Home Lab: Networking Upgrade

It’s been a long time since I have done a new installment in my homelab series. I have been pretty busy with my new endeavors as an NSX SE. More on how that’s going in a later post. Today, we’re going to talk about my recent networking upgrade in the home / home lab.

I used to have a Linksys by Cisco E2500 running the Tomato firmware. This worked well for a while. Recently it has been randomly dropping packets for 10 seconds here and there. Also, it has not been cooperating with my sub-par ISP. I have now upgraded to an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X, and UAP-AC-LR.

I have been eyeing these for quite some time. They are all the rage in the vExpert #Homelab slack channel. So let’s get moving with this riveting tale.

Let’s start with a huge road block I ran into. Ask me how many computers I have in my house with an RJ45 port. Go ahead. Ask. The answer is 1. Is this the $3k MacBook Pro Retina that I use for work? Is it my personal MacBook Air? Is it my wife’s MacBook? Nope. Not 1 of those. I never once thought about my lack of network jacks until I needed it. The 1 computer in the house with a network port is my wifes OLD iMac. This is one of those White ones. So I had to pull this thing upstairs just so I could connect the router to it to configure it.

I wanted this upgrade / swap to have as little downtime as possible to my home network. So I decided to configure the EdgeRouter as far as possible, then do a quick swap. I started off by logging into the EdgeRouter and configuring the LAN and WAN. I have a statically assigned WAN IP, so I went in and set that up on eth0. I then configured the remaining ports for LAN, and enabled a DHCP server for the 192.168.1.0/24 scope. This will fulfill my home LAN / Internet configuration needs.

Now here is  where things get weird. The UniFi Access Points require a piece of software to run to initially configure. So, where am I going to put it? I have a vSphere lab, so I put it in there. This is on the 172.16.0.0/16 subnet behind my Cisco 2821. No problem right? Well, the AP is going to live on the 192.168.1.0/24 segment on the EdgeRouter. So, I put in the required static routes from the “home” segment to the “lab” segment. Fired up the UniFi Controller software and the UAP-AC-LR hardware. But, is it going to work?! The answer is no. UniFi will not locate AP’s across L3 boundaries. So, how did I fix this? I did what anybody would do. I configured a switchport on the 2960 for VLAN 50 (where the UniFi is), setup a DHCP scope, and plugged the AP into it. Success! The AP was “adopted”. Now, I moved it back to the home network segment, and since routing is in place, and it has the Controller IP address, it came right back up.

So now, we have Routing, and we have Wireless. As far as my wife is concerned, we’re done. I powered off the old router and swapped all the devices to the new AP.

Bonus Round:

So, while I was technically done with the Home Lab network upgrade, I have a bit of a bonus. The reason why I opted for the EdgeRouter is for dynamic routing. I do BGP / OSPF inside my NSX lab, and wanted to have dynamic routing peered all the way from my ISP handoff (EdgeRouter) to the Lab Router (Cisco 2821) in to NSX.

I started out by enabling BGP on the EdgeRouter. I gave it an AS of 1, and told it to advertise all routes. I then went into the Cisco and enabled BGP. I added some networks to test, and then ran the ‘show ip bgp neighbors’ on both routers. Established, Up. Ok, that’s great. Did ‘show ip route’ on each. All the routes…except BGP. What gives? I banged my head against a wall on this one for a while. I have never done BGP on a Cisco router before. Adding ‘network x.x.x.x’ doesn’t automatically advertise routes. I removed all the ‘network’ lines, and issued the auto-summary. Well, would you look at that. We have routes!

bgp_erx

As you can see, the 172.16.0.0/16 route is now advertised as BGP from the 2821 to the EdgeRouter. The EdgeRouter is 192.168.1.1, and the transit network on the 2821 is 192.168.1.2 into the 172.16.0.0/16 network.

bgp_cisco

Now as you can see in the 2821 CLI above, I have a BGP route from the EdgeRouter for my home 192.168.1.0/24 segment. Everything is working!

I am in the middle of an NSX re-deploy to 6.2.4, so I’ll update this once it’s done and peered!

-vTimD