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DNS-323 fun

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Got a new toy: a NAS device (Network Attached Storage) from D-Link called DNS-323. This little piece is just a little bit bigger than two 3.5 hard drives stuck together. It is basically sold as a mass storage with a network plug but under the hood is a tiny Linux 2.6 running Samba and an ftp server to share files. D-Link played the game and released the sources for all software running on the box, which allowed me to discover my name in the credits. It is not the first time I buy a piece of hardware running my own code but it is always a nice surprise!



Several links of interest:

The obligatory Wiki summarizes everything you always wanted to know about the DNS-323:

The Linux image you get in the firmware is very limited. To enhance it to support e.g. telnet or ssh login, you need to install more software.  Fortunately the guys at D-Link made it quite easy by adding a hook at the end of the boot process to run your own scripts, so it all boils down to installing a couple of files through Samba and rebooting the machine a couple of times. No risk of bricking the beast since you always keep clear of the firmware itself, though it is possible to build your own firmware if you really want to.

The two packages I settled upon are:

Fonz Fun Plug (ffp)

This one comes with a fairly limited number of pre-built packages but is nonetheless useful to enhance the box. Since it runs as root in the same Linux instance as the firmware, you can access all parts of the machine through your usual Linux commands.


This HOWTO explains how to run a full-fledged Debian distribution inside a chroot jail on your DNS-323. It is absolutely incredible to see a Debian install come to life on such a small machine! I did not even know Debian had been ported to so many different platforms. Since the whole distribution runs inside a chroot jail it does not mix too well with the original Linux firmware though. As long as you stay in userspace you should be Ok but anything related to machine administration is better served with FFP.

Other guys have replaced the original firmware with a true Debian image but that is going a little too far for me. Bricking the box requires some soldering on the mainboard to get access, and I am not going to do that.
All in all a very happy surprise and yet another headless box on my home network!

Written by nicolas314

Sunday 1 March 2009 at 2:00 am

Posted in dns323

Tagged with , , ,