North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Zebra/linux device production networking?

  • From: william(at)
  • Date: Wed Jun 07 11:31:05 2006

On Wed, 7 Jun 2006 [email protected] wrote:

First, a little background..
My CTO made my stomach curdle today when he announced that he wanted to
do away with all our cisco [routers] and instead use Linux/zebra boxen.
We are a small company, so naturally penny pinching is the primary
It is primarily small companies that use zebra or Quagga or
openbgpd or Xorp or the Click Modular Router project.
There is more than one choice so do your research.
The main drawback of all of these is that you cannot
get PCI-bus cards that support some common circuit
types and the PCI bus cannot handle switching high
traffic volumes.
I've talked to people using PC-based system on OC48 and analyzing
that entire data. Sounded unbelievable to me but their numbers
of how much data PCI(Express) can handle support that PC-based
router would be able to do it. How reliable this is and if cost of supporting such router is worth going forward is another matter.

Also both Linux and Freebsd are fairly equivalent as bases for
such routers and if you have knowledgeable people (and you should
if you're considering going with PC router), you should be able
to set linux that is secure as freebsd. There are some differences
in the routing code whereas Linux is designed with per-flow based
switching in mind (which works very well when used as a server)
and has extensive packet classification mechanism (which I
strongly advise you test in the lab before trying in production).
Freebsd has what I consider to be simpler code design for which
many believe works better if you receive "unusual" packets, but
personally I've used Linux as packet firewall at Gb rate and
it handled DoS fine. Linux also supports multiple routing tables
in the kernel, which I think latest quagga can take advantage of
and it can make a difference whe selecting linux vs freebsd.

Now do remember that biggest headache is going to be supporting
this as such custom solution will require custom coding of tools
and good engineer who really knows well both linux and networking
and finding more such people to support your infrastructure if
you grow maybe difficult.

William Leibzon
Elan Networks
[email protected]