Such Complicate. So device.
October 30, 2020 7:47 AM   Subscribe

My home network has gotten kinda silly and huge and isn't performing how I'd like it to. I'm using a combination of devices to serve content and services but my topology is ridiculous. Hoping someone has ideas or suggestions to help me streamline. Much more details inside.

TL;DR- I need better routing. Have plenty of hardware available but unsure what direction to go. Pls advise.

So first, I'm an IT engineer but not a network engineer. I think part of my problem is ignorance about available packages and software. I need to address routing FIRST and then work downstream I think.

General topology:
Access point/router is actually the one provided by Spectrum. I know, I lose geek cred. I have a very expensive Asus router with Open-WRT installed BUT its wifi performance is...bad. I believe it's a known issue, would LOVE to use this device though.

Router serves 3 unmanaged switches:
-Garage, cameras only
-Office, 3 pc's, RPi running RetroPie
-Basement, server box (more on this in a sec), RPi running OctoPrint, Hue Hub

Wireless devices:
-4 Tablets, 5 laptops, a significant number of smart bulbs, wyze cams, amazon fire sticks.

The challenge:
The server box is just win10 pro i7 with 24Gb of ram with a couple 3Tb enterprise storage drives in it with wide open shares. Its principle job is running BlueIris for the cameras (which I dislike but have tuned pretty well across like 4 years, more on this in a minute) but it also has HISTORICALLY run Hyper-V, with a instance and an Ubuntu server instance that I was using to run PiHole +unbound and performance was AWESOME.

Between the 1903 and 1909 updates to windows, my Hyper-V broke irrevocably and nothing I can do will make it split net from the host and no fiddling with virtual adapters will work. If I give the vm's net, the host box loses net, 100% of the time because it turns off DNS on the host box.

I decided to play with Docker and have working Docker images of PiHole and HomeAssistant running now, and they actually work far better than I would have hoped. The goal here is to use HomeAssistant plus some skullduggery to pipe video feeds to TensorFlow (on the same host box, it runs under 10% utilization usually) in an attempt to decrease false positive alerts from BlueIris. (And also just because it seems cool.)

The limiting factor here is that although the spectrum AP does a fantastic job with speed and coverage, the UI and options inside are GARBAGE. It doesn't even reliably hold static addresses by mac or let you sort devices by online now or lease time remaining.

I want a full featured routing solution. I have other late model desktops here I can slap a second nic in, but I want the functionality of PiHole + elegant routing features and subnets + 2-3 AP's running as repeaters. This is the part I'm 100% ignorant on. PiHole CAN route but idk if it's any good at it. Do I slap a second nic in another pc and let it do all routing? Seems extremely overkill.
posted by TomMelee to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sorry, I don't have any directed answers, but it seems like the perfect question to ask at the Small Net Builders forums. Given how in-depth you've already gotten, you probably know the site, but just in case you don't, I thought I'd share the link.
posted by array at 9:42 AM on October 30, 2020

Response by poster: @array (also, lol, @array tickles me) thanks! Never heard of it!
posted by TomMelee at 9:52 AM on October 30, 2020

Best answer: Hi, fellow person who knows just enough to be dangerous with their home network!

It should be reasonably straightforward to connect your Asus router to the Spectrum one, and then just use the Spectrum for wifi and internet access (probably you'll have to put the Asus in the DMZ so it can pass through NAT ports, and disable DHCP on the Spectrum).

Regarding the server, do you know about Proxmox? It's Linux-based hypervisor that's reasonably friendly to set up and administer. What I did (before I upgraded to a NAS) was install a Windows Server VM in Proxmox and directly attach my data drives to it, so I could share them from Windows, and also a Linux VM for Docker containers. (Proxmox also supports LXC containers directly without having to use a VM, but I've never tried that.)
posted by neckro23 at 5:42 PM on October 30, 2020

Best answer: I'm an IT engineer but not a network engineer

Then you're well placed to start doing piecewise replacement of all the proprietary pieces of your network with little Linux boxes running on a tiny sniff of electricity that you admin over ssh, plus some cheap managed gigabit switches so you can play with VLANs, and maybe a USB3 Ethernet adapter here and an array of USB3 disk drives there, and learning piecewise how to do everything that proprietary routers and NAS boxes and media servers can do using whatever combination of the kernel's inbuilt routing and filtering tools, user-land server packages and home-grown scripts best fits your purposes.

That's what I do. It works and it makes me very happy. Bonuses: the unavoidable gaining of some degree of network engineering expertise, complete lack of vendor lock-in, endless incremental upgradability, unlimited flexibility.
posted by flabdablet at 3:20 AM on October 31, 2020

Response by poster: Ooh thank you kind people who answered after I went dark last week!

@neckro23 it occurs to me that I have no idea why I haven't already been handling dhcp and routing thru the asus. What a dumb dumb. I have heard of proxmox but have not played, I will do that now. Thank you!!

@flabdablet, I SHOULD be administering my cams over vlan, that's 100% correct, I've just got them firewalled atm and they can't see the interwebs. I have a whole lot of gig switches but none are managed, but I also need PoE for the cams and haven't wanted to (needed to?) incur the expense to get poe + managed. You do sound like you enjoy the same ridiculousness that I do, which is making things unnecessarily complicated but also bespoke.
posted by TomMelee at 6:35 AM on November 2, 2020

D-Link also offers their cheap low-port-count EasySmart managed gigabit switches in a PoE variant for a smidge over twice the money.

I've never had any trouble with any of my D-Link switches. They seem to Just Work. Haven't personally tried the PoE ones though; I only have a handful of PoE devices, all of which came with their own single-port power injectors that it seems a shame to waste.
posted by flabdablet at 7:02 AM on November 2, 2020

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