help me build my dream home network!

THRESHIN

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so i think i may need to build a simple server for my home network. unfortunately i have absolutely no idea where to start, yes i have been searching and have also had trouble finding specific things.

currently have a d-link DIR-655 and it sucks my left nut.

if i can do what i need with a simple router that would be perferrable but right now i don't see this happening. only idea i had is one of the new routers coming out soon with the qualcom hardware that was shown off at CES recently: http://www.dlink.com/us/en/home-solutions/connect/routers/dgl-5500-gaming-router

so here is what i am after, hopefully no compromises. i do have time to do this:

- need very good QoS support. if someone turns on a bandwidth/connection intensive application such as a torrent, the entire network slows to a crawl for everyone. something the above qualcom hardware promises to fix...who knows at this point.

- would like very high level of priority control over each system connected to the router. if QoS still can't handle it, i can at least prioritize systems when necessary. have someone else living in my home and would prefer not to impose any limitations on that persons computer.

- large amount of data storage accessible right from the router/server. mostly so i can hook something up to my tv such as the WD media player. would be nice if everyone connected to the network can do so.

- better wireless range would be nice. this d-link stinks for that.

- printer sharing would be an asset. the USB 'share port' on the DIR-655 is a broken down mess.

so what are the recommendations for my requirements? should i wait for a better router or think about building a simple server system? i know there is open source linux software available for just such an occasion...

finally last thing....thinking about a TV hookup. would like to have some of my old gaming systems such as NES and SNES on emulator hooked up to my tv. guessing the best way to go is a simple HTPC? are there good remotes/software available for this so it can also double as the media player?

thanks guys, just not sure where to go here. i hate networking :p
 

THRESHIN

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BTW if a small server is the best option here, please let me know what software to look into. for hardware, i'll need to retire my rig soon anyways. C2D E8500, 4GB memory. thinking of underclocking it so i can drop the voltage a little and save some power? will be running 24/7 after all!

also with a couple mechanical drives....can they go into sleep mode and be 'woken up' over the network by another system?
 

Mackintire

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A significant number of users have a HP Procurve 1810, Dell 2800, or SG200 at this core of their home networks.
 

THRESHIN

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A significant number of users have a HP Procurve 1810, Dell 2800, or SG200 at this core of their home networks.
i don't see how a switch helps me what so ever. does it even meet one of the things i'm looking for?
 

Mackintire

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If you want QOS for your network....inside your network, you need a switch that supports QOS, bandwidth management..etc.

If you are ONLY worried about QOS as it relates to internet related services, then you need a router that can define and control QOS to and from the WAN port. For most consumer grade products you will only have control of ports and protocol types. So if two different machines are watching netflix they will be playing tug of war (with each other) but will globally obey the QOS you set on the router.
 

tangoseal

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Cisco 1921 with ios zone and 8 port gb ehwic card you are set!

All the enterprise level qos you can shake a stick at.
 

THRESHIN

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ok, my bad mackintire. as i said, i know very little about networking.

yes the idea is more application oriented QoS. certain apps don't always use the same port, so port priority is kinda useless right now.

for having a network drive or two, would a small server still be necessary or can this be done with one of these switches?

finally, what if i wanted all traffic going through a VPN? my ISP has a setup like this available for security....basically encrypt all your traffic. from what i remember, it was a bit of a chore to set up but not too bad. would be nice if this could be done at the router/switch/server point so i set it up once and never think about it again.
 

Mackintire

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So... I'm going to save you from yourself and put you in charge of your own destiny.

This will get you a magnitude of an order farther ahead of where you are without placing you in over your head or making you broke/pissed off.


Option 1 If you want to spend $100
Buy a Asus RT-N16 from Newegg or Amazon or anywhere.

Tinker with it in the default state....

Want more....

Install this: http://www.easytomato.org/get-easytomato/


Read all the documentation on the easy tomato site, learn how you use everything that interests you.

Then go to toastmans tomato site and start working with the guts of the system and the advanced QOS.


Option 2 If you want to spend $180

Buy a ASUS RT-N66U from Newegg or Amazon or anywhere.

Tinker with it in the default state....

Want more....

Download and install the Merlin firmware from here: http://forums.smallnetbuilder.com/showthread.php?t=7846



Those two options should give you a good experience and give you legs to stretch far beyond what you currently are limited to.

All of your requirement should be covered by the two options above except:

l
  • arge amount of data storage accessible right from the router/server. mostly so i can hook something up to my tv such as the WD media player. would be nice if everyone connected to the network can do so


The above would be best accomplished by a smart switch with QOS, such as the models I suggested earlier.

I would endorse looking at one of the three switches I suggested earlier.
 

tangoseal

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You still will not get high performance enterprise QoS per protocol with anything in the residential line of products. You will need to get a minimum of Prosumer i.e. Mikrotic etc... or go even higher and get enterprise equipment. You can get a Cisco 1841 router to put on your edge, do all the QoS you want, off of ebay for like $200.00. You technically do not even need a switch to do ANY QoS if all your issues are internet. Since QoS starts as layer 2 and is ultimately a layer 3 feature you need a layer 3 device and a low cost used Cisco or other brand enterprise router is where it will need to be. If you want to control QoS on your LAN only then you need to have a switch that will do this and any of the recommended ones on these forums and this post will work for you.
 

Mackintire

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After re-reading the OPs origional comments I 'm going to stick to my endorsement.

If the OP can learn and figure out either of the two devices I suggested...Then he's ready to attempt to use a Cisco 1841, RouterOS on Mikrotic, or Ubiquiti EdgeRouter lite.

He admitted he's a bit of a noob when it comes to advanced networking. I don't want to scare the guy, but I also want to empower him to do more.

Tanoseal is correct. My suggestions will not do it all. But I also don't want to bury you in enterprise level configuration that may just overwhelm and piss the OP off. You have to walk before you run, and I'm not going to endorse someone just asking for advice to take a big gulp from the IT firehose at full blast.

If the OP wants to go that route...I 'm sure he'll read it here and make up his own mind.
 

Krazypoloc

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Bets case would be to build a pfSense box for your router, get a Ubiquiti wireless access point for your wireless, and build a HTPC or buy something like this.
 
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Build an ESX virtualization Server.

Purchase a Norco 4220 this will allow you to have 22 hard drives. 20 Hotswappable. You can start with a couple hard drives and build up from there.

What you run as far as hardware wise is up to you. But I would get somthing with decent specs in case you decide to go power crazy and do more things with your new virtual toy. At minimum I would do some sort of dual core box. with like 2GB ram. Make sure the board has plenty of PCI/PCIe slots for future expansion should you ever need it. You will probably need them to add SATA/RAID and/or NICs. You are going to need a minimum of 3 NICs.

Run a VM of your choice for the fileserver. I personally use WindowsServer for ease of use and flexibility. Others will recommend *nix variants.

Run a VM of PfSense for your router, this will give you all the control you need as far as Internet > LAN bandwith management. It also allows for VPN. It also does a ton of other crap that you might end up using later. Let your old router just become a wifi access point.

A simple PC with HDMI to your TV would suffice for running emulators and streaming movies from your fileserver.
 
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Krazypoloc

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Now you've described something that looks like my network.. Only my PFsense box is a converted firebox.
Its a common home setup for people that know networks.....hence the recommendation. :)

I run pfSense on top of vSphere, but a dedicated pfSense box would be the way to go for an IT newcomer.
 

diizzy

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@ tangoseal
Cashing out more money doesn't necessarily mean better products, Mikrotik are based on the same hardware platform as many consumer routers and with OpenWRT (Linux) you can pretty achieve everything that RouterOS does in one way or other.

@ THRESHIN
If you're willing to learn and getting your hands dirty I'd suggest that you have a look at OpenWRT which pretty much covers everything of what you mentioned but it doesn't have fancy webui for all features and you can run it on pretty powerful routers. Printer sharing will always be crappy at best, get a network printer instead as they aren't expensive these days. It'll save you a lot of time and headaches. Throttling inbound trafiic is pretty much impossible on a consumer line as there's no point in dropping traffic when it already hit your connection.
//Danne
 

Krazypoloc

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@ tangoseal
Cashing out more money doesn't necessarily mean better products, Mikrotik are based on the same hardware platform as many consumer routers and with OpenWRT (Linux) you can pretty achieve everything that RouterOS does in one way or other.

@ THRESHIN
If you're willing to learn and getting your hands dirty I'd suggest that you have a look at OpenWRT which pretty much covers everything of what you mentioned but it doesn't have fancy webui for all features and you can run it on pretty powerful routers. Printer sharing will always be crappy at best, get a network printer instead as they aren't expensive these days. It'll save you a lot of time and headaches. Throttling inbound trafiic is pretty much impossible on a consumer line as there's no point in dropping traffic when it already hit your connection.
//Danne
I think everyone here would agree openWRT is miles and miles behind pfSense. I've run OpenWRT, Tomato, DD-WRT, pfSense, Untangle, IOS (Cisco ASA), ect. pfSense is hands down the best solution for a home network.
 

Mackintire

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@ tangoseal
Cashing out more money doesn't necessarily mean better products, Mikrotik are based on the same hardware platform as many consumer routers and with OpenWRT (Linux) you can pretty achieve everything that RouterOS does in one way or other.

@ THRESHIN
If you're willing to learn and getting your hands dirty I'd suggest that you have a look at OpenWRT which pretty much covers everything of what you mentioned but it doesn't have fancy webui for all features and you can run it on pretty powerful routers. Printer sharing will always be crappy at best, get a network printer instead as they aren't expensive these days. It'll save you a lot of time and headaches. Throttling inbound trafiic is pretty much impossible on a consumer line as there's no point in dropping traffic when it already hit your connection.
//Danne
This thread is starting to go in circles....
....the ASUS Merlin firmware is based of off DD-WRT and the Tomato firmware I believe is a fork of OpenWRT.
 

diizzy

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@ Mackintire

As far as I know the only supported (stable) platforms are Atheros and Broadcom. Ralink does work but I dont think it is considered as a "stable" platform and reading about the weird WIFI issues Asus routers have I would personally stay away.
Comparing Tomato firmwares with OpenWRT is a bit unfair, Tomato have basic functionality and that's about it compared to OpenWRT but you'll end up using the CLI on the other hand much more using the latter. DD-WRT is a joke as far as I know these days, buggy and slow... Just look at the Buffalo routers which have good hardware but comes with DD-WRT as stock firmware.

@ Krazypoloc

You can do pretty much the same thing in OpenWRT for firewalling that you can do in pfsense although a 800MHz MIPS CPU isn't going to be as fast as an Intel i3 CPU. I do much prefer pf's syntax compared to iptables but that's not the point ;-)

//Danne
 
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Krazypoloc

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@ Krazypoloc

You can do pretty much the same thing in OpenWRT for firewalling that you can do in pfsense although a 800MHz MIPS CPU isn't going to be as fast as an Intel i3 CPU. I do much prefer pf's syntax compared to iptables but that's not the point ;-)
pfSense is also nice and easy to use as everything can be done via the web front end. It also has really nice QoS thats easy to setup and very effective.
 

THRESHIN

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sorry for no response guys, been busy.

we'll set the budget at $200 for now. i have a great job so spending a bit extra is of no consequence for me. not trying to brag, just saying that if i have to spend more to get what i'm after done right then i'm all for it. really i am looking for the bare minimum to meet my requirements

Mackintire, you've been extremely helpful. thank you!! even if i have no clear answer, i have many options to look into now - ones that would have been hard to find on my own.

as far as myself, yes i have never been good with networking but don't mind learning. i'm one of those lucky people that seems to have this ability to learn just about anything easily....networking just wasn't a topic that was as easy as others.

as far as QoS what i'm really after is finding a solution to torrents and other high traffic applications swamping my router. a torrent goes on in this house and right now everyone suffers. i would like this to be as automatic as possible, but some control when i need it would be ideal. if it must be manual sure i'm all for it! my main concern is programs like torrents don't use a specific port...have to read up on that.

sounds like we got the storage issue figured out.

one last monkey wrench into this shitshow! as mentioned my ISP offers an option for an encrypted SSH tunnel. its a bit of a pain to set up. any way to have this set up server/router side so that traffic goes through this automatically?

EDIT: also looks like they have an openVPN option in addition as well. guessing the VPN would be the easier/better option?
 

Krazypoloc

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sorry for no response guys, been busy.

we'll set the budget at $200 for now. i have a great job so spending a bit extra is of no consequence for me. not trying to brag, just saying that if i have to spend more to get what i'm after done right then i'm all for it. really i am looking for the bare minimum to meet my requirements

Mackintire, you've been extremely helpful. thank you!! even if i have no clear answer, i have many options to look into now - ones that would have been hard to find on my own.

as far as myself, yes i have never been good with networking but don't mind learning. i'm one of those lucky people that seems to have this ability to learn just about anything easily....networking just wasn't a topic that was as easy as others.

as far as QoS what i'm really after is finding a solution to torrents and other high traffic applications swamping my router. a torrent goes on in this house and right now everyone suffers. i would like this to be as automatic as possible, but some control when i need it would be ideal. if it must be manual sure i'm all for it! my main concern is programs like torrents don't use a specific port...have to read up on that.

sounds like we got the storage issue figured out.

one last monkey wrench into this shitshow! as mentioned my ISP offers an option for an encrypted SSH tunnel. its a bit of a pain to set up. any way to have this set up server/router side so that traffic goes through this automatically?

EDIT: also looks like they have an openVPN option in addition as well. guessing the VPN would be the easier/better option?
This is a very informative doc on what the pfSense traffic shaper can do and how to set it up. The traffic shaper is extremely useful as it can throttle p2p applications and elevate other things like video streaming and gaming, which is exactly what you are looking for.

http://doc.pfsense.org/index.php/Traffic_Shaping_Guide
 

Mackintire

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@ Mackintire

As far as I know the only supported (stable) platforms are Atheros and Broadcom. Ralink does work but I dont think it is considered as a "stable" platform and reading about the weird WIFI issues Asus routers have I would personally stay away.
Comparing Tomato firmwares with OpenWRT is a bit unfair, Tomato have basic functionality and that's about it compared to OpenWRT but you'll end up using the CLI on the other hand much more using the latter. DD-WRT is a joke as far as I know these days, buggy and slow... Just look at the Buffalo routers which have good hardware but comes with DD-WRT as stock firmware.

@ Krazypoloc

You can do pretty much the same thing in OpenWRT for firewalling that you can do in pfsense although a 800MHz MIPS CPU isn't going to be as fast as an Intel i3 CPU. I do much prefer pf's syntax compared to iptables but that's not the point ;-)

//Danne

Personally I try to stay away from DD-WRT as it only works well (as in all the features actually work) on very specific subset of hardware. The ASUS RT-N66U appears to be in that narrow group of devices that DD-WRT actually works well on.

As far as the OpenWRT verses Tomato argument, the toastmans build is fairly loaded with features and is the most popular build users typically install. I think the Shibby build is the only one that has more features. Some of the tomato build are fairly feature limited. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomato_(firmware)
 

RESTfulADI

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I would try RouterOS if QoS is important, I tried with pfSense but I can't find a way to distinguish between browsing and downloading/streaming. Mikrotik can do it with packet mark for connection bytes.

My network used to be all virtual pfSense trunked to a Dell 2708 with a Unifi AP. Now the Mikrotik 750G does NAT, WAN-LAN routing, and QoS, Cisco SG-300-20p for inter-vlan routing and server connections, Dell 2708 in living room for vlan access, pfSense is the VPN server, backup DNS and double NAT for stupid FIOS router, domain controller for DNS and DHCP, Unifi AP and Asus EA-N66 AP for wi-fi waiting for a good all in one AC AP.

But the most important part IMO of any home dream network in an ESXi server. I would start there and add as needed, you don't even need to buy a router.
 
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THRESHIN

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that and steam, all my many online games:) and any other new things that come along...

thanks for the document link, i'll definitely give it a look over.

correct me if i'm wrong here, but what i'm taking home from this discussion is that i should not need to set up a dirty server with an old pc. look more into routers with custom firmware, possibly a more commercial end switch.

this is going to keep me busy for a while....maybe keep me out of trouble for a bit. thanks guys!
 

Shockey

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also downloading and possibly streaming
What QOS are you planning to use?

I use to have pfsense setup with HFSC and set service curves where it could use 85% of the connection for 15 seconds then it would throttle down for http traffic(downloads). Web pages don't take longer than 15 seconds to load so only thing running past this would be download/streaming ;)
 
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