GL.iNet Beryl AX Review
GL.iNet Beryl AX
I’ve just gotten my hands on a GL.iNet Beryl AX (GL-MT3000) travel router. Cost was approximately $100.
I’m rapidly becoming a fan of GL.iNet offerings and the Beryl AX is no exception. I also own and have blogged about the Mango V2 and the Slate Plus. I love both of them.
The major claim to fame with this router is that it does WiFi 6 and the WAN port is a whopping 2.5 GB ethernet port. That is really pushing the limits of a device that can fit in your pocket. Additionally, it barely takes up any space in a laptop bag or backpack.
The router is based on OpenWRT 21.02 firmware. After taking mine out of the box I discovered that mine did need a firmware update from version 4.2.2 to 4.4.5. OpenWRT is an Open Source router firmware that is extremely powerful, and has greatly improved security over OEM router firmware.
GL.iNet Mango (GL-MT300N-V2) Travel Router Review
I just recently got my first GL.iNet travel router, the GL-A1300 Slate Plus. It’s a wonderful device and I blogged about it here. On a whim I purchased its little brother the GL.iNet Mango (GL-MT300N-V2), $30.
On their page they refer to it as the N300, with the 300 standing for the max wifi speed of the router of 300 Mbps.
In this day and age of Wifi 6 you might be wondering why anyone would get something that ran at 300 Mbps.
The answer to that is FORM FACTOR. It is a super tiny, and lightweight device that could easily slip into a pocket. The mission of this device is mostly to connect to free wifi hotspots and then automatically connect to an OpenVPN or WireGuard VPN connection. This makes that very unsecured wifi portal safe to use. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that creates an encrypted tunnel between your devices and the VPN service. No one can see what you are doing. After I blogged about the other GL.iNet travel router a friend of mine sent me this:
“Staying at a hotel right now that touts each login has their own VPN, because “your privacy is important to us.”I open Spotify and it asks if I want to join a random persons listening group that is listening to music on their Xbox. Sure.“
That about sums it up. Even when they claim security, you cannot trust that there is security.
GL.iNet Router Review GL-A1300
GL-A1300 Slate Plus
Before I retired I had a job with extensive travel involved. I would sometimes take a full sized router with me to hook up at the hotel. Back then most hotels had an ethernet jack in the room. I’d simply push my own wifi network to my computer, phone, and many times an audio streaming device like a Chromecast or Raspberry Pi. Oh how I wished they would have had a GL.iNet Router back in those days.
I only found out about them recently on a Discord Forum. Some of the guys are using them for all kinds of amazing networking hacks. Even though I barely leave the house these days I wanted to get one just to see what I was missing out on.
Metronet Static IP On OPNSense
As luck would have it, fiber internet has made its way to our house out in the boonies. Most cable/internet companies charge an arm and a leg for a static IP and call it a “business account”. When the sales rep came by I asked how much a Metronet Static IP cost. The reply was $10 a month. I was sold on that for sure.
Otherwise, Metronet uses Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGNAT) for IP addresses. What that means is that your router or firewall will pull one address, but that your actual IP address is something else.
What that really means is connecting back to your home network via VPN can be a lot more complex. Also, Murphy’s VPN Law, states that you will pull a new DHCP address only while you are away on vacation rendering your ability to connect to your network null and void.
QNAP NAS Review TS-433-4G-US
I’ve never bought an off the shelf NAS before and have always opted to build them on my own. There is no better resource for NAS building than this website. I currently have two home brew NAS’s in operation but had a need for a 2.5 GB NAS for a new, faster network I was setting up. I settled on a QNAP NAS for a couple of reasons.
Reason number 1 was that initially my 2.5 GB network was only going to be in the downstairs part of my home. Reason 2 is because since it was downstairs it needed to be somewhat attractive to appease my wife, and something somewhat quieter than my home brew NAS builds.
After a considerable amount of research I opted to get the QNAP TS-433-4G-US.($379)
4 bays is enough for me I have four 4TB Western Digital Red drives in a RAID 5 array.
This NAS is simply for file storage and I won’t be asking it to run any media servers or anything else that might overtask it.
I have a super NAS upstairs with a Xeon processor and tons of RAM and storage with Unraid as the OS. It does all that heavy lifting.
I do use the QNAP for Apple Time Machine backups for several Macs I have in the house.
I also run another server which is located in my back yard shed which is a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 with a SATA PCIe controller and a couple of 6TB hard drives. It runs OpenMediaVault (OMV).
This will NOT be a technical review. No specs, no stats. Just me talking about whether buying a NAS off the shelf is something a NAS user would want to do or not.
Mokerlink Review Of 2.5G L2 Managed Switch
Mokerlink L2 Managed
When upgrading your home or small business network you will quickly discover that 2.5G switches are not cheap. Today I do a Mokerlink Review of their 8 port, managed 2.5G switch.
I ordered the switch from Amazon at a cost of $175. While that might be inexpensive for a 2.5G switch it isn’t inexpensive for a network switch. It will definitely make you question whether upgrading your network to 2.5G is worth it. I understand that a 2.5G switch is going to be more expensive than a 1G switch but there is a huge chasm in pricing between the two.
The first thing I noticed wasn’t about the actual switch. As soon as I buy something I head to the internet to download the manuals for it. When I went to the Mokerlink website their https certificate was expired and my browser was telling me it might not be safe. The next day I tried and the website was down. This morning, I finally was able to get to their website and download the manuals.
So my first impression is not a good one. Someone is not minding the store at Mokerlink and keeping track of their web host. Heck, at John’s Tech blog and my other web site I get a ton of emails from my host months in advance of an expiration of a domain name or a certificate.
WiFi Connection Issues Fix
I’ve always been the neighborhood geek and I have done this simple wifi connection setting for so many people. Let me set the scenario up for you. I’ll get a call or see a post that says “My internet provider is crap. My WiFi disconnects all the time. Don’t get _____________ for your internet provider. We hate them.”
Your Wifi Router
Most people think when you connect to your home wifi you’re connecting to 1 choice. In reality there are 2 choices usually.
- 2.4 GHz wifi network
- 5 GHz wifi network
2.4 GHz is usually the most common connection made and it has the best range. It consists of 11 channels in the US. Each one of those 11 channels is selectable or most routers are set to obtain the channel automatically.
5 GHz is not utilized as much as a lot of people just don’t know about it. Of the two wifi’s, 5GHz provides a faster connection albeit over a shorter range. It consists of 24 channels. Whenever possible you should try to utilize your 5 GHz connection.
The rabbit hole goes a little deeper than just the number of available channels but for now, this is all we really need to know.
Tasmota Light Bulb Kauf A21
There are a ton of smart Internet of Things (IoT) devices out there. Most of them are a security nightmare to introduce into your home network. But I’ve found one that ISN’T a security nightmare. The Kauf A21 bulb with ESPHome Firmware is one such device. An ESPHome or Tasmota Light will ONLY communicate within your home network. A Tasmota Light is my personal preference for home automation.
These lights are designed to work with home automation software such as Home Assistant
If you buy a light bulb at Walmart you can control it with an app you put on your phone. And while that seems cool, it really isn’t. That app, and that bulb communicate off of your phone and contact servers outside of your home network.
IoT devices that are app controlled are a security risk. And in your quest to smarten up your home you may have several devices and several apps. Additionally, those apps want you to grant permission to use your camera (presumably to scan a QR code) and they also want location control enabled. Why does my Lifx bulb I bought at Walmart need to know where I and my phone are? Riddle me that, Batman.
Network Server Apps
So you’ve either built or bought a network server. Maybe it’s a Synology or QNAP NAS. Maybe you made a server with Unraid, TrueNAS or OpenMediaVault. Or maybe it is something else. No matter what you have, you have the ability to add network server apps.
But I want to give you a thing or two to think about before you add those cool applications.
There is no doubt that adding functionality to your server is powerful, and can be very cool. But is it ALWAYS a good idea? I’d like to tell you a story about two apps that I thought were brilliant but then created some issues for me later on. Bear in mind this is just two apps, and your mileage may vary. I just want to give you something to think about.
Mikrotik SolidRack 10
I recently went through a round of network upgrades and I had stuff and cables all over the place. There was a real need to get organized and to employ at least a LITTLE cable management. I also decided to run two separate networks and needed a simple way to keep everything straight. Enter the Mikrotik SolidRack 10.
Most server racks are either big, or expensive, or both. I didn’t want anything big. Just a place to mount a couple of switches that didn’t occupy too much real estate.
That is where the Mikrotik SolidRack 10 really shines. It is small, and very affordable at about $43 at Multilink. Right this second they are out of stock.
I do want to point out the obvious with this rack. There are no back legs! That is NOT a complaint. All I’m saying is this is for light duty use and you aren’t going to cram some Dell PowerEdge servers in this thing.
Okay, I will concede that you probably could do it if you hacked something up or propped up the back end of the server with a ServerBrick™ or something. But natively, it’s not meant for that and you know what I meant.