As mentioned a few days ago, I’m using Vyatta for my home router software. Vyatta is amazing; it’s a complete open-source router platform based on Linux. It’s something that I’ve been looking for for the last decade. You just boot up the CD image and wham–it’s a router, with a Juniper-ish command shell. Type configure and you’re in router configuration mode, with context-sensitive editing. Type a couple more commands and it’ll copy itself off of the CD and onto your hard drive or USB drive. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

At the same time, it’s impressively powerful. It still lacks a few features that upper-end Cisco or Juniper routers have–no MPLS, no policy routing, and IPv6 support is weak. But it’s a huge step above any of the Linksys or D-Link routers that I’ve seen. It supports BGP and OSPF, plus reasonably flexible NAT and ACL settings. I’ve never benchmarked my router, but after 2 weeks of uptime it claims that it’s spent 99.9% of its time idle while copying almost 750 GB of data between interfaces. Vyatta claims that a 4x2.66 GHz Intel CPU can route 3 Gbps of 512 byte packets, and I see no reason to doubt that.

Vyatta is open source, but it has a company behind it (also named Vyatta), selling support to anyone who will pay. I’m always conflicted when I run into projects like this. I’m happy that they’re available, and that they’re making progress forward, but they only rarely develop any sort of community around them. Maybe Vyatta will prove me wrong.