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Dunno if this is more serverfault question but I'll put it here.

Is there any sense to throw my home routers, switches and firewall boxes to thrashcan and replace with something like this:

http://www.aewin.com.tw/main/product_info.aspx?fid=1&sid=2&sname=Network+System&pname=SCB-8950&tname=1U+Rackmount+Platforms&fname=Network+Computing&pid=60

http://www.win-ent.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=313:pl-80230&catid=59:1u-rackmount-platforms&Itemid=357

http://www.lannerinc.com/network_application_platforms/x86_Network_Appliance/1U_Network_Appliances/FW-8875

The point is that hw vendors stops updates eventually. You can drop Linux/BSD to these so they'll become very powerful networking devices.

Also is there any boxes/motherboards with 24+ ports?

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3 Answers 3

I think that a better option would be to use a cheaper network device with third party firmware.

Check out OpenWRT or DD-WRT or Tomato, which are Linux based. You could get a nice setup if you can find a good enough device. If you check out hardware databases for those distributions, you'll be able to find some pretty interesting devices. With little bit of searching, you could end up with a router with gigabit ports, 64 MiB of RAM and USB ports too. After that, since there's USB, a powered hub and external hard drive could solve any problems with storage space for packages. Plus plus you could add a large amount of other devices such as sound cards, bluetooth radios, webcams and so on. Also it seems that third party firmwares offer much longer support for devices than official firmwares.

Since you mentioned Linux and BSD, you wouldn't have too much problems with set-up, if you're used to working with console.

Also you will be able to save money on electricity and on device itself.

Please note that when writing this answer, I paid attention to the part of the question where you mention home network. I think that even with free firmwares, most home network devices won't work too well with hundreds of computers all sending data at their maximum speed.

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I wouldn't - I feel myself turning into a "green IT" guy with my recent answers, but the truth is that whilst any of these devices would make excellent networking gear, they will consume a lot of power and (usually) require a lot of maintenance.

Unless you really have the need for some major networking horsepower, for many home networks, a standard unbranded 1GB unmanaged switch should do the job just fine - and cost a fraction to run and buy.

The sort of device you listed is cool, but is only really needed in the most demanding server environment where you would want to provide all network related services in one device (such as Firewall, spam filtering, network control, possibly nas, redundancy/failover and a lot more on top.

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How much do those things cost? In any case, they seems like overkill for even the most complex home networks. Your electricity usage for one of those would be twenty times that of one of your current network devices. How many users do you have exactly?

I'd get something like this, used in conjunction with a 24-port (you really need that?) switch, or a managed switch, if you can afford one with so many ports. I would imagine that you could do anything that you realistically want to do with that setup, if it was used just for networking.

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