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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.
    • Good luck geting BGP info from your cable modem providor.

      A machine running load balancing software is still hardware that must be managed. I like a small router with no moving parts over something with a hard drive that makes noise and heat.
    • Because hardware based solutions are always faster. All pro video encoding is done with hardware mpeg cards instead of slow software. Chances are if you have a site that requires load balancing $400 isn't much of an investment.

      • This will not load balance "a site" - rather, it will load balance your connection to the internet.

        Big difference. You can't run a load balanced web site with a device that works in this direction. To do that, you need a big pipe in that gets load balanced to *your* servers.
        • Well in a way you could if you had static IP's and a domain, each line from the provider will use its own IP address. You could just give out different IP address from the DNS servers or have multiple A records for the domain. Different requests will use different lines.
        • Also of note, this box will not handle IPSEC passthru on the second WAN port. They fail to mention this in the documentation I read.
      • Because hardware based solutions are always faster.

        In the case of network where even older CPUs can do packet-fu with enough spare computrons to simulate a nuclear explosion (did I say in a timely manner or high detail or anything?) I think that a hardware based solution might not have the edge you're assuming.

        Hardware kicks ass for repetitive fixed functions (screw flying cars, where is my hardware constructive solid geometry raytracer), but normal CPUs are there and programmed for the task already and aren't strained by it much.
    • All you actually need is Squid. Set up a user-visible cache, and parent it to two non-caching proxies on each line. Then just adjust the weighting based on the relative speeds of the lines. I'm assuming this is all the functionality this little router provides.
      • All you actually need is Squid. Set up a user-visible cache, and parent it to two non-caching proxies on each line. Then just adjust the weighting based on the relative speeds of the lines.

        Sure but then you have three pieces of hardware where this could be done with only the one mentioned. That increases probability of failure, admin overhead, power consumption and heat generation. Not to mention that the hardware costs would be more for the quid based solution depending on existing unused hardware you have available for squiding.

        • Actaully you can run the several instances of squid on the same machine. Takes a bit of tweaking, but there you go.
          • Actaully you can run the several instances of squid on the same machine. Takes a bit of tweaking, but there you go.

            I thought about this and have run two copys at once before. If you have any kind of traffic though, you will need a pretty beefy machine with a good chunk of RAM. By the time you have set all this up with hardware costs and time spent, $400 could look pretty cheap.

            • Yes, quite true. But many Slashdot geeks just have a P3-600 or something lying basically unused as their l33t firewall anyways. :-)
              • But many Slashdot geeks just have a P3-600 or something lying basically unused as their l33t firewall anyways.

                I actually have a P3-550 with half a gig of RAM sitting next to my main PC so I am a victim of my own argument... I could probably sell it but it wouldn't go for much more than $300...

    • How does LVS help me use my calbe & dsl at the same time. I have 3 or four workstations on my network at home.. a mac, a couple windows boxes, and a linux box.

      Now I want ot get DSL & Cable, and use both at the same time.

      That's not a problem that LVS solves for you.

      That's the kind of thing this box does.

      This is about the home or small office user making use of multiple internet connections efficiently and easily for their networking needs.
      Yeah, of course you can do this with linux... but lvs isn't it.
    • Here's a software solution from my company (Rainfinity) that doesn't use BGP:

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

      Runs on linux, does other rather clever things (can rewrite DNS replies as well for *inbound* load balancing). It works nicely with either a commercial firewall (checkpoint/raptor) or IPTables; or can be used just as an HA router in front of existing firewalls. A feature this crowd will like- you can do everything via a command-line interface if you don't like GUIs too!

      DB

    • I've never tried this on linux, but couldn't you just set both gateways to a metric of 1? I think you need to run routed for this to work, but in theory this should send requests out over each line. Anyone tried this?

      For incoming connections, if both IPs are static you can simply run dns on each IP and roundrobin between them. Will work fine for most purposes.
      • This actually wouldn't work, because you don't have an autonomous system number for a subnet (and AS's aren't given below about /23 anyways). In other words, you'd need real routing protocols like BGP on your border router.

        Think about what would happen: say you started up a ssh session to foo.domain.com; the remote server would see packets coming from two different IP addresses claiming to be alternating for the same session. TCP just doesn't work that way normally.

        So as I implied, you'd need to fix your IP inside a subnet that is broadcasted on the BGP routing tables.
    • > Why not a software solution, instead of dropping 400 bucks?

      Because not everyone has the time/engery/experience/hardware necessary to set this up on a Linux box. I was running my home firewall on a Linux box until I got one of these things. It has issues, but it generally works and requires less fscking with.

      I've had one of these since October, and they're not bad. I got one of these and one of Nexland's wireless access hubs as "review units." I wrote up a review [phoneboy.com] on the product, which details the pros and cons of these devices.

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

  • Load balancing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PhysicsGenius (565228) <physics_seeker@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> 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)
      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.

      • Me, too! [dictionary.com] (There, did you get it now?)
      • On one hand, this does get a customer paying twice as much. On the other hand, the companies prefer customers that use small amounts of bandwidth. A customer who goes to the expense of getting two lines is probably a hardcore bandwidth fiend. The ISP would probably prefer 2 customers who download in moderation.

        Of course, maybe this bandwidth fiend would now only be downloading Linux ISO's and lawfully purchased pornographic movies 12 hours a day, instead of 24, and paying more of his/her share.

        But I have a feeling these routers will be much more attractive to small business customers. I'm not really sure how pricing schemes for business accounts go. But I once worked for a company with 20 employees, and about 30 computers. They had about 15 computers on one cable modem, and the rest on the other modem. I think a router like this would be attractive to such a office.
      • PhysicsGenius is a well-known troll.
      • I'll respectfully disagree.

        YHBT YHL HAND

    • 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 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:

    • Here in the Mid South, Road Runner essentially will cost you abut $58, after taxes. Each additional IP after that adds only $10 to the cost. You do have to provide your own modems for the additional IPs, but each IP get's full bandwidth.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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.
    • 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
    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.
  • 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.
    • Re:Inaccuracy (Score:2, Informative)

      by ddstreet (49825)
      ...waits a random length of time, and retransmits. This happens (I believe) at a lower-than-protocol level.

      It does wait a random amount of time, but if another collision is detected then the wait time doubles, and the process continues. It's called exponential backoff.

      And ethernet protocol (the "physical layer" protocol, in OSI or TCP/IP language) is called Manchester encoding [google.com]. It places 0-to-1 or 1-to-0 transition in every bit, so it's always possible to sync up even in long periods of identical bits.

    • Not necassarily. On switches a collision should never happen. Hubs, on the other hand, collisions are commonplace since the bandwith is shared. What he described are relaly the only two reasons that a collision should occur on a switch.
      • Re:Inaccuracy (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Alrescha (50745)
        "Not necassarily. On switches a collision should never happen. Hubs, on the other hand, collisions are commonplace since the bandwith is shared. What he described are relaly the only two reasons that a collision should occur on a switch."

        Collisions can happen on a switch any time two packets (or more) are generated on the wire at the same time. This could be the switch itself and the host at the other end of the cat5. It can happens often on a busy segment (you don't *want* it to happen often, but...).

        The original quoted description of collisions is just wrong. The collision light on an Ethernet device has absolutely nothing to do with IP addresses.

        A.
      • On switches a collision should never happen.

        If each port on the switch connects to a single node on the network and connections are duplex, no collisions will take place. (But imagine if one of your switch ports is connected to a hub with two computers connected to the hub.)

        -Kevin

        • there are always atleast 2 devices in a collision domain. A NIC and the port it is plugged in to can talk over each other and cause a collision.

          Collisions can and do happen on a switch, but not nearly as often as hubs.
  • 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)
      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.
    • 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)
    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)
    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?
    • the telcos will probably also see setting up more than one DSL line at one location as a "business service" as well, and will just say "no, get the 2mbit service instead"
    • The only problem is I think you'd have to have a seperate phone line for each DSL link. So you'd pay for the extra ADSL lines and phone service, plus install fees.
  • "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.
    • Buisines plan without "???":

      Read slashdot, wait for sites to get slashdotted

      Offer bandwith to slashdotted sites

      Profit

  • 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.

    • 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
  • 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?
    • how the heck is this suppose to work over two connections? Isn't the two BB connections of idividual ips? Wouldn't that mean either way you can only have a connection on one line at a time not over two?

      In may ways this doesn't do anything i can't do with iproute2 already.
  • NexLand Security (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Juhaa (588855)
    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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • > 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

  • 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.
  • 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 =)
  • I guess this is the kinda connection that spammer from the other article was looking for
  • 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.

  • 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?
    • 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
      • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • ... 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
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
    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
  • 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.
  • 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
    • Well, compex doesn't really do Load Balancing. You just have to split your network in subnet and assign one router to each net. See reviews: http://www.homenethelp.com/web/review/compex-netpa ssage-fin.asp

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