A $35 Portable Fileserver

  • Paul Zee
    Post count: 4
    #132 |

    This is a repost of the original article published July 28, 2014
    Ever wish you had an easy way to distribute files to a roomful of people? If you’re going to a remote location without internet access how can you quickly distribute your powerpoint presentation and associated files and videos? Passing around thumbdrives works, but it’s slow and painful.

    One good option is to use WiFi to distribute files from your Android phone or tablet. See the “wiki tablet” instructions at wikitablet.net That’s a slick solution, but not the topic of this post.

    Last week, I learned about another super-cheap and easy solution called a “LibraryBox” server.

    LibraryBox is an open source software project that replaces the firmware on inexpensive home routers, turning them into WiFi accessible file servers. The software is free and easy to setup; you need to supply a USB thumbdrive and a compatible wireless router, which can cost as little as $35 plus shipping. Converting your router into a “LibraryBox” takes about 20 minutes. Once it’s setup, you copy the files you want to share onto the thumbdrive, put it in the router and boot it. Anybody who connects to the WiFi “hotspot” gets all web pages redirected to the LibraryBox homepage with links to all your files. The “hotspot” doesn’t actually provide internet access, only a closed network with all roads leading to your files. You also can connect to it through the single ethernet port, but DON’T plug it into an existing network or you will wreak havoc with the network routing. Librarybox hardware

    The easy to follow setup directions for LibraryBox can be found here: http://jasongriffey.net/librarybox/building.php

    I recently setup a slightly tweaked LibraryBox server, called a “BibleBox” for the Torres Strait Boat project. A “BibleBox” is simply a LibraryBox sever with some customized English Bible content pre-loaded on it. Install directions are here: http://biblebox.org/make-your-own/; The Torres Strait Boat project https://www.jaars.org/donate/6111 will be loading the BibleBox up with audio and video material in the local languages and broadcasting through a high powered access point in every harbor they anchor in.

    Now I’ve got my own personal BibleBox, which I’ll be loading it up with videos and photos whenever I go to speak at a church. It will run for 4 hours on the internal battery, and fits in my pocket easily. Then folks will be able to stream videos or look at photos on their tablets or smartphones; another great way to connect!

    Also Note: There is a separate open source project called “PirateBox” which LibraryBox was forked from. The main difference between LibraryBox and PirateBox is PirateBox allows anybody who connects to upload as well as download, completely uncontrolled by you. In some cases this might be more desirable. You can find directions for building a PirateBox here. http://piratebox.cc/openwrt:diy

    Bonus: Now you can get the “Biblebox” server running on an Android phone if you’ve got root access. See this article: http://biblebox.org/biblebox-android/

  • Hank
    Post count: 2
    #137 |

    Thanks Paul for the reference to BibleBox for Android. I have passed this info along to the Mobile Ministry Forum (MMF) for their awareness. This hack of PirateBox for Android was developed by Peter Brassington, an SIL member, and also a MMF member. Just a week ago some guys in the MMF mentioned that the TP-Link routers used for BibleBox were going out of production, and starting to get harder to buy, and the next TP-Link routers were not going to allow loading alternate firmware. So this Android approach might be a helpful alternative.

    Some organizations are using BibleBox extensively as an outreach tool. Maybe they will identify alternate cheap hardware to use in replacement of the TP-Link in the future. Rooting Android to install BibleBox for Android has drawbacks and is too difficult for the average user, whereas setting up BibleBox on a TP-Link was not quite so advanced.

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