Three Excellent Linux Router Distros + 1 BSD - page 2
Untangle is a firewall product that runs either on dedicated hardware or as a virtual appliance. It comes in three different versions including lite (free), standard and premium. The advantage of going with a paid version comes from regular updates to all security features such as anti-virus definitions, content filtering and spam blocking. A premium version adds things like network optimization, policy-based user management and detailed reporting.
Installation requires either a bare-metal machine or fresh virtual machine as a custom OS install is used. The company also sells the product pre-installed on commodity hardware from Dell. Three different Dell configurations are available, and all come with a 3-year onsite warranty. All software is pre-configured for the most common usages or can be bought through a partner for additional customization and on-site installation.
Last, but definitely not least, is Vyatta. Of all the products in this roundup, Vyatta is without question the highest-end and most capable for handling any routing job. Vyatta counts many high-end telco operators and tier-3 hosting providers as satisfied customers with network loads far beyond what any typical enterprise customer would experience. Their direct competition from Cisco would be from either the ASA 550 series Adaptive Security Appliance or a 3800 series Integrated Services Router. These are high-end carrier-grade hardware products with high-end price tags.
Vyatta is a software company at heart but does bundle their product on commodity Dell hardware. The key to their performance and scalability is in the optimized drivers they deliver for Intel, Hot Lava and Sangoma hardware. Vyatta Core is the basic set of functionality available for download as an open-source but unsupported version of their product. Vyatta Subscription Edition (SE) is their high-end product bundled with a number of third-party tools and support. If you have really high-end requirements, like thousands of simultaneous VPN connections, Vyatta is a Linux-based answer that is significantly more cost effective than similar hardware-based solutions.
Knowing your target environment is key when choosing one of these distributions. Subscription-based offerings like Untangle will appeal to any IT manager looking for a way to keep a firewall current. If you're looking for a way to replace a high-end hardware-based solution, then you'll definitely want to take a look at Vyatta. While the others in our list may not match up to the higher-end offerings, they meet needs for specific situations such as small or remote offices while maintaining their free and open source status.