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Replace NAT Box with Commercial Broadband Router? 118

Posted by Cliff
from the if-it-ain't-broke dept.
hjf asks: "Three years ago, when I got DSL, I set up a 486 box, with 8 megs and a floppy drive to run FloppyFW. It has been through a couple hardware upgrades: 16Mb RAM for running the 2.4 kernel and a 100MBit PCI NIC for the internal network. It has a little UPS which lasts for over 60 minutes. The only downtime it has is when there's a thunderstorm and I unplug it. Besides that, it has been running flawlessly since I set it up. Lately I have been kind of seduced with this product from 3Com, and other similar to it. I know it says it can handle 253 simultaneous users and all that. My home network has 4 users, but most of us run eMule and other P2P, and as many of you know, those P2P programs can beat the crap out of your router."
"For example, the default NAT table of my box wasn't enough (syslog reported TABLE FULL - DROPPING PACKET), so I made it 32768 entries and that message doesn't appear anymore. Now, what I'd like to know is, how big is that router's (or any other which does that kind of job) NAT table? Will it handle that many concurrent connections? I know I'll lose most of Linux's flexibility but I think I can live with that, but I'd surely win lots of room in the closet. So Slashdot, what's your opinion about all this?"
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Replace NAT Box with Commercial Broadband Router?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 2004 @11:37PM (#10282798)
    Whoa, you want to replace a simple, working firewall, which is open-source, understood by you, and which costs next to nothing, with a closed-source, commercial, EULA-encumbered device with arbitrary limits, unknown functionality, guaranteed to work only with Windows, but in a shiny branded box?

    Damn, if you're not a manager now, you're in the wrong line of work!

    I mean, you're seduced by this kind of crap?

    IP functions such as PPTP/PPPoE, NAT, and DHCP enhance addressing privacy and economy

    Wow! Enhanced addressing privacy! And Economy! Both in one sleek white box!

    Hacker pattern detection firewall feature automatically detects and blocks denial-of-service attacks and other common intrusions

    I can just imagine that sophisticated technology.. if packets/second exceed X, start dropping packets randomly....
    • I have the said "router". It works fine with Linux. The web-based adminstration interface works perfectly.

    • Bullshit (Score:4, Informative)

      by Quattro Vezina (714892) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @01:22AM (#10289182) Journal
      guaranteed to work only with Windows

      You, sir, are lying. My D-Link DI-604 router works perfectly with Linux. In fact, I don't think I've ever even touched the configuration interface under Windows.

      It works beautifully, and I'd recommend one to anyone who needs a NAT. It's a tiny (5.5" wide, 4" long, 1" tall) silver box that sits in the corner of my desk, surrounded by whatever junk I have. I don't have a second machine to use as a router, and if I were to buy one, I'd be spending far more money--I bought this thing for $20. Not to mention the fact that another machine would take up far more space.

      And you know what? It just works. I plug it in between my machine and my cable modem, and assuming my machine is set up to use DHCP, it's working. If I want to open some ports to my machine so I can have my servers publically accessible, it takes me about 10 seconds to do so. It's also never dropped me. Ever.

      Of course, it depends on what kind of router you own. For example, I would never touch a Linksys product with a 10-foot pole. I have a friend with one...that piece of crap frequently stops working, and won't come back up for a couple of hours, even after it's unplugged and re-plugged into the wall multiple times (it's not the connection--plugging the machine into the cable modem works fine..it's just the piece of crap router that's a piece of crap). Of course, she's refused to listen to me when I constantly told her to get a D-Link router, so I've refused to ever help her on anything network-related until she does.

      And I'd also say that if you do have a dedicated NAT machine, and it works, then there's no need to replace it. If it's not broken...
      • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Informative)

        by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @07:00PM (#10293189) Homepage
        Of course, it depends on what kind of router you own. For example, I would never touch a Linksys product with a 10-foot pole. I have a friend with one...that piece of crap frequently stops working, and won't come back up for a couple of hours, even after it's unplugged and re-plugged into the wall multiple times (it's not the connection--plugging the machine into the cable modem works fine..it's just the piece of crap router that's a piece of crap). Of course, she's refused to listen to me when I constantly told her to get a D-Link router, so I've refused to ever help her on anything network-related until she does

        Check the environmental specs on that Linksys and your DLink, and I bet you'll find that there is a difference. I had a Linksys that consistently lost packets, and then a Netgear that consistently lost packets. I then noticed that if I blew into the vents on them while they were losing packets, they would stop losing packets for a bit. If I arranged a fan to blow over them, they were fine. Reading their specs, they are rated to 40C. I pointed an IR thermometer inside one of the vents...and it said 45C. Aha!

        I then bought a DLink that is rated to 55C, and the packet loss went away. I gave the Linksys to a friend whose computers are placed where the airflow is better, and it worked great for him.

        BTW, the DLink not only was rated 15C higher than the other two, it runs cooler.

        • Not quite the right procedure though. It's not rated for 40C somewhere in the innards. They've reckoned it'll be good enough at cooling itself if the ambient temperature is 40 degrees... Otherwise why not measure the temperature of your desktop CPU and try and match it up with claimed environmental specs.
      • My D-Link DI-604 router works perfectly with Linux. In fact, I don't think I've ever even touched the configuration interface under Windows.

        I really havr to concur with the parent poster about the DI-604 routers.

        I've ran one for the last two years. I can completely administer it from my FreeBSD box, and it just works without ever having to mess with it.

        When they first started to become really cheap no less than about 10 people in my office have gone out and puchased them.

        Once it's set up (easy to do)

        • by StarKruzr (74642)
          It's interesting how widely people differ on opinions of various brands of equipment. I had a D-Link DI-624+ which was absolutely terrible. Damn thing reset itself constantly and wouldn't work with any other wireless network cards other than D-Link's. Tried setting it to 802.11b-only mode and that didn't even help.

          I now have a Linksys WRT54G and have never looked back. Thing functions flawlessly.
      • by Zooka (457908)
        I've been using a similar D-Link router (DI-704p) for about 4 yrs. Very easy to use, very dependable. It's excellent web interface makes DHCP setup and port-forwarding a breeze. And no, it doesn't discriminate against Linux.

        http://www.dlink.com/products/category.asp?cid=2 [dlink.com]
      • guaranteed to work only with Windows

        You, sir, are lying. My D-Link DI-604 router works perfectly with Linux. In fact, I don't think I've ever even touched the configuration interface under Windows.


        I think when he says "guaranteed to work only with Windows", he means that the manf. will only give a rats ass if your problems are under the Windows operating environment... i.e. it probably will work find w/ Linux... but if you encouter a problem, the manf. will tell you to go screw.

        I had that problem w/ AT
      • You, sir, are lying. My D-Link DI-604 router works perfectly with Linux. In fact, I don't think I've ever even touched the configuration interface under Windows.

        My Linksys has worked perfectly with Linux, Mac OS X, Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9 and Windows.

        No problems here either.

        LK
      • It cant handle heavy loads with out resetting on its own. No not dropped packets, or slow response time.. it just resets itself at will.. . This happens even internally, not using NAT at all.. Or with NAT to the outside.. it doesn't matter..

        I after replacing it under warranty and having the SAME problem, I changed it to a 614, with similar problems, though admittedly not quite as frequent as the 604..( I wanted wireless at that point, thus the 'upgrade'. )

        D-links tech support suggested 'set your ports to
      • I used to have a dlink, but got rid of it because my telnet/ssh sessions kept timing out after 10 minutes of idle time. I replaced my dlink with a linksys and have not had any problems since.
    • Having a Linux box as a router is so unnecessary when you can pick up a fully functional D-Link or Netgear router for $20 that does everything you need, is vastly easier to configure, takes up significantly less space and less power, and makes no noise. Linux provides a lot more functionality, sure, but a home user with maybe two computers doesn't need all that. They just want to share an internet connection for god's sake.
      • But what about the typical home user with 20 PCs who wants to share a network connection, host web, mail, im, audio and video streams, vpn for five permanently connected networks and dns as well as just browse the web, use e-mail, and some P2P? For that kind of user (not really that rare) a Linux or BSD routerbox will do just fine thank you. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 2004 @11:37PM (#10282802)
    Get a Pentium laptop, and you will still get the flexability of linux, and you will save room.
  • by mind21_98 (18647) on Friday September 17, 2004 @11:42PM (#10282828) Homepage Journal
    Routers such as above are designed for home use, not for anything that's user-intensive. If you're planning on beating the crap out of it, you should probably purchase a product designed for that purpose (or keep your Linux box). The general rule applies when considering buying an electronic item: read reviews and ask around.
    • Ok, there's no point in saying these products are intended for SOHO use. Also, you should buy something according to your needs. Big deal.

      I'll talk now from personal experience. I've used the 3Com device mentioned above, as well as a US.Robotics and played enough with a CNet to know what these routers work like.

      Right now, I have the 3Com Broadband Router installed with a 512 DSL line, and over 15 people simultaneously using it. (Wirelessly, in fact, through an Access Point)

      It works GREAT. It is installed

  • Absolutly not. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Inominate (412637) on Friday September 17, 2004 @11:44PM (#10282835)
    Consumer grade broadband routers are notorious for causing problems, and are almost always badly underpowered. Using a PC based router to handle nat generally works much better, provided you have the know-how to set it up.
    • Re:Absolutly not. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wonko (15033) <thehead@patshead.com> on Saturday September 18, 2004 @01:13AM (#10283183) Homepage Journal

      Consumer grade broadband routers are notorious for causing problems, and are almost always badly underpowered. Using a PC based router to handle nat generally works much better, provided you have the know-how to set it up.

      A few months ago I replaced an aging P133, an ancient 3com 12 port 10 megabit switch (with 2 100 megabit uplink ports, woo hoo!), and an 802.11b access point with a Linksys WRT54G.

      I replaced the firmware with this [portless.net]. I've been very happy with it so far. I think the 200 mhz mips processor is probably a decent replacement for the P133. It takes up much less space, makes much less noise, and it's in much better condition that the old hardware it replaced. I can still ssh into it, and according to /proc/version it is running a 2.4.20 kernel.

      I think it was approximately 70 dollars well spent.

      • the cheap hw routers are notorious for choking up on even "moderate" use, even when they have 100mbit ports(so they'll choke at natting something like 10-20mbit/s).

        and yes usually even ~150mhz pc with decent network cards can kick the crap out of them when needing high speeds.

        (this may have changed, but i doubt it. and with most home connection speeds it of course doesn't matter because not everyone has 100mbit connection to home. it does for me though.)
        • Re:Absolutly not. (Score:2, Informative)

          by Wonko (15033)

          the cheap hw routers are notorious for choking up on even "moderate" use, even when they have 100mbit ports(so they'll choke at natting something like 10-20mbit/s).

          The only issue that I had with mine at all so far was that the default value of 1024 for ip_conntrack_max was too low. That caused problems with bittorrent and whatnot.

          I don't have a 100 megabit link to the internet, and I don't think my p133 could nat much better than this box if that were the case. One of these days I need to install top o

          • **What does a 150 mhz pc have over this box exactly? They've both got a 33mhz pci bus and they both have capable processors.**

            what it has over the cheap hw solution is that raw speed. and what I mean by that is that the pentium based with even fairly decent network cards can handle something like 80mbit/s going through it when the hw based one can handle just ~20-30mbit/s.

            this is *regardless* of if they seem to have a 'capable processor' and 'just as fast bus'.

            configurability also in most cases is much g
            • what it has over the cheap hw solution is that raw speed. and what I mean by that is that the pentium based with even fairly decent network cards can handle something like 80mbit/s going through it when the hw based one can handle just ~20-30mbit/s.

              this is *regardless* of if they seem to have a 'capable processor' and 'just as fast bus'.

              So you're saying that 200mhz mips processor on a pci bus isn't in the same class as a pentium 150? I can't speak for the NICs, because I don't specifically know the ch


    • Consumer grade broadband routers are notorious for causing problems, and are almost always badly underpowered. Using a PC based router to handle nat generally works much better, provided you have the know-how to set it up.

      Well, the only real problem I've encountered with my D-Link DI-604 is a lack of flexibility - I can forward any port I want to any machine I want, but I think there's a limit of 24 ports. Couple of people running Torrent clients with that list of ports they need opened up, and you start

  • What I use (Score:5, Informative)

    by Judg3 (88435) <jeremy&pavleck,com> on Friday September 17, 2004 @11:47PM (#10282847) Homepage Journal
    I use SmoothWall [smoothwall.org] on a P200 with 384mb ram and a 10gb hdd.

    There's been upwards of 20 PCs on the network and there's been a few times when 1 of us will been on the phone (VoIP), 2 of us are downloading a lot of files via p2p and another downloading ISO after ISO off of MSDN - all at the same time.

    The little smoothwall box handled it all wonderfully, plus there's a fairly large community out there writing custom modules and addins for it.

    The best part? Well, besides the transparent web proxy, I really like how you can have an internal-only network and a seperate DMZ network to hang your web services off of.

    It's not as small or sexy as that 3com, but for me it's a perfect fit - handles a lot, plenty of ways to monitor it, and the price is right. Give it a shot, see what you think.
    • Re:What I use (Score:5, Informative)

      by ManxStef (469602) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @02:12AM (#10283419) Homepage
      I've used Smoothwall too, and it's great. I'll add another suggestion, though: IPCop [ipcop.org], a free GPLed fork of Smoothwall which adds many features not available in the basic Smoothwall distro; great for home and small network use (though I'd highly recommend SW if you need any commercial support). The latest version [ipcops.net] - on release candidate 4 now, watch out for 1.4 stable any day now! - includes traffic shaping using Wondershaper, so will solve your P2P problems quite nicely. See the unofficial support forums [ipcops.net] for the latest news and plenty of help.

      Of course, if you just want a standalone device, like others have said youe best bet is to get a LinkSys WRT54G/WAP54G plus alternative firmware, such as the Sveasoft one. See more info here:
      http://www.seattlewireless.net/index.cgi/LinksysWr t54g [seattlewireless.net]
    • Re:What I use (Score:2, Interesting)

      by f()rK()_Bomb (612162)
      I really have to add a vote for smoothwall , where i used to work (government office) Me and rest of the IS section used to regularly beat the hell out the SOHO firewall. My sysadmin wanted to "upgrade" to a big,better,faster sonicwall product (the previous sonicwall product liked to download firmware upgrades and crash itself. Nice) I just said give me 2 hours and i will have i new firewall running. He laughed and said thats something id love to see. 2 hours later after hunting in the basement for p166 and
    • The best part? Well, besides the transparent web proxy, I really like how you can have an internal-only network and a seperate DMZ network to hang your web services off of.

      That's just peachy, but if he's not doing any of that, then who cares? This is spoken as someone who has something similar (but I just started with OpenBSD and my own custom rulesets). I've also built similar boxes for people who wanted 4-leg networks (hacked box isolation and diagnosis, etc.). For a relatively simple user the onl

  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jazman_777 (44742) on Friday September 17, 2004 @11:47PM (#10282851) Homepage
    and as many of you know, those P2P programs can beat the crap out of your router.

    Do you mean your NICs get hot? Or does the machine start vibrating under the load?

    • Or does the machine start vibrating under the load?

      I think he means that the vibration keeps knocking the router off of his desk. Unfortunately, he only has one hand available at the time and can't catch it.

      LK
  • Linsys WRT54G (Score:5, Informative)

    by brunes69 (86786) <<gro.daetsriek> <ta> <todhsals>> on Friday September 17, 2004 @11:50PM (#10282861) Homepage
    Get one. They're dirt cheap, have plenty of CPU power, and they run Linux. Combine one with an open source OS image and you have one powerful router - you can do VPN with it, firewall, anything you want - and you can adjust the NAT table to your liking if the default isn't sufficient, and it does wireless to boot.

    It'll save you plenty on your home power bill too. Seriously, a 486 or simmilar running 24x7 can cost you 5-10 bucks a month, or even more in some areas. Home routers use significantly less power.
    • Re:Linsys WRT54G (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eludias (124857)
      Or even better, a ASUS wl500g (~$90) -- it even contains a USB connector to connect any USB device Linux can use.

      It has the same broadcam chipset as the Linksys, btw. (...which is closed source, so you're bound to run 2.4 forever).

      http://forum.chupa.nl/ has a forum about it for background information (custom firmware for ssh, samba, ...).
    • I second this. I have one and recently went through a few firmware changes. The stock firmware is actually not bad, and can has a decent amount of options.

      Although Sveasoft stirrs up mixed emotions around here, you can get the image for free, and it's very good. You just can't see the forums unless you pay. I personally haven't needed the forums, but your results may vary.

      http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mcmntl/satori/Firmwa r e_Satori-4.0G.zip [ntlworld.com]

      If you are one of those people that don't agree with Sv
    • I'd recommend avoiding Ewing and his company when it comes to his firmware - given his blatant violations(and admission through changing the license to correct what violations he's done). All you'll get is some person who is less than honest in his dealings with people. Just use the other distributions out there and save yourself the grief. However, if you want to take a look at what Sveasoft offers without giving him more ammunition, here's a link [slashdot.org] to the current images and source.
      • How is he less than honest? You can get the source code and binaries for free, just like any other OSS project.

        He charges for support and beta/alpha software. Beta/Alpha eventually becomes stable and thus free. In fact the FSF [linksysinfo.org] says his model is in compliance with the GPL.

    • Get one. They're dirt cheap, have plenty of CPU power, and they run Linux

      Linksys home routers are only speced for an operating temperature of up to 40C. If they are in a place without good airflow, that can easily be exceeded.

      I hit that in winter because the way my apartment is laid out, the computers are near a heater vent. In the summer, I hit it because I don't have air conditioning.

      DLink routers are speced to 55C (and they tend to run cooler anyway, so that they would actually be OK even if only

  • Generally I use business class products on my home network for reliability. One item I've had good luck with is a Cisco Pix 501. Comes with a full version of PIX software that makes it very flexible, for a not too bad cost through discounters like Ebuyer.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by josh3736 (745265) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @12:02AM (#10282914) Homepage
    from the if-it-ain't-broke dept.

    I think that says it all. The box you have now works just fine, so why ditch it for a less flexable consumer-grade router?

    Do any of those Linksys boxes have ssh? Nope. Stick with the PC.

    • by fm6 (162816)
      Do any of those Linksys boxes have ssh?
      They don't have SSH because they don't have any kind of command line interpreter -- you administer them through a web control panel. That's not a bad thing in itself, it just limits the hackability of the box. And not everybody needs hackability.

      Which is a nitpick that doesn't refute your (quite valid) "if it ain't broke" argument.

    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fwc (168330)
      Do any of those Linksys boxes have ssh? Well.... Actually... Yes, the WRT54G(S) sure can have ssh with the appropriate third party firmare.
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Just an FYI, the Linksys WRT54g is just about the most hackable $60 box you can buy. I'm contemplating throwing out my sparc5 w/ 4pt ethernet and replacing it with this smaller, quieter, and cooler (temp) box.

      https://sourceforge.net/projects/wifi-box/ [sourceforge.net]

      http://openwrt.org/ [openwrt.org]

      There's lots more out there, I'm sure.

      You can even add a serial port [rwhitby.net] to it! Hack the voltage and get 200mw (or something) out of it!

      Four years ago when I setup this sparc, it was the easiest solution available for a wireless router a
  • by Pengo (28814) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @12:04AM (#10282925) Journal

    Now I save my time and money from electricity and noise and use a little netgear router with 50mbit wireless. I do all the things that you described and never have had an outage, and it's silent.

    Why use a 130wat power supply when you can use a 12, and 0 noise. Only router I have owned that routinely craps out is a linksys, I wouldn't touch it with a 10' pole. My 2 netgear routers have worked flawlessly.

  • When I upgraded to 5Mbp/s cable and my old SMC Barricade couldn't stand the load - it kept locking up and loosing its settings, I decided to replace it with one of them there broadband router/wireless access point gizmos. After checking out talk on various forums on D-Link, SMC, USR and Linksys products, I ended up getting a Linksys WRT54G. Why? People reported the least amount of problems with it and the fact that it runs a version of the Linux kernel - there are web sites dedicated to hacking this unit an
  • While I've used both FloppyFW and FreeSCO (Free Cisco), I like the little nat routers for lower ping in games.

    But, some advantages to a linux nat router has been advanced nat support for dcc/etc, packet logging, 3+ nic cards, binding ip's on the fly, changing routes or firewall rules without reboot

    VPN had the worst support on both, but not anymore, everything seems to support VPN perfectly.

    The biggest flaw to the commerical nat routers are port mapping when you try to map to different ports, say 22 exter
    • by innosent (618233) <jmdorityNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday September 18, 2004 @03:29AM (#10283639)
      The low ping is most likely due to network polling clock rate. Not sure how to adjust in Linux, but FreeBSD has a kernel option HZ that determines how often to poll for device interrupts. By default, HZ=100 for FreeBSD, which hurts pings significantly (adding 10-20ms) for things run through NAT or any type of pipe/queue. Bump this number up to 1000-2000Hz+, and you're probably processing packets through NAT faster than any off-the-shelf router. Commercial NAT routers are made for small businesses with limited use and no IT department. Beyond that, or for heavy home use, they become a bottleneck. Just on a ballpark guess from my experience with them, Linksys/Netgear/DLink routers seem to poll at about 1000Hz. (adding 1-2ms to pings) Personally, I like HZ=2000, which seems a fair trade-off for machines that do more than just route packets, and adds 1ms worst-case to pings. If you strictly want a router, you could probably increase that quite a bit, until you reach the point that polling takes up too many cycles. Unfortunately, FreeBSD requires a kernel compile to change the HZ value.
  • Your loss (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aminorex (141494) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @12:39AM (#10283068) Homepage Journal
    Your loss, if you make the transition, is mostly
    the loss of flexibility in customizing firewall rules and adding edge services.

    Your gain is a reduction in maintenance, size,
    energy consumption, noise production, and portability.

  • by dhaines (323241) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @12:50AM (#10283100)
    You might check out DSLReports for some opinions on that router [broadbandreports.com]. One guy seemed to have trouble with P2P [broadbandreports.com] on it. In my experience a lot of these home-networking boxlets seem to choke on P2P.
  • I used to work for a Cisco authorized retailer, and so I got a nice Cisco 827 DSL router. It pretty much does everything but make toast. There have even been occasions where there were errors on my DSL line that my ISP couldn't quite figure out until I fed some of the details from my router's communication with the DSLAM. It pretty much tells you everything you want to know about your DSL...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've used a 3Com OfficeConnect firewall before, albeit a higher-end one than that. It wasn't bad when it was working, but I wouldn't recommend it as a purchase. After running with no problems for a year or so, it suddenly started wanting reboots every week, then every day. This was on a standard smallish-business network, running about 25 users doing mostly browsing and mail. 3Com stopped support and updates for it after a year, and made it a real bitch to get the firmware (fill in a big export form, wa
    • Don't have to use OpenBSD for pf anymore, FreeBSD 5.3 has three good firewall choices, all in the core OS, and routes packets much faster than before, and a LOT faster than OpenBSD. I have tried the betas, and I am just waiting to test the final release before I upgrade my own firewall to it.
      • Don't have to use OpenBSD for pf anymore, FreeBSD 5.3 has three good firewall choices, all in the core OS, and routes packets much faster than before, and a LOT faster than OpenBSD.

        You claim that FreeBSD is now a LOT faster than OpenBSD, but that will (even if true) have no impact on a home gateway. When your broadband connection is fully saturated, the CPU usage will be just a few percent. So, even if FreeBSD is 10 times faster, it does not matter for home

  • I'm very happy with my Linksys WRT54G router. With custom firmware you can SSH or telnet into the router and mess around with the linux install it has on it; it does all it's routing with IPTABLES if I'm not mistaken, and you can manually mess around with routes.

    The custom firmwares also let you run a few servers on the router, like PPTPd.

    Anyhow, I don't generally mess around with it; the router's web GUI offers what I need; forward ports and port ranges on either TCP, UDP, or both, to a certain IP, or en
  • I have one (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sklivvz (167003) * <marco.cecconi@gmaiFREEBSDl.com minus bsd> on Saturday September 18, 2004 @02:29AM (#10283473) Homepage Journal
    I have an OfficeConnect (but the one with 55Mb/s wifi). It works very well. My home setup is:
    - 2 Mbit connection to internet
    - 1 computer connected via 100Mb eth
    - 1 computer connected via WiFi
    - 1 pocket pc via WiFi
    - 1 Kiss DVD connected via 100Mb eth

    I never had any problems, even using eMule (PC), shoutcast (DVD), Skype (PPC) and browsing (notebook) at the same time.
    The little critter even supports a VPN so i can remotely control it from work.

    Very recomended!
  • Buy a router (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elemental23 (322479) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @02:55AM (#10283540) Homepage Journal
    A few years ago I gave up using a dedicated machine as a firewall on my DSL line in favor of a hardware router. You lose a bit in flexability, but the space savings, the lower power requirements, and the lower heat output immediately make up for it. And I've decided I like my home office looking a little neater, more like an office and less like a low-rent data center.

    At first I used one of those crappy Linksys things. I don't remember what model it was, but the thing was a heap of shit. I had to hard reset it once a month or so and it would regularly stop routing packets for a minute or two for no readily apparent reason. I finally had enough and replaced it with a Cisco SOHO 91 and I've never been happier (well, with a hardware purchase, anyway). It runs IOS and so can be configured via SSH, does stateful packet filtering and pretty much everything you'd expect from a real router (except VLANs, dammit). It costs a little more than your typical home router, but not by too much. Mine was around $250 new and I'm sure you can find used one cheaper.
  • by dimss (457848) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @03:00AM (#10283552) Homepage
    You should never rely on these small black boxes! Yes, they do basic NAT fine (for me). Yes, they have no moving parts. But they are stupid when it comes to packet filtering or security problems.

    When you have problems with *BSD or Linux, you search through forums and maillists. You read manuals. You can upgrade kernel and userland.

    When you have problems with these broadband routers, the best you can do is firmware upgrade. Will they provide security and bug fixes after year or two? I guess no.

    The price of black box is comparable to an old but still strong computer. The value is much less. Commercial routers with value comparable to *nix box are more expensive than new computer.

    Broadband router is quick and easy solution, but never use them for yourself! Go and buy old Pentium or Celeron without HDD and use *nix on it.
  • did it, regret it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kwench (539630)
    I put my 3-NIC-486/100Mhz-FreeBSD-Box into trash and moved on to the new shiny world of routers, that is a 1-NIC, WLAN-enabled German Telekom router.

    Configuring the network is easy and straightforward, you can even configure for things like VoIP/p2p and it works pretty well. But the configuration procedure is HTML-only and does not allow any special setup (like using 192.168.1.2 instead of 192.168.1.1 because you have a stupid Windows Box with another LAN on your LAN; or putting through connection from 19
  • by smoon (16873) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @04:36AM (#10283842) Homepage
    There's a thread just recently on undeadly.org [undeadly.org] that offers suggestions on low-power (under 30 watt) boxes to run OpenBSD.

    Chances are if they run OpenBSD they will run Linux as well (although why you'd prefer the linux firewall features over the OpenBSD pf firewall escapes me).

    If your main goal is lower electrical cost, that might be a good option anyway. If you are willing and technically competent enough to maintain your own box, you should. Othwerise you give up a _lot_ of flexibility (ability to run snort, dsniff, caching proxy, dns, honeypot, etc.).
    • Chances are if they run OpenBSD they will run Linux as well (although why you'd prefer the linux firewall features over the OpenBSD pf firewall escapes me).

      Frustrations with setting up a Linux based (SuSE, actually) home gateway a couple of years ago made me try out OpenBSD, and I've stuck with OpenBSD since.

      PF gateway example [openbsd.org] shows how easy it is to configure a gateway on OpenBSD.

  • Humph. You have something that works for you and you
    want to replace it with something that might not?

    Why. Go take up pornogami or something more fruitful...

    Seriously - be thankful your router complained and told you what was happening. A closed box from Cisco,
    LinkSys et al would sit there silently and let you
    burn half your brain power for the next milennium.

    We use an intracom (local greek company) DSL router with no problems - but on the other hand
    you won't have the same flexibility that a PC + linux wil
    • DHCP + DNS + NAT mix like oil and water.

      Perhaps you could tell me what you mean by this?

      I have a dedicated machine at home whose sole purpose in life is to act as a DHCP server, DNS server, NAT gateway and a webserver. The fact that I'm posting this reply is a good indicator that it's working properly. :)
      • OK, I'll start. But please understand that your'e
        listening to an evolving scene. My scenario is this:

        Christos: Heavily dynamic, MS solution provider , heavy hacker.

        Andy (that's me): Totally agnostic, 20+ years sys
        programming, firefighting and almost everything you
        care to mention. And yes, I like Linux.

        Manos: 20+years running a hardware business which
        hosed a few months back. Old friend. Good friend.
        Not really (despite his protestations) a techie.

        Manos has always done import export things as well
        as his "m
    • If you had your linux box; it sounds like you would want dnsmasq [thekelleys.org.uk]

      " It is designed to provide DNS and, optionally, DHCP, to a small network. It can serve the names of local machines which are not in the global DNS. The DHCP server integrates with the DNS server and allows machines with DHCP-allocated addresses to appear in the DNS with names configured either in each host or in a central configuration file. Dnsmasq supports static and dynamic DHCP leases and BOOTP for network booting of diskless machines.

  • by jkujawa (56195) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @08:19AM (#10284271) Homepage
    About three years ago, the fan failed on my (almost entirely silent) Linux-based NAT box. I didn't find this out until the cascading failures took down the whole box.

    I replaced it with a Linksys router. I've been happy ever since.
    Set it up and forget about it.

    I'm a coder. I've also done enough sysadmin that it pisses me off when I have to do it at work, and more so when I have to do it at home. Plug-it-and-forget-it is awfully nice.

    Spending $50 on a router, is also more economical than working on one for several hours. My time is not free.
  • by XO (250276)
    My Tandy Sensation 2, a 486sx/33 expanded to 40MB RAM, with a pair of 100Mbit NICs, and the original 540Mb hard drive handles routing just fine, using kernel 2.0.34 (yes, I'm aware there are upgrades available, but i'm not going to muck with a single floppy distribution that works mostly flawlessly), and also does database and email services.

    Then again, it probably consumes ten times as much power as a more modern device to do these sorts of things.. but.. I can't see putting money into it, since it does w
  • Clark Connect [clarkconnect.org]

    That's a redhat-based distribution that let you install a web-managed router/gateway/proxy/name it.

    The home edition is free, so if you have some old hardware, then you spare the hassle of the administration.

    Of course, I own a d-link router as well, and it work without problem, but of course we do not do much p2p here.

    Just choose your poison... But do not forget intermediate options. And no, I do not work@/for clark connect.

  • I finally ended up with the Netopia R910 after being frustrated with the bugs and glitches of cheap routers made by SMC and Netgear. The R910 is the entry level model in a product line of real commercial routers, sharing most of its software with its more expensive relatives. It's been 100% reliable since it was installed. I've never had to reset it or cycle the power. The documentation and software isn't as "user friendly" as more consumer oriented routers, but it shouldn't be a problem for anyone with a
  • I did this recently (Score:4, Informative)

    by Drakino (10965) <d_slashdot@min[ ]fo.net ['iin' in gap]> on Saturday September 18, 2004 @11:08AM (#10284740) Journal
    One big reason I did this. I now have two ISPs coming into the house, and my attempts to get my Linux router to use both in a stable way were not met with sucess. After several hours of pouring over documentation scraps from one site and another, hacking the kernel, and rebooting, I gave up.

    In the end I spent $200 on a nice Xincom Twin Wan Router XC-DPG502. With all it's options and configuration, I got both ISPs working very quickly and got my server set up behind it with no problem.

    Anything advanced for networking under Linux becomes very hard to implement, and even harder due to the fact that there are very few good documentation sites for such things. Most of your research will be from scraps of info off listserves from people attempting this before you.
  • My BSD box, running on a P75, hasn't had a problem with anything I've thrown at it, including P2P sessions from multiple computers.

    The only "failure" I've had was when I recently had a client's computer which was infected with one of those "spreads-over-port-445" viruses. The resulting traffic actually overloaded the NIC's buffer, along with lighting up my switch like a Christmas tree.

    To me, it's a good safety feature as I'd rather lose my connection internally than have a box spew its crap across the net
  • a few years ago I had a P200 running red hat doing NAT and the like, it developed memory issues and was replaced with a Linksys BEFSR41. I "upgraded" to a netgear wireless router when I got a ibook thanks to my school. That leaked RAM like a sieve...
    Bought a WRT54G, now use that as a router/AP and the Netgear as a secondary AP (big house).
    The WRT54G has issues with my NAT over BT. As such, I'm building a PII 350 to run my routing again...
  • linksys wrt-54g (Score:5, Informative)

    by aderusha (32235) on Saturday September 18, 2004 @03:11PM (#10286067) Homepage
    for roughly $65 [amazon.com], you can buy a linksys wrt-54g [linksys.com] which runs linux out of the box. add to this some free [sourceforge.net] third [narod.ru]-party [sourceforge.net] replacement [openwrt.org] firmware [portless.net] and you get full control over the unit and loads of features - VPN, packet shaping, advanced packet filtering, captive portals, and all sorts of other stuff. the unit is very flexible, reliable, cheap, and most of all it is supremely hackable - especially if you know your way around linux.

    if you do go down this route be sure to avoid sveasoft's firmware, for reasons illustrated here [slashdot.org]. basically, the guy writing it is a total cockbite. last time i questioned his (ab)use of the GPL here on slashdot he banned me from his forums, so if you do intend to send him $20 you'd better be nice.
  • I used Robotics 8000-02 Broadband Router for multiport switching, NAT and firewall for almost one year. I was very dissatisfied with the device. I really liked Robotics hardware some 15 years ago, being a high speed modem dealer in early ninetees, but this time it was a complete disaster.

    Here is the list of incidents I had with it, I believe many of other so called consumer grade broadband routers have very similar symptoms:

    1. Web interface

    - http status/configuration pages required support for javascript
  • I've been using a 486/25 running a floppy Linux distro [coyotelinux.com] for (guessing) 4 years, and I have to admit some disappointment by the appearance in the last couple years of cheap little boxes like the ones you're looking at, because it means my l33t skillz configuring this box are no longer necessary, and I can't impress my new boss by saving hundreds of dollars building a firewall/router out of old parts. {wry grin}

    But I'm in no hurry to retire it. For one thing, it works. For another, I know how it works, and I

    • Actually, if you have a crappy switch that either doesn't autonegotiate well, or has trouble talking to 10BT and 100BT at the same time, its a good reason to throw a 10/100 card in there.

      In addition, transferring large files to your router sucks over 10BT (tar dumps of the FS, etc).

      Further, some of us have seeing that puny 10BT light on our switch with all other nodes at 100BT.
  • d-link also earlier mandrake mnf and snf.

    These were at office environments with lax net policies allowing p2p, games, etc.

    I have to say IPcop did the best job and included a lot of nice features. Not without flaws but very solid. It handled 70 computers nicely on a cablemodem including an ftp server. The IDS & firewall worked very well and helped avoid all the
    worm fun of late. p2p worked generally well, but as you probably know most p2p works best beyond the firewall.

    Black box units had most of the
  • I've replaced all my NAT boxes (the one at my parents and at my home) by Cisco SOHO routers. They feature almost the same features as a UNIX NAT box.

    But they are much more silent, eat up less power and can be stuffed away more easily in the house.

  • I don't think it's a performance metric. Think about a /24 subnet for a minute, and you'll see where that number came from.
  • I'd second the recommendations to look at SOHO stuff; my personal experience at work is with a lower-end Netscreen device that is about the size of a 4-port hub, has two Ethernet ports (trusted and untrusted), does NAT, does port forwarding, has good logs, etc, and similar devices can be found on eBay in the $50-100 range. For example, this [ebay.com] is a similar firewall device. I'd expect other companies have similar offerings, where you get the benefits of an embedded device (lower power consumption, no noise, s

  • try an old notebook (Score:4, Informative)

    by mqx (792882) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @05:07PM (#10292494)

    This is the biggest secret out there, you can pick up old notebooks of decent speed (sub 200mhz, 586, 64-96mb ram, etc) and use it as a gateway, the benefit is:

    - low power, low noise, low cost, small form factor;
    - cheap, get them for sub $50 or free - nobody wants them;
    - built in UPS (i.e. the notebook battery);
    - simply install good firewall OS (OpenBSD);
    - plug pcmcia wireless in the side (take your pick: 802.11b, b+, g ...);
    - use spare pcmcia slot for modem card to provide backup connectivity, or use it for fax server and even for voice mail / phone system (i.e. asterisk)
    - use the USB slot for cheap-o USB DSL modem (e.g. accessrunner, etc)

    The real benefit is that you can just upgrade parts of it as necessary (e.g. all the suckers on 802.11b DSL gateways are hosed while you just buy a new 802.11g card, install it, and throw the old one away), and of course, you get the confidence in a bullet proof system (e.g. OpenBSD).

    Seriously, you'll get years of mileage out of it -- much more than a "closed" DSL gateway, you'll get better performance and functionality, all at a cheaper price.

    • I keep seeing people say this, but I cannot find a p233 w/64mb laptop with a working battery (even if only 20 min) anywhere. All the ones on ebay are at least $150.
  • Try Smoothwall at smoothwall.org.

    It's really good stuff based on 2.4 kernel.

    Solid.
  • Leave the commercial grade garbage for the I.T. departmentless masses who think setting up and maintaining a fully functional and secure network is an "out of the box" solution and doesn't require any of those "geeky expensive" people.

    You sound smart - act like it. Stick with opensource, and just upgrade your hardware. For $100 you can have a nice Pentium 2 with 64MB of ram and a tiny harddrive running smoothwall - it can easily handle anything your four computers would ever be able to throw at it.

    My cele
  • I am using a cool router software. It is called It is based off the the linux kernel 2.4 I think. All you need a cheap box(p133 with 32mb of ram is the min) and 2 NICs installed and you have a router. It also has apache, php, samba and much more built in. Check out their website for more.
  • m0n0wall is awesome. Check it out. I wouldn't go commercial...

    http://m0n0.com/wall/ [m0n0.com]
  • And you have a UPS? That lasts 60 minutes? Then why unplug it when it storms?
  • I run BBIAgent and haven't had any issues whatsoever with it. I'd highly recommend it. Right now I have a Linksys router, and two wireless D-Link routers. Note that the BBIAgent one is the one currently in use.

    Any issues/thoughts/concerns with BBIAgent anyone?

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