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Old Apr 15, 2012, 12:15 AM   #1
zerocustom1989
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Networking newb. General Qs...

Hey guys,

I have the current personal goal of connecting the LAN of my apartment to the LAN at my parent's house.

I've read you can connect two LANS via a VPN connection and the devices in those LANs will appear to be on the same local network. (sounds like just what I want).

Is VPN the correct way to do this? My research said yes, so I dived into that...

I've read that I can configure my iMac to be a VPN server. However, even after I do that I'm still unsure about how to connect my router and my parent's router. I know they have a standard ISP provided modem/router and I have an AirportExtreme. Are those devices compatible with this goal of being connected?

Sorry for how general these questions are. I do have technical knowledge (just not in networking), so I'm hoping to roll with the punches.
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 12:29 AM   #2
talmy
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Usually one uses VPN to make it so that a computer anywhere can appear to be on a remote LAN. It requires running a VPN server on the remote site, setting up the router to forward certain ports to the system running the server, and then performing a simple configuration in the computer that will connect to the remote LAN.

If you don't want to get involved with setting it up (it's more difficult with regular OS X than it would be with a server version of OS X) there are commercial software packages that make it easy. I'd suggest looking at and trying ShareTool - - http://www.yazsoft.com/products/sharetool/ You can try it out, and it costs $25 to buy. It will also give Bonjour access which gives more convenient file sharing and printer sharing, that you won't get with a VPN connection.
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 12:43 AM   #3
zerocustom1989
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talmy View Post
Usually one uses VPN to make it so that a computer anywhere can appear to be on a remote LAN. It requires running a VPN server on the remote site, setting up the router to forward certain ports to the system running the server, and then performing a simple configuration in the computer that will connect to the remote LAN.
So If I understand this correctly:
1: All devices would appear to be on my apartment's LAN (because that's where the VPN would be running)

2: Each device at my parent's house would need to be individually configured to connect to the VPN that I run in my apartment. that could be kinda tricky with a crazy 64 bit share-key right?

2.5: I was hoping that I could just configure a router to connect to a VPN and that would instantly treat anything on that routers LAN as being part of the VPN. I can see how that could be a security risk though.

Also, I definitely want to do the setup myself lol. (these things need to get added to my knowledge-base as far as I'm concerned.)
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 09:40 AM   #4
talmy
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I don't think I was clear enough. VPN allows a computer, located anywhere, to appear as though it is on a LAN. The LAN runs VPN server software somewhere (some routers have this built-in, although it is typically run on a server computer). It doesn't link two LANs together.

Now it is possible to set up two routers as a VPN tunnel. I haven't done this, but it requires high end routers and static IP addresses at both ends. This is intended for businesses with multiple sites.

I'd still suggest trying ShareTool. $25 if it works, and is easy to test first. It uses their server to establish the connection so you don't need static IPs or DDNS.
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 09:53 AM   #5
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I use LogMeIn Hamachi. Free for non-commercial use and easy, supports Macs and Windows.
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 10:41 AM   #6
zerocustom1989
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talmy View Post
I don't think I was clear enough. VPN allows a computer, located anywhere, to appear as though it is on a LAN. The LAN runs VPN server software somewhere (some routers have this built-in, although it is typically run on a server computer). It doesn't link two LANs together.

Now it is possible to set up two routers as a VPN tunnel. I haven't done this, but it requires high end routers and static IP addresses at both ends. This is intended for businesses with multiple sites.

I'd still suggest trying ShareTool. $25 if it works, and is easy to test first. It uses their server to establish the connection so you don't need static IPs or DDNS.
Thanks for the information regarding the VPN tunnel, I think that's out of reach for me atm.

I already have a DDNS provider for some other remote computing needs so I think I'll proceed with setting up my own. (I'm a software engineer, I cant help but walk blindly into something I dont understand fully). Besides, I only need this for a handful of devices and I dislike trusting other software company's privacy policies and such.
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Old Apr 15, 2012, 02:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talmy View Post
Usually one uses VPN to make it so that a computer anywhere can appear to be on a remote LAN. It requires running a VPN server on the remote site, setting up the router to forward certain ports to the system running the server, and then performing a simple configuration in the computer that will connect to the remote LAN.
This is somewhat misleading. What the OP is talking about is Branch Office-style VPN. What talmy is talking about is Mobile User VPN. There is a difference between the two.

To connect the two networks as one you need your gateway/router appliance to make a Branch Office VPN connection to your parents' gateway/router appliance.

You should look into DD-WRT, as you might be able to reuse your/their existing equipment.

It sounds like you might be a bit over your head, so keep in mind that this isn't a trivial procedure.

What are you hoping to accomplish by joining your networks?
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 09:07 AM   #8
lythium
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I believe the technology you're looking for is a "GRE Tunnel". VPN's are generally used in a more dynamic manner where one end(client) is mobile, and the other end(server) is immobile. GRE is used when both ends are static, both client and server never move, therefor, you can be more secure about the way you pass traffic between the 2 locations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic..._Encapsulation
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 04:18 PM   #9
ezramoore
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The above is true only if you need to support multicast over your link. Otherwise, you would use IPSec.

Also, GRE is just a protocol by which you can create a virtual private network, or VPN.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 04:26 PM   #10
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I am a little curious on why you would be doing this? Is there any advantage? It is for remote support issues?
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