Mounting BT Home Hub 3 USB on WD TV Live

This post may be of interest to UK users who own both a BT Home Hub 3 router and a WD TV Live media streamer. Both are Linux based systems, but getting one to work with the other can be a bit of a challenge.

The USB port on the back of the Home Hub 3 can be used to share storage over the network. Plug in a disk or memory stick, and it is automatically shared out as a windows share. Using a large capacity memory stick offers the possibility of NAS like, always-on access to your media files from any connected device. Low power consumption too. This post explains how access the USB connected drive from the WD TV Live.

WD TV Live

Trouble is, the WD TV Live does not support network browsing. Searching for network storage is an opaque process. You select “Windows Shares” in the menus and hope the storage shows up. Multiple workgroups aren’t supported either. Only shares in the same workgroup can be mounted. By default then, the WD TV Live won’t find USB storage on the BT Home Hub 3 because their workgroups are different.

BT Home Hub 3

The BT Home Hub 3 has a fixed workgroup of “HOME” which can’t be changed. Run smbclient from a linux PC, using the Home Hub’s IP address, and there it is:

bash-4.2$ smbclient -L 192.168.1.254
Domain=[HOME] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.0.37]

        Sharename       Type      Comment
        ---------       ----      -------
        USB_Disk        Disk      linux
        IPC$            IPC       IPC Service (Samba Server)
Domain=[HOME] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.0.37]

        Server               Comment
        ---------            -------
        BTHUB3               Samba Server

        Workgroup            Master
        ---------            -------
        HOME                 BTHUB3

Windows users will see something similar in Network Places, Microsoft Windows Network, or whatever.

Changing the Workgroup Name

For this to work, the workgroup names must be the same. We can’t change it on the Home Hub, but we can on the WD TV Live. Proceed as follows:

On the WD TV Live, select Setup -> Network Settings -> Workgroup. Change the workgroup name from the default “WORKGROUP” to “HOME“, to match the BT Home Hub. NB this is not possible with the web interface and must be done directly on the WD TV Live.

Reboot the WD TV Live. Then go into Videos (for example) -> Network Share -> Windows Shares. The Home Hub connected storage should be listed as “BTHUB3“. Select it and you will be presented with a password dialogue with “anonymous” user and stars already filled in. Just accept these defaults and the storage will mounted and fully accessible.

Footnote – Android

Getting to the BT Home Hub share from an Android phone is easy. Many apps offer access to windows (Samba) shares. Eg. in the File Expert app, select Network Clients -> Windows/Samba Sharing -> Create new Account. Enter “home” as the Server Domain, “bthub3” (or the Home Hub’s ip address) for “Server IP Address or computer name” and move the “Anonymous” slide switch to the off position. “OK” that, and the share becomes available. (NB “Scanning for shares” won’t work).

Footnote – Raspberry Pi

Mounting on a Raspberry Pi can be done with:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ sudo mount -t cifs -o password="" 192.168.1.254:/USB_Disk /mnt

Ditto for other Linux clients. USB_Disk is the share name on the Home Hub. My USB stick thereon has taken the name “unknown_12FC2C43_1”. To remove that intervening directory/folder, mount using the longer path:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ sudo mount -t cifs -o password="" 192.168.1.254:/USB_Disk/unknown_12FC2C43_1 /mnt
pi@raspberrypi ~ $ ls /mnt
20130126_153918.jpg  my_video.flv  AnotherVid.mkv

Conclusion

The BT Home Hub 3 USB port can be turned into a handy free NAS, enabling the sharing of files from a central location. With a USB stick, power consumption will be minimal and, assuming the Hub is always on, the share is always available. Capacity will be modest and speeds will be limited by the low power CPU in the Home Hub. On the other hand, traffic is unidirectional, the storage being local to the hub, which should reduce bandwidth consumption and help throughput. Update 25th March 2013 – See next article for speed tests.

A commercial NAS might offer 50 megabyte/sec transfers. It’s likely to be 10 MB/sec or less with the above arrangement, but then, it is free. Apart from the £20 or so you pay for a 64 Gb thumb drive these days.

2 thoughts on “Mounting BT Home Hub 3 USB on WD TV Live

  1. Excellent article for home users who want re-use bt home hub with usb option on Unix. I was looking to re-use my bt home hub as my isp contract is over.

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