IT managers looking to build an open source-based networking infrastructure will shortly be able to get their hands on free software that handles a range of routing and security features.
The Open Linux Router software will provide routing, firewall/VPN, NAT and Apache web, plus FTPserver and basic enterprise security such as intrusion detection. It will be available for download onto a standard PC or a small embedded device.
The router is being developed by four university students studying for networking degrees in the US state of Michigan. Although they have said they don't intend to profit yet from their developments, they do hope to provide a compelling alternative to expensive Cisco hardware.
One of the developers, Matt Westerburg, told ZDNet UK: "Some businesses may not have the money to pay for a proprietary Cisco solution. We are trying to bring what a Cisco router gives you, but much cheaper." Westerburg said the router was being built as a modular platform so IT managers could download only the services they wanted. That would make it suitable for a small business or branch office, he said. A non-technical person could probably install the software without outside help, Westerburg hopes.
The group has been inspired by other open-source networking ventures, including Vyatta's Open Flexible Router. Their product utilises the Unix system administration interface Webmin. "We originally got the idea from the Vyatta company," says Westerburg. "We wished it to do more than Webmin would do, and we wanted it to be portable from distro [distribution] to distro to distro."
The developers are currently debugging and adding features to the Open Linux Router, and hope to make the product available for download in either May or June.
Other open-source networking software currently being developed includes the m0n0wall firewall/router project, the Smoothwall firewall/VPN gateway and the IPCop Linux distribution which offers firewall, VPN and intrusion detection capabilities.