I picked up a Zalman ZM-VE300, after hearing about it on The Linux Action Show.
The unique thing about this hard drive enclosure is that it has a virtualization feature such that you can put an ISO in a folder (_ISO) on the first partition, and it will show up to the connected (via USB3.0) computer as if it were an additional optical CD/DVD drive. In fact, you can put a lot of .iso files in that folder, and use an LCD screen on the enclosure to select which one should be mounted. This makes it very easy to try the latest Linux installer ISOs on real hardware.
Drive must be formatted with NTFS in order to use the virtualization feature.
So far, I’ve only run into two actual problems – neither of which did I see the answer to online. Here they, and the solutions I came up with:
1st Partition: EE
After formatting the drive in Linux to NTFS, and creating an _ISO folder, the display showed this “1st Partition: EE” error. The solutions I found on Zalman’s site, and in discussion threads were not helpful; they were for situations where you were not partitioning the first partition of the drive as NTFS (which is required for use of the ISO virtualization function).
After looking at the drive I had installed in the partition via gparted, I realized I had created the partition table as GPT, instead of the ‘msdos’ format that the virtualization needed. Recreating the partition table, then using the USB Connection/Refresh option from the jog menu, fixed the issue.
DEFRAG, after selecting ISO
After putting four or five ISOs for Debian, Fedora, Knoppix, Ubuntu, etc. in the _ISO folder, I finally tried selecting one of them. When pressing in the jog menu, it would say “DEFRAG”, and never mount the ISO as a drive.
Unfortunately, I did not find a Linux-only solution for this problem – though I tried. First, I attempted running ntfsfix on the partition… with no change. Then, I attempted to connect the device to a Windows VM in VirtualBox – which could not mount the unit as a drive.
Finally, wanting to just get it working, I carried it to a Windows (Vista!) machine and did a defrag on the drive. After that, and another USB Connection/Refresh via the jog menu, it let me properly select the ISO files. I’m not sure if the problem will return if I continue modifying the drive via Linux, though. [Update: So far, so good. I added a Clonezilla ISO and newer versions of the Debian and Ubuntu ISOs, and I have not seen the DEFRAG message return).
If they would release a firmware that supported Ext2/3/4 instead of NTFS, this would be a must-have enclosure for any tech.