August 20, 2011

Linksys NSLU2 and OpenWrt

I have two Linksys NSLU2's that I bought three years ago, during the early days of this blog, to use as print servers. I chose to run the Unslung firmware and use CUPS as the print server. Unfortunately, after using them for a while, I discovered that NSLU2+CUPS was not stable enough for volume printing, and as I was able to get p910nd to run completely stable on a number of other wireless routers, so I had set the NSLU2's aside and switched to using wireless routers with USB ports. I loved the NSLU2's for what they're capable of, but a wireless router doubling as a print server and an access point is far more practical than a single purpose print server that needed a USB flash drive to work.

Recently I suddenly needed additional print servers to support our growing printing needs, and because the WRT160NL was discontinued, I decided to dust off the NSLU2's off and install OpenWrt on them. I thought that since OpenWrt has a much smaller footprint, and if I'm only going to install p910nd and the necessary USB support, it should fit the onboard memory.

I had to use VMware to run the Sercomm upgrade utility, since it doesn't work with Windows 7. When the NSLU2 is placed into recovery mode for flashing, it automatically takes an IP address of, so I had to change my VMware's IP address to the same subnet. I installed the latest version of OpenWrt "Backfire" which is 10.03.1-RC5 as of this writing.

After flashing, the NSLU2 automatically changed its IP address to Because I did the flashing inside VMware, and I could configure the NSLU2 using a web browser in Windows 7, I actually had to change my Windows 7's IP address to connect to the NSLU2. I gave it a new IP address to go with my LAN, and plugged it into the LAN.

After that, I installed the p910nd and the USB support packages. These packages are needed: kmod-usb-core, kmod-usb-printer, kmod-usb-uhci, kmod-usb-ohci, kmod-usb2, p910nd, luci-app-p910nd. I was mostly concerned whether I would have enough memory, but as the image shows, no problems there.

After enabling p910nd and plugging in my USB printer, I could print right away without any problems, but after some testing, I found that once in a while I get a timeout when the print jobs are finishing up, which suggested that I needed to disable bi-directional signaling on the print server, and there's an option for that. One funny thing about OpenWrt on the NSLU2 is that it doesn't turn on the power LED light by default, but there's an option for that too.

So I'm happy with the NSLU2's again.

August 19, 2011

Upgrade pains

Sometimes I hate buying new hardware. It's one thing to experiment with new hardware, learning and breaking things in the process, but it's another thing when you've experimented enough and want to put the newly gained knowledge into production use, but only to find out shortly later that everything was in vain since that particular piece of hardware was discontinued.

This happened recently with the Linksys WRT160NL. I've wrote about the WRT160NL previously and mentioned that it was quickly turning into my favorite router. Coupled with recent versions of DD-WRT (17201 as of this writing) it's an extremely stable and capable wireless router. I have a number of them running as regular routers (ha!) as well as USB print servers and VPN servers. Unfortunately when I tried to buy more recently, the shops told me they're discontinued and want me to buy the Linksys Cisco E2000 or E3000 instead. I know the E2000 and E3000 are newer dual band routers with gigabit Ethernte ports, but I already have the WRT160NL running smoothly, buying an entirely different series would mean starting everything over again, and with a different chipset too. (Atheros vs. Broadcom.)

After some research, I found that the Cisco E2100L is the equivalent of the WRT160NL. Unfortunately, the E2100L isn't available locally. I called all my suppliers and they managed to find three WRT160NL's for me, so I bought them right away to keep them for future use. Over the past few months I've also recommended the WRT160NL to serveral friends, so I'm actually tempted to buy the E2000 to exchange with their WRT160NL's. I wish I still lived in the States as the WRT160NL is still available from (Don't trust those reviews on

Still, it looks like it's time to break more things again.

August 7, 2011

I'm a computer, not a tablet

I hate Gmail's new look, and I hate Google Calendar's new look even more. I always thought Google is big on the usability front, but apparently they either think everyone's using huge 22" monitors, or everyone's using tablet computers.

P.S. The above is an actual screen capture of Google Calendar's new look from my notebook. None of my events can fit properly on the monthly calendar view.