titleNearly five years ago when we hosted our first LAN party we had no idea what to expect or any idea on how much it would grow in the future. Research online as far as what other LAN’s were using was one of the most helpful things. Because of that, as we prep for our 10th event I wanted to give everyone a look behind the scenes at our network. This should help give you an idea of what to start with if you plan on growing in the future.

Our network is sponsored by: Trendnet

Review by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes


The idea behind the network

The key to any good network, especially one that is so reliant on low latency and high speed file transfers, is an efficient layout. When you are talking 100 plus people the layout actually starts when planning out your tables. Each row of tables is going to run off of its own switch, meaning the largest table you could do a 24 port switch is a row of 20, if you added one more table the switch would be full leaving you no room to hook back up to the backbone. To prevent people from having too short of a network cable we typically run tables of 16, leaving us room to expand if needed.

table layout

Once you have your tables figured out, total up all of you tables and then add in any important servers. That number together will give you the number of ports you need on your backbone switch leaving one to go to your router. Each of the table switches plug directly into the backbone giving them the best possible connection. The key to remember here is you are going for a tree network topology. The idea is to give the shortest distance between any attendee and the servers. The backbone is also very important when it comes to file transfers. The backbone will carry all of the network traffic from between tables; meaning even if you are only running a 100Mb connection to the attendee a gig backbone will help prevent slowdowns. With 20 people at a table, trying to share a 100Mb connection to the backbone only leaves a 5Mb connection per person. At that point everyone might as well be playing at home on the internet.

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Posted: 2 years 2 months ago by mianosm #25930
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Just surfing/browsing the web and stumbled upon this site.

Coming from another community that is actually doing the same thing as you guys - and just wanted to let you know the write up was great, and I look forward to any future installments for comparison and contrast to how we're currently setting things up. :)

The network for us seems absolutely solid, the issues we seem to run into more often than not is power issues (and mainly that comes about from the 4 guys with high performance quad-sli/xfire daisy chaining off of one outlet). ;)

Keep up the great work!
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by Dreyvas #24611
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Sideout wrote:
Not to give a spoiler alert but you might be able to see live LAN / WAN network stats at the next NeXus LAN event.

If the LanOC guys are there and are interested in doing something similar , I can help them out on setting it up.

Wes, I'm sure Alex and I could lend a hand with getting this set up as well if you are interested.
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by Sideout #24610
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Not to give a spoiler alert but you might be able to see live LAN / WAN network stats at the next NeXus LAN event.

If the LanOC guys are there and are interested in doing something similar , I can help them out on setting it up.
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by neokeelo #24581
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Nice article.

Im trying to help some buddies out with planning a LAN in a few months back in Tennessee.

If you wrote another article explaining how to manage the internet and also the name and settings of that LAN Check-In system you guys were using, it would be very helpful I think.

What is the name of that program you use to check everyone in and register for events?

From all of the events I have been to (probably over 50) LanOC was definitely the smoothest running event I have been to so far. Nice job guys.
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by Sideout #24469
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I think you should look at using PFSense for your router. Not only will you not reach a performance block with it but since it is open source , you can get some nice addons , bandwidthD is one , that will give you some interesting stats.

Here is the link (www.pfsense.org/) . You can run it on basically any type of PC you have and you can add in multiple NIC's for different interfaces.

I use it at work to provide a captive portal on our public WiFi network.

An x86 based router is going to be able to handle the higher PPS compared to a router like a TP-Link.

Back in the day (2004 / 2005), we ran PFsense on an Intel PII-400 with 512MB of RAM and 2 NIC's with a small hard drive and at one lan party we logged and passed 16 TBytes of LAN / WAN traffic. Additionally we had two cable connections that were load balance and QoS based on traffic type.

It might take a bit more to setup but it is a much better solution imo.
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by garfi3ld #24377
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keep the feedback coming, I'm interested in what else you guys would like to see. To help me break up the writeups
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by Angrypirate #24375
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Good to hear. Can't wait to get all of your magical secrets...
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by garfi3ld #24325
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Twodavez wrote:
Too bad you couldn't show the actual stats while at the LAN and condense it down to a nice 10-15 min video. It could be someting you could post on Youtube and even generate a little revenue for your efforts. ;)

I really want to get setup and cleanup videos to show what goes into it all also. I have a feeling we will be following up with this specific writeup a few times until we have covered everything needed to know about setting up a LAN
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by garfi3ld #24324
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Angrypirate wrote:
So Wes, how's that followup on handling the internet traffic coming along?

we were waiting on the new router that we got for this event. But as you all noticed the new router had problems when we hit about 100 people. Once I get through all of our sponsorship followups I will be working with TP-Link to track down the problem.

Once we do that, we can finally do the writeup
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by Twodavez #24322
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Too bad you couldn't show the actual stats while at the LAN and condense it down to a nice 10-15 min video. It could be someting you could post on Youtube and even generate a little revenue for your efforts. ;)
Posted: 2 years 5 months ago by Angrypirate #24316
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So Wes, how's that followup on handling the internet traffic coming along?
Posted: 2 years 9 months ago by garfi3ld #21297
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Unless I'm confused by your post, we already do that. The backbone switch is where all of the servers are hooked up along with the uplink from each table switch.
Posted: 2 years 9 months ago by DrDeath #21295
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Good article man (read the whole thing). The only thing I would consider, is hanging all dedicated servers off their own switch, which is uplinked directly to the primary switch. The reason for this would be, if anyone is transferring anything from a server, it's usually a large file (i.e. gaming, movies or music). You don't want that traffic propagating the entire network, from one table to another. Instead, traffic is going from the server switch to the table switch that requested it. It's not a huge deal, and you're not going to see great benefits from it, but it's considered best practices.
Posted: 2 years 9 months ago by L0rdG1gabyt3 #21264
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Nice writeup. Thanks for the info! Looking forward to v10!
Posted: 2 years 9 months ago by garfi3ld #21262
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I was planning on doing a second writeup on internet and handing the internet traffic if this was well received
Posted: 2 years 9 months ago by Angrypirate #21261
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I am very curious to know how all of the internet traffic is handled and what you use for load balancing, if needed.
Posted: 2 years 9 months ago by Angrypirate #21259
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This is exactly what I've been looking for...
Posted: 2 years 9 months ago by garfi3ld #21258
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A peak into our LAN's network and a few times for those of you who want to run your own LAN's

 

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