Cheap NAS: Linksys or ASUS or?
September 19, 2006 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Linksys NSLU2 or ASUS WL-500G? I am looking for a wireless, cheap (around $100), Unix-based NAS solution that will let me plug in a couple of USB or SATA drives and do things like serve SSH and run BitTorrent.

Both the NSLU2 and the ASUS seem to allow uploading custom firmware to run customized Linux distros like OpenWRT and OpenSlug. I am perfectly comfortable with firmware-fiddling and CPU overclocking, but I'm concerned that such hacks are not mature, and that a lot of my time would be spent on getting the thing to run smoothly. Based on your actual experience with these products, how do they fare in terms of performance and stability? The WRT stuff seems all the rage these days; is NSLU2 (which seems to have been launched in 2004) getting old?

(I was also looking at the Linksys WRTSL54GS, but it is not available here in Norway yet. The other WRT* products aren't appropriate to me since they don't have the USB storage support. The Buffalo LinkStation, mentioned in an earlier thread, does not seem to be sold in my country.)
posted by gentle to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The NSLU2 isn't wireless, so fails your first criteria.
posted by Pinback at 3:07 PM on September 19, 2006

I own an NSLU2. I de-underclocked it to 266 mHz from 166mHz , which involves clipping a resistor. I hear that most/all of the ones you buy today run at 266 mHz already.

I immediately replaced my firmware with unslung 6.8.

Anyway, the NSLU2, for me, tops out at about 4 megs a second. I was originally planning on using the NSLU2 as a rsnapshot backup server, but because I disliked my USB enclosure, I made a spare "regular" machine be my backup server, and I put a spare thumbdrive as the main storage for the NSLU2. It has a setting so it won't swap onto the USB thumbdrive or update atimes, preserving life, so that should go well. Now, I have NSLU2 as a shell server being the machine I SSH to from the outside world, and then ssh to my actual workstation through it.

You'll be able to SSH fine, and spectacularily if you use the least intensive encryption, Blowfish IIRC.

By run BitTorrent, do you mean run a tracker or download/upload from it?
posted by adamwolf at 3:10 PM on September 19, 2006

Pinback is correct. If wireless is required, you *can* do it on the slug, but you'll need to screw around with things, and buy a wireless adapter assuming you don't have one laying around.

I read the Zydas ZD1211 chipset is working on the slug (NSLU2).
posted by adamwolf at 3:14 PM on September 19, 2006

Ah, looks like I didn't do all my homework. Thanks for the clarification.

By BitTorrent, I mean download/upload. The ASUS WL-500g Premium runs a BitTorrent client natively (as well as HTTP and FTP); they call the feature "Download Master". From what I can tell, the WL is hackable, and apparently it is WRT-compatible, but there doesn't seem to be as much information about this router as there is with WRT products.
posted by gentle at 3:59 PM on September 19, 2006

Make sure to follow up on this, please. I'm interested in the performance of whatever you choose.
posted by adamwolf at 4:11 PM on September 19, 2006

I second adamwolf. I can't offer any useful advice, but I'm definitely interested in the performance of the WL-500g.

One commend: I have an ASUS AAM6020 ADSL router/wifi/switch, and it consistently crashes and loses connections under sustained heavy bittorrent throughput. Hopefully the CPU and firmware on the WL500g are sufficiently advanced that it won't have the same issue, especially given they have Bittorrent built in.
posted by pivotal at 4:51 PM on September 19, 2006

Buffalo's LinkStation?
posted by lundman at 6:20 PM on September 19, 2006

I will definitely follow up, if indeed I go for the WL-500g.

lundman: I have not found anyone selling the LinkStation in this country.
posted by gentle at 3:35 AM on September 22, 2006

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