Whilst not of any “outdoors” interest, I do try to keep you up to date when the website goes AWOL for any length of time. In this case, we’ve had multiple failures. First, the ADSL connection got really flaky, with the speeds getting lower and the modem dropping out with irritating frequency and no regularity whatsoever. BT tested the line and reckoned there was no fault. Then BT did some work on a neighbour’s phone line, and ours went dead completely – so at least BT at this point admitted there was a fault. Turns out that our wire was getting frayed at the telegraph pole across the road, (BT blame the wind for prevailing at right-angles to the wire, although I believe its been blowing this direction fairly predictably since before phones were invented so you’d think they would have anticipated this). This was fixed in three days once they got a cherry-picker to reach it. Next, the hard disc decided to die on the firewall which was particularly annoying as we were getting ready to have a faster broadband link put in and I’d spent two days writing new configuration files ready for the change. Needless to say, as I was changing things every few minutes, I’d saved frequently to the hard disc, but not to longer-term backup. Grrr… and as it turned out, the whole box was dying as this failure seemed to have done nothing good for the CMOS memory and I couldn’t get it to boot with a new disc. Ho, hum, so back to the backup system – an old Fabiatech industrial router that is known to barf under heavy load over its gigabit interfaces (which is why it got retired). I now ordered a newer router, with little hope of it arriving before the new 4G broadband would be installed, so I could see I’d be doing all this configuration a second, and then a third time. Meanwhile, I’d also got a few new ethernet cables to install – feeding things through narrow bendy tubes, into wall cavities and up into vast caverns full of fibreglass insulation. As if to take the piss, it became apparent that the supposedly automatic renewal of my letsencrypt certificate for the server had been failing to renew without having the courtesy to send me any kind of error message, and since the email from the letsencrypt server telling me it had expired couldn’t get to me over a dead internet connection, I didn’t find out abut this until it had been expired for over a week, and we were in mid rebuild-the-infrastructure crisis. Needless to say, I’ve not got much paddling or gardening done this last couple of weeks !
However, at least we now have 20 Mb/s broadband, both wired and wireless access into the west end of the house where it never reached before, and a firewall that works for the time being (although I still have to move over to the new hardware, which is steadfastly refusing to play ball with the ubuntu installer for reasons which are seriously opaque). The next step will be to take the firewall down and clone its disc, so I can boot up the new firewall with a pre-installed system and then reconfigure it from there. We’re hoping that with a lot less bandwidth on the ADSL link being used by our own internet use, you’ll see a bit of an improvement on the server. 4G broadband doesn’t come with a public IP address, so the server has to continue to live on the ADSL line, I’m afraid. Expect to see a few more (hopefully shortish) outages as the last of this upheaval plays out. On the upside, with a 4G link that was showing up to 30 Mb/s upstream, it shouldn’t take three days each time I want to upload a ten-minute video to youtube !
This isn’t a technical blog, so I won’t regale you with how to configure my firewall to provide three different levels of service over two broadband connections from the various subnets in the two houses. Suffice it to say that I know even more about netfilter, iptables, iproute2 and the whole Linux network stack than I did before. Fascinating stuff, best learnt from the internet, and therefore very frustrating when it is the failure to get to the internet which is causing one to need to learn it.