Setting up a 🚀 personal ASN
The internet, it’s a series of tubes! Right? It’s a bunch of magic that you pay a company you don’t respect very much to handle.
Most of you know that what we call ’the internet’ is just a ‘bunch’ of networks connected to eachother. Your ISP has a connection with Google, and that’s how you can search and watch YouTube. It also has a connection to Amazon, Apple, and.. even the network that this website is hosted on.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What is an ASN anyway?
An ASN is a unique number that is assigned to a single entity that controls a network. That entity can be your ISP, a company, a university, the government, or even you. That means Google has an ASN (AS 15169).
If you want to learn about how the internet works. Getting a person ASN is a great way to do that.
There are two ways of getting a personal ASN. Yes, you will need to spend money to do this. Any hobby costs money. But how much money you need depends on which way you go.
You can become a member of your local RIR. This is the traditional and most straightforward way to get an ASN. You will pay a membership fee, which, for RIPE NCC (the local RIR for Europe and Russia) is €1500/year + €1000 sign-up fee at the time of writing this. And that’s excluding VAT. Which you also have to pay if it’s a personal ASN. One advantage is that you will get some IPv4 space, you will just have to wait a while.
You can also use a sponsoring LIR to get an ASN. This is a member of a RIR that will help you get an ASN. They submit the application for you. This is also the route I took. My sponsoring LIR is Coloclue
You will also need some IP-addresses to use with your network. You know, those bits that will be used to route traffic to your network. You can get either IPv6, Legacy^W IPv4 or both. One is very, very expensive and the other one is very cheap for a lot of addresses. I’m going to let you guess which one is which, and which one you get for next to nothing when you request the ASN from the sponsoring LIR.
Once you got all that sorted, the fun can begin. You have internet resources that you can use to announce your network to the world. You could announce your new shiny resources on Mastodon or Twitter, but routers are probably not going to pick that up. We need to setup a BGP router.
I have chosen BIRD for this. This is a router that you install on an existing Linux install (Debian for example). Since I’m using my machine that I racked at Coloclue, I don’t have to spend money on extra hardware and use an extra unit of rackspace.
Then, to make your network operational, you will need an upstream (or transit). This is an internet provider for internet providers and your RIR will have probably asked for two when you signed up. It’s a good idea to have more than one upstream, just ask the
Italian ISP TIM. Again, I have asked Coloclue. There are some fantastic people there. Since it’s just a personal network, I am not going to bother with a second upstream for now. Once Coloclue set me up I typed some lines in
bird6.conf and I was off to the races. AS202585 is live and announcing it’s presence to the world!
It will take some time for your network to be fully reachable, though. Coloclue has to announce my addresses to the networks they are connected to (peers), who will announce it to their peers and so on.
Ok, so we now have an ASN (AS202585), some IPv6 space (2001:678:d64::/48) and one upstream. Where do we take it from here?
We could start connecting our new network directly to other networks. By Coloclue’s rules you are not allowed to order interconnects within the datacenter, but you are allowed to order a port to Nikhef. A lot of very well known networks have precense there, as well as some internet exchanges (most well known internet exchange, or IXP, is AMS-IX). Connecting our network to an IXP seems like a very good idea.
The most well-known and popular IXP is AMS-IX. They ask €250 per month for a 10G port. That’s expensive for a hobby network. Luckily, there are free options. Some would say there are too much in Nikhef. There is Frys-IX, Speed-IX, LSIX, InterIX and FogIXP at the time of writing. All at Nikhef. So Nikhef is a very good place to have a port.
To connect with more than one IXP. You need some kind of device in Nikhef to break out that one port to multiple ports and a bit of rackspace. You could request your own rackspace at Nikhef, whihc is priced pretty well, but still too much for our hobby. My employer however, already has precence in Nikhef and we have some free rackspace. I asked around and they agreed that I may use some rackspace, providing I agreed to some basic terms.
So now, there’s this thing hanging out in Nikhef.
That is a MikroTik CRS310-1G-5S-4S+IN with some optics and cables from FS.com. It just acts as a switch for now. But it can also do some L3 routing. Which I offset to the BIRD router on Debian which I talked about earlier.
And that’s that for now. I’ll be expanding my network and using it to experient with BGP, network automation and routing.
I’d like to thank Arendje, Cybertinus, zydronium, tim427, an anonymous friend and Immert for helping me with setting up my network. Here’s to the next adventure 🍻.
If you want to learn more about my network, you can visit it’s website, or the bgp.tools page or my PeeringDB page.