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Three Excellent Linux Router Distros + 1 BSD

Jan 31, 2011, 17:35 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferrill)

"Linux is an endlessly adaptable networking and security powerhouse, from tiny to enterprise. Here is a sampling of three specialty Linux router distros and one based on FreeBSD.

"Special purpose appliance distributions are one of the things that Linux does extremely well. You can find any number of task-specific appliances from either Turnkey Linux or on the VMware Virtual Appliance marketplace. Another option is to roll your own with a service like Novell's SUSE Studio. In this article we'll take a look at four different specialized distributions targeted at the job of an Internet firewall or traffic router. Our list of candidates for this job includes Clear OS, m0n0wall, Untangle and Vyatta. We'll give you a quick introduction to each along with some context to help steer you in the direction that makes the most sense for your application. Each one has its own set of features and distinctive, and we'll try to highlight those for you.

"The first thing we need to do before we get started is to define what a router is or does. In the most basic sense of the term, a router forwards packets from one network to another. To really understand what's going on you need to picture how Internet traffic moves from one computer to another. If you do a Google search for OSI 7-layer model, you'll find any number of pictures and references describing network traffic as it happens from the lowest layer (physical) up to the highest layer (application). Most routers typically sit at layer 3 since they use an IP address to make decisions on what to do with the data. Most firewalls typically involve the basic functions of a router along with filtering and physical separation, meaning two separate network connections, to do their job."

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