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New NSLU2 Owner Question... USB Hubs?

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  • Camstone Fox
    Hi everyone! First, one of my main reasons for getting the NSLU2 was the availability of this forum - so my thanks to all who took it on themselves to form and
    Message 1 of 13 , May 25, 2005
      Hi everyone!

      First, one of my main reasons for getting the NSLU2 was the
      availability of this forum - so my thanks to all who took it on
      themselves to form and support it.

      Thus far, I've just been tinkering with the NSLU2 out of the box (as
      is), and not yet flashed it with unslug (I like to read the
      procedures/FAQ before I do so, just in case I have to flash it back to
      R25,)- but plan to. I see that it can support a USB printer (acting as
      a printserver, I would guess)... but then a thought hit me...

      Can the NSLU2 (be made to) support a USB hub (powered or unpowered)?

      Seems like that would be a great way to expand the system's storage or
      server capabilities. Although not sure if the increased power draw
      might create a problem...

      Thanks again!
      - Pete Morrison, Washington DC USA
    • Richard Folwell
      Apparently an unslung NSLU2 supports USB hubs just fine (according to the documentation - I have not yet tried it myself). There is a limitation in that you
      Message 2 of 13 , May 25, 2005
        Apparently an unslung NSLU2 supports USB hubs just fine (according to
        the documentation - I have not yet tried it myself). There is a
        limitation in that you cannot use a hub to get it to support more than
        one disk. This FAQ applies:

        http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/Main/FAQ#faq15

        (You did read all the FAQs before posting, didn't you :-).

        Richard

        Camstone Fox wrote:
        > Hi everyone!
        >
        > First, one of my main reasons for getting the NSLU2 was the
        > availability of this forum - so my thanks to all who took it on
        > themselves to form and support it.
        >
        > Thus far, I've just been tinkering with the NSLU2 out of the box (as
        > is), and not yet flashed it with unslug (I like to read the
        > procedures/FAQ before I do so, just in case I have to flash it back to
        > R25,)- but plan to. I see that it can support a USB printer (acting as
        > a printserver, I would guess)... but then a thought hit me...
        >
        > Can the NSLU2 (be made to) support a USB hub (powered or unpowered)?
        >
        > Seems like that would be a great way to expand the system's storage or
        > server capabilities. Although not sure if the increased power draw
        > might create a problem...
        >
        > Thanks again!
        > - Pete Morrison, Washington DC USA
        >
      • Inge B. Arnesen
        Standard firmware is out - does not support more than two USB devices. Yes - hubs are supported in all NSLU2 kernels, but the Unslung/Linksys kernel behaves
        Message 3 of 13 , May 25, 2005
          Standard firmware is out - does not support more than two USB devices.

          Yes - hubs are supported in all NSLU2 kernels, but the Unslung/Linksys
          kernel behaves very badly when a certain threshold of USB devices
          (including the hub which also counts) is reached. I have not been able to
          run more than two storage devices (mixes of disks, DVD-burners, mem sticks
          and so on don't seem to matter in this respect) before getting a kernel
          USB ooops error in my log with following erratic slug behaviour. I
          believe (note: believe) that the Openslug kernel happily accepts "any
          number" of USB devices of various kinds. Hey Opensluggers: is this
          verified?

          Your disks/DVDs/tape streamers must be powered externally, but if all the
          USB devices you connect to your hub are externally powered, the hub
          probably doesn't need to be (my guess).

          best,

          -- Inge



          > Hi everyone!
          >
          > First, one of my main reasons for getting the NSLU2 was the
          > availability of this forum - so my thanks to all who took it on
          > themselves to form and support it.
          >
          > Thus far, I've just been tinkering with the NSLU2 out of the box (as
          > is), and not yet flashed it with unslug (I like to read the
          > procedures/FAQ before I do so, just in case I have to flash it back to
          > R25,)- but plan to. I see that it can support a USB printer (acting as
          > a printserver, I would guess)... but then a thought hit me...
          >
          > Can the NSLU2 (be made to) support a USB hub (powered or unpowered)?
          >
          > Seems like that would be a great way to expand the system's storage or
          > server capabilities. Although not sure if the increased power draw
          > might create a problem...
          >
          > Thanks again!
          > - Pete Morrison, Washington DC USA
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > [ Moderator Note: All new information should be recorded in the Wiki at
          > http://www.nslu2-linux.org ]
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • Peter Serbe
          Hi Pete, You will be bashed a little bit wrt searching the wiki ... ... it should be possible with openslug, yet I didn t hear any story of success. ... Well,
          Message 4 of 13 , May 25, 2005
            Hi Pete,

            You will be bashed a little bit wrt searching the wiki ...

            > Can the NSLU2 (be made to) support a USB hub (powered or unpowered)?

            it should be possible with openslug, yet I didn't hear any
            story of success.

            > Seems like that would be a great way to expand the system's storage or
            > server capabilities.

            Well, I tend to think, that the limited CPU power of the
            slug is oposing to the use as a intensively used file
            server. Maybe a farm of slugs each serving only one disk
            is really the better idea - although I first bought my
            slug with exactely this in mind: putting all my spare
            HDs on a USB hub and accessing it by the slug. But I am
            totally away from that right now.

            > Although not sure if the increased power draw
            > might create a problem...

            There is no increased power whatsoever, if You supply
            the HDs from a separate power supply (which is mandatory
            for virtually all modern desktop disks).

            HTH
            Peter
          • Inge B. Arnesen
            ... It is also possible on Unslung - I have done it, though it can t be used to expand the number of available USB ports which kind of defeats its purpose. ...
            Message 5 of 13 , May 25, 2005
              >> Can the NSLU2 (be made to) support a USB hub (powered or unpowered)?
              >
              > it should be possible with openslug, yet I didn't hear any
              > story of success.

              It is also possible on Unslung - I have done it, though it can't be used
              to expand the number of available USB ports which kind of defeats its
              purpose.

              >> Seems like that would be a great way to expand the system's storage or
              >> server capabilities.
              >
              > Well, I tend to think, that the limited CPU power of the
              > slug is oposing to the use as a intensively used file
              > server.

              This depends on your speed requirements. For audio and video streaming on
              local network and/or Internet (which is perhaps the main task of my slug)
              it works well. Regardless, adding a disk (provided it works) _is_ a great
              way to expand the system's storage whatever way you look at it.

              best,

              -- Inge
            • Peter Serbe
              ... For me the great thing about the slug is, that You can build a large capacity (and low thoughput) file server requireing only very little power (important
              Message 6 of 13 , May 25, 2005
                Inge B. Arnesen wrote:

                > [Slow performance of Slug]
                > ... Regardless, adding a disk (provided it works) _is_ a great
                > way to expand the system's storage whatever way you look at it.

                For me the great thing about the slug is, that You can build a
                large capacity (and low thoughput) file server requireing only
                very little power (important for 24/7 operation -> $$$) and
                (nearly) noiseless operation.
                I estimate that it is possible to build a 500 GB file server
                using not more than 20 W in idle mode (i.e. two HDs in sleep
                mode). This would imply 175 kWh energy required per year.
                I expect that an old Linux PC or an old notebook with external
                (USB?) harddrives will at least burn twice the power of the
                NSLU solution.

                Best
                Peter
              • Camstone Fox
                ... Not so much read as skimmed, Richard. But I apprecaite all the kind replies. And I ll be sure to wiki a lot more closely before I ask my next dumb
                Message 7 of 13 , May 25, 2005
                  > (You did read all the FAQs before posting, didn't you :-).

                  Not so much read as skimmed, Richard. But I apprecaite all the kind
                  replies. And I'll be sure to "wiki" a lot more closely before I ask my
                  next "dumb question(tm)." (Although it seemed a little hard for me to
                  find all the FAQ's from the front webpage.) Still, I was as much
                  interested in being able to add a USB printer or two via a hub, to the
                  two drives that appear to be the maximum...

                  Thanks all!

                  - Pete
                • Rod Whitby
                  ... As you can see in the photos of my networking shelf: http://nslu2-linux.thestuffguy.com/gallery/slug-central indeed an NSLU2 can support USB Hubs. The
                  Message 8 of 13 , May 25, 2005
                    On 5/26/05, Camstone Fox <celticfox@...> wrote:
                    > Can the NSLU2 (be made to) support a USB hub (powered or unpowered)?

                    As you can see in the photos of my networking shelf:

                    http://nslu2-linux.thestuffguy.com/gallery/slug-central

                    indeed an NSLU2 can support USB Hubs. The only restriction is that
                    Unslung and Linksys firmware cannot have more than one mass storage
                    device attached to each built-in port (either directly, or through a
                    hub).

                    -- Rod
                  • Jon Pounder
                    ... I ve often wondered about this limitation since it seems shall we say rather limiting . What is the actual reason for this ? We use a full size linux box
                    Message 9 of 13 , May 25, 2005
                      > On 5/26/05, Camstone Fox <celticfox@...> wrote:
                      >> Can the NSLU2 (be made to) support a USB hub (powered or unpowered)?
                      >
                      > As you can see in the photos of my networking shelf:
                      >
                      > http://nslu2-linux.thestuffguy.com/gallery/slug-central
                      >
                      > indeed an NSLU2 can support USB Hubs. The only restriction is that
                      > Unslung and Linksys firmware cannot have more than one mass storage
                      > device attached to each built-in port (either directly, or through a
                      > hub).

                      I've often wondered about this limitation since it seems shall we say
                      "rather limiting".

                      What is the actual reason for this ?


                      We use a full size linux box for making backups and use usb drives like
                      tape cartridges, we just have a bunch plugged in and rotate them offsite
                      like tapes. This setup requires a bunch of drives all plugged in at once,
                      but only one is usually actually being used so bandwidth to the drive is
                      not a problem. it would be nice to do this with a slug though.




                      >
                      > -- Rod
                      >
                      >
                      > [ Moderator Note: All new information should be recorded in the Wiki at
                      > http://www.nslu2-linux.org ]
                      > Yahoo! Groups Links
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >


                      Jon Pounder

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                    • Rod Whitby
                      ... Code that Linksys added to scsi_scan.c in the Linux kernel to specifically only allow one mass storage device per physical port, and to ensure that the
                      Message 10 of 13 , May 25, 2005
                        On 5/26/05, Jon Pounder <jonp@...> wrote:
                        > > The only restriction is that
                        > > Unslung and Linksys firmware cannot have more than one mass storage
                        > > device attached to each built-in port (either directly, or through a
                        > > hub).
                        >
                        > I've often wondered about this limitation since it seems shall we say
                        > "rather limiting".
                        >
                        > What is the actual reason for this ?

                        Code that Linksys added to scsi_scan.c in the Linux kernel to
                        specifically only allow one mass storage device per physical port, and
                        to ensure that the disk plugged into a particular port always appears
                        as the same device (/dev/sda or /dev/sdb) each time. They also had
                        code to limit flash devices to the Disk2 port (and vfat only), but the
                        Unslung firmware utilitizes that previously-disallowed situation to
                        allow ext3 filesystems on flash devices on Disk1.

                        And before anyone asks, the one mass storage device per physical port
                        restriction cannot be lifted without seriously breaking Linksys
                        firmware and applications compatibility (since we don't have the
                        source code to the Linksys proprietary binary executables and they
                        rely intimately on that code that has been added to the kernel).
                        Since the definition of the Unslung firmware is to retain that
                        compatibilty, then anyone who needs more than one mass storage device
                        per physical port will need to use the OpenSlug firmware.

                        -- Rod
                      • Inge Bjørnvall Arnesen
                        ... What about the possibility of having more non-storage devices on connected to a USB hub (like BT, printers, WiFi, Ethernet etc. etc.)? Is this limitation
                        Message 11 of 13 , May 26, 2005
                          > Since the definition of the Unslung firmware is to retain
                          > that compatibilty, then anyone who needs more than one
                          > mass storage device per physical port will need to use
                          > the OpenSlug firmware.

                          What about the possibility of having more non-storage devices on connected
                          to a USB hub (like BT, printers, WiFi, Ethernet etc. etc.)? Is this
                          limitation connected to the usb-storage/scsi hack as well or is it an
                          independent issue (remember "usb.c: not enough configurations")?

                          best,

                          -- Inge
                        • Rod Whitby
                          ... The Linksys changes are restricted to mass storage devices as far as we know. We also know that some other combinations of devices (e.g. two pl2303
                          Message 12 of 13 , May 26, 2005
                            On 5/26/05, Inge Bjørnvall Arnesen <i.b.arnesen@...> wrote:
                            > > Since the definition of the Unslung firmware is to retain
                            > > that compatibilty, then anyone who needs more than one
                            > > mass storage device per physical port will need to use
                            > > the OpenSlug firmware.
                            >
                            > What about the possibility of having more non-storage devices on connected
                            > to a USB hub (like BT, printers, WiFi, Ethernet etc. etc.)? Is this
                            > limitation connected to the usb-storage/scsi hack as well or is it an
                            > independent issue (remember "usb.c: not enough configurations")?

                            The Linksys changes are restricted to mass storage devices as far as
                            we know. We also know that some other combinations of devices (e.g.
                            two pl2303 usbserial cables and a BT dongle) do not work either in
                            Unslung or OpenSlug, so those problems have nothing to do with the
                            Unslung firmware, and seem to be problems with the individual device
                            drivers in Linux.

                            -- Rod
                          • hd_de_2000
                            ... the ... I have successfully connected a port-powered 4x hub and used the following devices (unslung 3.16): - usb-ps2 adapter with mouse and keyboard -
                            Message 13 of 13 , Jun 2, 2005
                              --- In nslu2-linux@yahoogroups.com, "Camstone Fox" <celticfox@d...>
                              wrote:
                              > Still, I was as much
                              > interested in being able to add a USB printer or two via a hub, to
                              the
                              > two drives that appear to be the maximum...
                              >

                              I have successfully connected a port-powered 4x hub and
                              used the following devices (unslung 3.16):
                              - usb-ps2 adapter with mouse and keyboard
                              - serial adapter with serial printer
                              - usbvga adapter with monitor
                              - digital camera (Canon Powershot a200)
                              - CF-card reader
                              Not all (but several) at the same time, obviously.
                              The usb-port behaves strange: some devices _must_ be connected
                              at bootup. Inserting them at runtime crashes the NSLU2 (usb-ps2
                              adapter). Others must not be present during bootup (digital camera).

                              I would bet that your USB-printer works somehow if a linux driver
                              exists.

                              Regards

                              Helmut Dersch
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