(Dual Ethernet) Laptop to use as server/gateway

poorandunlucky

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Does anyone know any good brand and model of laptop to use with FreeBSD? I mean, it's already got a battery and everything, you can find them cheap used, you can shove them in a mini fridge... with USB3 and eSATA, like... why not?

Hardware is sometimes hit and miss... chipsets, controllers, etc. are often made by the lowest bidder, and they're often not entirely supported by the FreeBSD kernel.

Do you have a recommended brand and model of laptop to use with FreeBSD? Any you know with dual ethernet? What about USB2 and USB3 ethernet adapters? PC/EC card adapters?

Experience, tips, hints, warnings?

This is a bit of a digression and may evolve into a separate thread, but what about 802.11 APs? I just have 0 experience with actual, standalone APs, just routers with radios and antennas... I guess an AP's just a radio and an antenna that you hook-up to your ethernet adapter, it's on the physical layer, but idk, I'm just kinda throwing this out there...

I'm asking because I have good downstream internet (200+ mibps), but my router just can't handle it over dual band N, and some devices connected to 2.4 GHz restrict it to single band, and ... it's just a nightmare to have all the junk I have connected to it, and then I have the Xbox that ends-up with a 30 ms ping and 75 mibps downloads (yes, i'm a kid, i play video games).

I want to get the Asus RT-AC5300 (picture related) (if you say you don't want one you're either lying or closeted), but the space station comes with a fairly high price tag that could be comparable to a used laptop, APs, and the fun factor could largely be compensated for and maybe even largely exceeded by the fact that it's actually a legit fbsd gateway with APs...



What would you do? Would you pay $400.00 for the space station, or get a laptop, APs, and build your space station from the inside out?
 

Phishfry

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I don't know of any laptops with dual wired ethernet.

For a FreeBSD AP I use an old Checkpoint U5 firewall with an older MiniPCI Mikrotik atheros radio(cheap).
It does all I need as an AP and has 5 gigabit ethernet interfaces.
If your going for speed then buy an AP and use Linux for its 802.11AC. Speed is not the highlight of FreeBSD wireless..
 

SirDice

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This is a bit of a digression and may evolve into a separate thread, but what about 802.11 APs?
I'm quite happy with my Linksys LAPAC1750. It's got a bit of a steep pricetag but it has some really nice features. It's supports multiple wireless networks, each can be on a different VLAN. It has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands (which can be used simultaneously). There's also a built-in captive portal I use for guest access.

For my internet connection I bought a miniITX board with an integrated Intel Atom CPU. It's passively cooled and boots off of an SSD. So it's very quiet and doesn't require a lot of power. It handles my 200Mbit/s internet connection just fine, my Steam downloads usually max out around 20MB/s.
 
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poorandunlucky

poorandunlucky

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Phishfry : I don't know about that... I had OpenWRT installed on my Linksys EA4500 and E4200v1 and I had to reinstall the stock firmware because, unlike the WRT Series line of Linksys routers, the drivers for the chipsets in the routers is proprietary, and the throughput, wired or wireless, was just ridiculous with OpenWRT, so in my experience it has more to do with hardware support than with software... Perhaps lack of software support is the reason FreeBSD wireless has a reputation of being slow...

SirDice : I have a Linksys EA4500 that runs the stock cloud (unlinked) firmware, and a E4200 that runs OpenWRT and Bind 9, I guess the EA4500 does pretty much the same things as yours, it's got a 1.2 GHz single core CPU, two interfaces to it, and 128 MB of RAM, if I remember correctly, which really isn't bad if you turn off SPI and logging, but it still can't handle thousands of connections for torrents, plus the bandwidth over the radios, the Ethernet traffic, the firmware automatically runs a caching DNS you can't turn off, there's also QoS, NAT for almost ten permanent devices now, plus I want to add in a web server that might actually get traffic, a database server, etc...

My biggest problem is latency, to be honest... True the Xbox doesn't get much past 75 mibps, but it's not what bothers me the most... it's the minimum 10 ms latency I get on it, plus the slowness of everything when there's torrents going.

I live downtown where there's a few highrise buildings around, so there's a fair bit of interference... at night I can get over 50 SSIDs (!), and there's only a handful of channels open by regulations here. When my SO moves in with me, there's going to be two people streaming, playing, torrenting, browsing, and almost twice the number of devices connected to the network... I just don't think the EA4500's going to cut it.

I'm curious what the machine can do, and two, I kinda want to have it as a baseline for any experiments I'd want to be doing with APs and pro networking gear, but it's pretty expensive, I'm not used to shelling out so much on stuff, and if I can skip from A to C without going through B, that'd be genius, plus so much cooler, in a way.

It's just so frustrating to get killed behind walls...

Another issue I forgot is security... Living downtown with a lot of highrise buildings with a lot of Asian (look at statistics) people in them means I get bruteforced all the time, being a kid I also get DDoS'd all the time, ... life on the Internet isn't easy.

I just think APs are dodgy... so many manufacturers, and those things don't get tons of reviews, and the people who do write reviews about them often just have fuck all idea what they're talking about and they're just trying to have a positive online presence to look good for their employer, or motivate themselves, or think they're important, or s the manufacturer's c... I have no idea how you people make it in the professional world. I have no patience for that kind of bullshit, and my ego really can't allow me to even let anyone have the shadow of the thought that I could be letting that kind of shit slide... it's messing with my inner peace.
 

tingo

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Often the easiest (for some values of "easy") solution to the 2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz devices problem without breaking the bank is to have two AP's: a low cost (probably old, reused) AP for 2.4 GHz that you can connect all the "junk" devices to (devices that is happy as long as they are on the net) and a different AP for 5 GHz where you only connect 5 GHz devices, and only the ones that really needs good access.
For low latency demanding devices: nothing beats a good Ethernet cable.
 
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poorandunlucky

poorandunlucky

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tingo : that's the thing... the Xbox still has insane latency, even cabled directly to the modem... it's at least 10 ms. I thought maybe 25' of cable would have the same resistance as 15' of air and going through two radios, but ... seems ludicrous. Packets go back and forth miles under 1 ms...
 

tetragir

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As for Access Point, I prefer the Ubiquiti devices. Decent hardware for a good price.
In general, if there are so many SSIDs around, make sure you only use 5Ghz channels and disable 2,4Ghz (if every device you use supports it of course).
And of course, use cable if you can. It will always be faster than wifi.
 

Phishfry

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I have built over a dozen FreeBSD Access Points. Just for kicks I try hostapd with each new embedded device I buy. I am a wifi junkie.
Strangely I had been using a commercial Ruckus AP as recommended from the pfSense forum. But it died some months ago, so I pulled my oldest FreeBSD AP build out and I have not looked back since(Yes it is a LV PentiumM 600mhz OEM from Lanner/Checkpoint).
I use 5ghz on a Mikrotik R52-Hn with a Terrawave Omni-Antenna. Your radio is only as good as your antenna in my opinion.
 

Phishfry

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I built some dual radio boxes too. Two separate Atheros modules for 2.4 and 5ghz radios on the APU1D. One of the problems I saw was two high power modules side by side are not good. I build a custom copper 'signal hood' to stop crosstalk but it only helped moderately. On a ATX board i was able to separate the two modules further apart (on mPCIe to PCIe adapter cards) with better luck.
 

Terry_Kennedy

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tingo : that's the thing... the Xbox still has insane latency, even cabled directly to the modem... it's at least 10 ms. I thought maybe 25' of cable would have the same resistance as 15' of air and going through two radios, but ... seems ludicrous. Packets go back and forth miles under 1 ms...
Is your modem an actual cable modem with an Ethernet port, or is it an all-in-one box w/ router and WiFI? If it is a real modem, temporarily plug your Xbox into it (and do whatever you need to do to get the Xbox to acquire a new DHCP lease). If things are still slow, go complain to your cable / whatever company that is providing your service.

Even the hardwired Ethernet ports on a router are going to go through the forwarding path in the router, which generally has a chipset that can barely walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone forward 200Mbit/sec of NATted Xbox traffic.

I just think APs are dodgy... so many manufacturers, and those things don't get tons of reviews, and the people who do write reviews about them often just have fuck all idea what they're talking about and they're just trying to have a positive online presence to look good for their employer, or motivate themselves, or think they're important, or s the manufacturer's c... I have no idea how you people make it in the professional world. I have no patience for that kind of bullshit, and my ego really can't allow me to even let anyone have the shadow of the thought that I could be letting that kind of shit slide... it's messing with my inner peace.
A lot of them are rather poor and overpriced. That's because the consumer-oriented manufacturers sell a lot more routers w/ WiFi than standalone access points, so pricing is better on the routers (due to quantity) even though there's more in them. And because they sell more routers, they are more likely to keep the firmware in a reasonably up-to-date shape, if for no other reason than components change over the life of the router and they need slightly different firmware.

I'm using Cisco Aironet access points here, for the most part*. Lately I've been using Aironet 702i units, which you can sometimes find in the $100 range on eBay. Of course, you need to deal with the Cisco IOS CLI and have a way of getting firmware updates (A Cisco support contract for a single 702i is pretty cheap, but you'll tear your hair out trying to get the contract actually hooked up to a Cisco account and have it actually work in the download area).

High-end units like the Cisco are designed to deal with 1000's of clients roaming between them, and you can easily have a device uptime of a couple years because they're rock-solid.

* I have a couple cheap consumer APs here - a D-Link for the "walled garden" of my Pronto remote control stuff, and a WD to support some Internet of [badly coded] Things devices like my air conditioners and water heater, because whatever WiFi stack(s) they licensed are buggy and end up disassociating from the Cisco devices.
 

Phishfry

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Yes exactly. I fashioned a copper cover with 2 slots for the pigtail wire and some weatherstripping to prevent grounding.

I think what I was seeing is the difference between an engineered solution and slapping 2 radios in a box.
I am sure on a commercial Access Point the 2 bands are working together not fighting one another.
 
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poorandunlucky

poorandunlucky

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Terry_Kennedy : Hey! We both have a lone Y in our usernames : P

For the first part, it's an actual modem. I'm actually very happy with this ISP, so far it looks like they just uncapped my bandwidth and if I plug the computer direct in it, I get way over what I pay for (~250/40) on top of being cheapest in town ($90/mo)... and it looks like I have a static IP, too. Can't complain to the ISP, honestly, but I did Twitter Microsoft. I never get < 80 ms ping when doing advanced network stats on the Xbox One OS, never less than 11 ms to a nearby server, and it's top hardware in there, there's no reason it should lag like that... They think it's weird, too, so it might be a defective console. I'll let everyone know what happens, we're still exchanging direct messages on Twitter.

For the second part, that's good to know. I'm not fond of Cisco because they're like Microsoft in the sense that you have to learn how to use their stuff instead of the stuff that their stuff is (I'm not sure if I make sense)... Like MS SQL is SQL, but you need a Ph.D. to use their GUI because they use different terminology than what's standard. I have Cisco a VoIP phone I got thinking I could just configure it to SIP withthe billion buttons on it and the 5" LCD screen, but no. I would've had to TFTP the settings in to then use their management software (or something like that). And they do that because they think it's more secure... instead of making it secure, they just make it complied, it's stupid, but I digress.

Out of curiosity, though, what kind of sensors you got on your water heater? T, pressure, current? Maybe an app with stats like volume and kW? I used to have my hot water stolen from me, until I realized something was weird, and shut the valve on top of the tank. The upstairs neighbors would stink, and I heard them complain when they found out "What are we going to do now?"

I'm not fn Mother Theresa, I don't support strangers' weight on my shoulders, wtf? I went back to live with my dad after, it was an awful six months.

... anyway.

Phishfry : The geometry of the antennas in the EA4500 and E4200 is actually quite complex, I was surprised. Inside both are squares angled about 30 degrees, and would output outwards, as much as that's possible... and because of the angle, the interfering waves go straight up, and are maybe 1.5 m a floor up?

Why didn't you want the copper to be grounded on your setup, though? I always thought Faraday cages were grounded, so the electromagnetic energy is converted to electronic induction...
 

Phishfry

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I didn't want my copper shield to ground out any of the surface mounted components. I made it with the idea of RF shielding.
It literally sat on top of the motherboard.
 
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poorandunlucky

poorandunlucky

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Phishfry : You're right, RF shields aren't grounded, like the things to protect NFC cards in wallets... I don't know how that works though... (I generally don't trust things I don't understand how they work, sometimes takes me forever to do the simplest things x D).
 

Chris_H

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poorandunlucky
I don't know about shelling out some 400 on a device that only does one thing -- even if it does it good. I think spending the same amount on building it has a few advantages.
fe; I'm building an AP. But rather than buying one. I simply took a box that's already providing internet services, and plugged in a Atheros(4) card in the PCIe slot, and the specs aren't too shabby, either:
Code:
ath0: <Atheros 9287> mem 0xfe300000-0xfe30ffff irq 16 at device 0.0 on pci3
ath0: RX timestamp: 32 bits
ath0: TX timestamp: 32 bits
ath0: [HT] enabling HT modes
ath0: [HT] enabling short-GI in 20MHz mode
ath0: [HT] 1 stream STBC receive enabled
ath0: [HT] 1 stream STBC transmit enabled
ath0: [HT] 2 RX streams; 2 TX streams
ath0: 11b rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps
ath0: 11g rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps 6Mbps 9Mbps 12Mbps 18Mbps 24Mbps 36Mbps 48Mbps 54Mbps
ath0: 2T2R
ath0: 11ng MCS 20MHz
ath0: MCS 0-7: 6.5Mbps - 65Mbps
ath0: MCS 8-15: 13Mbps - 130Mbps
ath0: 11ng MCS 20MHz SGI
ath0: MCS 0-7: 7Mbps - 72Mbps
ath0: MCS 8-15: 14.5Mbps - 144.5Mbps
ath0: 11ng MCS 40MHz:
ath0: MCS 0-7: 13.5Mbps - 135Mbps
ath0: MCS 8-15: 27Mbps - 270Mbps
ath0: 11ng MCS 40MHz SGI:
ath0: MCS 0-7: 15Mbps - 150Mbps
ath0: MCS 8-15: 30Mbps - 300Mbps
ath0: AR9287 mac 384.2 RF5133 phy 15.15
ath0: 2GHz radio: 0x0000; 5GHz radio: 0x00c0
ath0: Use hw queue 1 for WME_AC_BE traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 0 for WME_AC_BK traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 2 for WME_AC_VI traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 3 for WME_AC_VO traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 8 for CAB traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 9 for beacons
ath0: using multicast key search
It was expensive tho: ~$25 US ;);)

I live on a half acre, and if I place this box right. I should pretty much have access from near anywhere in the yard.
I guess the point I'm making is; that if you build your own, then you'll be in control. You can "tune" it to what ever your needs are. Because you'll have a keen understanding of it. Plus you'll also be able to use the box for other purposes simultaneously. Worried about security? You have a myriad of possibilities in the BASE system, and about a couple hundred ports to choose from in the ports tree. You're well covered. Oh, that includes monitoring applications, as well. :)

IMHO there's no question as to where to spend the $$. :)

HTH

--Chris
 
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poorandunlucky

poorandunlucky

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Because you'll have a keen understanding of it. Plus you'll also be able to use the box for other purposes simultaneously
that's my philosophy, too, and generally i adhere to it, but the technology in the box is rather superior, IMO, plus we're two and my boyfriend doesn't talk FreeBSD... The internet is something we share, and IMO not something I should have sole control over.

So that being said, I think that settles it.. : D
 

Terry_Kennedy

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I'm not fond of Cisco because they're like Microsoft in the sense that you have to learn how to use their stuff instead of the stuff that their stuff is (I'm not sure if I make sense)... Like MS SQL is SQL, but you need a Ph.D. to use their GUI because they use different terminology than what's standard.
Some Cisco stuff is based on packages from other vendors - some of the older low-end Aironet APs used VxWorks (I think). The ones I'm talking about are full Cisco IOS, so if you know IOS they're pretty easy to figure out.
I have Cisco a VoIP phone I got thinking I could just configure it to SIP withthe billion buttons on it and the 5" LCD screen, but no. I would've had to TFTP the settings in to then use their management software (or something like that). And they do that because they think it's more secure... instead of making it secure, they just make it complied, it's stupid, but I digress.
Most of the Cisco VOiP stuff is designed to work as part of a unit with other Cisco stuff, including a provisioning server. Getting one working by itself is indeed a pain. Their standalone VoIP stuff like the ATA product line is pretty easy to set up, either with an attached analog phone or via the web interface.

Out of curiosity, though, what kind of sensors you got on your water heater? T, pressure, current? Maybe an app with stats like volume and kW?
It is this. The app could be a lot more useful to nerds if they added things like % runtime in each mode, etc. but it is dumbed-down for the general public. I had been working on convincing them to add an "expert mode", but they discontinued the whole product line due to low sales due to high prices. Beats me, after rebates, incentives, and tax credits mine cost me $399 and I installed it myself.
 

rigoletto@

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I have a Mikrotik hAP ac lite ($49.95) what have 100Mbps ports and can sustain them very well (quite stable), but you seem to need 1Gbps ports, and I would buy the hAP ac ($129.00) for this case, what have Gb ports.

However, while it is full featured (you can do almost anything network related on it) and professional minded, it also have a quite specific syntax (I find a bit annoying), or way (gui mode) to configure.

EDIT: this is a demo, however the hAP series have some "Quick Set" tab to speed up the initial configuration. At least the mine on have.

Alternatively, you may also take a look on their more advanced products.

Cheers! :beer:
 
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