How can I keep traffic among computers in my (individual) office on its own wired LAN while keeping other traffic (to stuff that's not in my office (eg, to the Internet) over an existing wireless LAN?

Here's the scenario:  I have a lot of traffic that goes among the computers in my office, but there is no wired connection to the Internet in it.  So, as it stands, each computer runs just a wireless connection.  As a result, all traffic from one computer in my office to another in my office has to go across the wireless connection twice.  This is quite slow.  BUT, I do need the wireless connection to get access to the Internet and other computers/printers/etc. that are not in my office.

So, what I want to do is something like the following:  Put a switch in my office.  Wire all the computer in my office to it.  Somehow -- and this is the critical part -- get the traffic among the computers in my office to communicate over this new wired (mini) LAN and have only the traffic that needs to go over the wireless connection do so.  

I realize that I could use a wireless bridge into my office and run my (new, mini) LAN behind it, but then all the computers in my office would share one wireless connection, so then the wireless connection would become a bottleneck.  That's why I want the traffic separated in the way described above:  "local" (ie, inter-my-individual-office) traffic on a LAN and "non-local" (ie, stuff between a computer in my office and something not in my office) over the wireless connection (which is connected to the bigger, existing LAN).

Also, I am running various versions of Windows, Linux, OS X.  The most important would be Vista (and shortly Windows 7) at the moment.  I mention these things in case there are OS-specific issues.

Hope that make sense.  Thoughts are much appreciated!
HarkenBanksAsked:
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muffCommented:
Yeah thats right - think of it as counting 54Mb per radio.  There is only one radio in the AP.  So it is a bit like having all your (say 10)  100Mb wired connections attached to a switch that has only a single 100Mb connection to the main lan - you would not get  10x100Mb throughput to the main lan.

Yeah, the captain is suggesting that your linux box become the client to the AP with a wireless card.  You can then bridge the wireless card to the network card in the linux box, so that everyone is on the same lan.  The local switch in the small office will ensure no traffic crosses the WLAN link that doesn't need to.

Personally I am in favour of dedicated network equipment, even on small scales.  So if you choose to turn a box into a linux wireless bridge, then don't (try not to) use it for anything else.  Of course, a $100 Linksys router + DD-WRT (third party firmware supporting wireless bridging simply) would achieve the same thing for a similar cost, same performance, and is probably more straightforward - and doesn't sacrifice a PC for the bridge.
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muffCommented:
If I have this right, your main office has a LAN with a wireless AP connected to it.  Your smaller office is within wifi distance of the main office, so they all just connect wirelessly to the main LAN via the wireless AP.

But presumably too far to run a cable.  

If there is only one AP in the main office, then they are already contending for it.  It doesn't matter that everyone has their own wifi card if they are all accessing the same AP that can only go at 54Mbps (presuming it is a 802.11g).  So a wireless bridge would reduce load if you set it up as you describe.

So perhaps you have a few APs, and you divide the smaller office members so they are split evenly across the APs?
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The--CaptainCommented:
I think you can benefit from your idea (moving to a wired switch), regardless of whether or not your network is like muff describes.  If your wireless connection is 54Mbs, how could you *not* benefit from moving local wireless clients to a wired network so that they can communicate directly at 100Mbs (or faster).  Sure, the uplink to the internet/remote site will still be 54Mbs (you're never going to get around that without a better connection option), but your local network will be improved.

When you're retiring your wireless adapters, leave an adapter in one of your linux boxes.  Then install network cards in *all* machines, and route internet/remote access through the linux box's wireless connection.

Cheers,
-Jon
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HarkenBanksAuthor Commented:
> [muff]  If there is only one AP in the main office, then they are already contending for it.  It doesn't matter that everyone has their own wifi card if they are all accessing the same AP that can only go at 54Mbps (presuming it is a 802.11g).

Ah, this is what I misunderstood.  I assumed that the 54Mbps was a limit for EACH connection between a wireless client and a given WAP, not a limit on all traffic to/from a given WAP at any time.  To make an analogy with a traditional Ethernet LAN, I thought the WAP was acting more like a switch than a hub.  But, I take it now that this is not the case and that this is how all WAPs work.  Is that right?


> [The--Captain]  When you're retiring your wireless adapters, leave an adapter in one of your linux boxes.  Then install network cards in *all* machines, and route internet/remote access through the linux box's wireless connection.

So, I take it that you are suggesting here that I make a Linux box into a switch.  That is, you are giving me an option in addition to just buying a wireless bridge (or, more accurately, making the Linux box that bridge).  Is that right?  

Thank you!
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HarkenBanksAuthor Commented:
I take it that it would be complicated to get all the "intra-my-small-office" traffic to get routed over its own wired LAN if I just wired all the computers in it to a switch (leaving the existing wireless connections as is).
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tking156Commented:
Maybe I missed someting, but why would you not just do somehting like.... as example
wireless network = 192.168.1.0 mask 255.255.255.0
wired local network 192.168.2.0 mask 255.255.255.0
Defaiult routes should keep everything local that is meant to be local, remote evrything meant to be remote.  This would be multi-homing your workstations.
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muffCommented:
Harkenbanks, yes, if you just wired all the devices in the small office and left the wireless as is, then you would want to take tkings suggestion and use a different subnet for the wired subnet.

So the wireless subnet would include the main office LAN, and the wired subnet only the small office.  However you would not have a default gateway on the wired lan, it should serve only local traffic.

The small lan -> wireless bridge -> office lan is the more elegant solution.

I'd even be inclined to use a dedicated link for the wireless bridge on one channel (say 6) and then have another AP for general wireless use in the two offices, on a different channel - like 11.



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HarkenBanksAuthor Commented:
>  [tking156]  Maybe I missed someting, but why would you not just do somehting like.... as example
wireless network = 192.168.1.0 mask 255.255.255.0
wired local network 192.168.2.0 mask 255.255.255.0

This would just mean assigning fixed IPs/netmasks to the wired ethernet interfact for each machine in my (small) office.  RIght?  I guess the main issue would be that there would be no dynamic assignment of IPs (ie, not DHCP).  Right?  

>  [tking156]  Defaiult routes should keep everything local that is meant to be local, remote evrything meant to be remote.  This would be multi-homing your workstations.

How does one go about specifying such default routes so that the traffic goes to one network or the other (remote or local) as desired?  

Thank you.
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muffCommented:
By not having a default route for the wired connections, as per my previous post.

A default route is where non-local traffic goes.  Without one, the only thing going out of that network card would be local traffic - ie traffic destined for the wired network only.

You can run a dhcp server on the wired network also, no need for statics.  Because the wireless and wired networks are not bridged, dhcp requests and responses on the wired network would remain confined to it.
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tking156Commented:
If you can deliver the IP addreses by DHCP then no need for static address. If you use DHCP you can also deliver routes and much more information with the DHCP. If your Wireless DHCP is configurable to deliver this other information, try to use it for the routes delivery. Also to consider is DNS or a local hosts file for the wired addresses.

In Windows, you can set a persistent static route using this information:
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windows/xp/all/proddocs/en-us/route.mspx?mfr=true

But. To note. If you already have a default route set for your wireless, then everything will follow that, except what is local to your wired network. "route print" would display your current routing table entries, and a route to 0.0.0.0 is the default route.
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HarkenBanksAuthor Commented:
Thank you for all of the input, guys.  This is very helpful.

I grabbed an extra switch that I had and connected it to two computers in my office.  I manually configured the IPs of the two computers to be 172.16.0.1/16 and 172.16.0.2/16, respectively.  Both of these computers are running Vista.  I notice that the traffic goes over the wired connection when I connect to shared folders, but I am running a particular program -- Input Director (which is a "software KVM switch" application (ie, it allows for sharing one keyboard and mouse across multiple computers)) -- which is sending its traffic over the wireless interfaces.  It indicates that my "Primary IP Address" is that corresponding to the wireless interface in each case.  How do I set the "Primary IP Address"?  

Thank you.
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HarkenBanksAuthor Commented:
Thank you for all of the input, guys.  I very much appreciate and I learned a number of things.  Sorry I didn't have more points.  I tried to spread them around as each of you contributed.  Thank you!
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