Friday, October 3, 2008

Ubuntu Linux Router Upgrade Project

As much as I've enjoyed using OpenWrt for my home networking, I've decided to "upgrade" to a fuller Linux distribution running on a more "traditional" computer rather than an embedded device.

Internet via Cell Phone

One factor encouraging this transition is that there is currently no cable or DSL Internet service to my current residence. To remain connected, I'm using Alltel's Wireless Internet service (3G 1xEV-DO). Unfortunately, the associated access devices are essentially modems that connect by either USB, PCMCIA, or ExpressCard - none of which can be directly connected to the standard Ethernet ports on my OpenWrt-enabled Linksys router.

There are a number of devices available to bridge mobile broadband to a home or other small LAN, otherwise known as cellular routers. One such device is the Linksys WRT54G3G. However, it seems specifically targeted towards Sprint/Nextel, and none of the listed supported data cards are offered by Alltel. Also, retailing at ~$130, it costs almost twice as much as my existing WRT54GL while not even offering the same quality 802.11 wireless.

Linux opportunity

While I don't consider myself a stranger to Linux, my use of it at home has been limited to OpenWrt and virtual machines. This will be an opportunity for me to run it natively and have an always-on instance to utilize as needed.

My choice of distribution for this project is the latest version of Ubuntu, 8.04 ("Hardy Heron"), based on its release schedule, stability, features, popularity, and availability of online community support. Version 8.10 ("Intrepid Ibex") is due at the end of the month (2008-10-30). Rather than waiting, I'll utilize the remainder of the month to experiment and polish my setup. My plan is to then hopefully repeat the same success with minimal effort after a clean install of 8.10 once released.

New Hardware

I considered using an old laptop for the task. Even though the screen has serious issues, I'd usually just have it connected to my KVM switch or use SSH. However, considering that I have a Gigabit network switch and matching link to my primary desktop, I wanted a device that would also match speeds.

To be continued...

I'll be following up with a number of posts. To be included:

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