Need a small form factor x86 box to be a firewall/router/dg

Michael Torrie torriem at
Thu Aug 8 19:33:48 MDT 2013

On 08/08/2013 06:15 PM, Alan Evans wrote:
> The problem with 'routers' as far as ISPs are concerned is that they are a
> HUGE variable.
>   1. There are hundreds/thousands of models.
>   2. Joe consumer has a very low level of understanding, he plugged it in
> and popped the CD into his Laptop and it magically worked.
>   3. There are any number of failure scenarios.
>     a. Incorrect wiring
>     b. Bad cabling
>       i. customer ran over it w/ wheels of a chair for the last year
>       ii. abused cable ends
>       iii. interference/noise
>     c. If wireless
>       i. bad antenna/device placement
>       ii. authentication problems
>       iii. interference (neighbours, 2.4GHz phones etc etc)
>     d. mis-configuration
>     e. on and on

Oh I agree.  And usually lying is the best policy.  And no, nothing I do
with a "real computer" is likely to change that!  The ISPs tech support
is still going to try to do as little as possible.

I guess this incident has just given me the impetus to finally upgrade
my internal network a bit, something I've wanted to do for a long time.
 My little old router is more than 5 years old, and it's getting tired
anyway, especially now that the bulk of my house network is gigabit.

In my case, though, having a nice little powerful computer allows me to
do several things at the router level:

- powerful enough to run DansGuardian (currently that's on a separate
little underpowered Arm device and requires some hacking on the router)
- continuously monitor my ISPs connectivity directly at the router leve
- track bandwidth and latency
- give me much more confidence that the problem is elsewhere
- even let me run firefox on it to test some services that my local
network setup might be interfering with (proxies, etc)
- separates wifi from the router, which means I no longer have to worry
about having a special hackable router to do weird things like proxying,
vpns, special routes, etc
- local DNS (real DNS, not just dnsmasq)

I used to do this sort of thing with an old PC, but now I can do it with
a powerful PC that's completely silent and uses relatively little power.

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