DNS-323 review

i bought a d-link dns-323 a little while ago. it is an embedded linux NAS device. plop two SATA drives in it, plug it in to the ethernet port and it’s ready to go.

from a performance standpoint, it does reasonably well. on the wire, it does about 10-12MB/s. in my wireless network, it has no problems streaming out the files to my media device. pure speed was not really as important as network storage was for me and this device has been doing great in those regards.

part of what made this device attractive for me was not only the cheap, big NAS abilities, but the fact that it uses linux and is hackable. installing a telnet daemon was a snap. installing ssh is actually a little bit more of a chore, but is certainly do-able. i don’t think that i’m going to go through the hassle of setting up ssh, though. i’m not exposing the telnet port to the outside for now.

a problem that i’ve noticed with telnet is that i seem to drop some keystrokes every so often in my telnet window. this is frustrating, but i don’t spend too much time in the shell anyway, so it’s tolerable, but very, very annoying.

once telnet was installed, the next thing that i installed fonz’s fun plug which gives you busybox, rsync, and the like. this gives you a good set of basic unix commands. busybox is a pretty cool little package.

anyhow, once that was installed, i was able to install mldonkey. an edonkey, bittorrent, etc. client on the NAS. i primarily use the bittorrent client features, but have used edonkey as well. though mldonkey does have a web interface, you can also use sancho to remotely administer the client. i personally use the web interface, but sancho’s interface is nicer and cleaner.

so mldonkey is a linux command-line p2p client. it does work, but here are my gripes about the client.
1) it can be slow. this doesn’t mean that it is inherently slow, but for not-so-popular torrents, mldonkey does not appear to have DHT support, only http trackers can be used. this limits the client’s ability to seek out seeders. for torrents that have a lot of seeders in the tracker that you’ve pointed to, it works fine.

2) webUI could use a little work. it’s not awful and it works, but it isn’t beautiful either. not like uTorrent’s webUI.

3) no rss reader. some people have found ways to get mldonkey to read rss feeds with scripts, but i haven’t invested the time to get this to work within the DNS-323 environment. i just installed php on the DNS-323, so i might write a PHP script to parse RSS feeds and add them to mldonkey. luckily, there’s crond installed on the DNS-323 so once i figure out how to script it, it won’t be too bad. still, i wish mldonkey had native RSS support.

but, the device is working great. hacking it was a snap, d-link actually had left in a provision to let people hack this device pretty easily. i suspect it was actually so that they could push out upgrades easily, but it’s nice that we are able to exploit it pretty easily.

as soon as i figure out my RSS feed issue i think that i’ll be thrilled with the solution. it sure does beat having to leave the computer on all the time.

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