Using Linux and WD’s My Box Live

For a while I’ve had a hankering to be able to share content (mostly music) between my various laptops via a network drive, mostly to avoid having to either attach a drive or waste laptop SSD space. A cursory look through Amazon gave me Western Digital’s My Book Live, which seemed compatible with Ubuntu while mostly being presented as an OSX/Windows product. However the official line is actually “if it works with Linux great, if not we don’t support it”.

Actually getting things working was harder than I had anticipated, if I had a Ethernet connected computer switched on then the drive appeared normally however as soon as I switched off the computer then the drive disappeared as well, presumably meaning that the drive was being shared via mesh networking rather than being available to the Wifi devices as a first-class network citizen.

Some online comments suggested that the issue was that the device was not using a static IP, so I went into the settings and changed that. While in Static IP mode the drive started to give a warning it wasn’t connected to the internet, which presumably is something to do with port forwarding for the WD2GO service which also requires some router config. Despite this the drive was available once the static IP binding was done. However any music player (Rhythmbox and Banshee) that tried to connect to the drive failed to connect and there didn’t seem to be a way to provide the required anonymous login.

The final stretch was helped by this post about mounting network drives, on mounting the drive manually it was possible to access the new drive and generate playlists for the new drive. I didn’t want to edit fstab for this so I’m think of creating aliases for the mounting and unmounting operations.

I am now able to share my music collection to my Ubuntu laptop but it has not been a simple experience and I do think WD are short-sighted in not making the operation smoother. Linux may not be a massive market but it doesn’t seem that complex to support it better, if nothing else in the FAQ for the product.


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