Building a FreeBSD switch with commodity hardware

Louis Kowolowski louisk at
Thu Jan 24 20:58:22 UTC 2019

I think you'll see better performance if you go with an actual network device. If you don't need something that is under contract, something like a juniper ex4200 can be had on ebay for ~$100. 24/48 1g ports. supports vlans, ipv6 just fine. also has firewall capabilities, but they're not stateful. 

If you want to hook 2 layer 2 networks together, you'll need a router. If you just want to make the layer 2 network bigger, you can get another switch. If you cascade too many switches, you'll find performance goes down, not to mention single points of failure and/or bottlenecks in performance.

> On Jan 24, 2019, at 2:39 PM, Simon Connah <scopensource at> wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> First of all I am not a networking wizard so would appreciate a little help to see if my plan is achievable.
> I need a 1U switch to put in a datacentre and due to my familiarity with FreeBSD I thought building a switch based on FreeBSD would be the perfect solution but I'm not sure what the hardware requirements would be. I have 10 to 20 1gbps Ethernet devices to connect to the switch and a single 1gbps uplink to the rest of the internet.
> I'd like to be able to configure VLANs, allocate IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to individual machines and use FreeBSD as a firewall for the whole process. I also want to be able to expand my system at a later date if I need to be able to handle more devices on the local network so I'd need to be able to hook the two networks together somehow.
> What I'm not sure about is what hardware specs I'll need for this. What kind of CPU and RAM will I require and which Ethernet cards should I get? This is not a project that requires 100% up time but realiability is important during certain hours of the day.
> I'd appreciate some advice. If you need any more information then let me know and I'll try and provide it.
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Louis Kowolowski                                louisk at <mailto:louisk at>
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