Linux and The Linksys EtherFast Instant GigaDrive

This product provides 20GB of instant storage to your Linux or “other operating” system LAN without the hassle of adding a keyboard, monitor or mouse.
In Use

Although I was initially disappointed that only Samba was supported, I found that performing a Linux SMB mount was just as easy as using NFS, if not easier. With the ability to mount your remote share, there's really no reason to use FTP or another means of file transfers.

Although one normally avoids creating SUID root programs, a simple

# chmod 4711 /usr/bin/smbmnt
# chmod 4711 /usr/bin/smbumount

will allow you to quickly and easily mount public shares locally like this:

# smbmount //gigi/public backup
After entering your password, you'll find all your public shares on the GigaDrive files mounted locally (in this case, in the local directory named “backup” from the GigaDrive named “gigi”).

Hacking the GigaDrive

I knew there had to be more to the GigaDrive besides a simple web-based interface. Heck, I wanted to be able to use TELNET to log in to the machine and peek around its insides, behind the facade of CGI scripts. But I worried a little about what would happen if the system became corrupted or a problem developed with the GigaDrive.

I e-mailed Linksys tech support with some questions and received a speedy reply, which shows good customer support. According to Linksys technical support, if the GigaDrive “crashes, you would have to RMA it... at this time there are no restore disks for the gigadrive to restore it yet.”

This is quite interesting, because when I looked at the Windows CD-ROM included with the GigaDrive, I found out that the CD is actually a Red Hat Linux 2.0.36 install CD with a custom install program to restore the GigaDrive's file system on a new drive!

It took me about 20 minutes to figure out how to enable TELNET on the GigaDrive. One way to do this is to remotely run a simple, undocumented CGI script installed on the drive. After another 20 minutes, I was able to get the Red Hat system's root password, figure out a special TELNET user password and then TELNET in to the GigaDrive, gain root access and create my own user account “behind” the Samba and web-based interface. From there, it was a simple matter to copy favorite libc5-based clients, such as the pico text editor, onto the Red Hat file system. This will also be necessary if you want to install (unsupported) NFS or FTP service on your GigaDrive.

Now, before you throw your hands up in horror (“Oh my God! Anyone can get into our GigaDrive!”), you should know that cracking the root password won't do any good unless you can gain TELNET access (root TELNET access is denied through a TCP wrapper, and TELNET is disabled by default). The base Red Hat 2.0.36 system on the GigaDrive also uses shadow passwords, and you cannot get the special TELNET user password unless you know something about your GigaDrive—I'm not going to say what.

The GigaDrive is quite secure when properly installed and configured. There is no way a casual or even determined cracker can gain access, unless you leave your own password on your desktop or under your doormat.

I really like my “gigi” GigaDrive, and I really like Linksys for its hardware support for the Linux community. I heartily recommend the GigaDrive for any home, home-office or small-business user who needs quick, inexpensive, on-line and secure storage for a small network. You can also find the GigaDrive at a discounted price if you shop around, which makes this Linksys product a winner in a growing field of instant-storage devices.

Bill Ball (bball@staffnet.com) is the author of numerous books about Linux, but still doesn't know what to do with his multiple copies of shrink-wrapped Microsoft operating system software and CD-ROMs. He is a member of the Northern Virginia Linux Users Group.

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