FreeBSD as router - performance vs hardware routers

J. Seth Henry jshamlet at
Thu Aug 14 07:39:57 PDT 2003

I have recently been having problems with my Netgear RT314 broadband
gateway router. Having decided to replace it, I started searching for a
new router - only to discover that every sub $300 router I found had a
history of problems. Lockups, random reboots, or worse, they would just
turn into black holes (like my RT314).

First, and I know this is off-topic, is anyone here happy with their
router enough to recommend it? I'd prefer to go with a hardware router,
but I prize reliability and stability apparently higher than the current
crop of manufacturers. Even the Cisco SOHO9x/83x series has a bad track
record, and they are $250/$500 respectively! I'd like to keep it under
$300, as I can build a mini-ITX box with everything I need for a router
for about that.

Barring finding a decent, reliable router, I thought about building a
mini-ITX system (with the 800Mhz C3) with a second NIC, and a CF card
for storage - and using FreeBSD as a router. I'm fairly certain that I
can get most of what I need to work going, DHCP client on the WAN link,
DHCP server and NAT/PAT on the LAN side. Apparently, firewall support is
built-in as well.

What I'm not sure about is performance. Has anyone built a cable modem
gateway router using FreeBSD and "low-end" hardware like this? If so,
what were your results?

Also, can a FreeBSD router support things like the Vonage VOIP box (the
Cisco ATA186)?

Seth Henry

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