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Home LAN 1: The beginning

Our home network here has been, as many are, accumulated gradually over the years rather than designed. There wasn't as much actual thought applied to it as I would have liked in the first place, and a decade of expedient fixes, neglect, and expansion haven't made anything better.

Cracktop #

Our router/firewall was my old "BOFH Road Warrior" laptop, which was set up to be a LAN/WAN/WiFi etc swiss army knife that could connect anything to anything and filter or mangle that traffic in a variety of ways.

cracktop pic

This was handy as we transitioned from one ISP to another. Our upstream Internet connection has been fiber optic, coax cable, bridged WiFi, USB cell modem, and satellite/cell modems that provide their own ethernet segment with DHCP, private IP, DNS, and all.

Cracktop, the sack of adapters, and a library of scripts made all of that smoothly invisible to my users. However, I'd never actually fully automated any single setup and so whenever the power failed or lightning stuck or whatever happened, the fixing and re-setup was something only I had a hope of doing, too.

Myra #

Myra is my Windows7 desktop machine, an i7-2600k from some time ago that has served well for about a decade and gathered up far more jobs than it needed to.

myra pic

The system is getting old now, and less reliable. It became more important that the file server be there even if Myra isn't. I 2016, when I rebuilt this system, people were asking "is it finally time to upgrade from these?" ... Mine still soldiers on :)

myra pic

The whole machine assembled clocks in about 70lb, when i moved it into the new office there was almost a disaster where a shelf bracket folded rather than take the weight. Fortunately I caught the computer and there was little damage.


One of the pics from about the same time Myra got rebuilt into that case

I'm a packrat; I still have almost every image generated by every digital camera we've owned. That could be a hell of a resource if those were all in some place they could be used, seen, and sorted through. That's really not been possible up til now.

Even if i had been able to pile all those files up in a consistent structure and gather the volumes they were on into a regular stream for some processing system; i had no way to gather them together into "accessible". So I'm quite looking forward to having that.

The video files were important to me when I started backing up my DVDs. That was when that first became possible on Linux. I avoided the format 'til then, still have the $100+ VHS copy of "South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut" i had to buy because i wasn't buying DVDs yet.

Over the past few years we've gone from one TV, within reach of and driven by my desktop computer, to 3 TVs running LibreELEC and reading files off the LAN. We don't really do broadcast / "normal" TV, we've never had cable / subscription television here and the house is built so antennas need to be external to work. I've never felt the need to rig up an antenna to a TV.

That had Myra stuck serving 4TB of our ever growing library of video files, as a requirement for anybody to watch TV in the house. That's a heavy service level to expect from a system this old. I've already had to explain to Esme a few times why she can't watch cartoons right now because I've got a computer problem, and it's worth avoiding more of that.

Goals #

  • no (minimal) disruption to LAN services

    • users shouldn't have to learn "new" to do things they're currently doing. Optimally they wont notice changes.
    • minimum reconfiguration of client machines (i have to do anything complicated, i don't want to mess with their machines. icky nonclicky keyboards.)
  • cracktop gone

    • OpenWRT, fairly standard config should do
  • myra no longer serving anything critical

    • "turn it off and see what breaks" ... myra is my desktop machine that drives the windows into this world. without it how can i se anything, broken or not? erm.
  • newer / quieter / cheaper hardware

    • reliability is a statistical game now, but i can get back on the other side of the bathtub curve for the things we use.
    • Raspi and all the disk I can afford. Look, Ma, no fans!

Next: Router