An online developer community that distributes alternative Linux-based firmware for a low-cost networked attached storage (NAS) device has announced five new firmware releases. NSLU2-linux.org's newly available downloads for the LinkSys NSLU2 (aka “SLUG”) include new Unslung, SlugOS, OpenWrt, Angstrom, and Debian Linux releases.
Since NSLU2-linux.org established its slug-firmware.net site, there have been over 100,000 firmware downloads for the Linksys NSLU2 (pictured at left), says the group. In the last three months of 2007, there have been over 4.7 million wiki page requests from its growing library of 1,300 pages, and about 4.5 million package downloads from the site's feeds.
Newly available releases include:
- Unslung 6.10-beta — Unslung appears to be targeted at conservative users who wish to continue using the vendor firmware, but want to add “Optware” install capability. Optware offers 1,000 packages supporting 25 configurations, each of which has been specifically compiled for the NSLU2. Designed to be run from an external storage device, the Unslung update is available in big-endian mode only and offers a web interface. Unslung sports a “very old” 2.4 kernel and glibc version, and the NSLU2 team cautions that hardware accessory support is “hit and miss.” There have been over 50,000 downloads of Unslung 6.8-beta.
- SlugOS 4.8-beta — Designed for devices with limited memory and storage (primarily handhelds), this OpenEmbedded-based release replaces the vendor firmware with custom firmware and packages designed from scratch. SlugOS supports about 5,000 packages - 4,000 from OpenEmbedded and 1,000 from Optware. Based on Linux 220.127.116.11 and a recent version of glibc, SlugOS is available in either big- or little-endian modes. It leaves a small amount of room in internal flash after installation, but large packages require an external storage device. There were over 16,000 downloads of the previous SlugOS 3.10-beta release.
- OpenWrt/NSLU2 Kamikaze 7.09 — With the Kamikaze 7.x releases of OpenWrt, the NSLU2 is now a fully supported OpenWrt target. Designed for low-memory devices and specializing in support for wireless communications and “sophisticated routing,” the OpenWrt release offers almost 2,000 packages — about 1,000 from OpenWrt plus Optware's 1,000 packages. OpenWrt offers a web interface, is available in big-endian mode only, and has a 18.104.22.168 kernel. Because it uses the slimmed-down uClibc, it leaves behind significant flash memory space. OpenWrt is said to be a good fit for disk-less applications, and it can also be run from an external storage device. There have already been over 2,000 downloads.
- Angstrom/NSLU2 2007.12 — The Angstrom distribution borrows from the OpenEmbedded, OpenZaurus and OpenSimpad projects and is designed to be a “stable and user-friendly” distribution for embedded devices. Targets include handhelds, set-top boxes (STBs), and now, with the advent of the 2007.12 version, the NSLU2. Angstrom offers the same 4,000 OpenEmbedded packages as found in SlugOS, but is built with the EABI (embedded) version of the ARM application binary interface, providing improved floating point performance. Available in either big- or little-endian versions, it uses a 22.214.171.124 kernel and a recent glibc version. Angstrom leaves a sliver of space left in internal flash, similar to SlugOS.
- Debian/NSLU2 Stable 4.0r2 — Debian offers over 10,000 packages, but they are all compiled for desktop systems, and are not optimized for the low-memory NSLU2. Debian is available in little-endian mode only, and uses a 2.6.18 kernel and a recent glibc. Debian offers a web interface for only a few packages, and must be run from an external storage device. There have been over 13,000 downloads of the Debian/NSLU2 Installer image, and the NSLU2 has been largely credited with making ARM the third-most popular Debian architecture.
All five new releases are now available free at the NSLU2 site.
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