Machines appearing and disappearing in NeoRouter

I just spent the last half hour scratching my head at a weird problem that I was having with NeoRouter. Two windows hosts kept appearing and disappearing in my NeoRouter network. Both machines could log in successfully, but neither machine could see the other in the list of computers. They seemed to be knocking each other out of the network, as if they were knocking each other off.

It turns out that if you clone a Windows machine with Neo Router pre-installed, you end up with IP conflicts, even if you set different static IPs for each host. So if you decide to clone hosts, be sure that you install Neo Router *after* you clone the hosts.

The Back Story

With my new upgraded VLAN home network, plus my quarantined/working from home/life circumstances, I used to have a desktop computer that was on all the time to support all of my remote access shenanigans. In the old flat network days I had one desktop computer that ran 24×7 and sat on the same network as all of my servers. Mostly the goal of remote access is either:

  1. a shell on a server or router
  2. a webpage on an appliance like a router, switch, or file server or
  3. a desktop on a Windows machine that would then provide me 1 or 2

With my new network design I have two VLANs for my servers:

  1. a DMZ for things that ultimately face the Internet, and
  2. A personal internal network that is visible to neither the family wireless network nor the Internet

If you will recall, I have a network management workstation that I can use as a jump box to get into each segment. However, this host isn’t accessible via the Internet. For that I have a couple of Internet facing hosts that I call ‘hubs’. One host is a bottom tier Google Compute instance, the other is a host sitting in the DMZ with a bunk port forwarded to it. Under the most extreme circumstances, I can tunnel through the Google hub, into the DMZ hub, to get a shell on the network management workstation, where I can either set up a socks proxy for internally hosted web management pages, or drop a remote port for RDP to a Windows host.

NeoRouter

OR, I could just use Neo Router. When the networking gods are smiling on me, my Windows laptop and Windows desktop can talk to each other directly via the NR overlay network. With Neo Router, I can have hosts on different VLANs which are not accessible via the Internet, become accessible to other members of the NR network. When I use Windows or Linux machines that can run browsers, there is no need for Stupid SSH Tricks(tm).

The idea was simple: spin up 2 virtual machines (VMs) running Graphical Desktops (GUIs), one GUIVM on the DMZ network, and one GUIVM on the internal wired network. This way I can do arbitrary tasks sitting on either network by connecting to the appropriate GUIVM. I will call these machines “Portals”. Portal-DMZ will sit on the DMZ network, and Portal-Int will sit on the private internal network.

Since I am spinning these VMs up on Proxmox, I could just build one GUIVM, configure it, and then clone it. I used Windows to get it done fast, but ultimately I would like to conserve RAM by using low powered Linux machines.

Turns out the cloning was the source of my strange problem. Apparently there is some sort of signature that makes each node unique that cannot be duplicated without all hell breaking loose.

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