Home Network

As I've mentioned in other articles, I use my home network for evaluation of technologies as well as supporting multiple websites. The primary server runs Apache/Tomcat and also acts as the firewall for the internal network. I use iptables to limit access to ports and also proxy some of the internal services. Everything else behind the firewall is masqueraded (NAT.) The internal servers typically provide support services, running three different J2EE application servers (IBM's WebSphere, BEA Weblogic and Sun's glassfish) as well as various RDBMS servers (Oracle, DB/2, MySQL and PostgreSQL.) The hex core processor (sudsyxen) is sometimes used as a Xen server but that functionality is gradually being supplanted by VirtualBox. It runs 24x7, contributing cycles to the World Community Grid. The internal network was upgraded to gigabit Ethernet and my commercial Internet service (fixed IP) is now running at around 80/20 Mbps download/upload.

I've assembled each of the servers myself. I select the components (motherboard, processor, memory, power supply, hard drives, etc.) and re-use some server boxes I purchased a number of years ago. They all look the same from the outside but the internals change over time and as needs require. That also explains my collection of older motherboards, processors and hard drives, including some old IDE drives which most contemporary mother boards don't even support. I even have some old CD (pre-DVD) and floppy drives. Also lots of memory cards which will never be used again unless someone comes to me with a very old computer in need of a new lease on life. Four of the servers live downstairs, due to both heat and noise. There's also a Brother 4040 CDN (colour laser, duplex, networked) printer down there. It generates beautiful output although standard toner cartridge life leaves a lot to be desired.

The laptop came with Windows® 7 Home because it was hard to find a laptop which didn't have it pre-installed. I replaced the original 5400 RPM hard drive with a Solid-State Drive (SSD) and it now runs Fedora 24. The other boxes run variants of Linux except for the Mac Mini which obviously runs OSX. The sudsy5 machine is a dual-boot system which runs Fedora 20 as well as Windows 7 Professional. One of my latest experiments involved installing Samba 4.3 and configuring it as an Active Directory Domain Controller. The laptop, when it was running Windows 7 Home, couldn't join the domain but the dual-boot system can and can't tell that it's not talking to Windows Server. The beauty is that Microsoft® makes available Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7. And that software can't tell that it's not running against Windows Server either. It's completely transparent!

I replaced dual 19" LCD monitors with a 27" HP 27xi which has connectors for VGA, DVI and HDMI. The KVM switch downstairs is connected to the VGA port and I've added an HDMI switch so that I can select between sudsy5, sudsymac and sudsypi and that's connected to the HMDI port on the HP. There's now a single USB keyboard and mouse for all the devices connected to the HMDI KVM switch. I have a keybord and track ball (PS-2) for the servers downstairs sitting on a slide-out shelf underneath the glass desktop. The sudsy5 machine can be noisy at times due to the throttled CPU fan (AMD Cool'n'Quiet) but the Mac Mini is next to silent.

I live in a house built to modern standards, i.e. wooden studs covered in drywall. As a result, wireless range is necessarily limited. While I can get a good signal on a Mac Book Pro in the den from the wireless router in the office, the Acer design means that the laptop wireless antenna doesn't "see" as good a signal and speeds are negatively impacted. Things became problematic when I tried to use the Acer out on the deck. Rarely was I successful in connecting to the router in the den. I ended up configuring a repeater in the kitchen which resolved the connectivity issues. I just have to remember to switch networks when moving indoors.

I've recently been doing a lot of experimentation with home automation. I've got a Philips Hue hub connected to the wireless repeater and a half dozen Amazon Echo Dots throughout the house. Almost every light fixture in the house has a Philips bulb or two in it and I've even got a light strip running along the staircase and a "bloom" which I use as a system status indicator. I've got a Raspberry Pi 3 with a Razberry daughter board for controlling a couple of Z-Wave modules. There's also an old X10 controller which monitors some infrared wireless sensors and sends data to the Raspberry via a USB cable. Finally, I've added a cellular modem which is also connected to the Raspberry via USB. While I have lots of ideas as to how to get everything working in concert, time always seems to be in short supply.

Here's a brief rundown on the hardware and software running on the machines in my home network:

Host Name CPU Memory Hard Drives Applications
sudsy3 AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ 4 GB 2 x 250 GB SATA II Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1AS
Apache 2.4.23
IBM WebSphere 7.0
Oracle 10g Release 2
sudsy4 AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 1.5 GB 300 GB SATA Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4AS (Nahant Update 5)
IBM WebSphere 7.0
IBM DB/2 V9.1
sudsy5 AMD FX-6300 4 GB 200 GB IDE
1 TB SATA III
Windows 7 Professional/
Fedora 20 (Heisenbug)
sudsy10 AMD Athlon II X2 245 2 GB 1 TB SATA II Fedora 12 (Constantine)
Glassfish 2.1
Oracle 11g
MySQL 5.1.47
sudsy64 AMD Athlon 64 3200+ 3 GB 80 GB IDE
250 GB SATA
Fedora 20
Tomcat 6.0.43
BEA Weblogic 9.2
MySQL 5.6.13
sudsyxen AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 8 GB 120 GB SATA III SSD
1 TB SATA II
5 TB external USB3
Fedora 18
Samba 4.3 AD DC (includes Kerberos)
MySQL 5.7.7
Oracle 11g XE
sudsymac 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 4 GB 2 x 500 GB SATA OSX 10.12.6 (Sierra)
Xcode 6.1
MySQL 5.6.24
Subversion server
laptop AMD Athlon 64 X2 L310 4 GB 320 GB SATA II Fedora 24
(Windows 7 Home Premium, Retd.)