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23 posts

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Topic # 121029 21-Jun-2013 14:58
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I run my only little home network with my own VoIP service via 2Talk. My ADSL wasn't great and when they dug up my street for UFB I jumped at the chance to switch to something faster. However, I wasn't keen on a Fritz box - very expensive and it would provide what I already had (ATA functionality, switch, wireless etc) while at the same time taking away what I was already enjoying - Open VPN and Asterisk!

I asked the nice people at Snap whether it was possible to use their UFB service without the Fritz box and was told that it was usual but it wasn't against the rules - as long as I could do PPPoE and vLAN tagging then it would likely work.... I already did PPPoE to the ADSL modem and a quick ferret turned up the right place to apply vLAN tags so it didn't seem like it would be too taxing. I figured I'd have a go and see if I could save myself the cost (and pain) of a Fritzbox.

So...I went ahead and I'm happy to report it worked really well - once the fibre connection was in I unplugged the ADSL modem, plugged in the Chorus box, set the vLAN tagging and re-applied the PPPoE settings. Two minutes later I was up and running with no hassles and a much better connection.

For those interested I use a small PCEngines Alix device (http://pcengines.ch/alix2d13.htm) with 4GB Compact Flash card. I bought two of these (one for router/firewall and one for Asterisk), and including the compact flash cards, cases, power supplied and postage from Switzerland they set me back USD315.

I run pfsense on one of them (http://www.pfsense.org/) which has a build that works with the Alix series, and on the other I run Astlinux which has a specific build for the Alix PC. All up it has cost me less than the Fritzbox and in exchange I get full control over everything. It's obviously not something I'd recommend to newbies but for anyone with a geeky streak it's well worth having a go!

 

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  Reply # 841105 21-Jun-2013 15:04
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Nice! I never thought about that (I don't have UFB), but that makes a lot of sense! When I get UFB I might see if I can hook it directly to my Astaro firewall! One less hop, one less device to maintain (& purchase)!

JUST HOOK IT TO MY VEINS!!! :D

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  Reply # 841108 21-Jun-2013 15:10
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Did you use PFsense 2.1 and did you get IPv6 working if so?







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  Reply # 841307 21-Jun-2013 21:50
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Nope. Still using 2.03 as it is the stable release...from memory 2.1 is at RC now. No IPv6 then obviously but then I have to say that even though we all know we need to go there sooner rather than later there's not much of a case for at home unless the ISPs are pushing for it....for now I'm happy to squat on my old school address....  

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  Reply # 841310 21-Jun-2013 21:54
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How much RAM can those Alix devices take, or is it all onboard?

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Master Geek


  Reply # 841368 22-Jun-2013 03:02

Reporting in with an Asus RT-N16 Tomato Toastman firmware. I didn't even consider their Friztbox. I've used them before and I think they are okay. This coming from someone who has used Tomato for 4+ years.

I actually think 100/50MB fibre puts the RT-N16 to it's limits. Maxing out the connecting will slow the GUI down...



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Geek


  Reply # 841610 22-Jun-2013 17:40
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The board I have has 256MB soldered on the board and you can't increase this as there's no expansion slots. It sounds like very little but given that you are running these as appliances rather than PCs it is actually plenty to go round. My little Alix with pfsense is using 33% of its memory and a grand 10% of its 4GB compact flash 'hard drive'. I use these because they can do a lot more than an off-the-shelf consumer grade wireless router but they use the same amount of power (about 18W). Used to run a pile of old PCs but now I just have a few of these tiny machines - I'm very happy with them. For those who want to be extreme tinkerers you can even add Wifi to them....

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  Reply # 841613 22-Jun-2013 17:45
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The ALIX boards are quite versatile, are you using it on a 30Mbit or 100Mbit connection?






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Geek


  Reply # 841615 22-Jun-2013 17:53
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I'm using it with a 30Mbps connection - the cost difference between that and a 100Mbps connection is quite steep - given that my main constraint it international bandwidth I'm not likely to see much of an improvement at my end. Main advantage of fibre for me is better and faster than ADSL which would struggle to get 0.7Mbps upload - now I'm consistently getting 9Mbps which is great when I'm pushing files back to work!

I looked at nicegear.co.nz but I found I could get two of the units direct for the cost of one - plus they were out of stock. Buying direct you get no consumer guarantees act coverage and you have to wait about 5 business days for the package to come. With current exchange rate though the goods plus postage are under the customs limit so you shouldn't get pinged at the border.

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  Reply # 841743 22-Jun-2013 21:52
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SneakerPimps: Reporting in with an Asus RT-N16 Tomato Toastman firmware. I didn't even consider their Friztbox. I've used them before and I think they are okay. This coming from someone who has used Tomato for 4+ years.

I actually think 100/50MB fibre puts the RT-N16 to it's limits. Maxing out the connecting will slow the GUI down...


http://tomatousb.org/tut:over-clocking-asus-rt-n16

m
ay help.. newer routers are coming out with faster per mhz cpu though.

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  Reply # 841885 23-Jun-2013 10:23
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Bewildered: I'm using it with a 30Mbps connection - the cost difference between that and a 100Mbps connection is quite steep - given that my main constraint it international bandwidth I'm not likely to see much of an improvement at my end. Main advantage of fibre for me is better and faster than ADSL which would struggle to get 0.7Mbps upload - now I'm consistently getting 9Mbps which is great when I'm pushing files back to work!

I looked at nicegear.co.nz but I found I could get two of the units direct for the cost of one - plus they were out of stock. Buying direct you get no consumer guarantees act coverage and you have to wait about 5 business days for the package to come. With current exchange rate though the goods plus postage are under the customs limit so you shouldn't get pinged at the border.


I would have been interested to see your throughput with a 100mbit connection. I use an Ubiquiti Edgerouter myself on 100/50 Snap UFB connection. I haven't tested an ALIX unit on it but I it will likely run out of CPU routing that much.

Regarding the price, although your "two for the price of one" is over-estimated I can understand wanting to save some money if you don't have to worry about GST and are willing to deal with no local warrant, overseas power supply, etc. We do normally have stock, sometimes we get big orders and run out.




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  Reply # 841910 23-Jun-2013 11:51
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This is great to hear. I'm planning to do something similar but will likely use an existing ESXi box and install another ethernet port.



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Geek


  Reply # 841951 23-Jun-2013 14:21
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Yup - I used to do the whole ESXi thing too until I had a hardware failure that resulted in widespread carnage - it was good up to that point. I could have stayed with that and maybe double up the PCs so that I had some redundancy but at that point work was dumping a whole pile of retired HP desktops and you can't do much better than four of those for $200. Couple of years one though one of them failed (a dev box) but it made it obvious it was time to move them all on. I liked the small footprint of the ESX solution, but the risk spread of the "pile of PCs" option - small appliances seemed like an ideal compromise. Since I didn't know what would break next I needed a quick solution so I looked to see what I could get in the 'appliance' space - and the Alix was a pretty obvious choice once I saw I could use one for a FW and one for VoIP. Would have bought from Nicegear but as I said no stock (which I presume is because they are doing well). The foreign power supply is a pain (it's a plug-based adapter-brick) but in my case I already run a lot of European devices so I have multi-boards I can use for that...for me it was a no-brainer...but as I said in my earlier post you get now CGA protection so if it goes bang or it is DOA then you are on your own.

As for performance I'm quietly impressed - the CPU rarely goes above 30% even at full bandwidth. This includes some extra monitoring, packetshaping, and some custom extensions. It should be noted of course that it isn't ever the traffic that taxes a firewall - its the number of connections. Downloading an ISO at 100Mbps will result in less overhead than a peer-to-peer download at 10Mbps when you have 200 connected peers.

;-)

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