I’ll Give it a try. Yes, ZeroShell couldwork for you! I’m fairly new to ZeroShell but I’m slightly more familiar with it than you. If a more experienced person overrides me, I won’t be offended in the least.
Q: Can one user account be logged on simultaneously with more than one device? For example, several members of a family (sharing a single account but each with their own device) may be connected at the same time
A: Yes, as far as I know.
Q: Can we implement user throttling if a set bandwidth limit is exceeded?
A: I used QoS to throttle bandwidth successfully. It took me a little effort but yes, I did it for a guest network
Q: There are several WAPs. Is it better to have several NIC cards in the Zeroshell box, one for each WAP, or one NIC and an ethernet switch?
A: I’m not sure there is a right answer. I think you need to have more than one physical NIC in the ZeroShell box to build a bridge properly but I may be wrong — it could be possible to bridge virtual NICs. I used 2 physical NICs + an Atheros WiFi. I trunked one of the NICs to a Dell managed switch. I have three subnets & three corresponding VLANs. Some of my APs were able to have several SSID’s mapped to different VLANs.
Q: Can a user access POP3 email on a remote (internet) server through Zeroshell? I’ve seen at some public hotspots I can access my email only after logging on once to any web page (to get through the captive portal login page); this would be OK.
A: I can’t see why not
Q: What’s the minimum hardware I should be planning to use? I’m really hoping an older spare computer will do it.
A: I installed on an old Dell Dimension PC which had a single Hyper-threaded Pentium IV 3.2 GHz. It had the horsepower to throttle and manage a good number of smart phone guests with out choking — Probably 50+ users not all necessarily doing stuff but SmartPhones are chatty nonetheless.