Replacing Coastguard

I have tremendous difficulty with decommissioning electronics. I only recently stopped using my Galaxy Nexus, an almost five year old cell phone. Earlier this year I recycled a 32-bit x86-based Thinkpad T41, only because its overheating issues made it impractical to continue running workloads. And up until today, the lowest powered device actively running a Unix in my office, was a 266Mhz AMD Geode-based Soekris.

The little Soekris, coastguard, was given to me by my friend Dave who had himself decommissioned it years ago. I cannot exactly remember when I started using coastguard to act as a FreeBSD-based (pfSense) router, but it was easily over five or six years ago.

Unfortunately my traffic requirements have since exceeded the capabilities of the little device. Between my inability to discard computers, and more electronics sprouting network capabilities, a total of ten devices may be using the network at any given time. If that wasn't troubling enough for the little tin can, streaming video has become very important. In aggregate those ten devices are more frequently maxing out the uplink connection, and fighting for traffic priority.

In it's stead, I have installed strawberry, a much more powerful FreeBSD 11.1 machine which is running a very simple gateway and packet filter configuration. All said and done, it probably took me about 30 minutes to copy and paste the right configurations into place. What makes the "replacement" comical to me is that I mentally procrastinated on replacing coastguard because "pfSense is so easy" and I didn't want to sink a bunch of time fiddling with FreeBSD to make it work for my needs.

Either FreeBSD has made things much easier, or I have gotten smarter. Regardless, I'm sad to see coastguard make it's way into the bin which eventually will go to the e-waste recycler.

Based on my performance recently, it is probably going to be a few years before I can part with my first generation Raspberry Pis, which now will occupy the "slowest computer in use" slot in my home office.

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