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If I was to create my own network using Untangle is this everything I would need to have to handle it?

  • Cheap server to host Untangle with 2 gbit Ethernet cards.
  • 1 n-port gigabit switch
  • my current existing wifi router

Then would my wiring scenario be:

Cable modem > Untangle server, nic 1

Untangle server, nic 2 > uplink port in switch

Switch port > uplink port in router?

As a side question if this is all right, how cheap of a server could effectively run Untangle and handle a gbps lan correctly?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Instead of Untangle, I suggest using a fully-featured server-class OS like FreeBSD or OpenBSD (or Linux, but I prefer BSD for firewalls). You'll end up with a much more configurable and powerful system that you can use in a pinch as a filserver/NAS or simple web server, or HTPC, or any number of other things. But Untangle doesn't look like a bad option, if you decide you prefer it.

Your cable modem will almost certainly not use Gigabit Ethernet; a regular 100Mbps Fast Ethernet connection will serve it just fine. Of course if you're buying a new separate NIC, you may as well buy gigabit anyway, but if you have a Fast Ethernet NIC built-in or lying around, there's no reason not to use it. You will want gigabit for the LAN side, if you intend to use the server as a fileserver or NAS or provide any kind of bandwidth-intensive service to the LAN.

Using your existing wifi router might be somewhat problematic; not all of them play well with others. If you are using BSD, one thing you can do is buy a PCI or PCIe wireless card and install it in the server, then configure it to run as an AP. Your BSD box then becomes the wireless router. If you like your current wireless router, you can just connect it to your LAN and have it act as a dumb bridge (i.e., not using any routing features). Usually this doesn't require any extra setup, just not using the "WLAN" or "uplink" port on the router.

As for the LAN side, your gigabit switch will not have an "uplink" port; if it does, it's not a pure switch. All the ports on the switch should be equivalent. Here's how I'd wire the whole thing:

Cable/DSL modem            <-> Fast Ethernet NIC on server
Any gigabit port on switch <-> Gigabit NIC on server
Any gigabit port on switch <-> Another computer on the LAN

If you use a separate wireless router:

Any ethernet port on switch <-> Any non-uplink ethernet port on wireless router

If you use a wireless card in the server in AP mode, you just need to configure it properly, and do not need any additional hardware. If you set things up properly, any computer on the LAN will be able to communicate with any computer on the wireless network.

If you're interested in more details about the Linux/BSD option, just mention it or ask another question and I or someone else will be more than happy to explain.

EDIT: I realized I forgot to address your question about performance. I can't speak for Untangle, but a BSD-based setup will be able to handle a typical home LAN (~5 computers behind it) on just about anything: my gateway/server used to be an old Pentium II box I had lying around, before I moved it into the 21st century last year. A dedicated firewall/personal server can run on just about any old hardware you can get your hands on, or the very cheapest modern servers you can buy.

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I've done some admin work managing FTP servers on *nix & FreeBSD and it's always been .conf file hell, from what I've seen from Untangle that I really like is since the product is also a commercial product that they've really put the effort into making it easier to manage and maintain as opposed to 50 various .conf files that dictate what the software does. This is probably also from the fact I'm a Windows user and developer I like the fact it actually has an UI and a browser accessible interface instead of having to SSH and edit text files. Or has more user friendliness been added to bsd/nix? –  Chris Marisic Jul 27 '09 at 4:37
    
Well, if you already know you dislike Unix-style configuration, then Untangle becomes a much more attractive alternative. Personally, I like text-based configuration: SSH is secure, widely accessible, and allows me to tweak everything on the box, not just what the web interface exposes. Ultimately, it's really a matter of personal preference. –  kquinn Jul 27 '09 at 5:04

You probably don't want to plug the switch into the uplink port of the router. If you do you'll have two separate networks, the wireless one and the wired one, and the wireless network will be unable to (easily) access the wired network (and vice versa). The better option is to turn off DHCP on the router and just plug it in to the network using one of the regular ports.

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I doubt your cable modem is going to supply enough bandwidth that you'd need gigabit ethernet for it. If the computer you spec out for Untangle has gigabit ethernet, thats great, but its not required. Other than that, everything looks ok. Untangle doesn't require much computing power. While I don't recommend 10 year computer for it, I would get one that has the most minimum specs you can find. Preferably something without a fan and maybe even with a SSD to minimize on moving parts.

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I want the gbit lan for 1080p video streaming across the network, i know i don't need more than 100mbps for my cable modem. –  Chris Marisic Jul 26 '09 at 22:05

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