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Quick breakdown, I have a Roku 2 XS that has a USB port that you can connect a flash drive or external hard drive to. I also have a box running Ubuntu that is the household media storage center. I would like to be able to connect the two directly, and the best way looks like having the Ubuntu box pretend to be an external HDD. Is there a way to do it via software and a direct USB connection, or even through a parallel-to-USB, or something along those lines?

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I don't know of anything specifically, but you could look into "USB OTG", or "On the Go", which is a technology that allows USB devices to switch roles. It's designed for devices such as phones, to allow them to either connect to a computer or connect to an external USB device like a USB stick. Since this exists, it should be possible to add a board to a computer to do this, and it may even be available with a Linux driver. But normally, you wouldn't be able to do it because the host provides power to the device, and not the other way around. –  Marty Fried Aug 17 '12 at 22:28

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