In a Nutshell
* Web-based management
* Supports Linux/Samba, Windows, and Macintosh/AppleShare clients
* No Web or DNS services
* No hard disk expansion
* Web browser
* None significant
* Autosensing 10/100 Mbps
* Support offered 24/7
* No Linux-specific support available
* Two years replacement on drive warranty
Setting up a Linux file and print server gets easier with every new crop of distributions, but none of them can match the ease with which anyone can set up and use Linksys’ GigaDrive 20. Because the installation program and documentation are designed for Windows, we were able to configure and use the GigaDrive in fifteen minutes using a Windows 98 workstation.
Using the GigaDrive with a Linux workstation took a bit longer because we had to dig into the documentation to find the default IP address for its built-in Ethernet adapter (192.168.0.2). Aiming Netscape Navigator at this same IP address provided access to the Web-based management interface, and from there everything went as smooth as silk. Another helpful touch is that the GigaDrive’s DHCP server is enabled by default, providing instant access from any workstation using DHCP.
GigaDrive runs Red Hat Linux 6.0, a fact well hidden from the outside world, while the Apache Web server provides its management interface. The management Web pages do not use https, but GigaDrive does have Linux’s solid user- and group-level security.
GigaDrive uses Samba to share the printer port located on the back of the unit as well as the 20 GB hard drive. Samba is preconfigured to use share-based security, so multiple disk shares can be used to provide secure access to information.
One thoughtful addition is the uplink button on the drive that effectively swaps the wires on the Ethernet connection and eliminates the need for a special crossover cable to connect the drive directly to a PC instead of to a network hub. This can be very handy when changing configurations.
The front panel uses a row of LEDs, updated in real time, to show the amount of hard-disk space used, and the unit will sound an alarm on boot up if the hard-drive utilization is over 98 percent. The system will also sound its alarm and perform a shutdown if it becomes overheated.
We were disappointed that the Apache Web server cannot be used as a general Web server. GigaDrive can still serve up static Web pages, of course, but the lack of a DNS server means users have to use the IP address in URLs, as in http://192.168.0.2.
The GigaDrive is reasonably priced compared to other network access storage (NAS) devices on the market. While a typical 20 GB EIDE hard disk drive like the GigaDrive’s 7200rpm Seagate Barracuda costs about $200, that doesn’t include a processor, motherboard, Ethernet adapter, and other components. You could cook up your own alternative to GigaDrive using a free copy of Linux and a desktop PC, but you wouldn’t save much money, and you’d find out how tricky such configuration can be. On the other hand, GigaDrive does lack an upgrade option, making storage expansion more expensive than simply adding another drive.
GigaDrive is an excellent choice for small networks where users and administrators have relatively little net-work experience. It’s ideal for the new Linux user who has a few Ethernet-based workstations and needs a file and print server, but doesn’t want to become a server admin in the process.