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Thread: Linux as a router

  1. #1

    Linux as a router

    Hello,

    So I have been running in circles for quite some time over choosing a router. I have to the conclusion that:
    1. all market routers are crap and not worth spending a dime. they lack the space, and have terrible performance and are never updated.
    2. openwrt/lede are far too stripped variants of linux that don't even scratch the surface of a real distro.


    As such, the only choice for me is a desktop with a full-blown linux distro acting as a router. I am going to need your help on this one, I need advice and guidance.
    Thew following questions come to mind:

    1. Assume 1GB using PPPoE internet connection, what kind of hardware would one need to achieve it?
    I have an old computer which I'd like to use for this:

    Would it suffice?
    Intel® Core i7-860 Processor
    8GB RAM
    GIGABYTE P55A-UD7
    GPU AMD 5770

    Now this motherboard has two network cards. For the best performance, what would be better, integrated or external NIC?
    Can I assume all network traffic will be offloaded to the NIC (i.e not take CPU cycles)? If not, what NIC cards to buy for this offload?

    2. Would the default firewall rules in a linux distro suffice? If not, what sould be added/or look for?


    3. What linux distro to use for this? I would prefer a full-blown os, with desktop environment. Just to be able to run gui applications as well as cli ones.

    Thank you!
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  2. #2
    Member illusive's Avatar
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    Not sure about any recommendation to specific specs but for the software part, what would you use to the routing functionality ? If you will replace a home router functionality then you actually do NOT need router, you need a NAT service on any hardware like a modem which is the case on all products for home.

    However, either you will use NAT or routing the softwares are not that many for a PC to act as router. Eventually, you will use a software of a non-PC product and the closest I see that you might use virtual machine with router OS like cisco or mikrotik and add it to emulator like GNS3 and connect to it the interfaces you have on the machine. That way you are using linux and couple of softwares to perfectly emulate the routing process.

    You can use mikrotik x86 release to install it fully on your machine and let it act as a full router really. I used to do this a lot but virtualization is preferred subjectively for me so I can use the system for other purposes as well.

    Does linux or another app on linux OS provides such functionality with no need to routers OS ???
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  3. #3
    Moderator anon's Avatar
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    Your hardware is okay. Forget about integrated networking. Get two good Intel gigabit cards (check WikiDevi first to ensure they have good Linux support), one for the WAN and another for the LAN, and a gigabit switch to plug into the latter, because a router that can only route a single computer would be a letdown.

    As for the rest... for someone who is just starting to learn Linux, doing this with a general-purpose distro instead of OpenWrt is going to make everything ten times as hard with no benefit.
    "Come visit sometime, okay? We'll always be here for you. We... we all love you."
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  4. Who Said Thanks:

    Master Razor (12.05.18)

  5. #4
    As for the rest... for someone who is just starting to learn Linux, doing this with a general-purpose distro instead of OpenWrt is going to make everything ten times as hard with no benefit.
    I have no choice. No router on the market does what I want. Here's a personal quote from me: Sometimes money does not help you
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    Moderator anon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Master Razor View Post
    I have no choice. No router on the market does what I want.
    If what you want is gigabit NAT throughput, sticking the x86_64 version of OpenWrt on your Core i7 will work nicely. No need to attempt to do everything and complicate yourself.
    "Come visit sometime, okay? We'll always be here for you. We... we all love you."
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  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by anon View Post
    If what you want is gigabit NAT throughput, sticking the x86_64 version of OpenWrt on your Core i7 will work nicely. No need to attempt to do everything and complicate yourself.
    It's not just the gigabit, it's knowing that whatever you want can be achieved, a flexible solution - which is what OpenWrt is not. Their packages are made to be lite by cutting functionalities just for the sake of being a lightweight os. I'm not interested in that anymore.
    Here's what I want:
    - full scripting language support
    - gui application support
    - gigabit nat
    - proxy
    - nas
    - vpn

    If that PC isn't enought then I'll buy a better one. For now, I want to do this.
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  8. #7
    Moderator anon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Master Razor View Post
    Here's what I want:
    - full scripting language support
    - gui application support
    - gigabit nat
    - proxy
    - nas
    - vpn
    I'd say that besides running a graphical environment, OpenWrt can do all of that, but I see where this conversation is going. Make sure you brush up on how to use iptables, ip and ifconfig, you'll need it
    "Come visit sometime, okay? We'll always be here for you. We... we all love you."
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  9. #8
    I'd say that besides running a graphical environment, OpenWrt can do all of that, but I see where this conversation is going. Make sure you brush up on how to use iptables, ip and ifconfig, you'll need it
    Tell me something I don't already know.
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  10. #9
    Now let us continue..
    I understand why I need external NIC cards but why specifically Intel NIC? Also, does having an Intel NIC requires a Intel CPU to correctly offload networking functions?
    That motherboard only has two full PCI-E slots and only one mini PCI-E. I haven't seen a NIC card being full PCI-E. I suppose old PCI will not work.
    Last edited by Master Razor; 14.05.18 at 14:44.
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  11. #10
    Moderator anon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Master Razor View Post
    Tell me something I don't already know.
    Uh... the numbers on a roulette wheel add up to 666

    Quote Originally Posted by Master Razor View Post
    I understand why I need external NIC cards but why specifically Intel NIC?
    Because you always want the best of the best of the best for all your projects, and I can personally assure their gigabit stuff is of high quality (Well, the best³ would probably be one of those Cisco multi-port gigabit cards, but let's not go out of budget just yet.)

    Also, does having an Intel NIC requires a Intel CPU to correctly offload networking functions?
    No, that would make offloading sort of useless in the first place. All you need is driver support for it on the system you'll be running.

    That motherboard only has two full PCI-E slots and only one mini PCI-E. I haven't seen a NIC card being full PCI-E. I suppose old PCI will not work.
    Conventional PCI offers a bandwidth of 1066 Mbps shared among everything on the bus. Gigabit PCI cards exist, but you can only get full speed by not having any other PCI addon cards installed.
    "Come visit sometime, okay? We'll always be here for you. We... we all love you."
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