NSLU2-Linux
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NOTE: This page is out-of-date - March 11, 2009 - mwester

Are you...

  • ... new to NSLU2?
  • ... unsure which Firmware to start with?
  • ... or just want to know the differences between the NSLU2-firmware variants?

Right, here we go:

Firmware:LinksysUnslungSlugOSDebian/NSLU2OpenWrt
BasisOriginal Linksys firmwareBased on Linksys firmwareSlugOS/BESlugOS/BE
+ completely unsupported Debian armeb
SlugOS/LEGentooSlugUcSlugC(Based On SlugOS Kernel Patches)Based on OpenWrt Kamikaze
Historical-names:  OpenSlugOpenDebianSlugLeSlug, DebianSlug  DebianSlug
+ Debian arm
 
Firmware-version:R636.103.10 (binary)
4.x (source)
3.10 (binary)
4.x (source)
3.10 (binary)
4.x (source)
3.10 (binary)
4.x (source)
N/A
(No binary release)
Debian Lennykamikaze-7.09
Kernel-version:2.4.22+2.4.22+2.6.16+ (binary)
2.6.latest (source)
2.6.16 (binary)
2.6.latest (source)
2.6.16 (binary)
2.6.latest (source)
2.6.16 (binary)
2.6.latest (source)
2.6.16 (binary)
2.6.latest (source)
2.6.26-12.6.21.6
Web-interface:yes
(Linksys Interface)
yes
(Linksys Interface)
nonononononono
Telnet-support:noyesnononononoyes
(installable package)
yes
SSH support:noyes
(installable package)
yesyesyesyesyesyesyes
HomepageLinksysUnslungSlugOSBEOpenDebianSlugSlugOS/LEGentooSlugUcSlugCDebian on NSLU2 Debian/NSLU2OpenWrt
Targetted users:Beginners without Linux-knowledgeBeginners without Linux-knowledge or little Linux-knowledge with the intention to install and configure additional software on their NSLU2Experienced Linux-users which are happy with the limited amount of installable packagesNo longer supported by NSLU2-Linux. Legacy users only.Experienced linux-user which need a lot of different software from the Debian repositoryExperienced Gentoo linux users with either much time or another (fast) Gentoo box for distributed cross-compilingNo longer supported by NSLU2-Linux. Legacy users only.Debian UsersUsers wanting a basic Linksys-based install
Number of available software packages:0800+, specifically targeted for the NSLU23500+, specifically targeted for embedded devicesnot supported3500+, specifically targeted for embedded devices11490+, targeted for desktop machines with lots of memorynot supported17510+, targeted for desktop machines with lots of memory800+, specifically targeted for the NSLU2
Short Description:Stock Linksys firmwareFirmware release which keeps compatibility with the stock Linksys firmware and provides additional software packagesBig Endian Firmware with newer kernel, completely "Linksys-free"Unofficial (and completely unsupported) Big Endian ARM Debian Installation based on OpenSlug (SlugOS-bag)Official Little-Endian ARM Debian installation based on SlugOS-lagGentoo Installation based on OpenSLug (SlugOS-bag)Big Endian ARM-thumb Firmware using uclibc (SlugOS-btu, targetting on low (flash) memory consumptionLittle Endian Debian Installer based installation firmware (only usable to install Debian to a usb-storage device)Linksys-based firmware for routers ported to the (similar) NSLU2
Offered Services:Standard: SMB (Samba 2.x), FTP(unknown), Management-WebinterfaceStandard:
Smb, httpd
Optware:
The cross packages and native packages
Other:
It is possible to compile cross platform sources for unslung
Standard:
dropbear sshd
Additional services:
cross and native packages, plus Optware for OpenSlug/BE packages
Other:
It is possible to compile cross platform sources for OpenSlug and Optware for SlugOS/BE development
Standard:
dropbear sshd
Additional services:
You can use the OpenSlug packages and/or use the completely unsupported Debian ARM BE packages
Other:
It is possible to compile cross platform sources for OpenDebianSlug
Standard:
dropbear sshd
Additional services:
You can use the DebianSlug cross and native packages and/or use the Debian ARM LE packages
Other:
It is possible to compile cross platform sources for DebianSlug
Standard:
dropbear sshd
Additional services: You can use the OpenSlug packages and/or use the Gentoo portage/emerge build-system
Other:
It is possible to compile cross platform sources for GentooSlug
Standard:
dropbear sshd
Additional services:
UcSlugC is intented to be a base distribution for a turnkey system; therefore you should customise the customise the FlashImage before flashing it.
See the UcSlugC homepage to have a closer look
Standard:
opensshd
Additional services:
All Debian ARM packages
Other:
It is possible to compile cross platform sources for Debian/NSLU2
Standard:
ssh, telnet
Optware:
The cross packages
Other:
It is possible to compile cross platform sources for OpenWrt
External HD/pen drive needed for running:nono, but you need an external storage device in order to install packages that do not fit in the internal flash memoryno, but you need an external storage device in order to install packages that do not fit in the internal flash memoryYesYes, if you install Debian on top, otherwise it's the same as SlugOS/BEYesno (it is intended to be a fully integrated appliance)Yes. Minimum 560MB plus 128MB swapno

Some remarks on the various packages:

ipkg: Originally designed for the iPaq, this "lightweight package management system" is well suited to embedded linux systems like the NSLU2. The ipkg packages are the default packages for Unslung, Openslug and UcSlugC.

deb: Debian packages used for the debian distributions on the slug.

Conversion between the two packages is possible, although it's easier to install an ipkg to a .deb-based system, than the other way around. And hey, you can always try compiling from source! Detail for converting between the two package is listed here.

Some remarks on the SlugOS Variants:

SlugOS-

OpenDebianSlug, DebianSlug and GentooSlug are some sort of "pseudo" NSLU2 operating system. They're all based on some SlugOS variant. It's like having a RC-car chassis (this would be one of the SlugOS variants) where you could put some sort of car body (Debian/Gentoo) on it.

To be more precise: The NSLU2's bootloader (redboot / apex (allthough apex ) is unable to boot directly from an attached usb-storage device (like an usb-harddisk or an usb-memory stick). So instead it loads the kernel and an initial ramdisk containing a small set of tools which are used to load some additional kernel-modules and then continue to boot from the attached usb-storage device / a nfs-export / ... .
If this fails, it will continue to boot from the internal flashmemory and allows you to login via ssh to check if there are any problems.


Quote Rod Whitby from http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/nslu2-linux/message/20476

I often get asked to recommend a distribution for the NSLU2. Here is some objective information on each of the five different firmware distributions created or supported by the NSLU2-Linux project. In the end, it usually comes down to which applications you want to run, or which hardware you want to connect. It's not one-size-fits-all.

Unslung (through the installation of Optware packages) has about 1000 packages to choose from, each of which has been specifically compiled for the NSLU2's unique blend of capabilities. Unslung is available in big-endian mode only, and has a very old 2.4 kernel and a very old version of glibc, so support for hardware accessories is hit and miss, and there is nothing you can do to fix it if it doesn't work. Unslung has a web user interface. There is a tiny amount of room left in internal flash after installation, but Unslung is meant to be run from an external storage device. If the external device fails, Unslung falls back to running from internal flash.

SlugOS has about 5000 packages to choose from - 4000 from OpenEmbedded, which have been specifically compiled mainly for handheld, limited memory devices, and 1000 from Optware (as per Unslung). SlugOS is available in either big-endian or little-endian modes, and uses a 2.6.21.7 kernel and a recent version of glibc. SlugOS does not have a web user interface. There is a small amount of room left in internal flash after installation (enough to run some small server applications), but installation of large packages will require an external storage device. If the external device fails, SlugOS falls back to running from internal flash.

Angstrom has the same 4000 OpenEmbedded packages, but is built using the EABI version of the ARM application binary interface, and therefore has much better floating point performance than any other distro for the slug. Angstrom is available in either big-endian or little-endian modes, and uses a 2.6.21.7 kernel and a recent version of glibc. Angstrom does not have a web user interface as such, but some packages are available that provide web interfaces to some applications. There is a small amount of room left in internal flash after installation (enough to run some small server applications), but installation of large packages will require an external storage device. If the external device fails, then either a reflash or a serial console is currently required for recovery.

Debian has well over 10000 packages, but they have been compiled for desktop systems, and are therefore not optimised for the small-memory NSLU2. Debian is available in little-endian mode only, and uses a 2.6.18 kernel and a recent version of glibc. Debian has some packages that provide web-based interfaces. Debian can only run from an external storage device (which means that there is no recovery ability other than a reflash if that external device stops working).

OpenWrt has just under 2000 packages to choose from - about 1000 from Optware, and about 1000 from OpenWrt. OpenWrt is available in big-endian mode only, and uses a 2.6.21.6 kernel and uClibc. If you want to do wireless or sophisticated routing, then you can't go past OpenWrt. It is also the only 2.6 kernel distro for the slug which has a web user interface (X-Wrt) included in the installation image. OpenWrt has a significant amount of internal flash left after installation (since uClibc uses so much less space than glibc), so it is very good for disk-less applications. You can also run it from an external storage device if you choose. If the external device fails, then either a reflash or a serial console is currently required for recovery.

Page last modified on March 11, 2009, at 08:06 PM