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How to Set up an NSLU2 with a Mac (For Dummies Like Me)

I’ve linked to several articles covering this before, but none of them did the type of “walk-thru for dummies” approach that I was in desperate need of for quite some time. As a result, I felt like an idiot when I figured it out. To save others the same pain, I provide the following:
1. Plug at least one blank USB 2.0 drive into the NSLU2.
2. Plug the NSLU2 into your network and make sure your router and machine are both set to IP addresses in the 192.168.1.xxx family for setting up the device (you can change this later).
3. Launch your browser of choice and type in (the NSLU2’s default IP address). You will be met with a web-interface to the device.
4. Click on Administration. You will be prompted for a login and password. Both are “admin” by default on the NSLU2.
5. You need to let the NSLU2 format your drive before you can make any changes. This is the stupid step that kept me scratching my head for far too long: To do this, you have to click on the “Advanced” link under the management tab. There you will find the “Disk” link that you had been searching for for hours and read so much about (d’uh). Click on it. You will most likely be prompted for the same admin/admin login and password again.
6. Now you will have a page that looks like this:

NSLU2 format page screen shot

Here you can choose to format your disk. Click and wait. It took about 15 minutes to format my 200GB drive.
7. Now go and change all the passwords, create different user accounts / share spaces, etc. through the web-interface.
8. Once you’re done with all the configuration on the NSLU2, click on the Finder, choose Go–>Connect to Server… (or Command+K), type in “smb://” and click Connect. You will be prompted for a user name and password and you can choose whether to mount a share or the disk as a whole (if you didn’t set a data cap on the shares then all of these will be the size of your entire drive). Check the “Add to keychain…” (or whatever it is) box, so that you won’t have to re-enter this information each time you want to connect.
9. After the drive mounts, drag it to your Dock. Ta-da! Now you can connect to your NSLU2’s shared drive space whenever you like by simply clicking on that icon in the Dock!!!

Your USB drive is now formatted in ext3 format, so if you want to ever plug it directly into your Mac, you should go here and download this. If you want to do more crazy hacking with the device, check out these three articles and join the two Yahoo! Groups.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andy Todd 1/27/2005, 9:24 pm

    Thanks very much for putting this on your blog. I used your guide to great effect last night to set up my NSLU2, because frankly the ‘official’ documentation was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

  • C.K. 1/29/2005, 11:04 am

    I’m glad you found it useful. I spent hours trying to figure it all out and am glad to hear that I helped by posting about it. My intention was to help prevent others from having to go through the same digging.

  • Brian Ellis 2/9/2005, 10:14 pm

    Just what I was looking for. Step 2 is where I was going wrong (my D-Link router only uses the 192.168.0.xxx range!). Fortunately I had an old Linksys router that I could use to temporarily network this into. Thanks for the info!

  • Mitch 2/17/2005, 4:28 pm

    This really is a great site. Your “Hack” the nslu2 piece to run an iTunes Server is what inspired me to buy the thing and this page finally got it working!!


  • C.K. 2/17/2005, 4:34 pm

    Thanks, Mitch and Brian. Glad you like the site and find it useful.

  • Ted 2/26/2005, 6:40 pm

    Has anyone here managed to get the NSLU2’s backup software set up to back of their Mac? There seems to be a difficulty in that in System Preferences, I can specify the name of the computer but then to address it, it expects .local. Unfortunately, the NSLU2’s web interface does not like punctuation.

  • Mark Mason 3/25/2005, 5:55 pm

    I have been looking at using “Deja Vu” backup software to backup a Mac to the NSLU2.

  • Paul B 4/5/2005, 4:38 pm

    Can you apply your marvellous talent for making things simple on how to plug directly the drive onto the mac once it’s been reformatted? I did install ExtFS manager but when I plugged my Maxtor OneTouch 300GB into the mac via firewire, the volumes showed up in ExtFS but would not mount (they came up as incorectly formatted). Was I doing something wrong?

    Also, the disk seems to be much slower once connected with the NSLU2 than via Firewire – is that normal?

    Thanks for your help!

  • melquiades 4/17/2005, 9:54 am


    i have searched the web for linksys nas configuration set up.. this article of yours is very helpful..

    do you have configuration setting using windows os..?


  • C.K. Sample, III 4/17/2005, 10:26 am

    Sorry, melquiades, I’ve never tried to set it up on a windows box. That being said, it shouldn’t be that different than what I cover here. Check out the three articles that I link to above.

  • Mike 4/22/2005, 5:49 am

    I’ve read some comments that file serving is slow. Can anyone comment on that? Thanks.

  • C.K. Sample, III 4/22/2005, 8:23 am

    Hey Mike,
    If you are copying large chunks of data it can get sluggish, unless you install the Unslung firmware that unlocks the box / switches it off from Linksys’s default firmware set up.

    However, it has no problem streaming video and audio to multiple computers at once. I usually plug the drive into my computer to copy large bits of data to it, and then boot up the NSLU2 to share those files with the entire network.

  • harofreak00 5/19/2005, 11:28 am

    is there a way to connect the NSLU2 to OS9??? i have it connected to OSX just fine, but isnt recognizing OS9

  • marc 5/27/2005, 7:32 pm

    I’m looking to access ntfs drives on OSX and XP. Is this doable or does it have to be ext3? Would ext3 even work for this purpose? thanks -marc

  • C.K. 5/27/2005, 8:02 pm

    harofreak00, I’m not sure about OS 9. Maybe if you can get it recognized via AppleTalk, but I have no idea how you would go about doing that.

    OSX has no problem with ntfs, but I’m not sure about the XP side of things.

  • CMB 10/3/2005, 3:34 pm

    Thank you very much for posting this! I have a “mixed” marriage. I installed and configured the NSLU2 on a Windows machine and it worked fine for my Windows desktop & laptop. The drive showed up on my husband’s Mac but he could not access it. I had him go directly to your step 8 and voila! He can now access the drive. So I can report that even if the NSLU2 is set up and configured with Windows, this article provides the way for Mac users on the network to also access it. THANKS!

  • linuxboy 10/5/2005, 7:07 am

    no. 13 and no.15,
    it will not work on Mac OS 9 unless you install software on your computer to read the SMB networking protocol or if you ‘re-flash’ the firmware in the NSLU2 to serve up an AppleTalk connection or an FTP conection.
    The second alternative is more risky though as you may void your warrenty or even ‘brick’ your NSLU2
    P.S I am sorry for my spelling, I am only a 12 year old so yeah…

  • vbrtrmn 10/5/2005, 5:24 pm

    There are firmware upgrades for that network drive available from the NSLU2-Linux page, link below, there is also a nice article on De-underclocking the NSLU2, in the HowTo section.


  • Leon 2/7/2006, 12:10 pm

    Hey Mike:

    I can’t thank you enough for making these instructions available. I came across an ad for the NSLU2 and naively went out an bought one. The box only described it for use with PCs, but as a Mac OS X user, I figured there would be a way to set it up since I’d already gone through such a thing with my Linksys WRT4G wireless router.
    It was much harder than I thought until I came across your article. That got me part way there. I’m trying to set the system up so we can automatically back up the family iBook laptop to our Maxtor OnetouchII 300GB drive. At first, I couldn’t get either Retrospect Express or SuperDuper backup software to work. It seemed to stall after transferring around 4GB of data. I then read that the new firmware fixed this problem. So, I upgrade the firmware to the R63 release, reformatted the OneTouch drive in ext3, and mounted the drive via smb:// The drive mounted fine, and last night, SuperDuper was able to back up about half the drive, but the data transfer speed is SLOOOOW (0.3 MB/s). I left for work, and it’s still going.
    Is there something else I need to do to speed this up? Also, I’ve been reading about people hacking this thing by installing Unslung. The first step in doing this hack is confirming that you can access the Redboot> prompt in the event that you screw up and need to manually reinstall the firmware. I’ve tried the OSX steps described for trying to catch the Redboot> telnet prompt that are described on http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/, but many of the commands they recommend don’t work. Have you tried any of this and does it work for you?

  • Leon 2/7/2006, 12:18 pm

    Sorry, I meant to type “Hi Mr. Sample” in the opening greeting. Please forgive the error.

  • Nate 2/27/2006, 11:25 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. The NSLU is a great utility but they really do not provide much support for us Mac users. They ought to attach your comments above to their User Guide. Thank you once again.

  • AM 10/16/2006, 1:22 am

    Not for a Mac user. I have this device and I intend to sell it as soon as I find a repalcement.
    – the EXT2FS driver to mount EXT3 drives does not work with NSLU2’s Journalled EXT3 format – so the drives CANNOT be accessed via USB or FIrewire on a Mac – you can see the drives in Disk Utility but you cannot mount them via the EXT2FS preference pane.
    – Using FAT32 is unacceptable due to the 2GB file size limit and more importantly – you cannot change the default admin password if you dont have an EXT3 formatted drive attached!! This is a major security hole – your data floating around on the network without even a password (actually a dumb password).
    – if you accept the default EXT3 format, if the NSLU2 stopped working there is no way to recover the data without buying another NSLU2…!

    This device is not for Mac OS X users.

  • Keith Horinouchi 11/14/2006, 4:07 pm

    Thanks for the information on setting it up for a Mac network. I have the NSLU2 connected to a router and an Airport Extreme. But I am having problems downloading large data (my iPhoto library). After a while it comes up with an error -36 and then drops connection. It also seems like I have to restart the device after each time it drops the connection. What is this -36 stand for and how do you keep the connection live all the time without having to restart the NSLU2?

    Thanks for you help.

  • d 11/25/2007, 5:42 pm

    Hi useful informative articles on using the slug
    your links to Toms hardware just go the current home page,
    searching with your titles gets ‘not found’ response.

  • David 12/4/2007, 4:13 pm

    Great instructions, but there’s an even easier way. My router was setup on a different IP address and only allowed certain MAC addresses to connect. Instead of following the instructions above I booted up my MacBook, turned off wireless, turned on built-in ethernet, set the IP to, the subnet to and left the router, DNS and the rest empty. I then applied these changes and connected the NSLU2 directly to the ethernet port on the MacBook. The NSLU2 was ‘on’ and there was a blank USB drive attached to ‘disk 2’. I opened the browser and surfed to and there was the NSLU2 ready and waiting to be configured. I then followed your instructions to format the disk, changed the IP to match my home network, checked the MAC address was as indicated on the NSLU2 packaging (it was), rebooted the NSLU2 and connected it to the router – everything worked fine, first time. Of course, it was connected to a Mac, so I expected it to ‘just work’. I have this vague recollection that Macs can tell when a network cable is directly connected to another machine and act as a crossover cable … whatever, it was up-and-running in minutes, patched to firmware v.63 a few minutes later and left to get on with things. Firmware upgrade takes longer than expected considering the file is only ~8Mb. Enjoy ;-)

  • Cmdrfish 12/22/2007, 1:24 pm

    Did basically the same thing as David. Found out that it had a address of, when I was running a 192.168.0.x lan address, so I used a standard Cat 5 cable and hooked it directly to my PM G5 and accessed the NAS directly. Changed the address on the NAS and then restarted it back on my router.
    It found my Fat32 HD, but said my HFS+ needed formatting. Saw what you wrote about needing to format it using the NAS to format it as EXT3. That worked. Mounted it on my desktop and transferring the files via ethernet. Was hoping to avoid that problem since I will have to transfer about 150G via my Network instead of USB2/ Firewire ( my ext drives have both capabilities.. OUCH …my slower). Oh well, cant expect to get Gigabit ethernet on a $50 NAS, can I …??? So far so good.

  • Lisa Marie 10/17/2008, 8:54 am

    This is helpful I think. I am using both a mac and a pc. I am using the linksys with an airport extreme and a western digital 1t hd. I had no trouble setting up on the linksys on my pc and no trouble on the mac book pro. I even got both to do auto backups. However at some point in the backup process on the mac–the linksys disappeared and I have not been able to get it to reappear. I can still access the linksys on my pc laptop and desktop. What am I missing?

  • c.k. 10/17/2008, 9:55 am

    Hmm… did your MacBook Pro switch wireless networks mid backup? Make sure you’re on the correct network and if so, you may need to flush the machine’s cache. To do so, download Onyx for OS X and give it a whirl.