RouterBoard as a Home Router – 4 1/2 years on

A while back I mentioned a follow up to an old blog post about the RouterBoard that i’d recently purchased and setup for home use. This is a very belated update on that board.

My requirements have since changed from the original post, but not dramatically so. The requirement for LACP has disapeared, IPSec is no longer used, but a requirement for Dynamic Routing has appeared.

All in all, I have to say that I still cannot recommend RouterOS enough. I’ve been using it the past 4 1/2 years, and have recommended a large number of folks to use it.

The main reason behind this is that it just works, there’s not really any faffing about that needs to be done, and if you’re running the stable release, everything does just work.

Feature wise, this is right up there with some of the big brands (Cisco, Juniper et all), however its fair to say not with the same price tag.

Continue reading RouterBoard as a Home Router – 4 1/2 years on

iSCSI Target re scanning on VMWare

If you’re using iSCSI on VMWare but have a requirement to rescan the luns after a machine has booted (For example a VM which has DirectPath to a Storage card enabled, which is hosting your iSCSI luns) you can simply do so with the following command

iPhone to Android SMS Converstion Script

As promised here’s a copy of my iPhone to Android script. Just a quick and dirty python script that reads in a backup from itunes and converts it to a bit of XML able to be read in by SMS Backup and Restore on the android platform

iPhone to Android

I’m in the process of migrating from my iPhone 3g to an HTC desire. So far i’m really impressed with the desire, but a full view on it is reserved for a month or so after I’ve used it day in day out!

One thing that I did quite want was to have my SMS messages migrated from my iPhone to the Desire. As the iPhone keeps the SMSes in a SQLite DB this wasn’t to hard. I’m going to post the procedure and the script I used later!

RouterBoard as a Home Router – 7 Months on – Part 1

At the new year I decided that I was fed up with having my main Unix server acting as a Router (amongst other things) and decided to bite the bullet and get a full blown router. Here in lay a dilema. Being the fact that I’m a geek, I couldn’t settle for a “home” unhackable router. So this instantly ruled out most of the commercial available routers, baring those that run OpenWRT. Now don’t get me wrong, OpenWRT is more than capable, but I just didn’t feel like having to worry about hardware support, fighting with IPTables and getting hardware that probally wouldn’t scale. Now before anyone starts thinking “Scaling, but this is for a home connection!”, this is true. However I do sync my DSL at the full  24244 kbps Downstream, and 2550 kbps upstream (I live under 200m from the exchange according to my line attenuation, also my ISP doesn’t bandwidth cap, and allow for FastPath and similar to be enabled. Go BeThere!) . Also at the time, I was seriously considering investing in a secondary connection for additional bandwidth. This meant that I was left with a few choices

  • Build my Own. Using something like an ALIX/Sokeris and use something like FreeBSD (or something with a webgui for when I feel rather lazy, such as m0n0wall or pfsense. Both I’ve used previously with great success)
  • Cisco. Yes, the 800 pound gorrila of home. A ‘cheap’ 1800 or similar was going to set me back about £400, however this would have provided me most of what I needed.
  • RotuerBoard. These where, to me at least, relativly unknown. I originally looked at them for building my own system with them, and then discovered RouterOS came with the boards. This was an instant sale.

After my first look at RouterOS I was basically sold. Main reasoning behind this was that it was a comercial Linux distribution, that actually worked well as a router, and shipped with both a CLI (Nortel-esq in this case) and a *shock* gui application. It also met my main criteria.

  • Support for 802.1Q. I have multiple vLANs at home so having support for dot1q was a necessity
  • Support for 802.3ad. As I have a few machines connecting via the router, I needed the throughput, as I don’t have gigabit switching LACP support was a necessity.
  • Support for Wireless. All good routers for the home (even a geeky one) need support for 802.11(a/b/g).
  • Support for SubSSIDs. Relating to the above, I didn’t want to have 7 wireless cards for my various networks
  • Support for WPA2-PSK and WPA2-EAP. I use RADIUS to authenticate all my personal stations to a central authentication system, but I don’t want to have to add guests to this, so PSK should also be supported.
  • Support for OpenVPN. I don’t like having my traffic to / from home going in the clear at all, so I needed to be able to connect via a VPN of some sort, My preference is OpenVPN for c2s vpns (s2s is still IPSEC…. which leads onto the next point)
  • Support for IPSec. I connect to various friends networks, and yet again, don’t want this sort of traffic in the clear, we made the standard IPSec (3des/md5) a while back
  • Support for “Unlimted” Firewall rules. This may sound silly, but anyone who has worked with the lowend Sonicwalls will know what I mean, only being able to put 20 rules is EXTREMELY restrictive especially with multiple vlans! (I’ve got roughly 300 rules)
  • Support for setting DHCP options. I used VMWare ESX at home for my test lab, so I require to be able to setup the DHCP server to be able to send the correct options for PXE (or gPXE) so this was a requirement
  • Quick booting. As silly as this may sound, I don’t want boot times of upwards of 30 seconds for my router.
  • Support for Bridging of interfaces with Firewall rules. This one is rather self explanatory really!
  • Support for UPnP. Lets face it, UPnP is required for any form of Voice/Video chat these days over the main IM networks (YIM/AIM/MSNIM)
  • Support for NetFlow or similar. This one is a nice to have, as I like to use flow-tools to generate a rough guess on what type of traffic is flowing through my network
  • Support for Traffic Shaping. Ah yes, the holy grail of routers. Unfortunately the likes of TC on linux requires a degree in astrophysics to get working how you’d like!
  • Easy configuration.

After discovering (via the x86 installable and the demo units) that RouterOS would let me do all of the above, I decided to give it a whirl.


Recently I’ve become more and more annoyed with my SKY-HD’s disk spinning up and down, and then the power appearing to be cut to the drive, meaning that theres a rather loud click comes from it. Not a problem if you’re watching TV, as this only occurs when the box is in standby. Very annoying if you’re having problems sleeping and the thing is going clunk ever 30 minutes or so. I’ve been told that I can change a disk spin down somewhere on the box, however this doesn’t appear to have made any difference. Another issue that is compounding the annoyance is that the SKY-HD box is almost impossible to use with a single tuner.

I decided to resurrect my HTPC and attempt to get SKY going into that. There where 4 major requirements for this

1. Has to be able to play content – I pay a silly amount a month just for 3 HD channels (BBC, Discovery and History) :: This meant that a DVB-S2 receiver was required

2. Has to be able to decode pay for channels – I pay a subscription to them, I’ll be damned if I don’t get my channels! :: This meant that either a SoftCAM or a CI slot and CAM were required

3. Has to be local to the machine, I want a raw MEPG2/h264 stream going to the media pc, and not any additional transcoding, also one less set of CPUs is a good thing ™ – This isnt a poke at a specific Linux Based satellite receiver at all :: This meant internal cards or locally attached devices (USB2/Firewire)

4. The HTPC must be running software that can play my videos – I don’t want to have my popcorn hour AND a HTPC to do my video. :: This meant using a Media Centre type application, this does however exclude Microsoft’s Windows Media Centre, as it doesn’t play MKVs/OGMs etc


Relatively small requests one would think, but apparently not! I was left with a few choices for Card, however the one that seemed to come out tops was the Digital-Everywhere FloppyDTV/S2. This meets requirements 1&3, by being able to decode DVB-S2 signals, and also is sending data via the Firewire bus.

In order to meet requirement 2 I opted for the “Dragon Cam” (or specifically the T-Rex 4.1). This is a Conditional Access Module, which along with a valid SKY viewing card, preforms the VideoCrypt (NDS) decryption. This does have one, annoying, caveat. The smartcard must go into a SKY box every 4->6 weeks to have a “new installation” done, as the CAM will not rewrite the new decryption codes to the card.


The Shopping list at the end of all of this was as follows:

  • Digital Everywhere FireDTV S2 External @ £160 (External was chosen for various reasons, including the IR remote support)
  • Firewire PCI Card @ £10 
  • T-Rex Cam @ £60
  • Infinity Unlimited USB Card Programmer @ £60 – This was required to do the initial loading of the T-Rex CAM, however can be returned / resold / similar as its a once off requirement

So all in all £220 to view/record on a media pc. This is for a single tuner only, as I don’t have access to multiple drops from the buildings satellite distribution system (which is rather amusing, as these are “executive” flats, built in the last 3 years, and yet all flats only have a single drop for satellite). Multi Drops can be done using a SoftCAM, where the CAM is replaced with a USB Smartcard programmer, but only one is required, meaning that the first channel would be £220, but each after that would be £160 (or £130 if an internal was to be used). Of course the Legality of using a SoftCAM is extremely questionable, where as a non official sky receiver is only marginally.

I’ll be documenting more on the setup soon