Seagate GoFlex Net, debianized

This is kind of an update to a previous article focussed on puitting Debian onto a Dockstar. In the meantime — it’s two years since the Dockstar was famous (and cheap; or: famous because it was so damned cheap :-)) –, it’s SATA brother, the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Net (yes, a long name; STAK200 is the product code), dropped into the 30 EUR prince range, and, frankly, if you do use the USB bus for anything, like e. g. stream DVB off attached devices, you do not want your system’s normal disk I/O gets in the way here.

But, first things first, a warning: Seagate secretly ceased to support SSH login into the GoFlex Net (GFN). That’s at least true for my boxes ordered off Amazon in early August 2012 as well. I don’t know the story behind it, but Pogoplug devices historically were ssh-able into, so this change to me is an affront to the user base; for the time being, I’ll don’t buy anything from Seagate anymore (like: HDDs), except for more “hacker toys”.
The good news: Since the GFN features a 3.3V serial interface on a pin header, see this post for details, it’s still a nicely hackable device — especially for it’s current price –, so I’ll still go for it. Besides, the GFN comes with Pogoplug service, so that alone is a nice addon for an USB port, 2 SATA ports and a 1 GBit/sec network port at only a bit more than 30 EUR — even if you don’t want to hack it ;)

GoFlex Net serial

Serial connection at the GoFlex Net

So, as said, easy ssh-ing in, like I did on my first GFN about a year ago, is no more. But just remove the downside of the GFN, and you’ll see a pin header labelled J1, just connect your 3.3V serial converter to it (RX TX GND are the last three pins in the lower row) and, at 115k, you’re set ;)

Updating the U-Boot bootloader is a snap nowadays, thanks to Jeff Dozan and the people in his forum; just follow the instruction from Jeff after being connected to the booted GFN over serial. But beware: my GFN ceased to boot into default, i. e. Seagates Pogoplugged Linux, anymore. So, if you want to retain the default install (good idea e. g. on disk failures), you might need to dig around a bit more — I’m only interested in running plain Debian on the box, so I don’t mind much.

To use the GFN properly with Debian, you neet to fetch your GFN and SATA supporting Kernel from this thread, since Debian Wheezy still — as of 2012-08-19 — doesn’t support the Seagate GoFlex Net:

Error: unrecognized/unsupported machine ID (r1 = 0x00000c11).

Available machine support:

ID (hex)        NAME
00000690        Marvell DB-88F6281-BP Development Board
00000691        Marvell RD-88F6192-NAS Development Board
00000692        Marvell RD-88F6281 Reference Board
0000078c        Marvell 88F6281 GTW GE Board
00000a76        Marvell eSATA SheevaPlug Reference Board
00000831        Marvell SheevaPlug Reference Board
00000a63        Marvell GuruPlug Reference Board
00000bb6        Seagate FreeAgent DockStar
0000085b        QNAP TS-119/TS-219
000009c6        QNAP TS-41x
00000b44        Marvell OpenRD Ultimate Board
00000939        Marvell OpenRD Client Board
00000915        Marvell OpenRD Base Board
0000089a        LaCie Network Space Max v2
000008a0        LaCie Internet Space v2
00000899        LaCie Network Space v2
0000089b        LaCie d2 Network v2
0000089e        LaCie 5Big Network v2
0000089c        LaCie 2Big Network v2
00000b1e        HP t5325 Thin Client
ffffffff        Marvell Kirkwood (Flattened Device Tree)

Please check your kernel config and/or bootloader.

To use the new kernel with SATA, be sure to have 3089 set in the U-Boot environment as the arcNumber if the GFN; Linux »recognizes« the ARM devices based on that, and if it’s set to the wrong number, you end up with a not booting Kernel or some features of your devices (like SATA on the GFN) aren’t supported.

That’s it, basically. Having to use a non-Debian kernel is a PITA for stuff like DVB, as you need to (re-) compile your kernel and all the modules yourself to make full use of it — but as I did this for my first GFN already; I don’t mind. The GFN is much better suited to act as a VDR server than the Dockstar, as SATA does not interfere as much as USB storage on the Dockstar with DVB reception/streaming.