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Aggregate Bonded Connection Router "Thingy"
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mneimeyer
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:44 am    Post subject: Aggregate Bonded Connection Router "Thingy" Reply with quote

My partner and I are seriously considering moving into an RV for a year or two and seeing the sights... but one of our major concerns is Internet Access.

In the research I've done so far I've found that there are pros and cons of almost all the tech you can use to connect. Satellite is probably fastest but doesn't work while you are moving... Some RV parks have cable and you might be able to get a cable modem... Cell coverage is almost universal but slow... Some Highway Rest stops and RV parks have Wifi... And so on.

So I was wondering if I could "even things out" but by rolling my own bonding Gentoo based router but either such a thing doesn't exist or I'm not searching on the right terminology. Conversely if there is a good pre-built hardware solution that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and will support more than two connections I'm game for that kind of suggestion too.

My thought is to plug multiple "upstream" connections into one Gentoo based server in the RV and have it bond all of the active/available connections to give us the best possible connection. Sometimes it might be just a single cell USB stick while driving and sometimes it might be cable+satellite+gsm cell stick+cdma cell stick+wifi or heck even a network cable strung out the window into a friends house...

I've used load balancing routers in the past that would probably be better described as "fail over" routers and not true load balancing (unless you get REAL expensive, unless the tech has gotten MUCH better/cheaper in the last 3-4 years) that and the lack of flexibility on connection media is what is driving the thought of rolling my own.

I also realize this would probably require an end point "in the cloud" and I'm not afraid of co-locating a server, abusing a vps or installing the software I need on a cloud box somewhere.

Thanks in advance!

Matt
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mneimeyer,

What you want isn't bonding. Bonding has to be supported along the entire data path so the two ends know about all of the devices involved in the bond.
With a random number of interfaces connecting over assorted media, to different ISPs thats not possible.

You are looking to do load sharing among all available interfaces. That sounds like an interesting problem, especially as open wifi links come and do as you drive through a built up area.
Load sharing is not trivial as packets for an established connection many not be sent over the same route. Different interfaces mean different routes.

Sounds like a good project. Please post your solution.
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mneimeyer
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:
What you want isn't bonding. Bonding has to be supported along the entire data path so the two ends know about all of the devices involved in the bond.


Right. I had assumed something like...

Gentoo Router Thingy <--> Internets / Pipes <--> Software installed in the cloud.

In my head the way it would work is install some server software that sits in the cloud with some client software on the Gentoo router. The client would establish a connection over each pipe available to the server. As pipes come and go it would open and close the various connections. The server would take the various connections and bond them and then be responsible for gateway-ing from the bonded connection onto the "real" internet.

In an even better setting I would also be able to be smart about shutting down low speed connections (cell/3g) if a high speed connection was available (wifi/cable/etc).

NeddySeagoon wrote:
You are looking to do load sharing among all available interfaces.


I know just enough to be dangerous. :) So if this is a stupid question please forgive me.

Is there an important difference between Load Balancing and Load Sharing? Last time I tried using Load Balancing (at a small mom and pop I worked for) we connected both a T1 and a Cable Modem to our Load Balancing router and it was just WEIRD... things like sessions (especially SSL) getting randomly borked because the router decided to all of a sudden switch to the "other" connection. We ended up using it in just Failover mode but then we had issues with the router not noticing the port was down OR not noticing that the port was back up. Hopefully the firmware for that kind of device has gotten smarter since then but additionally without paying thousands of dollars you are usually limited to just two WAN connections.

NeddySeagoon wrote:
That sounds like an interesting problem, especially as open wifi links come and do as you drive through a built up area.


I don't expect that part to be automatic. I had expected to have to configure the Wifi manually.

Thanks!
Especially with regards to Wifi I had considered getting a bunch of cheap little Atom based devices, one to handle each pipe and then provide a "clean", plain old ordinary wired ethernet connection to the Gentoo Router. I figure this would also help eliminate the possibility of IP range conflicts between the various networks.
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Mad Merlin
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can certainly roll your own, but using multiple WANs has complexities as you've noticed (especially SSL, which will break if your source IP changes mid connection).

At the office, we have a Peplink Balance 30, which is quite nice. At $300-$400, they're not cheap, but they're still far from expensive. Unfortunately, it is probably unsuitable for your usage, as it's really aimed at wired connections, not wireless connections (it has a single USB port for cellular broadband in addition to 2-3 regular WAN ports).
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