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ISB2LAN Router Review

a hardware NAT solution with built-in firewall and DHCP
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Date: 1999-10-01 11:45
Author: Mike Dimitroff
Category: Nexland
Company: NexLand
Product/Model: ISB2LAN

We live in a world with limited resources. Everything is in short supply - oil, ore, water, labor, time, money. One would think that at least the virtual world we are building, the Internet, will be shortage-free. I mean, there is no shortage of zeroes and ones and thatís all it takes, right? Unfortunately, the Internet is no exception. While for most people the bandwidth of their connection is the bottleneck, there is a far bigger problem looming over the Internet community - the scarcity of IP addresses. Theoretically, there can be about four billion IPs in the Internet - not even one per inhabitant of the planet, but still plenty. However, the actual number of available addresses is much lower, for various reasons. Something has to be done to ensure supply of address space.

NEXLAND is one of the companies that are doing something. Their ISB2LAN product allows you to connect multiple hosts to the Internet using just one IP address. It does that with elegance and simplicity, providing you with a security firewall as an added bonus.

Users are often intimidated by complicated installation procedures and brick-sized manuals. Installing new hardware can easily turn into an exercise in futility. Well, the NEXLAND developers seem to have grasped the concept that getting a piece of hardware to run for a first time should be a cause for a celebration, not frustration. I was able to install ISB2LAN and get it working in just 1 minute, following the three-step instructions printed on the productís box. Those of you, who have a cable or ADSL modem and a DHCP server on the ISP side will take about as long to get their new toy running.

The installation with a fixed IP (if you have a static IP, assigned to you by your ISP) is slightly more demanding, but again, no problem. Your installation time is still likely to be under 5 minutes (with four of them taken by rebooting Windows). By the way, ISB2LAN is not limited to Windows, or the PC platform in any way. If it has an Ethernet port, it is supported. This includes Mac, Linux, Sparc stations, etc.

My only gripe about the installation is the labeling of the Ethernet ports on the box. I am sure that the "E1" and "E0" labels have deep meaning for all those in the Network Engineering profession, but for a home-use device, perhaps "LAN" and "Modem" would be more appropriate labels.

Of course, for the advanced user, ISB2LAN offers an impressive array of configuration options, ranging from reserving IP addresses for individual machines, to creating virtual servers, to sharing a single E-mail account, and much more. You can take it one step at a time, the default settings are more than adequate for most people.

Burning new firmware is a snap, the application finds the box on the LAN (of course, it has to be attached there, but no IP configuration is needed, the burner operates on Ethernet level) and sends the data to it. Much easier than burning new BIOS on a computer.

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