My experience with Mikrotik RouterBoard line of products is relatively new (as in got my first unit ever back in mid April). Anyways enough background, let’s get straight into it.

I purchased the following two units as I was wishing to evaluate them, while I have plans to use the Mikrotik RouterBoard RB260GS switch in my new house when its finished being built. I heard the best place to purchase this gear is from Duxtel (as mentioned by a friend who is crazy mad about Mikrotik hardware). So I ordered them and they arrived 11 days ago and I immediately set up the hAP Lite (RB941-2n) as my Home Internet Router with an ADSL modem in bridged mode. It’s been running as this since that time.

The hAP Lite (RB941-2n) is an awesome device, it has completely impressed me. So much so it has handled everything I use my Home Internet for and still keeps on running. I’ll post a few graphs from the routers monitoring graphs, which shows CPU usage and other metrics towards the end of this post.

I personally love the winbox interface, however, if you like you can use the webfig (web) method to configure it or you can use pure terminal. I actually use a combination of terminal and winbox to configure mine.

I’ve noticed when you do a export of the configuration from terminal prompt, this will use 100% CPU, however upon export being completed CPU usage returns back to what it was. While this happens, I haven’t noticed any hiccup in my connection. But I guess I am not stressing link at the time to notice it.

The Mikrotik RouterBoard RB260GS is a nice little smart switch. Web interface is quite clean. I had mine configured to split out a VLAN trunk that was being passed to it from my Mikrotik RouterBoard RB450G within an hour (since I am pretty new to this gear). My plan is to use this and some other hardware to allow me to VLAN trunk down to a few key rooms (will post more about this in the next 12-18months). I’ve ordered anĀ RB951G-2HnD which is the exact same case size/design to be my Router, so that I have nice matching units to mount in the future Hills Home Hub at the new house.

Highly recommend this hardware, I love how you can take ports out of the switch and turn them into routing ports etc.

Pictures:

The hAP Lite (RB941-2n) monitoring graphs, as generated every 5mins by the router itself.

I thought I should do a quick post about Mikrotik RouterBoard Hairpin NAT and Port Forwarding. The post in which I used to set this up on my router is found here.

The best explanation for this, would be that if you want to have say http from the public interface forwarded to an internal host, while not impacting LAN access to the RouterBoard’s http port. The forum post linked is how to best handle this situation.

It also allows your internal LAN clients to access your public IP and forward to the appropriate host/service internally too.

I was surprised to find out in the last few days that you can backup your TiVo internal hard drive and subsequently also upgrade/replace it.

We have two TiVo’s and unfortunately the WD DVR expansion units we had on both have long since died unfortunately, and now I know we can upgrade the internal drive. I pulled one of our units apart and hooked up the drive to a Windows XP machine and created a truncated backup. Just incase, below is a screen grab from the Windows application I used.

tivo-a708

After you select the drive, you can run a backup of the drive. Which I did quite promptly.

 

As you will have seen in one of my previous posts (here), I have a Mikrotik RB450G which I purchased and have been playing around with.

I must say I am a complete convert, I really love the hardware. The amount of things it can do and how configurable it is really makes it a great bit of hardware.

It brings back the memories of when I would run a old PC as a linux router/internet gateway when I could run mrtg on it and constantly have a record of link utilisation etc. This is done on the Mikrotik too, and I love it.

I just purchased a TP-Link TD8817 in the last few days, to have this permanently hooked up to the Mikrotik RB450G and will run my ADSL via bridged modem. Mikrotik is handling everything. When I move and eventually get an FTTH service, I will just need to reconfigure the Mikrotik accordingly.

I still have lots to understand about RouterOS, but so far its working very nicely and doing everything I need of it.

My plan is to play around with queues and what not further, so I can put the kids devices into a group that gets a percentage of bandwidth available, however for now I am marking packets and assigning them priorities to keep the link quick for stuff that needs it. Like web browsing and email.

I recently came across an MikroTik RouterBoard 2011 appliance, and it’s not something I haven’t heard of, as I have a friend who loves the gear.

Unfortunately I never got to play much with it, as no one knows the Administrator details and/or associated password. So this made doing some troubleshooting in the environment a bit difficult.

Decided it might be a good reason/idea to purchase a RouterBoard, since I will probably need to reset the unit for a friend, and before doing this, would like a good understanding of the device and configuration. I was about to order a new RouterBoard RB450G when I noticed someone had a unit for sale on ebay. So I bought that one at a good discount over the new one.

Looking forward to it arriving so I can make good on my research and start the configuration.

I am also looking at purchasing some of the wireless gear from MikroTik as also have a need to replace some 2.4Ghz Wireless Access points for a hotel, so will be purchasing an MikroTik Groove and testing out HotSpot capabilities of the RouterBoard etc.

Since getting my Transport Sync and seeing reports that the drive when formatted by the unit may not be accessible by any other means. I thought I would investigate this further myself.

I took the external drive I was using and attached it to another Linux machine. As I expected when I did this I could see 3 partitions had been created on my external drive. The first was a 1GB (primary partition 1), followed by ~1.8G (logical partition 3 ) and the rest of the drive space (logical partition 4).

I’d heard that the drive my not be mountable outside of the unit/use. However, that’s not true. I could mount all the partitions and traverse the contents without an issue. However, the layout of the disk is not what you’d expect. See below, as your share name s in the web portal are linked to what looks to be a UUID type relationship.

# ls -la
total 48
drwxrwx---    7 embedded embedded      4096 Mar  9 21:36 .
drwxr-xr-x   18 embedded embedded      4096 Mar  9 20:20 ..
drwxrwx---    5 embedded embedded      4096 Mar  9 21:00 54f6e0afbe034963343d3082
drwxrwx---    2 embedded embedded      4096 Mar 12 21:53 54fd66fdbd1f46071996b985
drwxrwx---    6 embedded embedded      4096 Mar 12 12:07 54fd720c591f467c6196b991
drwxrwx---    8 embedded embedded      4096 Mar  9 21:27 54fd75569ac07c7e7896b97e
drwxrwx---    3 embedded embedded      4096 Mar  9 21:37 54fd77969ac07cf43196b97e
# pwd
/replicator/storagePools

Anyways, under these UUID named directories is the data that you would get under each of your shares etc.

I also pulled down a copy of the diag logs and reviewed those too, and noticed that rootfs for the Transport Sync is downloaded from connected data and is used to build the OS onto the external drive etc (including a network boot prior to that happening). Determined that Transport Sync when in a labmode or beta state would have ssh daemon enabled. Worked this out from the init.d scripts (nS50ssh) contained in the rootfs that was downloaded (rootfs-3.1.9.17914.tar).

Source: /etc/init.d/nS50ssh

start() {
    if /usr/bin/in-labmode || /usr/bin/is-beta || [ -e /replicator/configuration/ssh ] ; then
 	    echo -n "Starting sshd: "
	    /usr/sbin/sshd -f /etc/ssh/sshd_config -h /etc/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key
	    touch /var/lock/sshd
	    echo "OK"
    fi
}

I made some tweaks so that when I unmounted the drive and attached back onto my Transport Sync, it would boot and enable ssh. So I could dig a little more around, and can see the architecture information below of the system;

# cat /proc/cpuinfo
Processor       : ARMv6-compatible processor rev 4 (v6l)
BogoMIPS        : 239.20
Features        : swp half thumb fastmult vfp edsp java
CPU implementer : 0x41
CPU architecture: 7
CPU variant     : 0x0
CPU part        : 0xb02
CPU revision    : 4

Hardware        : Connected Data CNS3411 Portal Board
Revision        : 0000
Serial          : 0000000000000000
# uname -a
Linux cd_haven 2.6.35.12-cavm1 #14 Tue Jun 24 14:51:41 PDT 2014 armv6l GNU/Linux

The program that seems to do all the heavy lifting is “replicator” and this is something connected data has developed, and has ties to Drobo as far as I can tell also.

I recently installed Windows 10 RC and installed the Transporter Desktop client on and was surprised to see that the Transporter Library shows up in Windows 10 RC as a drive letter, this was pretty cool I thought. So my D: drive on Windows 10 RC after installing the client is associated to the Transporter Library folder.

I’ve been in the market for a new SSD, as the one I had was a little small. Just as I was about to purchase one I saw a special come up for Crucial 256GB m550 SSD. So I ordered one.

This has been installed into my Intel Celeron based NUC and it makes a massive difference over a traditional drive. I’d previously been using a Corsair 120GB SSD so I knew what to expect.

I still want to purchase another one for everyday machine, which will also be my gaming machine too. Not sure what brand I will buy for that machine when it comes time.

As previously posted I bought a Transporter Sync, as after some review I could see a use case for it and felt it could be a good addition for me and my environment.

Below I am going to talk about my use case and provide insight on how I am using it, so that others might get an understanding of some of the capabilities of the device. This is merely a sample of the capabilities, as when you have 2 or more units you can sync data between them (including data contained in the Transporter Library folder).

First thing I should mention is the folders associated with the installation of the software, and this is something they cover on every client installation performed, however it can seem a bit confusing, but it’s really simple.

Below is a screen grab showing the welcome message from the installer.

transporter_folder_vs_transporter_library

Transporter Folder is files/folders that will exist on any computer where the client is installed, unless your use selective sync to turn them off to stop syncing on that computer.

It will also contain a folder called Transporter Library, which if any data is copied to this path will ONLY exist on the Transporter, and will not remain on your computer. So if your computer dies or the Transporter dies, data in the Transporter Library goes with it. HOWEVER, Transporter Library folder can be configured to sync to another Transporter device associated with your account.

Example below, on what this Transporter Folder might look like, note I have created several shared folders, hence I have a number of additional folders shown, blurred out for privacy reasons.

transporter_folder_windows_client

 

For example the folder above named Public, is a shared folder I created using the Web Portal that allows me to drop files into this location, and send web links to people so they can view the file and/or download the file.

transporter_web_portal_shared_folder_creation

 

The next screen from the Web Portal is the properties for the shared folder, you will note that it has Transporter Require: No, so I can create web links to any content from my Computer of any content on this shared folder.

transporter_web_portal_shared_folder_properties

Below is a demo showing me right clicking a file and showing the Transporter content menu for creating a link to a file.

transporter_context_menu_create_web_link

Below is a link to the file as created above, so you can see what it looks like;

Click here.

Created links can be viewed/managed from the Web Portal too, as shown below;

transporter_web_portal_manage_links

From here you can delete them, and set an expiring for it.

The feature of the product which I was most excited about, was Special Folders. Below is a screen capture as taken from the Transporter Windows Client where I am looking at the Preferences, where this is configured.

transporter_windows_client_special_folders

In this example, I have selected “My Documents” and what happens when I do this is that the existing files/folders in “My Documents” are moved to a folder that is named after my machines host name. Soon as that is complete, it starts to sync the entire contents to the Transporter hard drive.

At this point, if I save anything into the “My Documents” folder structure top level, and the newly created folder with my machines host name. It instantly syncs to the Transporter.

Now the magic happens when I install the client on another computer that I use, and enable this feature again on the next computer. It will again create a folder under “My Documents” that is based on the machines host name, and move all the data below this. It of course instantly syncs this data to the Transporter.

However, you will also see the folder and data from the first machine appear too. Like wise when I go back to the first computer, it will show the data from the 2nd computer’s “My Documents” folder.

The creation of the folder based on the machines host name, is stop file conflicts where both machines might have the same file name, and allows you to manually merge it all. i.e. move content back to the My Documents top level folder to create a true single pane.

Now when you save any files/folders into My Documents on either computer, both machines instantly see this due to an immediate sync, and transporter gets a sync too. Now you could access this data from the iOS and/or Android device too, once you log on with your user account used on the Transporter Desktop client installs.

Selective Sync is an option that can be used to limit what shared folders sync on other machines, so if you had 3 shared folders, you might not want all 3 shared folders to sync on your 2nd computer, so you could turn them all off, or just individual ones. As shown below;

transporter_windows_client_selective_sync

I’ll post more info and screen captures in the coming days, but I wanted to post out something to account for what I have used so far.

After some careful consideration and additional research, as noted from my previous blog post. I ordered a Transporter Sync yesterday, as I really wanted to get my hands on one so I could honestly evaluate it.

I was a little disappointed to get a promo email after signing up that was targeted to the US market only that they can buy 2 units and only pay for the price of 1. If only we had those sorts of deals in Australia (APAC region). I also thought why send me advertising/promo emails after I signed up for a region in which I am not even the target market for. Seems a bit silly. I provided this feedback to them directly, so hopefully they improve that.