Forum OpenACS Q&A: OT: Best home-office router?

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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
What is the best cable-modem/DSL router for a home office? I can't find any definitive information on what I should buy, so I'm asking here...

Incidentally, in browsing around I found this Linksys FAQ by ESR. Apparently, the Linksys boxes (which also run Linux inside and let you upgrade their firmware via tftp put) support some subset of SNMP, and software like linksysmon uses that to log messages from the router and take action when the IP address changes. Maybe other stuff too, I'm not sure.

[Some openacs.org forum bug is giving me trouble posting my full question, so I will attempt to work around by continuing in a subsequent post to this thread.]

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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
Years ago I used a Linksys router of some sort. This was back when the Linksys was almost the only such under $200 router available. When I wanted 80211.b as well I switched to a D-Link DI-714; I've used two of these in different locations. (I never upgraded firmware, but what I have appears to be the latest.)

Basically, I'm not happy with the DI-714, mostly because of various reliability problems:

  • Every once in a long while (weeks or months) the router clearly goes insane and needs to be rebooted - ping times to the router of 4 or 5 seconds (normally 0.5 ms!), web pages that load but at what looks like 2400 baud speed, etc.
  • I sometimes experience short connectivity outages which are clearly my ISPs fault, not the router's (e.g., I can ping the router and the cable modem but not my ISP's gateway router that the cable modem talks to).

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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
  • However, I also experience intermittent connectivity problems which look like dropped packets: Frozen ssh connections, web pages that spin forever but when you hit reload they load immediately, etc. These could be either my ISP or my router, I suspect some of both. But I STRONGLY suspect that it's my router's fault at least some of the time.

For those and other reasons, I want a new router. I don't know which one though. Here's what I want in my new router, listed roughly from most to least important:

  • MUST be completely reliable. No dropped packets, no locked up ssh sessions, no mysterious periods of lousy performance, none of that crap. If any of that bad stuff happens I want 99.9% confidence that the problem is UPSTREAM of my router (modem or ISP), NOT the fault of my router.

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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
  • Must be able to do 80211.b wireless with WEP of some sort, in some fashion. Ok if this means buying a separate wireless box and plugging it in, I don't care.
  • Must support all the usual generic features I need (pretty much all these boxes seem to now):
    • Set Ethernet hardware MAC address to whatever I tell it to use (for cable modem networks that use this as an identification key).
    • PPPoE with username and password (for DSL services that use it).
    • NAT with port forwarding ("virtual servers").
    • DHCP client and server.
    • Etc.
  • Very nice if it's also inexpensive. But reliability, and to a lesser extent features, are relatively more important.
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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
  • VERY nice if the router handles TWO wide area networks, so I can hook it up to both a cable modem and DSL. Hawking "http://www.hawkingtech.com/" a cheap one of these, there are others. I've no idea how well they work though.
  • Nice if the wireless allows using a passphrase rather than entering hex numbers on all the clients. VERY nice if router has admin interface it let me assign DIFFERENT passphrases to different users and expire them at will, e.g. for visitors and the like.
  • Web management UI is nice, if it's decent. Should let you configure EVERYTHING correctly, not just 90% like on the DI-714.
  • telnet or ssh command line management UI very nice, if it works. Should let you configure everything, not just 90%, etc.
  • SNMP support sounds very useful.
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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
  • Any kind of halfway intelligent way to run scripts on the router itself would be very cool. (I hear many Cisco routers run Tcl internally...) E.g., to run dynamic DNS update scripts on the router itself rather than on a Linux box on my LAN.
  • Minor: If "mysite.com" is running on a server "linuxserver" on the LAN behind my router, and I'm currently on the LAN too, hitting http://mysite.com/ should still work, even though that means the request has to go out through the router to the cablem modem, and then back in through the router to linuxserver. Some routers seem to support this (although it's slower, obviously), some don't. It's not that hard to hit http://linuxserver:8001/ or whatever instead, but you shouldn't HAVE to do that.
Any advice and recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
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Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
My apologies on all the ugly separate posts above, turned out it was not a problem with openacs.org at all, but some subtle results of a messed up (but otherwise apparently working) network configuration on my Linux box.

For any real responses to my router questions, please do not respond to this post, respond to the new clean version instead. Thanks!