Debian on the Linksys NSLU2
The NSLU2 from Linksys is a small, sub $100 device that can be used for a variety of tasks. NSLU2 stands for Network Storage Link for USB 2.0 Disk Drives, a description which pretty much summarizes the original purpose of this device. However, the NSLU2 (or Slug, as it's often referred to) can be used for other tasks if you use a more powerful firmware for it. Since the device offers two USB ports, it's possible to connect a USB disk and run a full Debian system on it.
In the following, I will describe what is needed to get Debian running on your NSLU2. Please note that this page only provides information on running a full-blown Debian system on the NSLU2 on an external USB drive. If you're looking for a firmware to be put in the flash of the NSLU2 (such as Unslung or OpenSlug) or other information on this device, please go to the NSLU2-Linux project (in particular, check out the firmware matrix).
Finally, please note that the NSLU2 is a very low-end device by today's standards. In particular, the NSLU2 has only 32 MB of RAM, which is not much to run a modern operating system like Debian 6.0 (squeeze). The easy-to-use Debian installer is no longer available for the NSLU2 because the device does not have enough RAM. While it's still possible to install Debian on the NSLU2 using the manual method described on this page, I suggest you upgrade to a more modern devices, such as a SheevaPlug or a NAS device from QNAP.
- An installation guide for Debian on the Linksys NSLU2.
- A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
- Troubleshooting information with common problems and their solutions.
- Some tips and tricks about running Debian on the Linksys NSLU2.
- An image gallery with various pictures showing the internals of the NSLU2.
- An internals page listing the specs of the Linksys NSLU2.
- Some advances guides: cloning a NSLU2 and modifying a NSLU2 flash image. You can also find an explanation of the boot process of the NSLU2 running Debian.
- The NSLU2-Linux project provides lots of information regarding Linux on the NSLU2.
- Peter Korsgaard's guide on manually installing Debian sarge. This is only of historical interest now that debian-installer supports the NSLU2.
If you have problems with Debian on NSLU2 and cannot solve them with Google, there are the following resources you can consult:
- The debian-arm list for questions specifically related to the installation or operation of Debian on the NSLU2.
- The mailing lists of the NSLU2-Linux project for generic questions regarding Linux on NSLU2.
I'd like to thank the NSLU2-Linux project for all their work on getting a modern version of Linux running on this device and writing lots of documentation describing how this device actually works. Without their work, getting Debian to run would have been much harder. In particular, I'd like to thank Alessandro Zummo and John Bowler for their kernel work and Rod Whitby for getting me excited about the NSLU2 and answering all of the questions I asked while porting Debian to this device. Gordon Farquharson has done lots of testing of Debian on NSLU2. Joey Hess maintains the
nslu2-utils package in Debian. Finally, I'd like to thank the NSLU2-Linux project again for donating a NSLU2 to me to help with Debian porting efforts.