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Networks Managing a Computer Centre/Internet Kiosk

Discussion in 'Tech Support' started by djDEATH, 17 Jan 2011.

  1. djDEATH

    djDEATH Habari gani?

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    Hi All

    Long time since i've posted, but hello everyone. Things have changed a lot, and i now work in a computer centre for a UK based charity on the southern slopes of Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania.

    Best thing i've ever done - i'm loving it out here, and don't think i'll be coming back to the uk any time soon ;)

    I do have a problem, and thought i'd ask you techy lot, as for reasons that will become apparent soon, i cannot just sit and browse google all day to get the answers i need.

    Ok, first up, we use the internet through a Vodacom 3G router box, which sits on our switch, and is charged PER MEGABYTE. We had a sat link, but the price per MB of that was 3 times higher, so we're on the Vodacom network, and restricted to EDGE only (~220kbps max).

    This is largely fine, but when it comes to keeping track of what's being used, it isn't so simple. What i need is a tool to run, either on my main machine, or dedicated VM, or on each of the clients, any of those options is fine, that will keep track of what internet is being used for each machine on a per-session basis. Sounds simple.
    I had a little bandwidth monitoring program that was showing a per session usage number, but then realised that it was including all local network traffic as part of the total, and really that isn't any good, because that means that printing, and all other activity is being added on to the total and we're charging people for internet they're not using.

    Hopefully this is clear and you know what i'm getting at.

    I have a pro license for NetLimiter for my machine, and had put trials of it on a few computers to monitor what was being used, but again, it's impossible to extrapolate these figures and come up with a "you've used XXMB in the last 15 minutes, therefore you owe us XXX money" etc.

    How do people do this? It would be lovely to have a permanently on unlimited usage internet connection, but that simply isn't possible with our budget (we literally run the cafe on peanuts, to provide internet access for the villagers here) and although i have a little cash, we'd ideally want to be using freeware, or very low cost licensed software.

    Its driving me mad that i can't just search endlessly on google downloading trials and giving them a go (which is of course what any normal geek like me would do) that would cost way too much in bandwidth, so i'm stuck with having to ask for help.

    Please, anyone, can you help me?

    djDEATH
    Craig Collier
    graigchq@gmail.com
    +255759151776
    www.kiliproject.org
     
  2. saspro

    saspro IT monkey

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  3. djDEATH

    djDEATH Habari gani?

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    do you actually use this? how does it help me? i have read some oof the "what this is" type blurb on the site and doesn't really seem to be any good to me at all? (again, as in my post, i do not have the bandwidth to download and trial, i need to be fairly sure it will actually be of use before going ahead).

    This seems a little over the top, when all i need is some way of monitoring INTERNET ONLY (rather than LAN as well) traffic on a per session basis.
     
  4. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

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    You could run Smoothwall on a spare dual-NIC server (or if you want, through VMware and an extra dedicated NIC) and that'll tell you exactly what traffic flows through it to the internet.

    Enabling the SQUID proxy will probably save you a heckuva lot of bandwidth too.
     
  5. djDEATH

    djDEATH Habari gani?

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    Zoon, thanks buddy, this is more like it, looks exactly what I'm after. And open source too!
    Got a few spare machines, so once I've researched, I'll put this to the director and are if she'll sign off the bandwidth to download it. Nice one :)
     
  6. dancingbear84

    dancingbear84 error 404

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    Couldbit not be downloaded and posted on CD probably cheaper. I don't mind doing it if you cover postage costs? May be quite quicker too?
     
  7. djDEATH

    djDEATH Habari gani?

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    thanks a lot for the offer, but no need, it will be cheaper to download it. Sending stuff out to Tanzania often involves paying extra to the delivery guy who will often keep it if he thinks its worth something. best avoided hehe.

    Setting up Squid now, on a windows 7 box as a test before i get a dedicated firewall/proxy setup. Most likely to be untanlge or Smoothwall (quite impressed with what smoothwall can offer, and well up for tinkering with it and getting it how i need)
     
  8. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

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    The nice thing about Smoothwall is that there's tons of community addons out there for it already.

    IPCop also may be an option, it started life as a fork of Smoothwall but I haven't used it so dunno if it does the traffic graph side of things.

    If you've got an 80gb hard drive hanging around you can have a pretty decent transparent cache going - if nothing else, it will cache any software updates etc so once the first machine is updated, the rest will update via the cache instead of downloading it again.
     
    M7ck likes this.
  9. djDEATH

    djDEATH Habari gani?

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    cheers again Zoon, really think that Smoothwall can help me a lot.

    On the squid front, i am loving it!! We had managed riverbed in my old job back in the UK that did exactly this kind of thing, but it was massively expensive. I've now got it running locally on my laptop, and given that i browse the internet through my android phone's 3G connection, and largely visit the same sites (things like Facebook, bbc news, few F1 news sites etc) this should stop me downloading the same data over and over again. Can't believe i haven't looked at this before! Even without restrictions on bandwidth, this is gonna speed up the internet for me no end!!

    Cheers pal
     
  10. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

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    Riverbeds are WAN optimisation products, designed to optimise corporate traffic flow on a low-bandwidth private circuit.

    Sadly they would do jack-larry-shite for your internet speed issues, as Vodafone does not have one within their 3G infrastructure (be nice if they did, granted).

    We sell managed Riverbed services here, among others so trust me when I say, they're not the right thing here! A nice transparent HTTP proxy will however make your days brighter!

    Have a good deep dig into the tuning options for it, you should probably set the lower limit for files fairly low, although you don't want the files to be retained too long as a lot of websites (facebook, flickr, etc) are constantly changing, and you'll just interfere with the most recent content on them.

    With a bit of time and patience I'm sure you'll get the right balance :thumb:
     

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