I’ve had a PogoPlug for a little more than a year.
The pluses to the device are:
- It’s an easy way for a home user to convert old drives into network attached storage
- You can access your files from anywhere you have an internet connection.
- Drives connected to the device appear as local drives (even across the internet).
- It can convert video files to play on (supposedly) any device.
There are some down sides too:
- The video conversion is slow (not completely unexpected with a low-power, always-on device)
- The client software requires a new login after every boot.
- The attached drive sometimes “disappears” until you tell the software to “reload” it.
- My experience with the Android application has been that it’s a bit flaky.
All in all, it’s an interesting device and I can definitely see where home users might find it useful if they’re comfortable with the fact that you need to login via a third-party service (the My PogoPlug service), even when you’re accessing it a home. (If Cloud Engines ever goes out of business, PogoPlug owners may find themselves with an unusable device.)
Part of my reason for acquiring the PogoPlug in the first place was that it seemed like a potentially inexpensive way to accomplish a few things on my home network:
- File sharing between my various computers.
- Running a private web server I could access without switching the main computer on.
- Running a private subversion server.
Goal 1 was easy enough to accomplish straight out of the box. Goals 2 and 3 were going to take some work.
When I finally decided to hack the PogoPlug, a Google search led me to LifeHacker’s tutorial on turning the device into a “Full-Featured Linux Web Server.” It was a good starting place, but in the end I decided to follow the source instructions from PlugApps.com. (CAUTION: As it says on the PlugApps instructions, hacking your PogoPlug will void the warranty.)
My initial install was onto a 4GB SanDisk Cruzer flash drive. The initial reboot came up fine, but later boots tended to come back to PogoPlug Linux, which after the first steps of the install would no longer connect to the MyPogoPlug service. If I manually mounted and mounted the thumb drive before running /sbin/reboot, that would take me over to PlugBox Linux, but going through those steps repeatedly is a pain. I reran the install for PlugBox Linux using a no-name 16GB drive and it’s been working reliably ever since (I love that storage has become so cheap that I had a 16GB drive “just laying around”).
To accomplish Goal #1 (file sharing), I installed Samba. It works like a champ and I’ve been able to back to doing my backups to a network drive.
To accomplish Goal #2 (private web sever), LifeHacker’s instructions did the job. By default, the web site is served out of /srv/http, and there’s also an ftp site in /srv/ftp.
Goal #3 took some guesswork. I didn’t see any mention of Subversion on PlugApps, but I made a guess and ran pacman -Sy subversion. I haven’t got around to setting up svnserve to run as a daemon at boot time, but it’s running right now. (Getting it set up as a daemon will require putting a script in /etc/rc.d/ and adding it to the list of daemons at the end of /etc/rc.conf.)
So mission accomplished. Not bad for a $100 device.