The Kuro Box is a homebrew NAS
kit, based upon the Buffalo LinkStation
commercial NAS device. "Kuro" means "expert" in Japanese
The Kuro Box comes in two models: the standard KuroBox with a 200Mhz Freescale PowerPC based processor, 64MB of RAM, a USB 2.0 port, and 10/100 Ethernet. The Kuro Box HG has a 266 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The boxes as sold come without a hard drive and users are expected to add their own ATA hard drive.
Many people have hacked the embedded Linux environment on their LinkStations. The advantage to a Kuro Box, besides being able to put in larger hard drives (at this time the largest Linkstation available is 400GB) is that an open Linux environment is available on the base install. Since the Kuro Box hardware is equivalent in most ways to PowerPC-based LinkStations, there is much sharing of hacking and other tips.
Support for Kuro Boxes is somewhat limited by Buffalo--the US operation is run by one person out of Austin, who ships quickly but seems to lack the corporate support to ensure there are regular firmware upgrades, environment upgrades, et cetera. The hacking community has remained active despite problems with the kurobox.com domain, including the main support forums being defaced and then unavailable for several months. As of December 2005 online forums are back on line.
At this time, there are at least 4 enthusiast Linux distributions for the Kuro: A port of Gentoo Linux, a Debian Linux port, and two preconfigured images with a custom batch of utilities. The stock Linux kernel is a 2.4 derivative, but may people have upgraded the kernel, which is in firmware. The Kuro Box HG's firmware has proved difficult to flash reliably, so the loader.o module is usually used to boot a new kernel shortly after the firmware kernel is booted.
The stock kernel supports USB mass storage devices, and modules are available to support additional USB peripherals.
I'm currently using a Kuro Box with a 400GB hard drive as a SlimServer for my Squeezebox music player. I also use it to rip CDs to the box with an attached USB CD-Rom drive. On top of all that, I have a serial modem hooked up with a USB-Serial converter, that I use to receive caller ID information and display it on my Squeezebox. I intend to make it a home automation hub someday. Its small size [about 8 inches square and 3 inches thick) and low power consumption (25 watts) make it ideal for continuously running applications.