OSE Network Plan 2014

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The Problem

OSE needs web resources to be available to visitors at Factor e Farm. Currently, the Internet connection consists of two DSL lines that offer 4 Mbps of bandwidth each. Visitors must be able to upload and download images, CAD files, videos, and live-streams through these lines without excessive latency or slow speeds. Under the current set up, individual users can overwhelm the bandwidth of these lines, restricting the access to other users. This must be resolved so all visitors at the farm have enough bandwidth to participate online while on location.

Quality of Service (QoS) policies

The most direct and immediate method to reduce the size of this problem is through the implementation of QoS policies; these control access of individual users, making it harder for small numbers of users to render the internet connection unusable for others. A good starting point is with the method outlined here.

We can use this to give live streaming protocols a priority over everything else, and to give priority to OSE critical sites like the Wiki, Dozuki, etc. QoS policies should be the first step in improving the network because this method will be the easiest aspect to implement quickly and should have a substantial effect on internet services at FeF.

Improving the Network

There are two major network issues with providing an internet connection to the visitors at FeF. The first is physical: how will the signal be broadcast to all locations on the farm. The second is the logical design: how will traffic be routed to the two DSL connections.

Physical Infrastructure

FeF is located on a plot of land that is long, narrow, hilly, and contains a significant amount of brush. Additionally, most of the buildings are built from earthen materials which have a relatively high negative impact on WiFi signals. Combined, these obstacles make the placement of all hardware vital to ensure all locations receive adequate coverage.

Wireless (802.11g) point-to-point connections will likely be the best solution for connecting locations on the farm that are distant. Tall grass, and numerous trees form the primary obstacle to strong point-to-point communications. This means directional antennas will need to be placed high to extend over the grass while directing the signal around groups of trees. The Microhouse is about 600 yards from the nearest structure and is currently the longest gap that needs to be covered. This was successfully tested on March 13, 2014 when Ben and Marcin confirmed WiFi signal at the Microhouse using an antenna placed on the stoop of the DSL hut. With optimized antenna placement, it should be possible to extend this range further.

Each location that needs WiFi will have a router that broadcasts a separate wireless network for visitors to connect to.

Logical Infrastructure

This is the fundamental basis for the network.


This design can be scaled up to connect more locations around the farm.


A mesh network, like the one illustrated here, is the ultimate end-point for this design.


The rationale and specifications for this plan are currently under construction.

Century Link Modem/Router

This device is responsible for running the DHCP server to assign IP addresses to the WiFi routers set up around the farm. It also serves as the gateway to the internet. Currently, there are two of these on site: one in the hut, and the other in the HabLab, with the potential to have more introduced if the ISP will provide additional DSL connections to the farm. Ideally, these routers will work together to load balance internet access for visitors, but additional research is needed at this time to find a method for accomplishing this.

This device is being used primarily because it has a modem built in. If OSE purchased stand-alone modems, this device could be replaced with a router that is more functional and allows better control over the network.

Linksys WRT54G Router/Switch

This device is used as a switch and access point for the backbone WiFi network. It has Tomato, an open source router operating system, installed on it. The DHCP server is disabled, and the device has entered for the IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway in order to disable all routing functionality. It can be connected to up to two directional antennas to broadcast the backbone network and it operates as an access point for this network. I still need to explore bridging capabilities (probably WDS) and how that would operate with this device set up as a switch. WDS uses Mac addresses for communication, so it appears I will be able to connect muliple Linksys switches together without the need for IP addressing on these devices.

Additionally, if OSE purchases stand-alone modems, these routers could replace the Century Link devices for router functionality.

Remote WiFi Routers (Tp-Link)

These routers provide the WiFi network that visitors connect to. They will be hard wired to a Linksys switch that is connected to the backbone network and will provide a separate WiFi LAN for visitors. Virtually any router can be used in this position, including the Linksys routers. We have successfully deployed a pilot network using a TP-Link router, but this hardware would be far more costly to scale up.

Major Obstacles

End User IP Addressing

The network will be incorporating two WiFi networks: one that forms the backbone, and another that allows end users to connect. Managing the IP assignments for visitors that are moving around the farm will be important so IP addressing conflicts do not occur.

Network Over-Crowding

With all of the various WiFi systems around the farm it will be important to keep repeating to a minimum. Excessive repeating of communications can quickly overwhelm the theoretical bandwidth limit of 54 Mbps over the point-to-point connections.

Load-Balancing Multiple DSL Lines

FeF currently has 2 DSL lines connected to the property at two different locations. There is a possibility of this number increasing. The network will need a method of load-balancing between the multiple DSL lines from the ISP.


Tomato MultiWAN only does load distribution using https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Round-robin_DNS This doesn't bond lines or aggregate the total bandwidth effectively, although it can seem to give users more bandwidth under certain conditions. Coupled with good QoS and VPN's it might help some, but create other difficulties.

Additional Considerations

Local File Storage OSE can incorporate local file storage for visitors to use while designing; allowing them to access files locally, rather than relying on web resources.

Render Farm Once we are doing complicated cad and or animations this would gretly increse productivity. These are essentially rark mount units with around 4-10 GRaphics Cards Each. This then connects to other computers via 1 or 10 Gigabit Ethernet or Infiniband

Trenches for backbone cabling OSE could use the trencher to lay cabling underground for the backbone network. This would require additional planning, labor, and equipment. Long distances like those on the farm would probably require optical cabling and networking equipment.


To Be Determined.


1. OSE Network Plan

2. http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Free_Network_Foundation_Technology

3. https://commons.thefnf.org/index.php/Main_Page

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_device_bit_rates