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Home Linux Network

Troubleshooting all things hardware related. Adding new hardware and looking for opinions?

Home Linux Network

Unread postby Jeremy_C » August 31st, 2016, 3:33 pm

Greetings!

At some point in the near future I am hoping to put together another home lab (something I haven't done for almost 20 years.) I have a few old desktop PC's that I will be converting over to Linux and attempting to network together via switches (that may or may not eventually lead to an outbound router.)

Actually, at some point I'd like to eventually kick out a box running CentOS and experiment with some private hosting just for learning and amusement. If I go that far, I'll get another line run (DSL, maybe?) to keep things separate from my home network.

But for just starting out, I'm looking for advice on a networking flavor. I'm most familiar with Ubuntu because that is where I started. However, even though Ubuntu does come up while researching the topic, Mint and Arch seem to come up much more often. And that has me wondering if maybe one of those has more advantages when it comes to networking. Any ideas or opinions would be greatly appreciated.

* I realize this is a "removal" site and not a Linux-support forum, but there are some educated and experienced enthusiasts here, so I thought it worth a shot.
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Gary R » August 31st, 2016, 6:24 pm

If you haven't worked with Linux much, then before installing any Linux distro on your computer(s) I'd first try running the distro of your choice as a live CD/DVD/USB, that way you can find whether it is compatible with the hardware you want to run it on.

Once you've found a distro that works well on your hardware, then you can start thinking about networking.

Most of the major distros will network fairly easily if you're networking like with like, it's only when you try to network Linux with Windows that the problems start (well if you're wanting to file share they will).

I use Mint Cinnamon and it's been fairly easy to set up, but what suits me may not suit you, or be the best option for you.

What I'd recommend you do is ask your question at one of the specialist "general" Linux forums, BC has a pretty active Linux forum ... http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/f/11/linux-unix/ ... where you're likely to get much more specific help than we're able to supply here. I hang around there a bit, and some of the guys over there are very knowledgeable.
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Jeremy_C » August 31st, 2016, 7:29 pm

Awesome, I'll check with BC. Done a lot of research and reading over there, but this will be my first post there.

I've been using Ubuntu on various netbooks for a few years now, but really that's the only distro I know anything about. Well, I've used a USB boot disk (with Debian?) to boot a failed Windows machine to rescue some documents and pictures for a friend once. But I don't think that counts much for experience. :)

I'll ask over at BC. Thanks much!
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Jeremy_C » August 31st, 2016, 7:53 pm

Huh!

Let me add even more thanks for the above suggestion! Just 5 minutes of reading and one Sticky Topic later led me to
http://www.tuxradar.com/content/distro-picker-0
which is an automated process to help people find the right Linux Distro for them based on a combination of preferences and needs.

(Ironically, the top suggestion based on my choices turned out to be CentOS, after all.)

Also, the overall Linux section over there really is pretty great. Thanks much!
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Gary R » September 1st, 2016, 5:44 am

You're welcome. :)

As I said, there's some very knowledgeable people over there, and they're generally both helpful and informative to anyone who's in need of assistance.
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Gary R » September 1st, 2016, 5:14 pm

If you're interested in knowing a bit more about Linux, you'll probably find the following site informative

https://linuxjourney.com/?utm_source=omgubuntu

There's a few sections on Networking towards the bottom of that page that could be useful to you.
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Jeremy_C » September 2nd, 2016, 12:23 am

As a matter of irony, I just posted that very same link over at BC this morning. :)

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/625429/new-website-makes-it-easy-to-learn-linux/

Perhaps great minds think alike!

Regardless, I truly am grateful that you posted it here for me. That (along with the hundreds of other helpful posts here) speaks volumes about the quality of this site and the consideration you have for truly helping people. I kind of regret that it took me so long to finally register here. Thank you! :cheers:
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Gary R » September 2nd, 2016, 1:08 am

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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Jeremy_C » September 6th, 2016, 6:04 am

Just returned from our camping trip to find that Christmas came early! That's an awesome list of resources, Gary.

Much appreciated!
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Gary R » September 6th, 2016, 7:09 am

You're welcome, hope you had a good holiday, and hope you find the articles as useful as I did. :)
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby capnkrunch » September 8th, 2016, 12:31 pm

Personally I like Arch. I use it on my main workstation. It is also a good choice for servers since it is very stripped down (no extra gunk or even a Desktop Environment in the default install). If you want a firewall, pfSense seems to be the best. If you want to get fancy you could play with virtualization, maybe with Xen.

I've been thinking about doing the same thing but just don't have the time to. So, disclaimer, I have not tried any of this myself.

A cool resource is Paul's Security Weekly podcast. A lot of there technical segments are very relevant to building a lab:
  • DIY Routers with Joff - haven't actually listened to/watched this but looks interesting
  • Blocking Ads and Malware Using Bind DNS - Here they talk about using Raspberry Pi's as DHCP and DNS servers and using DNS to blacklist malware/ad domains.
  • DNS Blackhole Server with Python - More DNS blocking stuff. This is about using a Python script vs the Bash one in the previous entry.
  • Building A PfSense Firewall - Part 1 - The Hardware - Pretty much what it says. No idea what happened to part 2.
  • TachyonNet - This builds on the DNS blackhole idea. Basically it is a program that listens on all ports and ICMP. The idea is that instead of sending traffic blackholed by your DNS server to localhost or 0.0.0.0 you forward it to another server running TachyonNet which then logs the connections.

If you are interested in getting some cheap network equipment, Steve Gibson on Security Now! has recommended a couple recently. He talked about the Cisco SG300-10 managed switch ($160 on Amazon) and the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X ($50 on Amazon) in SN-568 and 569 respectively. The prices are reasonable for what is apparently enterprise-grade hardware. Again, haven't tested this myself.

Keep us updated. :)
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Jeremy_C » September 8th, 2016, 12:57 pm

Wow, capn! You may have just sailed to the top of my wife's hit list! :lol:

Totally stripped down might be a bit of leap for me (or maybe not) trying to learn Linux and trying to learn networking at the same time. Then again, I hear command line is really the way to go when you truly want to start learning it, so... I will definitely have to do some investigating now.

As for the other links, wow, thank you! That's a great list to get me started, far better than my random Google searches have been faring. I started a thread over on BC to get some ideas, too. Got some good feedback, but nothing as good as what you just gave me. Thanks much! :cheers:
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby capnkrunch » September 8th, 2016, 3:25 pm

You may have just sailed to the top of my wife's hit list! :lol:

:lol: :lol: :lol:

You're welcome. You asked this question at a good time since these ideas are all still fresh in my head.

Totally stripped down might be a bit of leap for me (or maybe not) trying to learn Linux and trying to learn networking at the same time. Then again, I hear command line is really the way to go when you truly want to start learning it, so... I will definitely have to do some investigating now.

Setting up Arch Linux can be (read: is) a hassle but you will learn a lot doing it. Maybe try spinning up a VM with it first. Actually, testing out any distro in a VM first is a good idea. VirtualBox is a good free one. You don't really need to know the command line to use Linux nowadays. In fact, that's why Mint is so popular, it is focused on being user friendly and accessible. That said, there is a lot of cool things to do with the command line. The standard utilities like find, grep, awk, sed, etc are so useful. So much so in fact, that some of the tools we use actually use ported versions of them for parts of their functionality.

One good thing about Arch Linux is the documentation is fantastic. Actually, if you search for any kind of Linux questions there's a good chance the Arch wiki will be in the first page of results. A few more links:
Arch Linux Installation Guide
Setting up an Arch Linux VM in VirtualBox - although this guide is specifically for setting up an Arch Linux guest most of it is applicable to any installation of Arch. I still referenced this guide while setting up Arch as the main OS on my computer.

You may also want to read the Arch Linux Principles.
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Jeremy_C » September 8th, 2016, 4:33 pm

Hey, Capn, I realize its my responsibility to research this stuff... However, could you take a look at this specs list I posted on BC for the first box I'm upgrading?

I just want to know if there is anything specific I should pay attention to or lookout for while looking at Arch or Mint (Cinnamon or MATE), as it seems those are the choices I've come down to for starting this project. I might order another 4 GB of RAM this weekend if it seems necessary. Otherwise I want to get started on the install just shortly after I turn in my next PL. I've spent almost two weeks mired in analysis-paralysis mode over a distro and it's time to pull the trigger. :D

I am now strongly considering starting with VM or USB version before a full install. Do you think a USB boot would use less resources for a test-run? Or would it even matter? I've never actually used a VM before, so I'm a little behind the curve on that at the moment.
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Re: Home Linux Network

Unread postby Jeremy_C » September 10th, 2016, 7:18 am

Looked in to Arch and - Oh my! Not for the feint of heart. I can certainly see why you'd learn a lot and definitely see the options for full control of the system. But it's also just a few steps more than I'm ready to commit to at the moment. I have a whole bunch of things I'm trying to accomplish at once, sort of a mile-wide/inch-deep approach. Arch is something I'll get into down the road when my focus begins narrow. For now I'm going to try Mint. Just trying to decide between MATE and Cinnamon for getting started. Nonetheless, I am still very grateful for the input!
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