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Building my own router?

Discussion in 'Networking & Security' started by Kantastic, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. Kantastic

    Kantastic

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    I've been looking for a replacement for my Linksys router for a while now, and have decided to pursue my own little side project of building a router using some low-powered parts. If this project does become realized, I've decided on basing it on Intel's Atom family of processors, which research has told me would be overkill for a basic home router.

    I just need to know some of the pros, cons, incompatibilities, and potential hiccups of building one versus buying one. I can get a fairly decent one for what it would likely cost me to build one, but money aside, I feel this would be a great learning experience.
     
  2. de.das.dude

    de.das.dude Pro Indian Modder

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    why not use an old P4 computer?

    that would be cheap no?
     
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  3. Kantastic

    Kantastic

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    The Atom build would draw significantly less power, and have a significantly smaller footprint. I plan on putting this router where my current one is, on the windowsill.
     
  4. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Linux Advocate

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    well for a fun project it is a good idea, but completely impractical. You are basically building an entire PC with a bunch of ethernet ports to simply do 1 task.
     
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  5. Kantastic

    Kantastic

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    Would it be able to handle torrents or p2p applications better than my current one? I have connection that's usually faster than what I paid for (10/1):
    [​IMG]

    Every time my parents open up PPTV or PPStream (both p2p streaming software), my ping skyrockets in games and streams. I was hoping a more capable router would fix the issue, and instead of dishing out $150 for one, I'd rather put one together for around the same price.
     
  6. Frick

    Frick Fishfaced Nincompoop

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    I did it once and used Freesco. It worked quite good but as Easy Rhino said it was completely impractical.

    And that issue could be resolved with QoS settings I think which is avaliable in cheaper routers as well.
     
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  7. Beertintedgoggles

    Beertintedgoggles

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    Instead of using a bunch of ethernet cards for the connections couldn't you just use two (a WAN port and LAN out) a switch and some DHCP server software to do the IP assignments?
     
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  8. de.das.dude

    de.das.dude Pro Indian Modder

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    or buy a new router :laugh:
     
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  9. W1zzard

    W1zzard Administrator Staff Member

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    i'm using a linux machine in my basement as router. some cheap amd cpu and a normal size case with a bunch of HDDs so i can use it as NAS, too.

    You dont need multiple network cards. A switch and 1 ethernet port is enough.
     
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  10. Dippyskoodlez

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    Disable uploading of the stream, and your ping probably wont rise anymore ;)

    Roadrunner is very very upload unfriendly.
     
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  11. Frick

    Frick Fishfaced Nincompoop

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    If you make it multipurpose it makes more sense, but still. Cheaper routers have USB ports nowadays anyway. They're not good for streaming movies and such but for basic stuff they're good.
     
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  12. Kantastic

    Kantastic

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    I always thought it was a router issue rather than it being a fault with my connection. I recall both PPStream and PPTV not having the option to disable the upload speed, though I can try out 3rd party software and see if that helps.

    My house usually has 4 computers actively surfing the web, with 3 out of 4 streaming videos (2 of the 3 using p2p software that forces users to upload content they've streamed). I'm not sure how well my 3 year old WRT160N is holding up.

    Will I see any benefit in building an Atom-based router? I could probably get away with a dual core Atom, 2GB RAM, a small 30GB SSD, and some junk case for under $100. If I had to buy one, I'm not paying more than $50-$70, but I'm allowing a much larger budget if I'm building one.

    How many ethernet cards do I need anyway? Only a single desktop is hard-wired to the router, the other 2 laptops and 2 desktops in the house are wireless. I'll need 2 ethernet ports if I include the modem.
     
  13. remixedcat

    remixedcat

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    PFSense is an excellent router distro.
     
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  14. Dippyskoodlez

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    http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Linksys_WRT150N_&_WRT160N

    Try DD-WRT before wasting time on an x86 router IMO.

    Streaming and web browsing is download, not up. Cable is specifically really good at pumping data down, but uploading will cause you to bottleneck. Hence the .98mbit up on the benchmark. Try uploading a video to youtube, and watch your download speed test just die.

    I'm willing to bet your WRT160N isn't the issue. DD-WRT may give you much better performance though, since Ciscos default firmware is pretty awful.
     
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  15. Kantastic

    Kantastic

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    I have a v2 router. :(
     
  16. Zen_

    Zen_

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    I have been using Zeroshell on an old Athlon XP box for awhile with DD-WRT AP's for wireless. DD-WRT is more than adequate for the network services most people need, but if you want a more advanced firewall, radius authentication, QoS, VPN and DNS capabilities, something like Zeroshell is fun to play with. There is an MSI mini-ITX board with a 500 MHz Geode and dual gbit nic's available on eBay for about $40 that is actually ideal for this sort of thing.
     
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  17. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    Can you build one with an Atom? Yes, but it isn't practical. You would need 2 network cards, one for the WAN and one for the LAN. If you want more wired ports, you could just use a switch. If you want wireless you would either need a Wireless Access Point(you could use your old router for this) or a wireless card in the router computer itself. Then of course there is the issue of network card compatibility. A lot of the free software out there, like PFSense, support a limited set of network cards, and the onboard card isn't supported often in my experience.

    As for your ping issues, I can almost certainly assure you it is an issue with your upload bandwidth being saturated. Once the bandwidth is saturated, all traffic has to queue up, so when a ping is sent out, it has to wait behind the other traffic to go through the pipe, and hence the ping is extremely high. A 1Mb/s upload speed isn't very fast.

    QoS is definitely what you want to do. Figure out the upload ports that the P2P programs use and limit their bandwidth to next to nothing(so it still looks like they are uploading, but they use next to no bandwidth).

    If I was in your situation, I'd pick up a $60 E3000, and install TomatoUSB, then use that to easily set up some QoS rules for the ports used by the P2P program to limit the amount of upload bandwidth they use.
     
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  18. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    while i understand the purpose of the project is for fun, a router/AP with bandwidth shaping controls would solve your latency/spiking issues. i get a 15/1Mb connection here, and i just shape each IP address so it cant upload more than 256Kb/s at any one time. solves all our issues, since it makes the uploading machine lag instead of everyone (and thus, teaches the lagger a lesson :p)


    edit: i run four routers here (hey, i'm a nerd OK?) and all three of my TP links have per IP (or per IP range) bandwidth shaping, that makes custom firmwares seem useless in comparison. QoS has never solved my lag spiking problems with P2P apps, whereas hard speed limits have.
     
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  19. Kantastic

    Kantastic

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    My WRT160N doesn't support advanced QoS, the most I can do is set the application's priority to low, medium, normal, or high. I'm afraid that by setting it to low I would hinder the download speed as well, and that wouldn't sit too well with both my parents who use PPS/PPTV (p2p software based on BT).

    I've been rethinking building my own router, especially after getting so much advice swaying me away from the idea. I guess when time comes, I'll be wiser and choose a more capable router or one that supports DDR-WT or Tomato. The damn WRT160N just won't die! I've been waiting for it to crap out for a year and a half now. IIRC, I got it from Best Buy when I was a sophomore in high school; I'm about to be a sophomore in college. The damn thing just won't die!

    Would an application that limits upload speed via Windows work to salvage my connection whilst the computers are streaming?
     
  20. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    only if you limit the upload on each device thats causing the lag. so if they stream/P2P on three machines, those three machines are what needs the uploads limited. far easier to do it in your router.


    big edit:

    Heres the router i have in my room (i use it in wifi client mode as a wifi bridge, but its a full router/AP as well)

    TP-LINK TL-WR743ND Wireless AP/Client Router



    heres how my network is setup:
    the 192.168.3.2-10 range is my PC/phone/laptop, etc. the rest is what DHCP assigns (100+) for everyone else.
    [​IMG]

    unlike software solutions, this works for consoles, web enabled BD players, phones, etc.
     
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  21. Kantastic

    Kantastic

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    My router doesn't offer those options, and I'm unfortunate to have bought the only version of this router to not have 3rd party firmware support. Typical Kantastic luck.

    Nobody in the household owns a smartphone or tablet at the moment, I haven't owned a console since the N64, and no computers aside from the HTPC and the guest/family computers use similar BT-based software. Though my parents have been contemplating getting something called a TVPad (uses the same chip in the iPhone 4) which runs a custom version of Android and acts like a media center (streams Chinese channels using the same PPS/PPTV or similar software, but wrapped up in a nice shell/GUI), so if it comes to that, I'll need a new router.

    It's usually my father watching something on one computer and my mother watching something else on the other. I'm going to limit both computers to 100Kbps and see how things are for the next couple days. Fortunately, I'm upgrading both of the computers to SSDs (about time every single computer went solid state), so the extra software needing to load upon boot won't cause much of a decrease in boot time.

    My folks are a handful when it comes to computers. They whine about it being 'slow', but yell at me every time I do a slight upgrade. :cry:
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2012
  22. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    you said you had a 10/1Mb line earlier. 1Mb is 128KB/s. you'd need to limit them lower.
     
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  23. Kantastic

    Kantastic

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    The b/B conversion always gets me, but I'll get that figured out. Though I have to ask, what do you recommend I drop it to so it won't adversely affect general usage? And yes, my connection is 10/1, but it's normally 15/1 (if that matters at all).
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2012
  24. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    i'd say about 30-40KB/s per machine. you can over provision a little (EG, 3 machines at 40KB/s and a 100KB/s line) because the odds are, all 3 machines wont upload at the same time.
     
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  25. Completely Bonkers New Member

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    Running your own router box is a nice thing to do. There is a pleasure in the DIY aspect that "buy the cheapest box" doesnt quite hit. So I'm with you... build a small overkill box for the sake of DIY project and learning something out of the experience.

    DONT use an old P4. Huge waste of power. I'd recommend a modern Atom (not the first ones, the new ones have far faster and far lower power chipsets), or a VIA industrial board, or one of those AMD netbox processors.

    If you dont linux or Windows, then also consider Ubiquiti. I use both DDWRT and ubiquiti, and I prefer www.ubnt.com.
     
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