Review: 6 slick open source routers

DD-WRT, Tomato, OpenWrt, OPNsense, PFSense, and VyOS suit a wide range of devices and networking needs

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Like OpenWrt, VyOS comes in incarnations that run on stock 32- and 64-bit x86 PC hardware, so any such system can be transformed into a high-efficiency router, firewall, and network services box. What’s not available (yet) is an edition of VyOS for ARM/MIPS hardware, such as the Linksys routers that served as the original targets for open firmware.

VyOS features

You name it, Vyatta probably has it. VyOS ported the features found in Version 6.6 of the Vyatta open source project and from late 2013 onward began adding new features. Additions include a task scheduler, a command scripting system, an event-handling system (it fires scripts when a matching string is found in a log file), and dummy interfaces for testing.

Earlier editions of Vyatta had added RFC-compliant VRRP, a connection tracking and logging subsystem, and a stateful inspection firewall. VyOS also continues Vyatta’s support for many virtualization environments, including VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.

VyOS limitations

The single biggest limitation of VyOS, vis à vis the other products in this roundup, is that it’s designed strictly for x86 devices. And not any old x86 devices, either, but hardware with a fairly large amount of storage (1GB minimum) by embedded-device standards. In short, VyOS is best suited for PC-class hardware, at least for now.

Several key features available only in the commercial edition of Vyatta, such as the web interface, have not been recreated in VyOS. A web GUI is one of the proposed enhancements, but it hasn’t been implemented yet.

Recommended users for VyOS

VyOS is a professional-level product with routing and security features beyond the needs of most small offices and home offices. That said, those building a network appliance using full-fledged x86-based PC hardware—especially for larger environments—will find everything they need in VyOS. But be prepared to do a lot of command-line configuration to get VyOS up and running.

vyos session VyOS

As powerful as VyOS is, its out-of-the-box experience is much less friendly than that of the other projects described in this roundup.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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