Update 21 September 2018: Details of the new OpenWRT image have been added to
the bottom of this post.
I just received my GnuBee Personal Cloud
2 in the post. It's a
device newly manufactured specifically to run completely free software, making
in completely unique. The device is designed for network accessible storage,
providing slots for six 3.5" hard drives.
As a brand new product, the documentation for getting started is nearly
non-existant though, so here's my journey so far.
I was surprised to see that the holes for the circuit board mounting brackets
didn't all line up. It turns out that the centre brackets are oriented
differently to the end brackets. Look carefully at the photo below.
The GBPC comes with the LibreCMC operating system installed in the on-board
Based on the Background information for GnuBee
PC1, I plugged a network cable in to
the black socket and plugged the other end in to my computer. I then tured on
the GBPC using the silver switch (red button on GBPC1). No SDCard was installed
at this point.
Once it had started up, the computer connected to the GBPC's network. Visiting
http://192.168.10.1/ in a web browser showed the LibreCMC login screen. Although
it's not made clear, you can initially log in as user "root" by leaving the
password blank. You can also connect with SSH with no password by running
-o StrictHostKeyChecking firstname.lastname@example.org with no password. I needed the
StrictHostKeyChecking as I also have a GBPC1 that uses the same IP address.
Proceeding to the System/Administration section allows entry of a root password.
I set up key-based SSH access at the same time. Leave "Interface" as
"unspecified", uncheck password authentication and enter your SSH public key
fingerprint (from .ssh/id_rsa.pub). Select "save and apply" at the bottom of the
page. I was then able to log out and log back in with my new password, and
connect with SSH to email@example.com.
Unfortunately I notied that after switching the device off and back on again,
the password and SSH changes were reset. I'm not sure why.
The GnuBee devices are not well documented at the moment, but at present the
best information can be found at:
Installing hard drives
I installed a hard drive in slot 1 and after resetting the GBPC with the black
reset button, noted that the new drive was listed under the System/Mount Points
section as filesystem "crytpo_LUKS". The second drive was an unencrypted "ext4"
drive. That didn't show up under "Mount Points" automatically and didn't seem to
mount when I selected "Add", chose the drive from the list and defined a custom
/backup. There was no problem mounting this drive from the SSH
command line though.
At this point I still have a lot of questions, and not enough time to
investigate them all. If you know the answers, please get in
Do I need to install a different operating system to do something useful with
the device? I was a little suprised to find that the GBPC doesn't do anything
much out of the box. Not that this in any way limits the device's potential, but
it's nice not to have to do everything yourself. It seems that all drive
mounting must be done manually, that there's no file sharing services or even
rsync installed by default.
How do you install software on LibreCMC? I tried the System/Software section
of the web interface, but installing or searching for packages fails with an
error connecting to the package repositories.
How do you boot from the SDCard included in my "deluxe pack"? The card
appears to have Debian installed, but after insterting the SDCard and resetting,
the device still seem to boot to LibreCMC. Noting that the SDCard is
auto-mounted if inserted while LibreCMC is running.
What do the different network ports do? Black is a LAN port. Blue seems to be
the WAN port as the device can ping the outside world once plugged in. The
yellow port doesn't seem to do anything.
Can drives be made to auto-mount? I noticed that plugging in a USB drive are
mounted automatically under
How do you connect with the USB-to-UART cable? I tried plugging it in,
picocom /dev/ttyUSB0 9600 and resetting the GBPC, but only see
garbage on the screen. Clearly I need different connection settings.
Why don't password changes stick? Cleary the device is accepting some
changes, because if I
mkdir /mnt/backup, the directory is still there after a
power off and on.
Can it be configured to be a DHCP client, rather than a DCHP server?
Update 5 Feb 2018
I learnt that USB-to-UART works via minicom, eg.
sudo minicom -b 57600 -D
/dev/ttyUSB0. See the GnuBee
documentation. I presume that
minicom must use different defaults to picocom.
It appears that a firmware update is required to allow booting from the provided SDCard.
The network interface for LibreCMC can be changed from "static" to "DHCP
I'm having trouble mounting some encrypted drives. It appears that missing kernel
support for "aes-xts-plain64" may be the cause.
Update 7 Feb 2018
Plugged two RAID1 drives into the GBPC2 and it correctly recognised the three
RAID partitions and allocated them to
opkg update command, as well as the web interface fail to update the
package list with:
*** Failed to download the package list from https://librecmc.org/librecmc/downloads/snapshots/v1.4.1/ramips/mt7621/packages/Packages.gz
*** Failed to download the package list from https://librecmc.org/librecmc/downloads/snapshots/v1.4.1/packages/mipsel_24kc/base/Packages.gz
*** Failed to download the package list from https://librecmc.org/librecmc/downloads/snapshots/v1.4.1/packages/mipsel_24kc/packages/Packages.gz
* opkg_download: Failed to download https://librecmc.org/librecmc/downloads/snapshots/v1.4.1/ramips/mt7621/packages/Packages.gz, wget returned 5.
* opkg_download: Failed to download https://librecmc.org/librecmc/downloads/snapshots/v1.4.1/packages/mipsel_24kc/base/Packages.gz, wget returned 5.
* opkg_download: Failed to download https://librecmc.org/librecmc/downloads/snapshots/v1.4.1/packages/mipsel_24kc/packages/Packages.gz, wget returned 5.
In contrast, my LibreCMC-based router from ThinkPenguin updates and installs
packages with no problems, so clearly something just isn't configured correctly.
Password changes do appear to be saved, and persist across reboots and powering
off. It appears though that the small black button does a "factory reset", which
resets the LibreCMC login credentials.
The hard drive idling plugin available through the web interface works well.
Slot #1 on the GBPC2 is blocked by the two 12V plastic clips. This is a minor
design fault, but you can simply bend the four plastic tabs firmly down to fix
Update 21 Sep 2018
OpenWRT v18.06 was released
on 31 July. This release includes support for the GnuBee PC1 and PC2 devices and
represents a merge between OpenWRT and LEDE projects. Here's the GBPC2
Today I've installed in on my GBPC2.
As per the OpenWRT
the GBPC2 OpenWRT hardware
the images are under
The one I needed was called "gnubee_gb-pc2-initramfs-kernel.bin". I verified the
sha256sum of the file and the GnuPG signature provided.
I first plugged the serial cable into my GBPC2 and into my computer and ran
sudo minicom -b 57600 -D /dev/ttyUSB0. This is invaluable to be able to see
what the device is doing.
I plugged my GBPC2 directly into my computer (not a router) using the black
ethernet socket and visited the web interface at http://192.168.1.1. After
logging in, I went to "System", "Backup/Flash Firmware". Under "Flash new
firmware image", I unchecked "Keep settings" and selected the file
The verification page pops up and prompts you to verify that the displayed hash
matches the file you downloaded. I checked this with
openwrt-18.06.1-ramips-mt7621-gnubee_gb-pc2-initramfs-kernel.bin and proceeded
with the install. Following along on the serial console, I could see the device
reboot into OpenWRT. I found I had to switch off and on to get an IP address and
access the new web interface.
The new firmware to work well enough, but doesn't seem to include support for
mounting SATA drives out of the box and would't let me install packages. To
access the Internet, changed the existing network interface to "DHCP client",
hit "apply and save" and plugged it into my router (weirdly there seems to be
some sort of auto-revert requiring you to make the change, re-plug the device
and log in in under 30 seconds or so, which took me a few shots). By looking up my router's
DHCP leases, I could find what the new IP address was to connect to.
I first logged in via SSH and updated the package list with "opkg update" (web
interface would work fine too). When I tried to install a package via the web
interface or "opkg install" I got an error like this:
# opkg install rsync
Installing rsync (3.1.3-1) to root...
* verify_pkg_installable: Only have 0kb available on filesystem /overlay, pkg rsync needs 137
* opkg_install_cmd: Cannot install package rsync.
I then downloaded the "gnubee_gb-pc1-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin", which I was now
able to install with the "Flash new firmware image" feature, presumably because
I already had OpenWRT installed. After repeating all the above I was able to log
opkg install rsync and see that my SATA drive was detected at /dev/sda.
I had some problems getting the drive to mount. Not entirely sure whether it was
permissions or a missing package. I installed "mountd" which enabled
automounting, but mounting was failing:
# mount -t ext4 /dev/sda /mnt
mount: mounting /dev/sda on /mnt failed: Invalid argument
I installed a few other packages including "e2fsprogs", "mount-utils" and
"kmod-fs-ext4". Eventually I realised that
mkdir ~/x; mount /dev/sda1 ~/x
worked fine, so changed the permissions on /mnt to 777 which seemed to fix that.
Weird though, since I was root. Anyhow, it's working, which is good enough for now.