OpenWRT on a Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar

The Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar aims to make all of your stuff available online. It serves that purpose but sometimes you just want more options for controlling your hardware and running some scripts. [Eric Cooper] put together a guide for installing OpenWRT on the Dockstar by building your own kernel and loading it onto the internal storage. Once you have a kernel that will play nicely with the hardware, you can install it by tunneling in through SSH; the same method you would use if you wanted to run Linux on this hardware. If you have problems along the way, [Eric's] also included a guide for cracking the Dockstar open and connecting a serial cable.


  1. Spork says:

    That’s awesome, basically a cheap ($30 on amazon) file server/NAS box? Useful and cheap, just the way hackers like it!

    Bet you could just use a buspirate instead of a serial cable, too.

  2. walt says:

    yeah. pretty cool hack! …no.. wait. it’s just a pretty cool ad.

  3. girrrrrrr2 says:

    Someone get this running along with a Hak5’s pineapple!

  4. marco says:

    got a few of these on a few weeks back for $25 or so knowing that someone had to have figured them out. just unpacked one for the first time last night as a matter of fact

  5. sM10sM20 says:


    This is a quality project and a great writeup. Now we all know its fun to criticize… but honestly stop being such a whinny b**ch.


  6. nave.notnilc says:

    isn’t openwrt more for routers? install debian instead, way more useful for general server-y stuff

  7. Mike says:

    …just conned my wife into letting me buy one.

  8. T313C0mun1s7 says:

    @Mike I hope she reads this – LOL

  9. Nicolas says:

    I just ordered 3 pcs from Rueducommerce website in France.
    They have a special discount for it, 15.90 Euros.

    This is probably the deal of the year ; -)

  10. Drone says:

    Nice Work ;-)

  11. Just me says:

    So, is there enough power to run
    * iptables
    * 3G USB network Ethernet router
    * NFS
    * apache or something?

    If so, I’ll buy one!

  12. Erwin says:

    So buy some, load 1TB porn on it and make public ftp server on it, index it into proisk and now its useful.

  13. Just me says:

    I’ll answer to myself: It has enough power, so I’ll buy one :) Happy hacking to me :) Thanks for the ad, HaD.

  14. I’ve got a couple of these and I highly recommend them.

    Not to steal his thunder, but I’ve got my instructions which are way easier, and don’t include patching or compiling:

    You can easily find them for under $10 on ebay, a super deal.

  15. Just me says:

    American hackers, please buy some Dockstars and sell them on eBay with some realistic shipping & handling. Those Dockstars are far too expensive here in Europe compared to USD 25 prices out there. Thanks :)

  16. M4CGYV3R says:

    Are there any good resources on how to build scripts for Open-WRT?

    I can program a full 3D graphical program but I can’t for the life of me figure out shell scripting.

  17. cpmike says:

    I got one of these on woot a while back, as soon as it showed up I cracked it open, mounted an internal memory stick into it, and installled Plugbox Linux on it. Its cool, a little 1.2mhz cpu, boots from flash… worth the investment if you are looking for a cheap, sufficiently powerful cpu unit.

  18. Dmnhunter says:

    I was one of the pioneers in installing openwrt and then ddwrt on the fon router. I am working on instruction set now for dd-wrt on the dockstar.
    That will give you command line newbies some help.
    Yes this is primary a distro for routing but you install pkgs for anything like a webserver,phone system,kismet drone or more depending on your hardware.

  19. Cynyr says:


    “””This tutorial assumes no previous knowledge of scripting or programming, but progresses rapidly toward an intermediate/advanced level of instruction . . . all the while sneaking in little nuggets of UNIX® wisdom and lore. It serves as a textbook, a manual for self-study, and a reference and source of knowledge on shell scripting techniques. The exercises and heavily-commented examples invite active reader participation, under the premise that the only way to really learn scripting is to write scripts. “””

  20. foo says:

    any one knows a solution for getting composite out on this thing? it would be a perfect snes or arcade system :)

  21. Hitek146 says:


    You script in OpenWRT just like you do in any other Bash environment. MAN pages are your friend… :)

  22. Cynyr says:

    I’d be a lot more interested in it if it had dual gigabit networking ports, or even dual 100Mbit ones. Looks like it would make a sweet little router. I could then make my linksys WRT54G V8 into nothing more than a AP. As for using it as a NAS, seems like it would be hard to back up, be slow transfer wise, and provide no redundancy. Granted if this could handle mediatomb and a 2TB drive I could see me buying one.

  23. jonored says:

    OpenWRT is, at this point, much more of a generic embedded linux distribution than just a router OS – although it still does the router work extremely well (if you know what you are doing). If your development process builds an image and then uploads it to the device, it’s worth a look. Using their build system, buildroot-ng, it’s a bit less work than setting up a gentoo system without changing defaults, and you can control what goes into the image quite tightly. There is provision for building stuff as packages, as well, which can be insalled after the fact.

  24. Miles says:

    This is still insanely expensive in the UK!

    The O2 Joggler (1.3 Atom, 512Meg Ram, 1gig MMC, Gbit) was £50 ($80 inc tax) yet these are between £40-80

    Dam shame, I’ve got a hankering for a gadget :P

  25. Davo1111 says:

    Someone needs to set up a US store that undercuts all the other stores.

    Things like La Fonera, Dockstar etc

  26. Davo1111 says:

    (oh and ships internationally, obviously)

  27. Patrick says:

    International HaD visitors: Is there really that much demand for these outside the US? I’d be happy to buy a couple for cheap here and send them along, but I don’t have any idea what the shipping would be, or if it would be worth your money.

  28. Miles says:

    Yeah I’d totally like to grab one. As you said, no idea how much shipping would be though?

  29. bang says:

    Check your local office depot stores. they have these on clearance (probably very hard to find, as its hit sites like slickdeals months ago) for $1. This is probably why you see these going so cheap on ebay. dont bother asking the employees if you cant find it on the shelves, find a kiosk and query sku 434466. HTH

  30. n17ikh says:

    I’m running Gentoo on my Dockstar, got it for $20 at Woot. I couldn’t get the Sheevaplug Debian squeeze installer or lenny rootfs image to work but if someone tried harder they could surely do it; I didn’t care enough as I already had the working Gentoo system. I used the kernel patches from the second link in the post, and the precompiled u-boot and blparam from the Plugbox Linux guys. It’s got a 1.2Ghz Marvell Kirkwood ARM processor, 128 megs of RAM, and gigabit ethernet. It’s a pretty nice machine, a lot better than my old NSLU2 – and it has the bonus of being powered on whenever it’s connected to AC power instead of having a power button, so it’s self-restoring after power outages without hardware modification. Also, the onboard serial console has a header already attached, no soldering necessary. I got it for $20 from Woot the other day, and it can be found for similarly low prices on and ebay. The only real downside is the lack of RTC – requires modification of boot scripts to set the time early on in the boot process.

  31. aeiah says:

    from UK to NY shipping cost me under £10 for 0.5kg, just for a ballpark figure. maybe ebay can give you a better idea.

  32. fsphil says:

    “you can install it by tunneling in through SSH; the same method you would use if you wanted to run Linux on this hardware”

    And there was me thinking OpenWRT used Linux ;-)
    UKian here, would love to get one of these too!

  33. Jac Goudsmit says:

    The instructions are based on the Sheevaplug target of OpenWRT, modded into running on the Dockstar. Hopefully he’s working on an OpenWRT patch to create a proper Dockstar target; that would make it a lot easier for people to build it.

    Doesn’t take anything away from the coolness, though!


  34. Just me says:

    I’d still like to buy one. Ebay sellers have postages starting from $10, some of them ask for $30… Please, this is a chance to earn some $ :)

    I’d try to install Gentoo on it, maybe get proper RTC on it and think if i could use the S/PDIF connection in the main CPU for some music. Think about 20-dollar NAS playing music and other stuff.

  35. Terry says:

    Where is the cheapest place to buy one of these? I’m trying to get one in a couple days time without going through ebay. I haven’t been able to find these things for $20 but I have found them for $40 shipped.

  36. Richard Milward says:

    Try your local Craigslist — I just got an unopened one for $30…

  37. Kmac says:

    Walmart has them for around $14 and you can order online with shipping at less than a dollar.

  38. Kmac says:

    When searching on Walmart, search for Seagate and scroll down for the $13.84 dockstar – the $79 version is no longer available :)

  39. Miles says:

    That’s awesome, do any of you US hackers fancy firing one over to the UK?

  40. Richard Milward says:

    Kmac, the Desktop Dock at Walmart for $13.84 is a USB-only dock, it is not the DockStar and it has no Ethernet connection.

  41. Vivek Thomas says:

    Any idea from where to get it the cheapest? The lowest I found is on eBay for $43.88.

    Please post here if you find anywhere cheaper.

  42. GS says:

    If I flash custom firmware on this box, will PogoPlug web interface still work on a box or not? I’m interested in having access to files, streaming etc with no need for port forwarding etc.

  43. Harrry says:

    Ok these are back in stock for($40).tigerdirect($35) or …Hurry

  44. Vivek Thomas says:

    ^ Its seem to be already out of stock in TD.

    Btw you can use the coupon “seagatestorage” to get an additional 10% off when ordering from Seagate Store.

  45. Just me says:

    What are the specs of ? Is it possible to install Linux on those? They are ~50 Eur/USD in some places.

  46. Just me says:
  47. gorgone says:

    now dockstar full debian support
    self compiled kernel with full led/mdt support

    this device rocks …. lower than 20€
    i use it as oscam server
    its also possible to flash debian on the internal mdt without a stik ….

  48. Albert says:

    Does anyone have the pre-built images stored some where? The links in the post do not work.


  49. Ryan says:

    Hi have a rosewill docking station witha wed 10ears 1.tb hardrive in it. It won’t sleep while plugged inot the dockstar. Is it possible to get this drive to stop spinning?

  50. Mark J Crane says:

    Dockstar instructions to setup a complete phone system called fusionpbx.

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