storage Devices' started by JohnnyJigglez, Sep 20, 2005.

  1. JohnnyJigglez

    JohnnyJigglez Network Guru Member

    Please note that the following is my most honest opinion on the SLUG.

    Compared to other NAS solutions I have come across, this device performs superbly for it's price. This price suitability does come with a small disclaimer:


    At its price point, and with the features it provides at the ready... This device was obviously intended for a PC user with semi-novice/ semi-advanced networking and computing skill. This is NOT intended for grandma and grandpa who vacation all year, and NOT intended for Lil' Cindy Lou either.

    It's too easy to screw up your data and your NSLU2 if you do not know what you're doing. I've read too many posts on these forums that read: "I've had *this* problem and I'm taking the NSLU2 back to *insert the priciest retailer here*" Listen, if you're changing port numbers from the defaults and flashing firmware without any research... Then you are bringing frustration to your own self.

    Keep in mind that I did mention that this product was intended for semi-novice. In other words, if you're overclocking... reformating your NSLU2 drives... Reflashing firmware... etc. This is not a semi-novice operation. Out of the box, the NSLU2 works as claimed, and very well so.

    Complaint 1:
    I have only one MAJOR negative regarding the out-of-box experience of the NSLU2, and that is the read/write performance on the LAN. After doing plenty of research into the topic, there is a hardware bottleneck leaning towards its processor that results in castrated network performance. But what more can you ask for from a sub-$100 part? There are many sub-$1000 products out there that perform ON THE SAME LEVEL as this thing.
    (minus the bells and wistles, like RAID) [Added: I get 5.2 MB/s]

    Complaint 2:
    Another problem is this mandatory format of your precious external USB drive to the native file system of the NSLU2. Yes, you will have to disconnect the drive and INTERNALLY connect it to your Windows PC in order to reuse the drive for purposes other than the one NSLU2 provides. For a semi-Novice users, this procedure can spell the end of that hard-drive.
    Tell me folks, how many of your parents know how to install a hard drive internally, repartition it, and format it??
    There should be a SEVERE warning in the manual and on the WUI regarding the initialization of a hard drive on the NSLU2.

    Complaint 3:
    For a semi-novice user, the directions for setting up this device are not thorough enough. For a sem-advanced user, the descriptiveness of the functionality is quite lacking.
    In lay-man's terms, you really need to know what you're doing in order to setup this thing securely and effectively. Plan on half a day if you have multiple PCs.
    (Again, this is the time frame for a secure and efficient network!)

    A few facts regarding firmware:

    The Indian to whom Linksys out-sourced the NSLU2 to doesn't know how to write release notes.

    On the release notes, previous versions before R63 were internal betas... exactly what R63 should have been. (in my opinion, remember) There were only 4 public releases made. 3 Of them I know off my head... 25,29,63.

    Firmware is provided at your own risk, this is the way of low-bid product development. And Looking at the price of this product, I'm completely surprised they've been paying someone(s?) to do further dev. on it.

    When you see "support/functionality added" and its completely new, be wary. (ie: FTP,NTFS, FAT32, FLASH supp.)

    Be VERY WARY when you see that new function/support removed on the following release. (ie: Media functions...)

    You download firmware from any source at your own risk, and it's NO ONE's job to help you figure out why something doesn't work on the firmware you flash with. The only person responsible is you. Not Linksys, and certainly not any open-source developers.

    For the mis-informed (Firmwares are perfect! :clap: ), the firmware notes and explanations from Linksys just make the situation worse.

    My Experiences with the new firmware:

    EXT3 is the only file system fully supported by this device. Why they would even put the words, "NTFS/FAT32 support added" is beyond me. It just makes more fun for the semi-advanced user... And hell for the semi-novice.

    Nothing else, no performance gains, no working FTP connection. (Oh, and what do you think they'd say when I tell them that my router is LINKSYS and that I know exactly where the port forwarding page is?!?!)

    I'm seriously considering rolling back to R25/29. I never had any problems.

    A note on this overclocking thing, the performance bar is raised when viewing multiple files and using the WUI. Throughput is raised by a SLIGHT percentage. Use a soldering iron with a fine tip to be completely safe. Bloody resistor is the size of pin head I swear. I saved it though.

    That's it, I'm done with my rant. If you novices want to give this product a try and need help, let me know and I complete a guide that dwarfs anything Linksys has put out. If you non-novices want to differ from what I've posted, please do. But don't flame, otherwise I'll have to pWn you with my CS sk1lz.

    [The last comment was made out of context.]
  2. DirtHerder

    DirtHerder Network Guru Member

    Can you tell me what could be causing my NSLU2 to crap out when manipulating files with large file sizes?

    my NSLU2 keeps dropping the connection if I try to move around, or in some cases access a file of a few hundred MB's or more.

    in one case I was DLing email (the .pst was located on a network drive) and once the .pst began to enter the 600 MB region, the file became inaccessable and corrupted (fortunately I was able to run ScanPST to recover the file).

    really friggin annoying.

    I'd appreciate any help that you or anyone else could give.
  3. JohnnyJigglez

    JohnnyJigglez Network Guru Member

    What firmware are you using?
    If its newer than 29 I suggest rolling back to one of the earlier firmwares and retrying the operation.

    What is your sustained avg speed between the nslu2 and pc? (use this) What OS is on the pc instantiating the file operation? Do you see any abnormalities in the throughput graphing using the above mentioned utility? (like large gaps or depressions in speed)
  4. amitroy5

    amitroy5 Network Guru Member

    Thanks for the review.

    But I found this part offensive:

    "The Indian to whom Linksys out-sourced the NSLU2 to doesn't know how to write release notes."

    How do you know this person who wrote this is Indian. I understand your anger for outsoucing. But please, don't throw your anger at us. It isn't our fault. We take the jobs that are offered to us and who gives good pay. Just like the reaons you get the jobs.
  5. ajnodine

    ajnodine Network Guru Member


    Only 1 persons point of view amitroy5!!!!!!!!!
  6. JohnnyJigglez

    JohnnyJigglez Network Guru Member

    Yes, I'm sorry you took offense, but when CS majors in the US are not getting quality education AND losing job opportunities because companies are choosing to outsource to other nations, it can be quite frustrating. And its not building a strong economy for the US. But... bottom line is bottom line in these cases.... THAT was my point. And unless you can provide some evidence the contrary... The product localization was most likely done by a very underpaid Indian national.

    I say most likey, and yes, this is one person's opinion. (Albeit the material on outsourcing is fact based.)

    On a personal note, many of my coworkers are Indian... And they happen to agree with me.
  7. stanward

    stanward Network Guru Member

    Is it the fact that you can't understand what they're saying on the phone? I'm not saying they are all Indian. But a lot of the tech support staff has english as a second language.

    It's frustrating when you have to deal with a tech support problem, then to top it all off, you have to deal with interpreting someone's english.

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