RE: home networks


Subject: RE: home networks
From: Andrew Nicols (a.nicols@lancaster.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Sep 29 2005 - 19:16:37 EDT


-- Does anyone out there have a home network?

Yup. We've had one since the days of Thin Coaxial about 10-12 years ago when
we networked a Windows 3.11 computer with another, and then it turned to
windows 95.

-- If so, what type, configuration?

Our current configuration is a little insane. When we built our house, we
installed Cat 5e twisted pair in every room, with at least 2 points in every
room (all chased into the walls) and running back to two central locations -
a designated cable cupboard next to the immersion heater and other assorted
bits, and the garage. We currently have 3/4 desktop computers, 6 laptops and
a server running along with 2 network printers which are always on.

The desktop computers connect in their various locations to the network
infrastructure of the house and are then run back to the garage wiring
closet where they plug into a 24 port 10/100/1000Mbit switch. Also plugged
into the switch are the 2 printers (again Wired Cat 5e cable) and three
wireless Access Points. All of the wireless points are passcode encrypted
with different means for each access point. One of the two Cisco Wireless
Access Points (WAPs) runs a WEP-TKIP 128Bit passcode which gives is used for
challenge response to a 128bit network key and then provides an encryption
key which is changed automatically every few hours. The other one is a
static 128Bit network encryption key so that computers which don't handle
WEP efficiently (named Linux NDISWrapper) can still connect. The Linksys WAP
simply doesn't support that level of security so just uses standard 128Bit
WEP.

The Server is an old 400Mhz P3 with 192Mb RAM which we found in a skip (no
joke). A USB ADSL modem is connected to that and it runs Windows 2000
Advanced Server. The server provides DHCP, NAT and WINS to the house and
also caters for the windows Remote Desktop Connection tool so that I can
connect to the computer from anywhere within the house to administer it. The
server is squeezed into the wiring closet (with adequate ventilation) in the
garage with a UPS which supplies power to it and the switch. It also
operates a fairly sturdy firewall (touch wood) and anti-virus. The DHCP has
a set of known leases for every computer in the house, plus my girlfriends
and regularly visiting family.

The printers are always on and can facilitate Windows, Linux and Mac OS
without any need for additional software beyond the driver or the need for
any computer to be on.

-- Are you satisfied with it?

Relatively. The server has been playing up recently but upon closer
inspection this appears to be the actual ADSL line and so typically yes, I
am happy with it.
My biggest problem these days is the Wireless Network which is causing a few
hassles as we have such a broad range of types of network cards. I operate a
22Mbit Wireless NIC on both of my laptops, my father's is 11Mbit and does
not support WEP-TKIP, and my mothers is fine and dandy.

By far the most useful feature in house is the printing facility though it's
rather nice to have the option to sit in the front garden or rear garden and
browse the internet sitting in a hammock.

The server is currently restarted on average about once a week with an
average uptime of 99.5% over 265 days since statistics were introduced.
I have set up the firewall to allow the RDC port to be opened from my
university giving me the option to log into the server graphically and print
documents, fix the printer, login to the switch, WAPs, add DHCP leases,
install software, troubleshoot etc. I was trying to get the modem in the
server to answer the phone so I could dial in for remote access but this
proved a little tricky for some reason it won't authenticate and I don't
have the need for this facility that much.

-- Do you have voice over IP or audio streaming on it?

Nope, but I have tried video streaming over the connection with relatively
good success. It does depend on the amount of people connected in the house
and what they are doing. We have a 2Mbit downstream and 288Kbps upstream.
The upstream is sufficient to facilitate one webcam streaming constantly and
audio can be introduced if I can be bothered to plug in a microphone. I
haven't tried Skype but tried a similar service when we were using a 56k
modem shared between 5 computers and it worked fairly well then so I can't
imagine too many problems!

-- How is the speed of your Internet access?

2048Kbps Downstream (2Mbit) and 288Kbps Upstream (0.2Mbit) Upstream is from
inside going out, Downstream is from the real world to inside the house.
Average download speed is 150KBps though spikes are often reached at higher
speeds, and this is dependent on time of day due to contention ratio issues

Andrew



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