Is turning an old pc into an all-in-one device possible?

NOTE: if i posted this in the wrong section, its because i really have no idea what the best place for it would be.

so, to start this off: more or less every device in my home network is becoming old and/or iffy. so i basicly have to throw everything out the window and start over from scratch.

i've been looking out for a new router that could keep up with my slowly increasing needs over the past few years. sadly these are hard to find, and generally very expensive.

my next idea was something like pfSense on an old rig, and use that for gigabit lan, vpn and network file storage.

the issue i had with this was the only rig really applicable to this field i currently have is capable of quite a bit more, and i'd be happy to use it for a couple small (5 player max) game servers, apache server for hosting some downloads, etc.

my question is: is there something out there that allows me to set up a system that does the following things:

- router with gigabit lan (extra network cards can be bought, only really need 2 LAN ports)

- VPN (using PPTP preferably, as that has proven to work at my school)

- network file storage

- small web server

- running programs like game servers with the possibility of connecting trough ssh (or similar)

- preferrably have a LAN web interface with some monitoring tools etc.

my preference goes to linux/BSD based, but if the solution ends up being windows server thats not an issue because my school provides every student with every possible windows server 2008r2 and 2012 key possible.

pfSense is a hard going for a novice. I'd try ipCop, ipFire or untangle.

I'm not sure what you want to do with apache, but Turnkey Linux is a good source for off the shelve servers solutions for blogging and web design stuff like Wordpress or Joomla, though they have hundreds of others. Best place to download Turnkey servers is SourceForge.

If you do decide to run  SSH server change your port from the default 22 to something like 2323, but any unused port above 1000 will do. If you don't, someone with a port scanner is going to hack your system.

Linux is Open Source and the skies the limit with what you can do with it for free. Microsoft maybe the biggest, but it's also proprietary.

Take a look at freeNas too.


i'm not really going for blogging, the web server (apache) is more meant for "my server got an update, here is a small patcher you can download" so i dont have to send the updated files to everyone by hand.

most of the stuff thats on the list is already on my linux machine, the only thing that i cant really figure out is how to have the system act like a router, and have the VPN (pptpd at this point) allow me to access the internet trough it.

i was hoping for freenas or something similar to have a router function, and just end up running some kind of server in the jails function for the game servers.

also: no worries about the above port 1000 thing, i've been doing that for years as my ISP doesnt actually allow me to forward anything below that. (closed from their side) thats also where the vpn comes in, so basicly my laptop is always (remotely) connected to my home network, and has access to all the services.

TBH I think pfSense is great for novices. If you know basic networking (what an IP address is and how to set that up) it can be easy and painless to set up. It DOES get interesting when you start trying VPNs and fun stuff like that, but that's something you can do later. I recommend running pfsense on an old rig, I think it will take less power than you think (and the only thing I would change is I would NOT try to make it a NAS as well, that's not a good idea I don't think) I've managed to run pfsense with ZERO issues and plenty of room to spare on a 1.2ghz single core with 512mb of RAM for the last 6 months. Its been rock solid except for when I had a hard drive die but I had the config backed up so it wasn't too bad. If you've got a Pentium 4 machine, or (depending on your needs) maybe even a Pentium III, you can probably use that. I can try to help you if you'd like.

If you want to use a web server to share modpack update files, try TechnicPack. It will allow you to push out updates automagically to all the users. I've used it in the past and honestly while you CAN use Dropbox I think its easier to just host your own storage. Although if you're going to be handling lots of connections at once you may wanna use nginx instead of Apache

Rather than trying to configure one machine to do all these things it would probably be easier/better to use a bunch of VMs to do each function. Or atleast have pfsense as your router/firewall and a linux VM doing everything else. You can't really use pfsense for webhosting or network shares and stuff like that anyway. And using a PC as a switch is not really a good idea, you're much better off just buying a cheap gigabit switch.

Yeah, you MIGHT be able to use VLANs, a managed switch, tagging, and Proxmox and run pfSense on a KVM virtual machine but honestly its probably more hassle than its worth. (I may or may not have tried such trickery and failed miserably because pfsense wouldn't even install) Just use an old PC (I've seen pfsense run on less than 1ghz before) or go buy a little cheap ITX celeron board. Then you keep your router seperate, which seems like a more reliable solution than placing "all your eggs in one basket" so to speak.

I used to run pfsense as a VM on my file server, you don't have to mess around with VLANs or anything, just put a second network card in. It worked fine, but it's a whole lot more practical (and secure) to keep it separate.

Oh yeah, I forgot about adding a new NIC. I actually tried both that and VLANs and for some reason I could never get pfsense to install. It always stopped booting the ISO at some weird error, I think it was like "Kernel Trap" or something like that. FreeNAS does it too so it may be BSD in general, I'm as sharp as a bowling ball when it comes to BSD so excuse my ignorance.

The best way to do it is to "stack" the different builds within in the case ... a cube design "stacked" mITX thing is what I picture

But that is not what you are thinking with turn an old pc into a super router storage/streaming device ... min e would have to bee all new parts the way I have it pictured in my head ... it would be cool ... lol

i had something like that going for a while, where i placed the network devices inside my server, and let them run off the power supply, sadly Dlink isnt known for their reliability. ended up just strapping a new router to my modem to "temporary fix" at that point, and i might go back to the several devices in one case setup if that ends up being the solution to keeping my garage tidy.

 i've been looking around at routers that support vpn, and they really arent *that* much more expensive than regular ones.

Yeah but nothing beats pfsense (or I've also heard good things about untangle) so if you can I'd just find a crappy old Dell or something and use that. I was doubtful at first but now that I've had it 3 months I get irritated whenever I have to use a consumer router lol

Come to think of it, I think I had similar problems. I can't remember what I had to do to get it to work.