Pogoplugs are great little storage devices, but they can do more than they let on. Let’s take a look at how you can hack a Pogoplug into a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) web server.
This is a fun little project, but it does take some time and patience. Be sure to set aside a few hours this weekend to get it up and running. That said, let’s get started!
The video above will take you through the entire process, which is mostly based on the great tutorials at plugapps.com. The video won’t cover backing up your Pogoplug, which is something you should probably do, and also how to install NginX in place of Apache.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A Pogoplug
- A USB flash drive
- A computer
Installing Plugbox Linux
First things first, make sure SSH is enabled on your Pogoplug. You can’t connect to it without it. To turn on SSH and set your SSH password, log in at my.pogoplug.com, click Settings, then Security, and check the box to enable SSH.
With ssh enabled, you can connect to your Pogoplug. You’ll need it’s IP address, so check your router’s DHCP client table to find it. Once you’ve got it, open up whatever application you use to SSH and enter:
[email protected][YOUR POGOPLUG'S IP ADDRESS]
You’ll be prompted for the password you just set on my.pogoplug.com. Enter it and you’re in! Before we get started, let’s kill Pogoplug’s services so they don’t get in the way:
Backing up your Pogoplug’s flash memory is probably a good idea at this point, but we’re not going to go into the details here. The next step you need to take is install the new uBoot onto mtd0. To do this, enter the following:
chmod +x install_uboot_mtd0.sh
You’ll be prompted about three times. Any sort of hack like this could potentially brick your device, so beware. Also, even if you follow these instructions verbatim, your installation could fail. The new uBoot install script thought I’d already installed a new uBoot. It gave me an option to override which worked just fine (but it’s a risky move):
Once uBoot’s installed, plug in your flash drive and unplug any hard drives currently connected. We’re going to destroy all data on the flash drive, so if there’s anything on it you’re going to miss, I’d back it up now. To partition properly we’re going to need to run fdisk:
In fdisk, type p to see all the partitions on your flash drive. You’re going to need to get rid of them, so type d 1 to get rid of the first. Depending on how many partitions you have, you’ll need to keep going. Use d 2 for the second partition, d 3 for the third, etc. When you’re done, type p to list the partitions again. You should see no partitions at all. Success? Then it’s time to create a new partition. You can do that by typing n. Press enter, then type p to designate this partition as the primary partition. Press enter again and type 1 to specify that this is the first partition on the flash drive. After that, you’ll need to press enter a few more times to accept the defaults and fdisk will do its job. When it’s all done, type w to exit.
After you’ve created the partition, you’ll need to download mke2fs to format the flash drive. Use the following commands to make that happen:
chmod 755 mke2fs
mount /dev/sda1 usb
Next, download and install Plugbox Linux (this is going to take a while):
tar -xzvf Plugbox-Linux-1.1-rootfs.tar.gz # This will take a long time
If everything worked out well, change back to the tmp directory (either cd .. or cd /tmp will do) and unmount the USB drive:
If everything worked well, your Plugbox should be accessible again shortly. It may have been assigned a new IP address, so check your router’s DHCP table again. If names are displayed with the IP addresses, it should be labelled “Plugbox”.
SSH back in again, because there are a few more things we’ll want to do. First, update your Plugbox’s packages:
You may need to run this a couple of times because pacman itself may need an update. Once pacman’s done, you’ll want to do a couple of other things.
- Set a new root password by typing passwd, pressing enter, and then typing the new password you want.
- Set the date by typing date MMDDhhmmYYYY, replacing MM with the two-digit month, DD with the two-digit date, hh with the two-digit hour (in 24-hour time), mm with the two-digit minute and YYYY with the four-digit year.
That’s it! Now you have Linux up and running on your Plugbox.
If you didn’t catch it earlier, LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. We have Linux taken care of, so here’s how to install the rest.
We’ll need Pacman to install a couple of things. First, let’s have Pacman grab the latest Apache, MySQL and PHP:
pacman -Sy apache mysql php
This will take a few minutes, but when it’s done, we’ll also need to install apachectl so we can actually start apache:
pacman -Sy lynx
Some of the next steps were already taken care of for me, but just in case, here’s what you need to do. If you don’t already have an http user, you’ll need to add one:
useradd -d /srv/http -r -s /bin/false -U http
If you already have one and the command fails, no harm done. In some cases you may not be able to add one if you haven’t changed your root password. Log out of your Plugbox and ssh back in to set a new root password if you’re having any trouble.
Next, you need to edit your /etc/hosts file:
You should see something like 127.0.0.1 localhost.localdomain localhost. That last part (localhost) may need to change. Basically, it needs to match what’s in /etc/rc.conf. If it doesn’t, starting Apache will fail. In my case, I just needed to change localhost to Plugbox, because Plugbox was the hostname set in /etc/rc.conf. Really, you just need to change one. To check out what your hostname is in rc.conf, use the following command (and scroll down until you see it):
Once you’ve got both names matching and saved, you can try to start Apache:
It’ll say [DONE]if it worked, but you’ll want to head to your Pogoplug’s local IP address to make sure.
Further configuration is up to you at this point, but be sure to check out plugapps.com for lots more information on what you can do with your brand new Pogoplug web server.