Cheap server as router

I use a Intel NUC5i5RYB (i5-5250U CPU @ 1.60GHz) with 16 GB RAM. It runs Ubuntu and some routers as VMs and LXD containers. It also runs some servers in LDX and docker containers. The NUC only has one ethernet port but additional usb3 ethernet adapter(s) can be used if needed.

The US have 365 weeks in a year?

(But yeah, assuming $0.10 per kWh and applying somewhat correct math, every watt less saves you roughly a dollar a year.)


Nice setup, I also run some services for my family with LXD, albeit on a seperate machine.
I didn't have too much luck with virtualizing the router. With the OpenWrt VM booting after the host machine, the networking of the host usually get messed up. In case of OpenWrt configuration error, all connection to the host or the VMs are lost as a result.
USB Ethernet adapters are not so reliable IMHO.

It depends on how you set up the network. If the host is configured with a static IP address in the LAN (or in a management network) then you can temporarily assign a static IP address to your computer in the same network if the router is unavailable.

When logged into the host it's easy to get a shell on the router: lxc exec router -- sh -l. Using failsafe on a physical router is harder IMHO.

haha, yes I was kind of shocked how big that number was, must be the week economy, we have week inflation :sweat_smile: good catch.

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  • rack mount is only beneficial if the unit has to reside in a rack, avoid otherwise.

  • ecc ram is theoretically better, but dataloss/-errors due to other causes will far outweigh this. mostly irrelevant.

  • big gains in reliability can be made by reducing the ammount of moving parts, literally (fans and hdds) and proverbially (complexity).
    having a unit that is easily replaceable also helps.

So I will go with a Haswell based i3 desktop instead.

Another advantage for using servers: low cost 10/40 GbE solution.
Nowadays the gigabyte ethernet is becoming a bottleneck for many applications, such as NAS or WiFi 6, therefore using faster connection makes more sense.

For the DL360 Gen8 (100 USD barebone, supports dual Xeon E5 v2, CPU & RAM dirt cheap) I've found some inexpensive 10/40 GbE adapters.

  • HP Infiniband FDR/Ethernet 10Gb/40Gb 2-port 544FLR-QSFP Adapter - 17 USD - Certified for DL360 G8
  • HP Ethernet 10Gb 2-port 530FLR-SFP+ FIO Adapter - 11 USD - Certified for DL360 G8

Both of them are FlexibleLOM adapters that use a proprietary PCIe-based networking interface for HP servers. They are cheap because the incompatibility with other servers. Transceivers are also not out of reach of ordinary person.

  • Finisar FTLX8571D3BCL 10Gb/s SFP+ (10Gb/s on up to 300m OM3 MMF cable)5.4 USD
  • Finisar FTL410QE2C 40Gb/s QSFP+ (40Gb/s on up to 100m OM3 MMF cable) 21 USD

For the cable part, 25m LC to LC OM3 MMF cable costs 6.8 USD.

As far as I know there aren't any comparable solution available with consumer grade hardware.

By the way, how well are these adapters supported on OpenWrt?

My planned setup

  • Router: DL360 Gen8 + 2-port 10GbE adapter + 4-port 1GbE adapter
  • Family server: DL380 Gen8 + 2-port 10GbE adapter
  • WAN: 1GbE GPON ONU -> 1 GbE adapter
  • Access points -> 1 GbE adapter
  • Two servers connect with 10GbE fiber.

The point is, I can have my desktop and phones simultaneously access files on the NAS without saturating the network interface on the it. Otherwise I'm perfectly fine with 1GbE speed.

Or if you are not so familiar with fiber, a more conservative approach is 10 GbE over Cat6A. HP Ethernet 10Gb 2-port 561FLR-T Adapter costs 20 USD.