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Community Linux router distro goes Debian

Feb 22, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

A commercial supplier of open-source routing and firewall software has transitioned its community-supported firewall/router Linux distribution to a Debian base. Vyatta Community Edition 2 (VC2) is based on Debian, runs on commodity x86 hardware, includes excellent documentation, and supports numerous enterprise features, including serial T1/E1 cards, VLANs, RIP, and OSPF.

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Vyatta's community-supported distributions include the latest cutting-edge routing software, it says, and are supported by a “Secret Society” said to comprise some 10,000 users and developers. The company also offers commercially supported Subscription editions comprised of more mature, tested software.

Notably, Vyatta is led by former MontaVista VP of Marketing Kelly Harrell. The company positions itself as a competitor to router hardware vendors, and hopes that commodity x86 hardware and open-source software economics will help it go head to head on features, performance, and especially price with the likes of Cisco.

The newly released VC2 distribution is unusual, among open-source router distributions, in that it comes with voluminous amounts of professionally written documentation describing in detail not only how to set up and configure the software, but also helpful technical information about routing protocols themselves. Clearly, Vyatta hopes VC2 will attract both experienced and new network and router administrators.

That said, learning to use the Vyatta software itself is a far cry from, say, configuring a Linksys wireless router. VC2's commandline interface has separate configuration and activation modes, and requires the user to learn a whole new syntax for performing common commands such as taking interfaces up and down and configuring default routes — let alone setting up simple firewall rules and configuring RIP, OSPF, and so on — rather than utilizing familiar “ifconfig” or “ip” syntaxes. And, the scriptability of the environment is not immediately clear from a brief glance at the documentation.

On the upside, the distribution can be run from a CDROM, with configuration data cached either on a floppy or on an nftp server. Alternatively, it can be installed to a hard drive or flash storage. And, since VC2 is based on Debian, adding and maintaining any additional software — Vyatta suggests MySQL or Asterisk, for example — should be trivial.

Touted new features in VC2 include:

  • Debian GNU/Linux compatibility, said to make VC2 “the most configurable, customizable router/firewall on the planet”
  • Improved performance — routing protocols will converge substantially faster, including BGP performance improvements of between 70 to 80 percent
  • Improved serial interface support — VC2 adds support for multi-port T1/E1 and T3 cards (in addition to 1-port T1/E1)
  • Improved hardware detection and compatibility
  • Experimental support for multicast routing and IPv6

According to VP of Strategy Dave Roberts, “VC2 is the result of collaboration between Vyatta developers and the growing Vyatta community. [It] represents a huge jump in capabilities and performance. In switching to a Debian-compatible foundation, VC2 lays the groundwork for increased community innovation and package integration capabilities. We think the Vyatta community will be pleased with this release.”

Availability

Vyatta Community Edition 2 is available for free download, here. Future Community Editions will be released in ISO format twice yearly, with intermediate updates providing new functionality, Vyatta says.

The community edition is provided without support. The company also offers a Professional Edition ($497), which includes patches, bug fixes, and enhancements and web-based support, and an Enterprise Edition ($647), which adds phone support and priority case management.

A detailed guide to Vyatta features, including VC2, can be found here.

In other news, Vyatta may gain compatibility with OpenClovis, an open source high-availability framework.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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