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I have a handful of servers at home and I am wondering how feasible it is to network them together using fiber optic. Is it as simple as getting a fiber switch on ebay, and getting fiber NICs for each of the servers and hooking everything up? The servers only need to talk to eachother, I only have three of them so we aren't talking about anything too fancy.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Pretty much, yeah. You just need to make sure that they're compatible.

I.E. get ethernet fiber NICs, not FC-AL nic's.

You also need to get the right kind of fibre cables with the right kind of connectors on them, and be consistent in everything you purchase.

Note though you're not actually getting any advantage over running normal copper ethernet, unless:

  • You're going for Top Secret classification with a government (fibre is almost impossible to snoop on)
  • You're travelling very long distances with your cable runs (> 300m)
  • You're using 40Gbps or above transmission speeds
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Thanks I was wondering if there was any benefit over using copper since I noticed most of the inexpensive fiber switches are only 1 or 2 gbit/s. – Payson Welch Feb 7 '12 at 19:42
Well, there's always the advantage of knowing how fibre works in the future, which is another good reason to do it just for the hell of it. However, note that if it's a 2Gbps fibre switch, it's probably for Fibre Channel, which is not ethernet. You must make sure you get an ethernet switch and ethernet NICs, as there are other standards that use identical fibre cables, but cannot run ethernet. – Mark Henderson Feb 7 '12 at 19:49
Some people call 1 gbit full duplex "2Gbps", so it might be worth checking if it's not ethernet after all. – arjarj Feb 7 '12 at 19:56
Actually snooping on fibre is not that hard. You just need to bend it a bit and peel it to attach another material with a similar refraction index thus breaking the total reflection (but not too much so as not to disrupt it altogether). There are some ready-made tools to do this quickly, starting at about $1000. – joechip Feb 7 '12 at 20:18
@joechip: +1, and optical taps can easily be passive at 1Gb/s... – petrus Mar 9 '12 at 20:31

As long as you've got the same physical Ethernet standard (1000Base-SX for gigabit Ethernet over multi-mode fiber on short hauls, for example) on both ends and the right patch cables it is, in fact, that easy.

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