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Windows 2008 box as home router?

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bigclaw

Regular Contributor
I'm toying with the idea of using a low-power, dual-NIC Windows 2008 box as my home router, which will connect to my DSL modem directly and replace the off-the-shelf router.

I've studied how to replace most of the current router's functionality (DHCP, DNS, NAT, VPN, etc) with the Windows 2008 equivalent. However, how does one handle automatically establishing the PPPoE connection upon boot (e.g. as a System service)? If I remember correctly, the Windows PPPoE dial-up client is normally invoked by a user manually.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.
 
There's already a number of excellent, purpose built routing solutions out there, so why Server 2008?

Why not pfsense, monowall, clarkconnect, ipcop, smoothwall, untangle, etc? Any of these would be better for a low power setup, with fewer system requirements, easier to configure, and way more features... Not to mention pppoe support.
 
Windows Server 2008 SP1 needs more RAM (like 2GB min), I did install it and ran it for a while it works just like Vista without the fancy themes and some improve kernel over Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition. I using for the SOHO (small office / home office) here Window Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition SP2. Mostly a File Server with DFS support. Now I was going to use the Sharepoint features, but might not need that here. Since that box was built for File Sharing.

I get more free with WS3K EE than with WS8K SP1 under memory. By-the-way Scotty Clarkconnect is 100% better than IPCOP and Smoothwall. When they work well it was amazing the speed of Clarkconnect Samba files system. Until the old guy crashed on me I lost all my NAS files. I am sticking with Server Enterprise Edition for now.

Using the Server version of Windows as Router is 100% better you'll need to NIC cards, setup DHCP, NAT, DNS, Domain and Active Directory. You can get by with MYDomain generic clone without using a real domain.com. I was able to manage my entire network at the time and then use one of those small Belkin routers as hardware firewall with the DSL from SBC Yahoo DSL a few years ago. It does work. To me it was faster to use, but like I said two NICs one for the WAN and one for the LAN from the LAN to a network switch, then you good to go!
 
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My post would not be helpful to you, but why would you want to use Windows PC for the tasks that are so well handled by any cheap small router?

Is it just for fun? Or to learn something?
Or there is some practical purpose?
________
Buy vaporizer
 
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I have the same question as valentin.

Also are u running a home office? Or is it purely for home use?

Running windows server in the home really doesn't have many benafits in real use scenarios... Just in testing... I personally run it as a VM. I would recommend against using it in a critical part of your network if you are a novice.

As for file sharing...windows vista will offer the same performance in this scenario.

If you REALLY wana go ahead with it then use an Ethernet modem and configure routing and remote access service (rras).

I recommend against it though.
 
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Thanks for the responses.

I'm just testing waters here; it's more like a proof-of-concept little project. All my current setup is Windows, and I'm really more familiar with Windows in general versus Linux. I'm thinking about using the same box for eMule/uTorrent/OpenVPN, etc. I'm sure the Linux equivalent for all of the above is out there, but then I'm forced to learn how to use them. :)

BTW, does any of the current router distro's support general software applications such as the ones mentioned above?
 
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Many distros such as dd-wrt run openvpn... however most routers are not really designed to run torrents. It would be better to run bittorent on your nas or server.

I would recommend having a dedicated router for typical router roles and a server for server/pc roles.

If you want the familiar interface you can still go for a windows vista box or something and run utorrent... There are many low power x86 'server/appliance' platforms available.

Also logging into your house remotely via ssh is usually simpler than configuring vpn.

Transmission is a good linux bt client:
http://www.transmissionbt.com/
 
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Yes, you can add torrent client to many routers, and there are routers and NASes that have factory set torrent clients.
But you if you have fast internet connection, you would rather use a separate PC for that.

I tried several torrent apps on Buffalo Linkstation Live. Working only on slow speeds, like 900 KB/sec at most. When I try to use them at the full speed of my internet connection, 4MBytes/sec - all torrent apps crash. You will find the same observation in the forums dedicated to specific routers or NAS. It is due to the limited RAM and CPU power in the small boxes.

There are few people (search the forums here) that use an old laptop or Asus EEE/MSI Wind/Acer for this purpose. You can run Windows XP and your favorite torrent app on them.

As a multimedia server/torrents I use a PC (780G + AMD 4800+) with Ubuntu 8.04, connected to a TV. But you are right, it takes time to get used to Linux.
________
Vaporizer
 
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Many of the modems supplied by your ISP allow the PPPoE to be done on the modem, and still pass a public IP to your device.

Remember to lock down your server properly..having a Windows OS on a public IP address is..well..opening a door to headaches. There is quite a bit of homework to do here in locking down your WAN NIC. I haven't done it at home with Server08..but I've done in a few times with Server 03, and SBS 03 and SBS 2K. (with and without ISA).

I'm toying with the idea of using a low-power, dual-NIC Windows 2008 box as my home router, which will connect to my DSL modem directly and replace the off-the-shelf router.

I've studied how to replace most of the current router's functionality (DHCP, DNS, NAT, VPN, etc) with the Windows 2008 equivalent. However, how does one handle automatically establishing the PPPoE connection upon boot (e.g. as a System service)? If I remember correctly, the Windows PPPoE dial-up client is normally invoked by a user manually.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.
 
I already have a dedicated PC for downloading eMule and BT. The problem I'm currently having is that my web browsing slows down considerably when doing eMule and BT at the same time. I already have the WRT54GL router and very reasonable QoS settings in the Tomato firmware. Therefore, I'm suspecting that the router's capability is being taxed to the limit.

Will a dedicated PC (Dual Core CPU with 2GB RAM) offer significantly better routing performance in my case, or does the limitation lie in somewhere else upstream (e.g. DSL modem, DSL line, etc)?
 
I already have a dedicated PC for downloading eMule and BT. The problem I'm currently having is that my web browsing slows down considerably when doing eMule and BT at the same time. I already have the WRT54GL router and very reasonable QoS settings in the Tomato firmware. Therefore, I'm suspecting that the router's capability is being taxed to the limit.

Will a dedicated PC (Dual Core CPU with 2GB RAM) offer significantly better routing performance in my case, or does the limitation lie in somewhere else upstream (e.g. DSL modem, DSL line, etc)?

That down loader should be the most powerful system you have on your network. But I don't have those issues as you described with other network clients on the same network. 1GB or 2GB would be fine. Using a 64-bit OS would be better but most BT client software not 64-bit. That system would be tweaked to the hill also for system resources and networking. I had just finished with mine for SP3.

I thought about going back to your idea to use a Windows Server as your router box. It can be done and since my Server is on 24/7 Overclocked use 120mm Dual Fans to keep the CPU has cool as possible. The cheap plastic router won't be no match for a power house system router. Just a lot of work switching everything to a domain. Might do it now.. Just got running Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition SP2 also applied Server tweaks to it.
 
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I already have a dedicated PC for downloading eMule and BT. The problem I'm currently having is that my web browsing slows down considerably when doing eMule and BT at the same time.

Let's say you you are downloading with the max possible speed, i.e. using the full line capacity. Now you cannot expect to not slow down the other connections? No router is going to help you, unless it slows down the downloads.

But I have never used QoS and do not know how well it works.
BTW, I use three-year old WRT54G router and I am happy with it.
________
BUY PORTABLE VAPORIZER
 
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Roughly how many connections are you openning when you run bittorrent?

With most routers...qos should take care of your problems. However under extreme loads some may struggle.
 
I already have a dedicated PC for downloading eMule and BT. The problem I'm currently having is that my web browsing slows down considerably when doing eMule and BT at the same time. I already have the WRT54GL router and very reasonable QoS settings in the Tomato firmware. Therefore, I'm suspecting that the router's capability is being taxed to the limit.

Will a dedicated PC (Dual Core CPU with 2GB RAM) offer significantly better routing performance in my case, or does the limitation lie in somewhere else upstream (e.g. DSL modem, DSL line, etc)?


If that's your goal...and you are willing to invest that hardware, cost of software, and time...of building a Windows Server 2008 box dedicated to routing...I highly recommend you take a look at PFSense.
http://www.pfsense.org/

Tim took a peek at it...
http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/30565/53/1/1/

I run it at home on an old laptop. Small, quiet, low noice, low AC consumption, built in keyboard/monitor...and top notch traffic shaping/QoS features. IMO it will give you far more satisfaction than a monstrous Windows Server based router.
 
I'll have to check how many concurrent connections my eMule+BT downloads are using. Bandwidth-wise, I have a 6M/512K DSL connection and typically use about 80% of the downstream bandwidth and 75% of upstream when doing nothing but p2p.

In my Tomato (WRT54GL) router, I have set the following QoS rules:

DNS: highest
HTTP(S): high
Other: medium
MAC address of the download client: lowest

In the firmware's bandwidth graph, I can clearly see that 90%+ of my connections are lowest priority, so I believe the above setup is fairly reasonable.

Is the 75% upstream utilization what's killing my browsing experience? If so, I guess a more powerful router may not do much for me.
 
If that's your goal...and you are willing to invest that hardware, cost of software, and time...of building a Windows Server 2008 box dedicated to routing...I highly recommend you take a look at PFSense.
http://www.pfsense.org/

Tim took a peek at it...
http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/30565/53/1/1/

I run it at home on an old laptop. Small, quiet, low noice, low AC consumption, built in keyboard/monitor...and top notch traffic shaping/QoS features. IMO it will give you far more satisfaction than a monstrous Windows Server based router.

+1. If you're going to invest that kind of expensive, go for pfsense. And although you need a decent amount of hardware for Server 08, 95% of that would be used by Windows, and 5% by the routing processes. I run pfsense on a fairly fast home connection on an old P4 2.0 w/ 512 RAM and only 50% of the ram is ever used, and the processor mainly sits idle, even when I'm heavily bit-torrenting. You dont need dual core processors and that kind of RAM for a router. I have a Cisco ASA 5540 serving an office of 200 people and it doesn't even have that kind of processing power.

Use any old box for pfsense, and turn that fancy new machine into a Virtual host or something.
 
Example

4x Gig Boxes on the same external Gig Switch

Download Box
File Server
HTPC Recorder and Media Extender Server
Main Box

4x Wireless Laptops 3x are N and 1x is G

Print Server
Wireless G Access Point

Let's say you go all of these active on one infrastructure network. You're downloading say about 3 media files, say about 800MB/s each, you have it set to full throttle.

File Server is transferring large Excel Spreadsheets say 200MB/s each

HTPC downloading EPG updates and recording on 3 different CATV stations while you watching recorded TV show on one network media extender in living room, kids are listening to MP3 from the File Server on media extender in the family room and then in the kitchen the wife is watching a recorded Food show on another media extender.

Let's say all of this going on in real time. What's going give or will there be bottlenecks? Again it all depends on the downloader would that slow the network down?

Frankly never had issue, but then again I don't load up the main router and just use external switches to handle the nodes (devices). On each box everything in TCP/UDP is balance in settings except for Downloader max connections are greater.
 
I'll have to check how many concurrent connections my eMule+BT downloads are using. Bandwidth-wise, I have a 6M/512K DSL connection and typically use about 80% of the downstream bandwidth and 75% of upstream when doing nothing but p2p.

The fact that you are using 75% of your upstream bandwidth on adsl will slow down anything wan related considerably. I strongly suggest you limit the upload speed to about 40% of your REAL upstream throughput... I recommend 20KB/s (160Kbps). This should greately improve responsiveness, should allow other things on the network to gain better speed, and shouldnt affect your downstream speed too much.

Try first with just uTorrent, I suggest you try the settings i've shown in the attachment, with all QoS settings disabled on your router. Please let us know the results of this... then we can discuss the next steps.

With most popular torrents you should easily be able to burst your 6Mbps...this is considered pretty slow and the WRT54GL *shouldn't* have trouble coping with what your doing at this speed.

Also please consider the latest version of DD-WRT:
http://www.dd-wrt.com/dd-wrtv3/index.php

On a separate note... pfsense would be much more sensible than win2k8...however it's unlikely you will even have to go that far.
 

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Old Versions.com you can get Azureus without VUZE (bloat) since Azureus uses Java Client it's quicker for downloading. Utorrent is based on the old way but to me it's slower to download.

Those settings you have there bliko seems interesting.. I use a different settings that work great. Also increase the cache and bind IP address, Ports used with the system that does the downloading. Increase Max connections to the max allowed on the network in BT software. I also have Lanmanworkstation.reg I use to increase performance. Plus there is one for System.ini been using to force the OS to use base RAM instead of the Swap file. There are two settings that does but but to trigger the one in System.ini seems to make the system more responsive. It doesn't work on Server OS though.
 
The fact that you are using 75% of your upstream bandwidth on adsl will slow down anything wan related considerably. I strongly suggest you limit the upload speed to about 40% of your REAL upstream throughput... I recommend 20KB/s (160Kbps). This should greately improve responsiveness, should allow other things on the network to gain better speed, and shouldnt affect your downstream speed too much.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll play with the settings when I have some time. My current set up is as follows:

eMule upload limit: 10KB/s ~ 80kbps
uTorrent upload limit: 10KB/s ~ 80kbps

I can't really go any lower with eMule (not sure about uTorrent) without being penalized severely in download bandwidth.

The real upload bandwidth used can be as high as 300kbps (I guess the system has to send acknowledges for downloads too), and I have a 425kbps effective upstream bandwidth, which is about 70% utilization.
 

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