Debian on NSLU2 With USB Hard Disk and Homeplug Network

This is an update on my NSLU2 1-Wire project. I wanted to use a wired Ethernet to WLAN adapter to connect the NSLU2 to the rest of the world, but I couldn’t make it work right away so I decided to use a power line Ethernet adapter instead of digging further into the problem. The system diagram now looks like this:

This is the way the system looks at the moment and I’ll start working on adding the 1-Wire components in the coming days. Here’s a link to the original diagram: NSLU2 1-Wire thermometer system

The power line Ethernet adapter, also called Homeplug, is one I bought from ZyXEL, model PLA-401 v3. There are only 2 connections, mains and Ethernet, so it’s really easy to use. You’ll need two units, one in each end of your power line network:

Here’s a picture of the system built according to the above diagram, with a 30 GB Quantum Fireball hard disk connected via USB:

And what better place to hide it than inside my home aquaponics system?:

Charlotte insisted that the aquaponics system had to be covered with white sheets, now that it has been set up in the corner of the living room, and it actually turned out to be a quite neat looking setup:

… just imagine how much electronics I could fit in thereĀ  – mmm… ;-)

The NSLU2 system is now close to the outer wall so I should be easy to get the 1-Wire cable outside to be able to measure outside temperature, both air and soil. And why not add a soil moisture sensor while we’re at it, or perhaps a rain sensor? Being right underneath the aquaponics system should make it easy to measure water temperature and pH too. The good thing about 1-Wire is that you can have many different IC’s connected to the bus at the same time on different addresses.

Getting the NSLU2 up and running with Debian is alway a bit challenging, at least for me, so here’s a brief description for reference:

  1. Google ‘nslu2 debian’ to get to the current installation instructions. I found them at
  2. Install upslug2 on Ubuntu laptop: sudo apt-get install upslug2
  3. Download software from
  4. Unpack to di-nslu2.bin (8.0 MB)
  5. Power off NSLU2 and disconnect USB hard disk
  6. Put NSLU2 into upgrade mode
  7. Check that NSLU2 can be reached on the intranet: sudo upslug2
  8. Install Debian installer on NSLU2: sudo upslug2 -i di-nslu2.bin
  9. Power off NSLU2 and connect USB hub and hard disk
  10. Find IP address of NSLU2 on the intranet: nmap -sP
  11. Start Debian installer on NSLU2: ssh installer@, password install
  12. Go to shell inside installer and set up name server: nano /etc/resolv.conf (DON’T reboot afterwards)
  13. Follow the instructions by the Debian installer for the next 4 hours… 8-|

Tip: If you can’t connect to the NSLU2 try removing the known hosts file on your laptop: rm .ssh/known_hosts

Now it’s time to add some 1-Wire components and install more software on the NSLU2 to be able to communicate with the 1-Wire IC’s.

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