[kwlug-disc] x86 "routers"

Lori Paniak ldpaniak at fourpisolutions.com
Sat Jan 23 23:47:49 EST 2010

On Sat, 2010-01-23 at 22:43 -0500, Paul Nijjar wrote:
> I have been following this router discussion with interest but not a
> lot of understanding. Now I have some simple, embarrassing questions.
> Firstly, are any of these routers x86 compatible? If not, then what
> should I be looking for in order to get something with a number of
> network ports, decent power, and a tiny router-esque footprint?
> My problem is that due to space restraints I am looking for a firewall
> with a pretty small footprint. Because I am a bigot I want to run
> pfSense, which is primarily an x86 distro. (Support for MIPS is
> coming, but it's only alpha and I am not trusting a firewall to alpha
> software.)
> Many people run these boards: http://www.pcengines.ch/alix.htm
> .. They look okay but you have to ship them from far away, and given
> previous bad experiences with small form factor computers I think I
> would feel better if I ordered from a local supplier. Also those
> boards come with a maximum of three ethernet ports built in, which is
> barely enough for now but still two fewer than your standard router. 
> Ideally I would get a complete box (with all the bits and pieces that
> I need) rather than buying components separately. I can put
> motherboards into cases and plug in RAM, but I am no hardware hacker,
> and I certainly don't trust my hardware-modding skills for a
> production firewall. 
> Is there any hope for me?
> - Paul

Yes there is hope!  Take a look at this Supermicro 1U ready-to-go


Intel Atom dual-core (64-bit!) and two gigabit network ports.  Get
yourself a stick of RAM and a 5-port switch and you are on your x86 way.
My favourite part: onboard video - no serial port-ology here.

As Khalid mentioned, you won't get the 10W power draw of a single chip
router, but you can easily expect to stay under 30W.

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