Review: LaCie Ethernet Disk mini

Under the Covers

Figure 7 shows the main board of the mini. The large chip in the center is a TUSB6250. Although it's not pictured, the drive in the mini is a

Figure 7: Main Board
(click image to enlarge)

Based on the Linux file system references and the system log messages, it was quite clear that the mini is running Linux internally. In particular, the log messages told me that it's running Linux kernel version 2.4.25, based on a Yellow Dog Linux distribution - a common choice for Linux Power PC applications. The log also showed initialization of various filesystem drivers including XFS and a read-only version of NTFS.

The log messages also indicated there is an internal serial console available, so someone handy with a soldering iron - and no fear of warranties - could probably get direct access to Linux. Since most of the internals of the box appears to be licensed under the GPL, I was pleased to find source code on LaCie's web site. The log also showed me that the mini was equipped with 64 MB of RAM, which is contrary to the

A quick look at an executable confirmed the processor was a PowerPC. I hoped to find an SSH or a telnet daemon on the box that could be started up to give me run-time access to the mini, but found nothing. Since I have another PowerPC based Linux NAS, the Kurobox, I thought that maybe I could install the necessary components from it to give me run-time access.

So I copied the "inetd" server from the Kuro, that among other things, manages telnet sessions. I then copied over the telnet daemon itself and modified a standard mini startup script to kick off inetd, and when everything was re-assembled, fired up the mini. On my first attempt to telnet into the box, I was happy to get a "connect" message indicating that inetd was running and had opened up the port, but the connect was immediately followed by a disconnect.

The only visibility I had into the box was through the System log and searching it revealed an error from inetd regarding a missing library required by the telnet daemon. So I took everything apart, grabbed the library, re-assembled it all and tried again. I again got a "connect" followed by a "disconnect," but this time there was nothing in the System log. This told me that inetd was happy, and the telnet daemon was complete, but there was still something missing.

I was running out of spouse-allocated time for tinkering with the box so I moved on, but this experiment at least told me that I could execute my own code on the box. So it wouldn't take a lot more work to get a command prompt, install an iTunes server, or maybe even run a full-featured web server.