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Nexland Pro800Turbo Load Balancing Router Review 141

Posted by michael
from the when-one-is-not-enough dept.
An anonymous submitter writes "Found this review today over at OverclockersClub.com. Apparently this router can load balance two broadband connections like DSL, Cable, or T1. The router can also act as a backup feature in case one of the broadband connections goes down, the router will automatically switch to the connection still working." At $400, it's not gruesomely expensive either, and I guess if you're willing to pay for two broadband connections anyway... The spec sheet (PDF) has more information.
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Nexland Pro800Turbo Load Balancing Router Review

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  • by User 956 (568564) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:03PM (#3796633) Homepage
    Why not a software solution, instead of dropping 400 bucks? Ultra Monkey is a package including LVS, prepared mostly by Horms.

    Super Sparrow is a distributed load balancing package also by Horms (formerly of VA Research|Linux|Software|Spacecraft|Doohickeys) that uses BGP route information to decide which server ought to service a request. Neat stuff. Super Sparrow is not ready for deployment, and appears to be on a back burner (due to VA's disinterest in such things these days, probably).

    LVS is the project to beat in this space, by a long ways. It is very very solid, and extremely efficient. Wensong is quite an impressive nerd.
  • Load balancing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PhysicsGenius (565228) <physics_seeker@y ... m minus math_god> on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:07PM (#3796647)
    This story warms the cockles of my heart. I really love it when a little guy is gets back at big, faceless corporation by putting resources together in unexpected ways like this. I mean, here he is, buy two connections and getting 1.8 times the bandwidth! And for only a modest outlay of $400! Ingenious and I bet the DSL/cable providers are beating their heads trying to find a way to discourage this kind of activity which must really eat into their profits.

    I just can't stop laughing.

    • Re:Load balancing (Score:2, Interesting)

      by march (215947) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:16PM (#3796670) Homepage
      I'll respectfully disagree.

      Why would this make cable/telecom companies "beat their heads" over this? It gives them more business. In fact, I bet it would increase their business. Joe Blow orders *two* cable modems because he wants twice the bandwidth. Same wit DSL.

      Yes, for redundancy, you'd be better off with one cable and one dsl, but still, that means that there will be more business for the big guys overall.

    • by Darth_Burrito (227272) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:17PM (#3796673)
      Now if only the load balancer could also fetch the AUP of each ISP to dynamically determine which connections were permitted to host which services...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:58PM (#3796804)
      Why the cynicism? Some people can afford two broadband connections, and a $400 routing device. It's still far cheaper than fractional T3, and it may be the only way to get decent rates. Face it, we're all slaves to the broadband companies: even if we're willing to pay twice as much, they won't give us twice the speed. They're of the opinion that one plan fits all, and no one should need the throughput anyway, since you should only be checking email and MSN.

      And this is where some idealist comes in saying that you should vote with your dollars. That only works for a free market, which broadband access is anything but. You have exactly one choice in most cases.

      If you're willing and able to pay more for better service, even if it means using hacks like this, then why not? Sure, it's giving more money to your regional monopoly for service you should be getting anyway (and often were before the caps were dropped) but we don't exactly have a lot of choice.

      I'm sure this makes me look like a submissive little consumer, but I need my broadband (as much of a misnomer as it is); it's still far superior to dialup.
      • by GMontag451 (230904) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @11:23PM (#3798504) Homepage
        It's still far cheaper than fractional T3, and it may be the only way to get decent rates.

        This will not get you faster download speeds. For that you would have to have something arranged with your ISP. What this will do is divide up the computers (or possibly separate TCP sessions on the same computer, I'm not sure) between the two broadband connections. This will let two computers each max out one pipe, instead of having to share the pipe. It won't let one computer use both pipes at the same time.

  • by User 956 (568564) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:08PM (#3796651) Homepage
    For those interested in using LVS for software routing, it's fairly simple. Basically, you patch a stock Linux kernel and use a tool similar to ipchains to establish virtual services. These services forward requests to your back-end real servers according to a flexible ruleset that you design.

    You can use NAT to hide the real servers from the Internet if you like. This allows you to use most any web server you like (such as IIS), but more fancy routing tricks can be done with Unix or Linux servers for even better results. We use NAT at our site (university EE department) and it can handle more load than we will ever receive -- our objective is high-availability. Also, you can use different methods for different server clusters on the same director (e.g. tunneling tricks for Linux apache servers, and less magic for IIS).

    And LVS can be set up such that once a user connects to a particular server, his subsequent connections go back to the same server.

    Useful links:

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:11PM (#3796661)
    I've been doing mostly this (manually though) via my linux-based fw/router.

    I've got two BB connections (it's great working for an ISP/Bell) and 1 inside.

    The inside connection is secured via NAT and ipchains. The two outside connections are secured via ipchains. I dual-default route out, with some static routes for preferred connections.

    Cost me a few hours and a free p-133.
    • by devmanager (589027) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @06:35PM (#3797130) Homepage
      If you're looking for failover, SMC makes a wireless router with serial interface that will automatically fail over to ISDN or dialup connection if the broadband connection goes out. The same router has a built-in print server and all the normal firewall stuff. It's a real nice all0-in-one solution, and the price is right (I paid 179, but it's available for less now).
  • Good lord.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:14PM (#3796668)
    First, this router has been out for a long while.

    Second, 2 WAN connection AND modem/ISDN backup is sweet for an out of the box solution. Not a bad price, as already stated.

    However, and third, a regular PC with a DFE-570tx or it's successor, the 580tx, by Dlink, allows 4 10/100 ports per pci slot. And regular 10/100 nics can be found for less than $10 shipped. You could build a machine for about half the price with greater future expandability.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:18PM (#3796678)
    Since I work for a major cable ISP my cable and broadband is free. If I need a second modem it only costs me $15.00 a month for the second. At $15.00 a month for double the speed simultaneously across 2 modems it may not be that bad. My question is....does the ISP have to support this on their end ala shotgun 56k modem to allow you to effectively dowble your bandwidth? I have asked around...and nobody in my office seems to have an answer.
    • by wilko11 (452421) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @07:22PM (#3797283) Homepage
      The ISP does not have to do anything special to support this. In fact, each connection could be to a different ISP.

      It should be noted however, that this router cannot load balance a single TCP session across both links, so the maximum you can get for a single TCP session is the speed of a single link. (I think that you possibly could get more outbound speed if the router used source address spoofing, but this may cause problems if the ISP has anti-spoofing filters so they probably don't do this.)

      As each link will have a different source IP address packets for a given session will always have to be transferred on the same link.
      This also means that if a link fails some sessions will drop. The router will be able to re-establish them over the second link but it will not be seamless as it would with a true BGP connection (but hey, the price is a lot less!)
  • Inaccuracy (Score:3, Informative)

    by acrhemeied (316269) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:21PM (#3796688) Journal
    "If the Duplex LED is flashing this means their has been a collision on your network. This happens when packets are dropped for some reason or the packets have been misdirected. This usually only happens when two computers are using the same IP address and this usually only happens when you specify an IP address rather than using the DHCP feature built in the router."

    Network collisions occur when two hosts try to submit simultaneously. The NIC listens for the resulting static on the network line (as static is produced when the signals garble), waits a random length of time, and retransmits. This happens (I believe) at a lower-than-protocol level.
  • by mnordstr (472213) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:23PM (#3796696) Homepage Journal
    From the article: Features: "For Businesses with Heavy Traffic Loads"

    Seriously, if you are a business and have a heavy traffic load or really need a good connection, you don't use broadband... That's good if you have a medium traffic load or need a somewhat reliable connection. I would never trust a broadband connection to be fully reliable, unless it's a dedicated pipe.

    And I guess that router is only for normal surfing, no servers. If it constantly switches between two connections, the IP must switch too, right?! I guess one could have a DNS set up with the two IPs but if one of the connections go down, the dns lookup will find the invalid IP every now and then, making the web-site or whatever being run a bit unstable. So this is not a solution if you want to run a service behind it, only several clients using a lot of bandwidth that needs to be load-balanced.
    • by zootread (569199) <zootread AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:26PM (#3796887)
      What they mean by "Businesses with Heavy Traffic Loads" is rich warez monkeys who need 600 kilobytes/second transfer rates to fill up their 1 terabyte RAID in slightly under 20 days.
    • by oPless (63249) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @06:53PM (#3797186) Journal
      heh, Of all the leased lines I have had ( 64K to 2Mbit) my ikkle biz broadband (2mb) has been *FAR* more reliable than any of them.

      Ok, so the SLA isn't as good, and 90% of the problems have been LINX routing issues, the other 10% being the fact I'm using DSL that runs over BTs DSL ATM network - Apparently being on an unbundled exchange I can request to be switched over to Easynets own DSLAMs at the exchange, but I've never had an outage lasting more than 30mins.

      Ho hum.
  • OKay (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:24PM (#3796701)
    This is not a load balancer for server farms.

    This is for, say, having 2 internet connections and using them both. Getting cable & dsl at home and making use of both of them.
  • by Aliks (530618) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:32PM (#3796723)
    I'd been wondering about load balancing a pair of ADSL lines. This confirms my hunch.

    In the UK at least, the basic home service is 512k down, 256k up and a single IP address. The cost of 1mb down 256k up is much more than twice the basic cost, presumably because it is counted as a business service. Getting 2Mb down 512k up is a lot more again. It would be far cheaper to get 4 lines converted to ADSL with the added bonus of some redundancy.

    As far as I know the pricing is set for market segmentation rather than for any inherent extra costs for the fatter pipe. The same home user is unlikely to hog the extra bandwidth, they will just get a better service.

    Anyone know any real objections to this from the telcos perspective?
  • by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:40PM (#3796746)
    "Nexland Pro800Turbo Load Balancing Router Review"

    When I first read this, I thought it was an ad directed at all the servers that Slashdot has wiped out. I was about to congratulate Taco for generating a revenue stream. Heh.
  • by RelliK (4466) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:40PM (#3796748)
    This would require bonding of two network interfaces. As far as I know that was one of the features included in 2.4. Can somebody confirm?

    As for failover, that would be really easy to do regardless of the load balancing support. You just need a cronjob that checks if one of the connections is still up, and reconfigures routing & firewall on timeout.

    • by Hoonis (20223) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:51PM (#3796780) Homepage
      Yes, there is a feature in ip route 2 that lets you set up load balancing out multiple connections. It's a bit of a muddle to set up & make it work with IPTables but worth the effort. Setting cronjob to test if things are "up" is a little harder than it sounds though, a dying T1 line often is up 30% of the time, which is actually reason to leave it working for inbound email etc..

      Here's our linux software solution:

      http://www.rainfinity.com/products/rainconnect.htm l [rainfinity.com]

      This software uses a linux kernel module that does some neat tricks with packet rewriting to do nat, inspect & modify DNS server replies, nat rules, etc. It also has a configurable connection monitoring service & a bunch of recommended deployments for HA email/web serving/outbound surfing, etc. Works on Solaris and Win2k too..

    • You would not need to bond ethernet interfaces. You would need four things.

      1. IPTables Reference. You will be using the MARK rule, and one of the new modules that do % of time matching.

      2. A working knowlage of the IP Route 2 tools.

      3. Properly configured Interfaces. You will have one route that will ALLWAYS be primary, then a Secondary Interface. The secondary will will have a slightly higher metric for the default route, but you will need to "src" the packets leaving that interface, and makesure your nat rules are working properly.

      4. You need to know your shit to do this. Fucking with this stuff will fuck up your access.

      You need no cron job to check the interfaces. Routing does it all for you. Thats why there is this thing called metrics.

      -LW - LW@LWolenczak.net
  • by Insanity (26758) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:42PM (#3796751)
    After two long and useless pages that guide us through the setup screens on the router, we get a test of half-life pings, and downloading from two websites. To add insult to injury, the reviewer uses IE, which is known to report little more than crude approximations of transfer rates.

    The half-life pings aren't telling us anything, as it's a well-known fact that pings jump when your connection is saturated. It doesn't matter if you're multiplexing two of them.

    Win2k/XP can both report raw ethernet throughput using perfmon. This would have been a much more useful and reliable benchmark.

    Too many issues are left unaddressed: does this solution double your upload or download rate to a single host? Are you accessible through a single IP, and if so, which one of your broadband connections is used for this?

    Can anyone who's actually used this provide some insight?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:55PM (#3796793)
    what is with all these pos gateway routers that only support >=24 bit subnets.

    I bought a linksys router, and was very disapointed to find out that it wouldnt let me set a subnet for more that 254 hosts. I doubt the hardware can only support a max of 254 connections that would be oh too convienient. what is the reasoning behind this. btw i emailed linksys about this problem and all i got back from them was a "yes the router only supports 254 host connections"...
    • by Not The Real Me (538784) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:12PM (#3796843)
      A Linksys router costs about $60 for the one port model, about $90 for the 4 port 10/100 switch model.

      If you are buying a router for $60 to $90, why would you need it to support more than 254 hosts?

    • by TeddyR (4176) on Monday July 01, 2002 @02:47AM (#3799211) Homepage Journal
      It only supports 254 connections because the firmware only lets you select a class C netmask for the internal LAN side... Firmware "real estate" on some of the devices was such that it made the code MUCH simpler to do it the way they did...

      Plus:

      The device is meant for a home user with maybe a MAX of 10 machines...

      if you have anywhere near the 100 hosts range you should be looking at a real router like a Cisco or a properly configured Linux box.

  • NexLand Security (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Juhaa (588855) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:56PM (#3796795)
    I have been unsatisfied with the Pro800Turbo. It is not able to properly act as a DNS relay when working with multiple WANs (ISPs); if one of the ISPs goes down, the unit sometimes fails (so much for the backup capabilities); and the unit just hangs every now and then.

    I have complained to Nexland technical support numerous times about the DNS problem. I purchased the router several months ago, and all they've come up with so far is the obligatory "try the new firmware" (which didn't solve the problem).

    I would not recommend purchasing the Pro800Turbo at this time, as the hardware/firmware is just not good enough yet (and the tech support is not able to compensate for this shortcoming).

    I am now on a multiplexing BSD implmentation (OpenBSD), the two feeds are load balanced pretty nicely (and using just an old P5 box). I don't believe I'd ever go back to the NexLand box again. Also, Linux people might be interested in load balancing in their kernels, I've not tried it msyelf, if someone has please let me know if it's worth looking into.
    • by Juhaa (588855) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @04:59PM (#3796806)
      Forgot to add this,

      I also evaluating a box that seems to clearly kick butt on the Pro800Turbo. This box is called the "Mark II" from Net Integration Technologies out of Canada. I have one here in my lab right now and testing begins this afternoon. If you want to see it, go to:
      http://www.gdbsolutions.com/netitech/markii.p df

      So far I haven't seen any satisfactory black box solutions for under a grand. If you want to do it right, spend a little more money and be pleasantly surprised.
    • by Not The Real Me (538784) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:17PM (#3796858)
      When I mentioned I wanted to increase the DSL bandwidth at my office because I wanted to do media hosting and I brought up the Nexland Pro800/Turbo, the network guys at my ISP told me that the Nexland was flaky for Linux/Unix systems. I run Linux, the network guy at my ISP runs BSD, don't remember which variation.
    • by phoneboy (11009) <dwelch&phoneboy,com> on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:32AM (#3799430) Homepage
      > It is not able to properly act as a DNS relay when working with multiple WANs (ISPs)

      It doesn't handle DNS packets very well at all. I have a Debian box set up here with BIND. Unless I point the forwarders at the inside IP of the Nexland, DNS won't work. Why? Because it appears to re-write all the DNS packets from the Internet with it's own internal IP. Nexland's response? That's the way it's supposed to work. sigh

      -- PhoneBoy
      "I say live it or live with it." -- Firesign Theatre

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:03PM (#3796819)
    That's great that the router can act as a backup in case one of the connections goes down. They're going to need it when their site gets slashdoted..

  • by FreeLinux (555387) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:04PM (#3796822)
    What we have here is a router that supports two or more equal cost paths. That fact is that any real router that supports OSPF or some other dynamic routing protocol the supports multiple equal cost paths(BGP) has been able to do this for years.

    What broadband users need is something like MPPPoE(Multilink PPP over Ethernet). This is something that I proposed, several years ago, while working for one of the top three network vendors. Marketing determined that there was insufficient demand and it was never implemented in any of the equipment ISP or CPE. There are a few obscure vendors that claim their products do this. But, in order for this to work the ISP must support it at their end. To date, I am not aware of any ISPs that do.
  • by antis0c (133550) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:05PM (#3796824)
    My Netopia SDSL Router does the same thing. Of course its SDSL Only, plus its technically a business class router, its about the same price, but I got it free with the business SDSL I signed up with uunet. It has two SDSL ports on the back, by default you can only use the second one as a backup, which switches on only when the primary fails. However a 20 dollar firmware upgrade lets me bond them. So for example, if I had two 384k bonded connections, I'd have one 768k connection. Too bad its too expense to make it worth my while =)
  • by DooBall (564455) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:22PM (#3796872)
    I guess this is the kinda connection that spammer from the other article was looking for
  • by mstrebe (451943) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:38PM (#3796925) Homepage
    Software solution? Are you kidding? I don't know of any software that runs without a computer underneath it, and it's damned difficult to put together a reliable machine with a case and four network adapters for less than $400.

    Software isn't free. It requires hardware. When you get dedicated hardware and software that can be configured by someone who doesn't frequent slashdot, you've got a compelling solution.

    Anyway, I installed this box at a client site four months ago (two Covad DSL lines), and it's been flawless the entire time. I highly recommend it for situations where better bandwidth isn't available. It's about as easy to configure as a Sonicwall, not quite as easy as a Linksys. Web managed with a gotcha or two in the UI.

  • by sean@thingsihate.org (121677) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:48PM (#3796966) Homepage
    Can someone explain how this works to me?

    As far as I know, to even do that with big connections you need to go through the same ISP and PPP bond them together. Say I have two T1 lines, one from Sprint and one from UUNet. Each one can transfer 1.54 megabits per second, theoretically. Even though I have two T1 lines, if I go and connect to some remote FTP server, it's only going to send data back to Sprint or UUNet. It can't figure out "hey this guy's got two connections, I should start sending him data on both of them" and suddenly be able to download twice as fast, can I? I may have two T1 lines, but I still can't transfer a file faster than 1.54mb/s.

    If if you have two T1 lines from the same ISP (say I have two from Sprint), it takes special configuration, putting them together with a PPP bond, to make them work as one pipe. As far as I know.

    Now apply this logic to the type of connections you might have in your apartment. Say you have one DSL connection and one cable connection. Are they really going to increase your transfer speed?

    I can see how you'd be able to SEND data faster, but how does receiving work? Can someone explain this to me?
    • by green pizza (159161) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @06:31PM (#3797120) Homepage
      From what I understand, this $400 gizmo is geared towards homes and businesses that mostly surf and download on multiple computers. Unless some black magic is used, no *single* download or upload will exceed the thruput provided by the faster of the two internet connections. It's simply not possible... the router has been assigned two IP addresses from two totally different ISPs that don't know anything about each other. It is similar to a single threaded application running on a dual CPU computer -- the application will only take advantage of one CPU. However, if there are more threads running, they'll be balanced across the two. Same goes for this router. If you have multiple downloads running, they'll be spread across the two internet connections at the router. It may not be the end-all solution, but it sure would be handy for a download-happy household.

      To do what you are referring to would require a professional router (Cisco, Juniper, linux box with fancy software, etc) with BGP support and ISP(s) that are willing to help you. To use more than one ISP will require your own IP block assigned from the ARIN (not from your ISP's own block of addresses). Work with both of your ISPs to configure routing tables and away you go. Sprintlink, Worldcom, AT&T, Cable&Wireless are very helpful in configuring such a multihomed setup. Below is a link to some info from Sprintlink:
      http://www.sprint.net/faq/bgp.html
      • by Pfhor (40220) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @09:14PM (#3797887) Homepage
        That "black magic" you refer to do is download accellorator (or something like that) which breaks an ftp transfer into 4-5 chunks (if the server supports resume) and downloads all 4-5 chunks simulatenously, then recombines them at the end of the transfer. With multiple links, you would get a faster download from one source using it. The nexland page suggests that owners of the router use Download Accel. to really experience the difference in transfer speeds.
  • by loserjake (588368) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @05:57PM (#3796994)
    A couple weeks ago, I ran across a simular [symantec.com] product by Symantec. We are currently running it in our office, and it works great. Firewall works good, was easy to configure. It is also capable of VPN tunnels.

    The 100 model runs for $365.84 [cdw.com] but could probly find it cheaper than that.
  • by rochlin (248444) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @06:03PM (#3797020) Homepage
    The idea of having two (for example) cable modem connections with one as a backup is poor because you're dependent on 99% the same infrastructure for your backup conneciton. Anyone with a cable modem (or DSL) knows that when there's a failure it's almost always a prob with the ISP so your backup will be screwed if your primary is screwed. Ditto on DSL.

    So how about the bandwidth doubling idea? Great, but wouldn't it be better if the ISPs just changed their business model on cable modems? They already have with DSL. With DSL you could just upgrade to a higher level of service (more bandwidth) instead of consolidating two lower bandwidth lines? With Cable modems, the situation is even simpler. At the modem level, the bandwidth is almost always throttled back. Doesn't it seem idiotic to consolidate two bandwidth throttled lines instead of just opening things up a little? How bout 3Mbps instead of 1.5 (for most AT&T subscribers).

    It just seems inane to come up with a hardware or software solution for something that's really a business model issue.

  • by kiscica (89316) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @06:06PM (#3797037) Homepage
    ... I just installed a DSL line as a backup to my existing cable connection. (If AT&T Broadband really start to limit cable transfers, the way they've apparently been threatening to [slashdot.org], I'll dump them and keep the DSL. For the time being I'm just enjoying twice the bandwidth).

    So far I've just used the DSL by setting up a few static routes. Load balancing would be great, but I'm not sure I want to pay $400 for a black box. Correction -- I'm sure I do not want to pay $400 for a black box. I have an ancient P5 serving as my dedicated NAT/firewall and it's probably time to update the kernel to 2.4, stick a fourth ethernet card in there, and dive into the complexities of 2.4 iptables. I would also like to set up some prioritization so that, for instance, my SSH sessions don't stall and my Vonage [slashdot.org] VOIP service doesn't get all choppy when I've got a couple of heavy downloads running at the same time.

    I know 2.4 kernel is capable of all this and I've found a fair amount of documentation already, but I wonder if anyone here has any suggestions or pointers to a streamlined configuration procedure or free software package to do this?

    Kiscica
    • by gotak (547354) on Monday July 01, 2002 @02:35AM (#3799173) Homepage
      Not really. IF you go to the routing howto website
      http://lartc.org/ you can find this really simple way of doing the samething.

      Personally i didn't really care about getting twice the bandwidth only sometimes. So when i did my sharing of one cable and one dsl between 7 housemates i decided just to route people over each link depending on their usage habit. All the web browers people went on my line and all the downloaders got the slower dsl. And of course i bandwidth shaped so people had soft limits and I had no limits. So when i want bandwidth it's out of the way people! All in all it worked quite well.
    • by Koos (6812) <koos@kzdoos.xs4all.nl> on Monday July 01, 2002 @07:12AM (#3799769) Homepage
      So far I've just used the DSL by setting up a few static routes. Load balancing would be great, but I'm not sure I want to pay $400 for a black box. Correction -- I'm sure I do not want to pay $400 for a black box.
      As a reply to this and others of the style "Why use such a device when you can run linux/bsd on a PC" or "Why use bsd/linux on a PC when you can use such a device". Both ways have their advantages. If you have a PC lying around anyway and want maximum control over the connection (including traffic shaping [lartc.org] to fix that high ping time which has everything to do with large buffers in the speedtouch), go for the PC. I haven't seen one of those routerboxes yet where I can set up IP/GRE tunnels, extended firewalling and IPv6-in-IPv4 tunnels. If you want 'plug, play and works', go for the dedicated box.
  • If you want a ready to go solution and dont want to mess about. If else it can be done pretty easy with most distros, two nics and some tweaking. Two T1's shouldnt be any significant load to handle for the cpu.
  • by bachlab (214360) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @06:50PM (#3797179)
    Lets say you have a cable modem from Comcast and DSL from Pacbell. Your surfing the net and log into Slashdot. Where does Slashdot route to you, through Comcast or Pacbell or both? Theres no mention of how the load balancing works. Is it stream based, packet based or does the secondary connection remain idle only if the primary is full? There are a lot of performance and usability questions with this kind of setup. It may be 5 hops and 5ms through Pacbell and 30 hops and 30ms through Comcast. Packet and possibly stream based load balancing would actually slow it down to the speed of the weakest link.
  • by shave (16748) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @07:19PM (#3797276)
    The same product is marketed under the Symantec label(same hardware, OEM type deal) as the 200 Appliance...
  • "If the Duplex LED is flashing this means their has been a collision on your network. This happens when packets are dropped for some reason or the packets have been misdirected. This usually only happens when two computers are using the same IP address and this usually only happens when you specify an IP address rather than using the DHCP feature built in the router."

    Did anyone read the article before posting it? Jeez, I could've gotten the same exact info from reading the side of the box and then reading the instruction manual.
  • by hyrdra (260687) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @09:18PM (#3797908) Homepage Journal
    That review really enforces the stereotype that all overclockers are uneducated 34 year old A+ graduates with GED in hand who spend all of their pathetic life playing Quake and Half Life. Flame me or mod me down if you must, but I'm tired of reading 2nd rate reviews -- that's why I read Slashdot, not overclockerswhatever.com.

    All through the several pages there are dozens of spelling, grammar, and simply sentences that just don't make sense. That's not to say that I don't mind that, but in this case the content was the same -- a bunch of screen shots with related commentary of someone who on a good day can setup a Linksys router with no issues. I especially like his "(router talk)" parentheses explanation as if to explain the mystic Mbit unit of measure to us simpletons.

    Please, leave the detailed screen shots for the manual and the self-serving explanations to someone with can do more than double click on his Dell. We want to see why we should buy this thing in the first place and how it performs, not how to configure it.

    As I skimmed over the first several pages looking for graphs I was instead greeted with some very scientific tests of ping time from within a multiplayer game. Then the guy goes on to download two random files from a random location on the Internet as a testament toward the performance of the router, using a web browser.

    No technical or scientific consideration was found in this review, and I found it insulting to read. If you must review something, at least know a little about what you're reviewing, and especially how to test it. Don't waste your time reading that nonsense. In fact, I am surprised it was posted to slashdot considering the quality and the background of the reviewer.

    This guy should go back to reviewing the newest shoot 'em up or writing up the procedures for overclocking his celeron, and stay away from stuff that is ever so slightly more complicated involving more sophisticated testing and technical reporting.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @09:28PM (#3797956) Homepage
    Since DSL tends to have better uplink rates than cable modems, but cable modems often have better downlink rates, this could work out. Use the IP address from the cable modem, but send your outgoing traffic mostly on the DSL line.

    Make sure your ISP isn't putting your traffic through a cacheing server, or this won't work.

  • by 1ridium (220238) on Sunday June 30, 2002 @11:54PM (#3798625)
    So do get 4 times the amount of bandwith could i just buy 3 of these routers, plug two cable modems into one and 2 dsl lines into the other and then have those two routers plug into another router?
  • by bwags (534113) on Monday July 01, 2002 @07:41AM (#3799844)
    I purchased one of these this past winter and I really have had no troubles with it. It works well, plug and play. I have a cable modem on one WAN port and DSL on the other. I do computer consulting/programming for a living so I needed a reliable broadband connection. My cable line kept going down so I pulled in a DSL line for redundancy. Turns out my DSL never goes down, but cable does (I will probably scrap the cable line and save myself $45/month soon). As for the great question of load balancing...here is the answer. It really does not load balance. Instead it shares the internet connections between applications running on your computers. Let me say this a better way: If you are downloading a huge file via FTP, that WHOLE download goes across the same WAN port. Now if you start another FTP application, that application will talk across the other, and so on. That is how it works, and it does work well. This thing is really meant for redundancy, not getting 2X the bandwidth to your network applications. One more thing... the thing does have a setting so all your smtp traffic goes out on only one port. This is needed for isp spam protection. I would give the unit 9 of 10 stars.
  • by drcrja (473111) on Monday July 01, 2002 @08:38AM (#3799977)
    I have both DSL and a cable modem and I was thinking of using connection teaming as a cheaper software solution for this. I was looking at solutions from MidPoint and VicomSoft which both cost under $100.
  • by tcc (140386) on Monday July 01, 2002 @09:52AM (#3800053) Homepage Journal
    Until I went to their technical support forum and saw that in some cases, the router would simply lock-up. I accept lock-ups on computer software with great difficulty, I won't tolerate it in firmware/appliances. I went for a sonicwall SOHO-3 instead, the downside is that everything is more expensive with the sonicwall, but the upside is that every add-on you get, you get your money for it (exept the content filtering which utterly sucks).

  • Explanation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by evanh23 (584055) on Monday July 01, 2002 @11:39AM (#3800755)
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I'm pretty sure there are quite a few people on slashdot that are confused as to what this device actually does. It is a load balancer for the connections. What this doesn't mean, you hook a DSL line and a cable line to it and get the sum of the two speeds. What it does mean, is that for outgoing connections, you have seamless integration of two lines for redundancy purposes.

    For example: once the two lines are plugged in, when you are surfing around and hit a website, the router automagically picks which connection (DSL/cable) the request goes out on. If one of the connections happen to be down, it picks the one which is not (thus the load balancer part).

    One interesting thing to note though. It may actually seem like the sum of the two connections from an application standpoint. Examples being web browsing and ftp'ing.

    In web browsing, I know that in IE and Mozilla, you can select the number of outgoing connections that the browser will use in fulfilling a web request. So you could end up getting the http reponse (text-only) from one connection and using the other (seperate outgoing web request) to retrieve the images on that page. In most cases, you would likely speed up graphics heavy pages quite a bit.

    In ftp'ing, some of the clients (along with the download managers) allow you to use multiple tcp streams to receive your downloading file. The software has a file to receive which it starts multiple receives going. In theory, you could run say, 1 tcp stream per connection, and be receiving the same file over the two connections independently, but achieving an overall rate equal to the sum of the two speeds.

    The whole thing kinda reminds me of the pigeon-hole principle in a wierd sorta way.

    But anyway, I imagine a linux/BSD solution to be cheaper (given low-end hardware requirements).

    E
  • by Tinfoil (109794) on Monday July 01, 2002 @12:14PM (#3801014) Homepage Journal
    They are decent units and for a decent price. I use it at a couple remote offices that I visit a couple times a month and are easily maintained. No moving parts etc, which is why these were used instead of a machine running FreeBSD.
  • by marcjohnson (589515) on Monday July 01, 2002 @03:45PM (#3802575) Homepage
    First, about the review: no stress, stability or soak testing. Didn't test WAN connections from different providers. Didn't even try different packet sizes during pings. Routers have industry-standard tests to run them through, and going through the HTML pages and transferring a file does not constitute a router test/review.

    Warning: we have heavily tested the Nexland Pro800T. The Nexland Pro800 Turbo +hard+ crashes daily and looses packets. Once a week it looses all its config. We have had the box replaced multiple times - no help. We have tried their old and newest firmware. No help. It is getting so bad, that Nexland actually shut down their user forums (see www.nexland.com) because so many people are complaining!

    I +do+ not recommend the Pro800 Turbo router. The only way we can keep the thing up is to have an automatic ping/tcp/http tester that power cycles the darn thing when it crashes multiple time per day.

    Anyone else experiencing these issues?

    There is another option. Compex has redundant + load balancing router (NP15-BR). See:

    http://www.cpx.com/proddetail_b.asp?c=Broa...%20 Ro uters&e=49

    Anyone use this?

    Hope this helps,
    Marc

A slow pup is a lazy dog. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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