Embarrassingly Simplified Home Networking

Tonight I did some rather emasculating things to my home network. I had a pretty nice one. I had my cable modem coming in, then ran a cat5 straight from that to my Smoothwall firewall machine, which had three interfaces – one for the cable modem, one for the internal network, and one for a DMZ, on which lived my web/NTP/some other stuff server.

On the internal network there was a wireless and a wired component, with my Mac G4 streaming music to my AirTunes module which is connected via optical cable to my Denon (I love my Denon), but now that I have a MacBook, it does a good bit of the streaming over the wireless network. The wired component was mostly for a stationary Linux desktop machine that my wife and I share. Speaking of my wife, she also has a Linux laptop that hangs out on the wireless network.

So tonight, I turned off… well… I guess the easiest way to say it is “I turned off anything with a PCI slot”. The only things running in my office right now are my wireless router, and my cable modem. It’s eerily quiet in that room now.

The goal in all of this isn’t so much to get rid of machines. The idea is actually to move them to remote areas of the house where the fan noise doesn’t build up to a level where it sounds like you’re sleeping on a tarmac at Newark Airport. Some of those old machines are pretty loud!

So, months ago, I purchased two Belkin wireless PCI cards to slip into a couple of the machines that I’m hoping I can move without having to worry about running network cable. I ran cable all through my old house. I even had a rudimentary patch panel, nicely labeled, and built with those modular plastic setups you can buy at Home Depot. No more.

Anyway, getting these machines moved and started up again is one goal. An intermediate goal is trying to think of something really cool to do with them. Suggestions are welcome. In all, the number of machines in my house that are currently unused is about 5. The slowest one is a 400MHz Celeron, I have one 700MHz box, a 500MHz box, and I believe the fastest one is a 2.2GHz machine. There might be a second 500MHz box. Haven’t seen that one in a while.

Share your thoughts if you have any ideas on cool stuff I can do with these machines. Don’t say “beowulf cluster”. We administer clusters at work. Truth be told, they’re interesting to programmers far more than administrators.