Systems, Networking &c

Louis louis at
Sat Nov 24 19:44:13 UTC 2018

On Sat, Nov 24, 2018 at 10:42 AM Joe Nelson <joe at> wrote:
> Nice. Trying to get more into this myself. Currently halfway through
> P.J. Plauger's book about the C standard library. After that I'll
> be trying the examples in Stevens' "Advanced Programming in the UNIX

I just finished implementing malloc for one of the classes I've taken
(CSCI 2021 - Machine Architecture and Organization.) It was a very
interesting learning experience, and ended up being way harder than I
expected to get something that is {correct, fast, efficient}.

> Environment."  If you're interested we could try working on these
> examples together on the server. You're probably busy with
> school, but just throwing it out there.

That might be interesting, though I am pretty busy these days as we
approach finals.

> Have you visited the new metal shop at TC Maker?
> They've got all kinds of tools in there, and run classes about how to
> use them.

I don't think I've ever been to the Hack Factory - thanks for linking
that. I've been meaning to learn how to weld for a while. Most of my
experimenting with metal has been casting small things in a DIY
aluminum foundry.

> * Get an EdgeRouter 4 to act as a switch and router

I've seen those before, and they look pretty nice. That being said,
I've never worked with one so I don't know the low down. Both of the
routers I administrate are just regular linux boxes that run shorewall
< > (which I think is a lot like pfSense, but
linux based instead of BSD and a package instead of a distro) and
dnsmasq (which is a DHCP server and DNS relay.) I've had a pretty good
experience working with that, although the flexibility of shorewall
means configuring it the first time can be something of a nightmare.

> * Use a dedicated wireless access point

I'm a total cheapskate, so my home network APs are just my old routers
in AP mode... Those look real nice though!

> * Someone online said that they add pfSense as the WAN entry point,
>   doing the NAT, content filtering and firewalling.
>   [WAN] --> Modem --> pfSense --> ER X --> [LAN]

That seems... odd to me - aren't pfSense boxes and an EdgeRouter both
intended to be used as the router/gateway in a network like that?
Seems likely to me that you could use just one of those and skip the
other box (+ complexity of double-NAT or using pfSense as a bridge.)

> * I'd like to put a rack in the basement to hold this stuff. Are there
>   local places to get a rack for cheap?

I'd look on craigslist, which is where I've bought most of my
hardware. There's a bunch of listings for old server racks and stuff
on there, e.g. <
>. Watch out though, because a lot of people will list A/V racks that
are not deep enough for regular servers on there. I'm sure you could
find smaller ones too, although they are usually more expensive (since
they aren't such a pain to move :P).

> * What's a good rackable NAS? Synology?

I've heard good things about those too, but never used one. My
fileserver is a PowerEdge 2950 with a bunch of SAS drives I found on
(suprise!) craigslist. Lots of good options on there, although I
wouldn't put used drives in anything less reliable than RAID 1.

> Maybe all this is way more expensive than it needs to be though, and I
> could be using more off-the-shelf components. Also I want to keep this
> setup quiet, and not have a stack of jet engines in the basement. :)

While my craigslist-sourced rackmount gear was cheap, it certainly is
loud! The other advantage of something like an EdgeRouter is it will
probably be orders of magnitude better on the power consumption front.

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