Soekris fun


soekris net4801

The friendly UPS guy dropped off a Soekris 4801 today. I haven't had time to even plug it in, but I'm hoping I'll get FreeBSD installed on it over the weekend. It's amazing to think how this tiny completely silent box is vastly more powerful than the big noisy computer I used to run my BBS on. 128MB ram! I was happy to have 16MB for OS/2.

One surprise was that the standard case they sell really is that funky green color from the pictures. It's roughly the same color they use as the background on the site. I thought the pictures were just taken with a really sloppy white balance setting. I'll have to buy my first spray paint can soon. :-)

I want to build a router/ethernet bridge to the DSL connection to manage the bandwidth better. In particular making sure interactive connections (ssh and VoIP) doesn't get to suck when we download something.

Getting it reminded me of another latent project: Build a startum-1 NTP server! For that I'd need a Soekris box (maybe the same, maybe a 4501 -- they're ~$180 including the case!), a GSync/T and a low profile RS-422 PCI card (I could save that but it'd restrict the cable lengths from the GPS antenna to the Soekris). Thanks to phk for pointing me to the GSync/T and the little RS422 card last year (had to dig through my email archives to find the RS-422 card again).

I don't really understand if I'd also need a Rubidium frequency standard or if that'd just help to add a few nanoseconds to the precision.

I'm sure I can dream up a reason for having a stratum-1 time source at home if I sleep on it. The truth is, of course, that it's just a case of technology for its own sake. But I wouldn't have to admit that if I could just dream up some reason ...

In completely unrelated news we went skiing (and snowboarding) last Saturday (it was raining; the risk/pleasure of skiing in Southern California I suppose) and it's only today I can't feel it in my legs anymore. Hopefully we'll make it to Mammoth for a weekend again before the season is over...


What do you intend to do with the BSD device? Use it as a gateway with QoS/packet-shaping software? Have you tried htb? (Thanks for the link, Bracher). I haven't tried it yet but you may want to ping MB and see how well it is working out for him...

Why in the world would you need startum 1 NTP server??? :-)

You should check out m0n0wall. We use it on a soekris as a our router/firewall for our cablemodem.


Yeah, I want it as a filtering/QoS bridge for our DSL connection. HTB does look interesting. OpenBSD's PF and ALTQ have been ported to FreeBSD (CARP coming in 5.4) and I'm curious to try that out before I setup something on linux.

Also, I suspect my usual Linux distribution (RHEL) will be a pain to make fit on a small read-only CF card. (But I might be wrong). :-)

No good reason for getting a stratum 1 NTP server, but I will come up with something... =)


I have been trying out m0n0wall (in vmware "boxes") and briefly on the Soekris box.

I'm probably just too stuck in what I know, but I just get too frustrated trying to get the little things to work with with m0n0wall.

After I installed FreeBSD 5.3 at home (my BSD box at home is still on 4.x) it was a snap to get the Soekris to netboot from an extra build I made. Running diskless from a readonly NFS server is pretty close to running from a read only solid state disk, so I think it'll be easy to migrate to that when I'm done fiddling.

- ask

curious if one could use a mac mini instead. Soekris is attractive, especially the apparent community support within the BSD family, but I'm currently leaning towords using mac mini instead.

Hi cybhunk,

They are really for different purposes. The Mac Mini runs OS X and has USB2 and Firewire and only one ethernet port The Soekris box has 3 ethernet ports, USB1 and a CF slot (inside the case).

The Mac Mini has DVI out -- great for a projector or HDTV supporting that. The Soekris has a serial console and no video port.

The Mac Mini doesn't use much power, but the Soekris box uses very very little.

I recommend getting both. ;-)

- ask

The Soekris boards are really great. I own three of them myself and can't wait for the new model to come out. If you need information about them, check out - the most extensive and detailed resource I know of.

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This page contains a single entry by Ask Bjørn Hansen published on March 23, 2005 11:25 PM.

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