Sam Newman's site, a Consultant at ThoughtWorks

A laptop malfunction this week caused me to re-evaluate my backup strategy. I’ve decided against the “don’t back anything up” approach, in favour of the “backing things up is actually quite useful” approach. The laptop was fixed thanks to our helpful admin guy, however I’ve taken the hint.

The most important thing I had to consider when planning my back strategy is that I’m lazy – really lazy. If I have to even push a button to start a backup, chances are it isn’t going to get done very often. A quick poke around the hardware sites turned up the “Linksys Network Storage Link”: (NSL). Simply put, the NSL lets you plug a couple of external USB drives in, and allows you network access via the wonders of Samba. The front end admin console lets you schedule backups of networked computers, which sounded right up my alley – now all I have to do is remember to leave my laptop turned on overnight (which is still asking a lot). I’ve ordered one from “EBuyer”: along with a “Maxtor external drive”:, which should arrive next week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Whilst I was reading the review of the NSL at Tom’s Hardware, I discovered that some enterprising soul had taken it upon themselves to hack the device. At it’s heart, the NSL is just an Intel network processor with some flash and ram – Jim Buzbee then “worked out(HowTo: Hacking the Linksys NSLU2 – Part 1)”: how to telnet to the device. Since then a large amount of work has gone on, with Jim going on to “run an iTunes server(Hacking the Linksys NSLU2 – Part 3 – Adding an iTunes server)”: on the device.

A “whole community(Linux on the NSLU2)”: has now sprung up with activity progressing on many fronts. A custom flash image is now available, and the RedHat fedora core has already been ported to the device. My dream is to get a Subversion or CVS server running on the device, although perhaps even more useful would be to get “SlimDevices'”: “SlimServer”: running – then I can stream my music off a virtually silent external drive straight to my stereo without a PC in sight! Of course, then I’d have to buy a “Squeezebox”:

4 Responses to “Laptop failure provokes a spending spree”

  1. Nat Pryce

    I’ve had a similar accident recently; a torrential thunderstorm can turn a laptop screen into a beautiful psychedelic light show. What I missed most was my private keys. I now keep them on a solid-state USB drive on my key ring alongside my “real” keys.

  2. Eric Pugh

    I’ve been running a batch file script w/ robosync to copy all the important files between a share on my wife’s laptop and mine, and vice versa. It works, (and I did some neat batch file stuff to dynamically resolve IP addresses) but isn’t very elegant. I’ve been looking for a soho solution, and will look for your follow up post!


  3. Sam Newman

    I’m still waiting for the order to arrive – everyone in the UK seems to be out of stock right now. I’ll post a followup when I get it set up.

  4. Matthias Willerich

    Man, this is quite useful. Considering that I already own an external USB drive, and I’m actually too lazy to hook it up, to set up a backup strategy, and so on. I’ll definetely gonna buy this when I’m in the US for Thanksgiving. Backup AND iTunes… and all automatic… yep, definetely please write about it once you’ve set it up.


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