Inari figures

UPDATE: It seems that starting with hardware version 2, these switches have an actual web interface. Too sad my ones are version 1. 😢

Frankly, I didn't expect it and I was somewhat disappointed when I found out that the TP-Link TL-SG108E Easy Smart Switch (and its little brother TL-SG105E) cannot be configured via web browser. And I was even more disappointed when I found out that, even though Linux and MacOS were listed on the retail box, the configuration tool Easy Smart Configuration Utility runs on Windows only. And they mean it! When started in a Windows VM, the utility does not see any switches.

So the devices are rather cheap for a smart switch, but they still come with a price: no web interface.

However, thanks to some help in the interwebs, I was finally able to run the Configuration Utility on Fedora Linux. It's not that easy, though.

Before we start, please be aware that this is a hack! I don't know if running the Configuration Utility on Linux comes with side effects to the switch configuration and security. Maybe the switch can even suffer permanent damage that way. So use it at your own risk!

Running the Configuration Utility on Linux

The good news is: The Easy Smart Configuration Utility is written in JavaFX, so it runs on Linux even without Wine! First you need to download the utility from the TP-Link home page. It is a zip file containing an exe file. Unfortunately you have to run the exe file on a Windows machine to unpack it. I promise this is the only time you will actually need Windows. After that, you will find a file called Easy Smart Configuration Utility.exe in the installation directory. This is the only file we will need. Copy it to your Linux machine, and while you're at it, also rename it from .exe to .jar. Yes, it's just a Java archive file!

In a next step, you need to download and install the official Oracle Java on your Linux machine. OpenJDK will not be sufficient, as it does not contain JavaFX (yet).

When you are done, you should be able to start the Easy Smart Configuration Utility with this command:

java -jar "Easy Smart Configuration Utility.jar"

However, it does not find any switches. This is because the software discovers the switches via UDP broadcast, but unfortunately the interface is bound to the local IP address instead of any address, as it is required on Linux. We need to tweak the firewall...

If your system is running firewalld (e.g. on Fedora), execute these lines to add a firewall rule (and replace $your_ip with your local IP address):

firewall-cmd --add-port=29809/udp
firewall-cmd --zone=public --add-forward-port=port=29809:proto=udp:toaddr=$your_ip

If your system is running iptables, you need to execute these lines:

echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p udp -d --dport 29809 -j DNAT --to $your_ip:29809

Now hit the Refresh button on the Configuration Utility, and your switches should finally appear. The GUI is still a little ugly with the input elements being too tall, but that is rather a cosmetical issue.

Firmware Upgrades

Firmware updates still failed with a strange error, and the switch needing to be powered off and on again. To successfully perform a firmware upgrade, I had to do these steps:

  • Connect the switch directly to the computer, and disconnect everything else from the switch.
  • Shut down NetworkManager (systemctl stop NetworkManager).
  • Set up the ethernet interface manually (e.g. ifconfig em0 up, it must be in the same subnet as your switch).
  • Invoke the iptables command from above again (use the IP address from the step above as $your_ip).

After that, firmware updates finally succeeded, too.

Strange enough, the firmware image is transported to the switch via HTTP. It appears that there actually is a HTTP server running on the switch. An ASCII dump of the firmware file also reveals some HTML forms, so it seems like the switch is technically able to be configured via web frontend, but the feature has been disabled. Maybe it will be possible in a future firmware version, but I rather guess they found out that they ran out of memory when the switch was already on the production line. That would also explain the non-existing MacOS/Linux compatibility mentioned on the box.