Installing SlimServer on a LinkStation

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Introduction.

The purpose of this "How To" guide is to walk you through the process of installing SlimDevices' SlimServer software (which transmits music to Slim's SqueezeBox digital music player) on a Buffalo LinkStation network storage device. Why might you want to do this? Ordinarily, you must run the SlimServer software on a PC which must be running when you want your music to be available. The LinkStation takes the place of the PC, and it is much smaller, quieter, cheaper, and more energy efficient. With the LinkStation running the SlimServer software, you will not need to have SlimServer taking-up system resources on the PC, and you can turn your PC off when you are not using it.

The following instructions should work for all first generation LinkStation units (i.e., those running firmware 1.x; however, see the note in the Firmware Revision section below about firmware versions 1.46 and later). LinkStation units running firmware 2.x, which began appearing in early 2005, have a MIPS processor (not a PowerPC as do first generation LinkStation units). This difference, combined with the software differences, is sufficient that these instructions will not work exactly as written for a 2.x LinkStation. However, SlimServer can be installed on these units as well. The same is true for Buffalo's TerraStation product. As I proceed through these instructions, I will note the differences in the installation procedure.

The LinkStation runs the GNU/Linux operating system, so most of the installation and configuration work will be done using Linux commands. Linux users will, of course, feel at home. In fact, Linux users probably will want to skim or skip parts of this article because I have attempted to give background on relevant Linux concepts and the various commands you will use. Actually, the installation and configuration procedure itself is pretty easy. Hopefully the background information will get Windows users past the odd-looking Linux commands and make you feel comfortable proceeding with this project. I have indented and highlighted much of the non-essential background information to help you go as quickly or slowly as you would like.

Disclaimer: Many people have installed SlimServer on their LinkStations successfully. However, do not use the information in this article if you are not willing to proceed at your own risk. I am not responsible for any damage you do to your LinkStation in carrying out this procedure! If you do run into trouble, please post for help in the LinkStation_General Yahoo! group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LinkStation_General/) or the SlimDevices discussion forums (http://forums.slimdevices.com/). Many very helpful and knowledgeable people participate in both of these groups.

First steps.

This section assumes you have a brand new, unconfigured LinkStation. If your LinkStation is already configured and running on your network, you can skip to the Root Access section on the next page.

Firmware Revision. While it usually is a good idea to update your LinkStation to the latest available firmware, be aware that firmware revision 1.46, and probably later revisions, will disable telnet access, which is something you will need in order to install SlimServer. Your best bet is to install version 1.45 (the file name was "LS 145 Final Firm.zip" when I downloaded it). (Note that the SlimServer software will automatically ask you whether you want to update the firmware on your SqueezeBox, so you generally do not need to worry about updating the SqueezeBox's firmware.) As of this writing, you can get the latest revision of the LinkStation firmware, as well as version 1.45, via ftp from ftp://206.135.38.243. You must log-in with user "public", password "new stuff". If you use a web browser and you receive an "unauthorized" message when trying to browse the directories on the server, or you get error messages about files not being present, try using another browser or an ftp client instead (Opera did not work well for me, but ncftp did; on Windows, Internet Explorer 6 worked fine).

To update the firmware, you simply run the program you just downloaded and follow the prompts. (The updater is a Windows application so Linux users will need to find a Windows machine.) Also, the updater may fail unless you disable the software firewall on your PC (I had to disable the Windows XP SP2 firewall). You can re-enable it once the firmware update is complete.

LinkStation II and TerraStation owners: In order to gain root access, which is required for the installation process (see the next page for more information), you will need to update your product with firmware created by members of the LinkStation/TerraStation user communities. You should be aware that although many people have used these "unofficial" firmware revisions successfully, you may still have problems with them, and it is unlikely that Buffalo will provide support for them.

LinkStation II owners: You need the OpenLink firmware available from http://linkstationwiki.net/index.php?title=Category:OpenLink. Once you install the OpenLink firmware, you will have root access and Perl 5.8. Therefore, after completing the "Basic Setup" section below, you can skip page two of this guide, and pick-up the process on page three, at the section entitled "Getting SlimServer on the LinkStation." However, if you are new to Linux, you should still read the indented background information on page two and the first half of page three.

TerraStation owners: You need the firmware available at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/itimpi/buffalo.htm. This firmware will create a user called "myroot" with root privileges. Therefore, after completing the "Basic Setup" section below, you can skip page two and pick-up the process at the top of page three -- just log-in as "myroot" instead of "root" (by default, myroot does not have a password). If you are new to Linux, you should still read the indented background information on page two.

Basic Setup. The first thing you need to do is set-up the LinkStation on the network. Basically, this means getting the LinkStation an IP address. Buffalo's documentation covers this adequately (beginning on page 11 of the manual that came with my LinkStation), so I will not go into this. You will need to know the IP address of your LinkStation in order to do the work you are about to do (you may want to assign it a static IP address so you will always know its IP address).

You also must make sure at least one of the LinkStation's shared folders is accessible on your network (another item covered in the Buffalo user guide, beginning on page 15; I will refer to this folder as your network share throughout this article). If you are doing this project from a Linux machine, another option is to install NFS on the LinkStation and mount the LinkStation via NFS. The objective is to provide an easy means of copying files over to the LinkStation.

Finally, you need to set-up at least one user account on the LinkStation. Again, this is something covered in Buffalo's manual (starting on page 37) so I will not cover it in this article.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Marc D. Field. Third party brands and marks are the property of their respective owners.




















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