Hacking the POGOplug. The definitive guide in progress. [PT1]


To setup from beginning to end a personalized Pogoplug server.  Installation of Arch Linux, with addition of Apache, PHP, MySQL and whatever else we may decide upon.


  • Pogoplug v2 (Pink/Gray)
  • 2gb+ Clean flashdrive or external hard drive
  • Mac Terminal or Windows Terminal Program (I like PuTTY)
  • Basic Linux knowledge and the ability to follow a manual :P
  • Install time.  (This varies greatly, but figure about 45 min for a Linux veteran, maybe about 90+ for novices.  Depending on what it is you would like to do, configuring this beast could take hours or days..)

** NOTE **

Following this guide will void your manufacturer’s warranty, and will lead to very little official support in the event of imminent failure.  Do not blame me if you mess something up as I assume no responsibility for what you do with this guide.  With that being said.

Intro to the Pogoplug

Recently I have taken a keen liking to a little pink web device, the Pogoplug.  When I first read about the Pogoplug, the concept sounded very intriguing.  The ability to run your own cloud server from the home seemed like an excellent idea.  Kick in the ability to hack and run Linux? That would be awesome! I was sold.  I had to have one.

I browsed around for a good deal, as I was on a limited budget.   I found a friend that was selling his device, he didn’t want it and parted with it cheap.  A Pogoplug Pink v2! Let the hacking begin!

Upon first boot, everything appeared to go well.  I plugged it in, and shortly after the device was fully illuminated and ready to go.  I attempted to access it with the Pogoplug software, but found that I could not.  There was a big problem.  These devices are tied to users Pogoplug accounts by the serial numbers, so if a user does not unregister the device, you cannot do much with it; however I did read that in some cases customer support can grant you access to a device.

In my case it was not that bad. I contacted my friend, he removed it from his account, and it was good to go.

** HINT **

It would be to write down your MAC address, which is located under the bar-code on the bottom of the device.  Next, log into your routers administrative page.  You should be able to find a section of your routers configuration services, that allow you to set static leases.  You would want to set a static lease on a headless setup like this, so that you always know at what address you can access your Pogoplug.

Have the USB device that you plan to install to handy.  I am using just some old drive that I had laying around.  2 GB PNY.  Nothing special.
Be aware that anything on the drive is going to be erased during the setup process, so make sure to back it up.

** NOTE **
This setup guide is only for (PogoPlug v2)

Similar setup guides for this and OTHER compatible devices can be found HERE.

Step 1:

Prepare your Pogoplug

First with the device on and online, remove all of the attached devices.  Attempt to SSH to the IP of the device set by the DHCP. If you are unable to SSH, register and enable SSH through my.pogoplug.com. The default login (unless changed through my.pogoplug.com) is root/ceadmin.

Once you are able to connect via SSH make sure you stop the Pogoplug software before continuing.

 killall hbwd

You will only need to do this once as the Pogoplug software will be disabled later in the install

While connected to your Pogoplug, run these commands to download the bootloader that enables booting from USB drives.

cd /tmp
wget http://joepetruska.com/pogoplug/install_uboot_mtd0.sh chmod +x install_uboot_mtd0.sh ./install_uboot_mtd0.sh
chmod +x install_uboot_mtd0.sh

After the bootloader finishes downloading, insert the USB drive you intend to use EVERYTHING WILL BE ERASED.
Insert the drive into either the front, or the top back USB port.
You will now run fdisk to partition the drive.

Step 2:
Fdisk will partition your USB flash or hard drive for use by Arch

 /sbin/fdisk /dev/sda

fdisk will delete your old partitions

o ## this will remove all partitions
p ## lists any partitions

Now we will make the new partitions

n ##first
p ##second
1 ##third

Press ‘enter’ to continue with defaults.
Exit by pressing ‘w’

Here we create the ext2 filesystem

wget http://archlinuxarm.org/os/pogoplug/mke2fs
chmod 755 mke2fs
./mke2fs /dev/sda1
mkdir usb
mount /dev/sda1 usb

Step 3:
Installing Arch Linux

Now we will download and install Arch Linux

cd usb
wget http://archlinuxarm.org/os/ArchLinuxARM-armv5te-latest.tar.gz
tar -xzvf ArchLinuxARM-armv5te-*.tar.gz ## This will take some time
rm ArchLinuxARM-armv5te-*.tar.gz
sync ## Flash drives take longer

Now we will clean up and reboot.

cd ..
umount usb

If you are running this process from a MAC or Linux machine, your SSH key will be different, and need to be cleared out, to do this run the following

ssh-keygen -R ## Your Pogoplug IP

Log back in after your Pogoplug reboots using username:: root and password:: root.

Congratulations, you just installed ArchLinux onto your new Pogoplug.  Before we finish there are a few things we should do.

Step 4:
Change Your Root Password

This is something should be done ASAP.  It is very easy just run the following command and follow the prompts:

passwd root ## change user password

Make sure not to forget your root password, as you will use this to login from now on.

** Basic Commands **

reboot ## reboots Pogoplug
poweroff ## shuts down Pogoplug to be unplugged

These commands should be used for exactly what they imply.  Try not to unplug your Pogoplug while it is running, this could potentially damage your install.
A short repair guide is in the works, so if you have an issue with not booting post it in the comments.

Next time we will take a closer look at some applications to update and install, and start to lay the groundwork for your web-server!

Please let me know of any questions that you may have!

If I helped you out consider buying me a beer :P

[ PART 2 ] 

15 thoughts on “Hacking the POGOplug. The definitive guide in progress. [PT1]

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  8. From a summer months regarding showing off venture and all the interruptions, at this point all of us have to travel “back for you to school” and acquire i’ll carry on with the hard work.

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  10. Hope you can help. I successfully installed arch linux on the device (v3) & usb drive. Then updated it to death, apparently wiping out some good things. It flashes green/orange, won’t boot, doesn’t respond to IP and therefore can’t be seen by a windows terminal app. Is it now just pretty pink junk?

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