So I have come to a tenuous decision on how the network expansion is going to go. Here are the three stages:
One: Modem Moving
I’m going to move the Motorola SB6120 (Amazon link) cable modem closer to where Comcast’s cable enters the house. For now, that will also require me to move my Airport Extreme closer as well. I will run a long ethernet cable to my officer where I will use my cheap-n-tiny TopLink gigabit switch to dole out the goods to my printer, Windows desktop, MacBook Pro, and bench.
Inelegant, but needed to try and eliminate the terrible degradation of signal over the coaxial cable that is currently running to my office.
Two: FreeNAS Storage Box
The second stage will be to add a FreeNAS box into the mix, fill it with disks, and then run it as a general file server plus as the host for over-the-air Time Machine backups. I’m looking forward to getting this running.
At first it will be in a rather generic desktop box, running under my bench or near my desk, but ultimately it will be mounted in a rack.
Three: pfSense Firewall
Now we’re getting to the theoretical part of this entire exercise, which is the addition of an actual firewall to the mix. I would probably put this into a rack mount case, powered by a little Intel Atom board and make it as quiet and unassuming as possible as to not try and overcomplicate things. This would also allow me to move my DHCP assignment from my Airport Extreme to another box (the pfSense box) and free my wireless networking from having to also handle the assignment of leases.
The other option is to try and hack together a firewall from an old Watchguard x1250e firewall. Possible.
Four: Rack It Up!
Finally I would get a server rack in, along with a gigabit switch to tie everything together a little more neatly.
Everything is tenuous because I could change my mind. A simplified version of this is to move my current Airport Extreme and cable modem but then pick up a Time Capsule and just tie the Airport Extreme and Time Capsule together to provide what I need for now.
Not as tacky, but simpler.