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New here: Will Zeroshell work for me?

 
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mountainman



Joined: 20 Dec 2012
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:38 pm    Post subject: New here: Will Zeroshell work for me? Reply with quote

I have taken over administration of a wifi network for a summer camp. The current system is a Sonicwall router and several wireless APs. The Sonicwall is flaky and not really suitable for our application; I'm looking to replace the Sonicwall with Zeroshell but I have some questions.

I'd set it up as a captive portal with user login (to replace the stupid but well intentioned MAC filtering and static IP system the previous guy set up on the Sonicwall). This should greatly reduce my workload, as each user (each family pays one fee for the whole summer's usage) typically has several devices. Every time a user buys a new laptop or smartphone, they come running to me to add it to the system, which is a hassle... I'm vacationing there myself and do this purely on a volunteer basis. There are perhaps 30-40 families, between 100-200 devices, with rarely more than 15-20 actually using the system at any one time.

Question Can one user account be logged on simultaneously with more than one device? For example, several members of a family (sharing a single account but each with their own device) may be connected at the same time. Logging bandwidth used by user as well as MAC would be nice ("Fred, your son Patrick is using too much bandwidth...") but also not absolutely necessary (it's enough to tell Fred his family is using too much and let him figure it out).

Question Datalogging: We have bandwidth limits (satellite modem). Currently, we monitor overall usage and if we're near the limit and one user has used more than their share, we gently remind them. However, between midnight and 6am there are no limits... can the logging ignore usage during that time period? I suppose an alternative would be a "free" account that's only enabled during the free time which users could use if they have a big download to do.

Question Can we implement user throttling if a set bandwidth limit is exceeded?

Question There are several WAPs. Is it better to have several NIC cards in the Zeroshell box, one for each WAP, or one NIC and an ethernet switch?

Question Can a user access POP3 email on a remote (internet) server through Zeroshell? I've seen at some public hotspots I can access my email only after logging on once to any web page (to get through the captive portal login page); this would be OK.

Question What's the minimum hardware I should be planning to use? I'm really hoping an older spare computer will do it.
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mountainman



Joined: 20 Dec 2012
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anybody?
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JamesR



Joined: 30 Jan 2013
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Will Zeroshell work for me? Reply with quote

I'll Give it a try. Yes, ZeroShell couldwork for you! I'm fairly new to ZeroShell but I'm slightly more familiar with it than you. If a more experienced person overrides me, I won't be offended in the least.

Q: Can one user account be logged on simultaneously with more than one device? For example, several members of a family (sharing a single account but each with their own device) may be connected at the same time
A: Yes, as far as I know.

Q: Can we implement user throttling if a set bandwidth limit is exceeded?
A: I used QoS to throttle bandwidth successfully. It took me a little effort but yes, I did it for a guest network

Q: There are several WAPs. Is it better to have several NIC cards in the Zeroshell box, one for each WAP, or one NIC and an ethernet switch?
A: I'm not sure there is a right answer. I think you need to have more than one physical NIC in the ZeroShell box to build a bridge properly but I may be wrong -- it could be possible to bridge virtual NICs. I used 2 physical NICs + an Atheros WiFi. I trunked one of the NICs to a Dell managed switch. I have three subnets & three corresponding VLANs. Some of my APs were able to have several SSID's mapped to different VLANs.

Q: Can a user access POP3 email on a remote (internet) server through Zeroshell? I've seen at some public hotspots I can access my email only after logging on once to any web page (to get through the captive portal login page); this would be OK.
A: I can't see why not

Q: What's the minimum hardware I should be planning to use? I'm really hoping an older spare computer will do it.
A: I installed on an old Dell Dimension PC which had a single Hyper-threaded Pentium IV 3.2 GHz. It had the horsepower to throttle and manage a good number of smart phone guests with out choking -- Probably 50+ users not all necessarily doing stuff but SmartPhones are chatty nonetheless.
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mountainman



Joined: 20 Dec 2012
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks... looks encouraging. Certainly I'll need at least two NIC's, one to connect to the satellite WAN and one for the wifi side, but I'm not clear on the advantages (if there are any) of one NIC for each WAP.

What kind of APs were you using. What is the purpose of multiple VLANS?
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JamesR



Joined: 30 Jan 2013
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mountainman wrote:
... Certainly I'll need at least two NIC's, one to connect to the satellite WAN and one for the wifi side, but I'm not clear on the advantages (if there are any) of one NIC for each WAP.

What kind of APs were you using. What is the purpose of multiple VLANS?


I don't have a a NIC for each WAP. I have a VLAN for each WAP. I used the Bridge feature to join the SSID to the particular VLAN interface. I bought Managed switches (100 Base T with Gb uplinks) off eBay relatively cheaply. I use VLAN trunks between the switches. My PepWave and DD-WRT units plus the DLink adpater can all trunk vlan's and can bridge the multiple WLAN's to the the appropriate vlan.

I use multiple VLANs because I have guest, critical usage, and business usage priorities and risk takes different priority. Of course, the subnets for the corresponding VLAN have little communication allowed amongst themselves.

I am using a mixture of AP's because most existed long before I re-built the network. Unfortunately two of the 4 are over simple and can't do multiple WLAN's bridging to VLANs. I'm a fan of the PepWave AP's myself. They're pretty good and cheap -- about $100 USD for what they do.

The zeroshell box has a DLink Model DWA-552 PCI adapter which does N. It seems to work well. I got an external anenna from Rosewill rather than using the antenna's that go right on the back of the card slot.

Smile
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