Consumer-grade dual-homed connectivity options?

Paul Bennett paul.w.bennett at
Wed Dec 30 09:49:47 CST 2009

Not sure whether this is an appropriate place to post this, but I thought  
I'd give it a shot, since you're all knowledgeable folks with regard to  
networking things...

At home, I currently run two DSL lines. Right now, we just have two  
separate LANs, one connected to each line, with my wife's devices attached  
to one, and my devices attached to the other. For a while now, I've been  
thinking about setting up a load-balancing routing solution to give both  
of us access to both lines.

I have the opportunity to acquire a refurbed Cisco Catalyst 2960 at a  
ridiculously low price. I also have access to a (nominally) spare  
quad-core 64-bit PC with 8GB of RAM. I say "nominally" because I'm  
thinking about setting it up as a media center / gaming rig connected to  
the TV in the den. That's largely beside the point, but it bears pointing  
out that keeping the PC available for my other needs would be a good thing.


Is it going to be a more-effective solution to drop a few bucks on the  
2960 and go through the hassle of learning how to set it up (and then  
setting it up), or would I be better off putting a secured Linux distro  
(e.g. gentoo-hardened, or something) on the semi-spare PC and running the  
load-balancing via iproute2 and friends?

Either way, I'm looking at a learning curve, and a good amount of time  
fannying around getting the damn thing working -- there's a good chance  
I'd spend almost as much cash on the PC-based solution getting  
good-quality network cards, and maybe fast HDD tech (though it seems like  
RAM and cores would be more important than disk IO).

What are your opinions?


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