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pfSense: Lessons learned

January 29th, 2012

In my current role as the ‘IT guy’ for Partners In Health I’m also managing the whole IT including our networks in Malawi (note: It is only a rumor that ‘IT guy’ translates to everything that has a power plug…). We not only provide Internet access to our employees, but also for the government including the local Ministry of Health. As our project has grown a lot in the last few years, so did the numbers of computers that are connected to the network.

Currently we are have connect 20+ access points and with this roughly ~100 devices are connected to the network every day (designed partially on top of this). And all of them squeeze through our tiny satellite link. We came a long way with adding network management tools and traffic shaping to manage the scarce bandwidth better, but at the end we also depend on the fairness of the users: If someone (or his/her system) is misbehaving, it impacts everyone else. With this it is crucial to know who is using the network and how: Welcome to the world of pfSense.

Throughout the upcoming months some of the important lessons learned and findings are shared here. This will include topics like

With all this I guess we may run one of the biggest (if not _the_ biggest) freely available public hotspot in Malawi. I like my work in the low-resource settings…

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