Several issues ago we looked at WAN cards, and one that we liked was the Sangoma Wanpipe. Our primary complaint with the Wanpipe was the Linux drivers. These have since been improved, so we asked for updated drivers and retested the card.

For those who missed the earlier review, here’s a quick synopsis. The Sangoma Wanpipe S5141 is a single-port PCI WAN card designed to support traffic up to 4Mbps using T1 lines. There are several versions of the Wanpipe S5141 available which tailor the connectivity to specific configurations. The Wanpipe S5141 is an average-length PCI card with an RJ45 connector on the backplane. An RJ45 cable is included in the package, as is a .PDF document with installation instructions. Our updated set of Linux drivers was accompanied by printed documentation, although this consisted of printouts of the .pdf files that normally accompany the board on a CD-ROM.

Installing the system under Linux yet again, we used RedHat Linux with a 2.2 kernel version. The driver files have to be manually extracted using tar, and you need to use makefiles for adding to the Linux kernel. The process is sure to confuse anyone not familiar with Linux and kernel compilation, and really should be automated by Sangoma. There’s a ton of devices that can be probed for and detected, and you need to confirm each suspected device as the routine detects it. After rebuilding the Linux kernel (and updating LILO) you can reboot the machine and try the Sangoma Wanpipe. In the last review of the Wanpipe we expressed a desire for better installation and configuration processes, but with this new update of the drivers they are still lacking. There’s been no change to the process we could find; only the software driver itself has been changed.

After the hassles of installing and configuring the Wanpipe S5141, which took almost half an hour on our test system (and was conducted by a very experience administrator), the product worked well. In our speed tests, we again couldn’t get 4Mbps out of our connections to the Wanpipe S5141, but as we noted in the original review of this card, most installations wouldn’t be able to reach these numbers anyway. We couldn’t perform segment to segment connections because the Wanpipe S5141 is a single port card, but we did let it run both as a dedicated router on our network as well as in conjunction with some other network cards, acting as a bridge between two segments.

In our tests with this recent release of the drivers we couldn’t find any performance or configuration improvements to mention. Sangoma claims the new drivers are more efficient and provide additional functionality, but we couldn’t back up these claims. Still, if it makes the Wanpipe more stable in some installations, all the better. We originally like the Wanpipe for its competitive cost and Linux support. Linux support is still there, and the cost is the same, so we can still recommend this card.

Sangoma
Wanpipe S5141
$695
50 Mcintosh Drive
Suite 120
Markham
Ontario Canada
L3R 9T3
800-388-2475
905-474-1990
905-474-9223 fax
http://www.sangoma.com

Summary: Reasonably priced single-connector WAN board, ideally designed as a router. Still-awkward installation and configuration routines under Linux despite a new driver release.