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Ask Slashdot: Enterprise-Grade Linux Networking Hardware?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the 12-linksys-boxes-and-a-disposable-intern dept.

Networking 140

An anonymous reader writes "In spite of Linux's great networking capabilities, there seems to be a shortage of suitable hardware for building an enterprise-grade networking platform. I've had success on smaller projects with the Soekris offerings but they are suboptimal for large-scale deployment due to their single-board non-redundant design (eg., single power supply, lack of backup 'controller'). What is the closest thing to a modular Linux-capable platform with some level of hardware redundancy and substantial bus/backplane throughput?"

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Server (3, Informative)

psergiu (67614) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243689)

Try a Dell server.
Official Linux support - check
Redundant power supplies - check
Remote LAN console - check
Server-class motherboard with loads of bandwidth - check
Rack-mountable - check

Re:Server (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243743)

Yeah, a remote LAN console that is atrocious if you want (god forbid) use something other than their toy web-GUI to admin it, buggy as hell (prone to lockups), plus it shares the main ethernet port, making out-of-band management impossible (a right PITA if you lose network at the link level).

I've worked on a mix of DELL, HP, IBM, and Sun hardware, and DELL's were by far the most problematic and difficult to admin, but they were a lot cheaper than the others. I guess you get what you pay for...

Oh, and I think the original article question was referring to networking hardware, not servers, things like layer 3 switches, bridges, routers... places where an enterprise server would be a waste of power and money. Good question though, I don't know of any linux networking hardware that is open :-/

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243787)

You don't need to use the web GUI. There's racadm

Re:Server (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243927)

I know, my point is that the command line just wouldn't work propoerly. Whenever I tried it tended to eventually lockup, which involved getting someone to the DC to yank the power out and reset it. Perhaps I should have written it better in my original post...

Also, the command line was confusing, and I swear it was based on XML of some sort.

The only thing that worked ok was the web GUI, which I wasn't happy with. I really liked the Sun and HP iLo systems, and they were stable and the command line ssh interface worked, allowing for easy scripting. However I believe the HP machines cost more, which was why we tried to switch to Dell.

Re:Server (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#40246109)

Also note that if your setup had the RAC sharing the main Ethernet port either you had it configured to do so or they cheeped out and didn't by the nice RAC's as normally once with RAC's have dedicated ports for the it with an option to use the main ports.

Re:Server (3, Insightful)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243917)

If they want networking hardware, linux *ISN'T* the way to go.

Juniper, Cisco, others.... (I dunno anymore but there is I'm sure).

As you said yourself, you get what you pay for. If you buy crap, you'll get crap throughput.

Re:Server (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244019)

Cisco is crazy overpriced for the throughput you get. A cheap linux server acting as a router can easily beat many cisco devices.

Trying to compete with switches on the other hand is crazy talk.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244435)

The Nexus 7000 runs Linux (the NXOS is basically a shell), not sure about the others but I would not be surprised. It also uses x86 hardware, which I found neat.

Re:Server (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244497)

Are you talking Layer 2 or Layer 3 switches?

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40245199)

Considering most layer 3 switches are just a router inside a switch... Well it doesn't really matter anyway. Getting that number of Ethernet interfaces on a server would cost as much as a good L3 switch and wouldn't be nearly as fast.

Re:Server (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40246049)

Layer 2 is switching. Layer 3 is routing.

No matter what the marketing morons say.

Re:Server (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244733)

2nded, 3rded and 4thed.

The Cisco 800 and 1800 series can easily be replaced with a linux box. The 800 is just a SOHO router and the 1800 has 2 EHWIC slots for various WAN cards.

The 2800, however, has 4 EHWIC Slots, and going up from that you have the 3900, 4500 series and 7200 which do different things. The 3900 has lots of EHWIC Slots, the 4500 is a 10-slot backplane router designed for telco systems (e.g. you want 2 backplane computers, then you want 6 backplane cards with 10, T1 ports apiece and 2 backplane cards with 10 T3 ports apiece) and the 7200 has I believe 8 modules on a back-plane with a built-in computer module that can handle something on the order of 24 EHWIC slots or more powerful modules (e.g. modules that can do 3des\AES VPN without adding significantly to latency).

So I'll agree with you the 800 and 1800 series can be done cheaper on Linux; get a cheap dell Rackmount, install linux, turn on the routing functions, buy the appropriate HBA for your WAN link, and be done with it. If you need to break 2, T3's into Ethernet, it's far cheaper.

Load-balancing is a function of installing multiple linux boxes and using routing protocols. You install 2 ports per switch and configure STP in a staggared fashion (switch 1,3,5 uses linux box A and has ports to linux box 2 disabled. The other set of switches is set up in the opposite fashion). If one box implodes, STP re-enables the backup port, sets it as the gateway for quad zero traffic, SNMP Server sends you two messages at 2AM (Linux box A is down, Link A is up) and you reset the alarm clock for 5AM instead of 7. And that's just L2 switches; you can use 2, L3 switches as your high-availability backend then set up load balancing on that sucker using routing protocols (e.g. OSPF).

However, if you're going to be running a Telco, or if you are going to break OCx Lines to T3's or T3's to T1's in an enterprise, the Cisco kit has a very good value at your Core layer.

Re:Server (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40245177)

On the low-end, you are right. But anywhere that you actually use the features that set a Cisco router apart (enterprise-scale redundancy, failover, etc) you will be glad you bought Cisco. Plus, with dedicated hardware, I can take a failed device, pull the config from backups, drop it on the new device and be back up and running in minutes.

In the sub-$1000 market, there are plenty of better options than Cisco. I'm a big fan of Fortinet; their cloud management features are pretty slick, and their devices offer so much functionality that it would be difficult to duplicate with just a server. There are so many inexpensive options here that building your own simply makes no sense at all when for the same price, you could just buy a FortiGate and be done with it.

In short, roll your own routers are fun projects, but at the end of the day it'll just be cheper to buy a commercial router. With a router, you're not buying hardware, you're buying the software. And most of that software is sufficiently complex as to not make you feel ripped off.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40245539)

Cisco's modern DC switches. I.e. Nexus actually run linux.

Re:Server (2)

pedrop357 (681672) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245635)

Their firewalls (at least the ASA) run a version of Linux too.

For others reading:
Some people mentioned Juniper. JUNOS is based on BSD. On the router platforms I've touched (m10 and m320), you can drop into a shell and see the filesystem layout, etc.

uname-a at the shell on an m10i:
JUNOS Hostname 11.1R4.4 JUNOS 11.1R4.4 #0: 2011-07-30 10:27:32 UTC i386

Re:Server (4, Interesting)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244147)

If they want networking hardware, linux *ISN'T* the way to go.

Juniper, Cisco, others.... (I dunno anymore but there is I'm sure).

As you said yourself, you get what you pay for. If you buy crap, you'll get crap throughput.

Actually, that isn't true at all. Linux can compete toe to toe with Cisco, Juniper, Big Iron, and others. This is specifically why Vyatta [] has so much invested in it. Vyatta has come up with a Linux distro that is designed to replace this proprietary hardware. To boot, Vyatta has scored several major Fortune 500 players. Additionally, OpenBSD [] has routing facilities that are a force to be reckoned with. Several of my clients use Lenovo M71e's with OpenBSD as routers that I built. I replaced the traditional HD with an SSD and bought high-end intel networking boards. Contrary to "conventional" wisdom, these have been near perfectly reliable. They use BGP and IPSEC to interface with my Amazon VPC.

Re:Server (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244337)

Want to use anymore buzzwords in what you just said.

I do need to look into Vyatta...... but my point is the questioner doesn't know wtf they want. They don't specify. If they want switches. HAHAHAHA. We know thats laughable.

I did forget the BSD's, but thats because I rarely use them. I use linux alot at home and at work, and yes my home router runs linux and so will my new one (which happens to be a Alix board similar to those that were linked in the summary.)

Re:Server (2)

dvNull (235982) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245017)

There is also Mikrotik []

Re:Server (2)

SaDan (81097) | more than 2 years ago | (#40247013)

Mikrotik can also run on PC based hardware, so if you have some task that requires a pile of power, you can find the hardware to do it. []

Re:Server (2)

0racle (667029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244413)

It's not the reliability that is the issue, you can get very reliable server machines. It is the benefits that the ASIC's bring to the various platforms from Cisco, Juniper, HP and whatnot. You can get away without them because for a great number of usage scenarios you don't need them, but when you do, the dedicated hardware will reliably out perform a general purpose OS on a general purpose machine. There is also the benefit that a Juniper router or a Cisco switch use a whole lot less power then that tower.

Linux and OpenBSD do have a place, probably more places then they are deployed (but a lot of that will be support reasons), but you can not ignore the fact that the more traditional networking devices from traditional networking vendors also has their place. Picking a tower running Linux when you really did need what that Cisco/Juniper device can do will hurt you more than putting that Cisco/Juniper where you could have used Linux.

Re:Server (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244471)

Cisco's IOS is based on Linux, while Juniper's OS is based on BSD. So if the OP buys CISCO, he gets what he was asking.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40245009)

Wrong. IOS is a custom closed source OS developed internally by Cisco. The new IOS XR is based on QNX.

Re:Server (1)

mattsday (909414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40246497)

Cisco is presently moving to IOS-XE [] which is the classic IOS binary blob running under a Linux kernel, which strikes them a balance between stability/portability (Linux) and features (IOS).

Of course, it's somewhat disingenuous to describe IOS-XE as "Linux" as it's really using it as a hardware layer - more like a heavy hypervisor which can host other applications.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244595)

The current IOS XR and NX-OS lines of devices run Linux, Juniper all run FreeBSD and pretty much all of the others run something similar with a LARGE amount of them running something Linux based. Force 10 runs NetBSD, Extreme runs Linux, and I'm honestly not aware of a vendor who does not run one of the three. Some of the older units ran old-school embedded OSes like QNX, but recently they've moved to Linux based RT systems.

Sure it is (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40246021)

If they want networking hardware, linux *ISN'T* the way to go.

That depends on what you want. The most useful part of having Linux on my router is that I can make it do what I want it to do. QOS, firewalling, those just scratch the surface. Someone who knows Linux networking well, or is willing to put a little work into it, can make a router that does virtually anything.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40247019)

Arista, champ of high performance low latency switches, is Linux based.

Dell Hell (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243939)

I run a 50/50 mix of Dell and HP Proliant servers. About 30 of each brand. All of these are fairly new, within a few years of age.
By far, the Dells do break down more often. The HPs seem to only lose hot-pluggable hard drives every now and then, but the Dells lose drives, PSUs, cooling fans, RAID controllers and even had a motherboard fail. However, the latest batch of Proliants I bought seem to not be built as good as in the past either. We'll see how well they hold up. It's all Foxconn junk nowadays. The new servers do perform very fast however, you do have to give them credit there.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243953)

Yeah, a remote LAN console that is atrocious if you want (god forbid) use something other than their toy web-GUI to admin it, buggy as hell (prone to lockups), plus it shares the main ethernet port, making out-of-band management impossible (a right PITA if you lose network at the link level).

You're clearly referring to the iDRAC Express, which is admittedly a piece of shit, and only really included for people who don't care about remote management. The iDRAC Enterprise is all but identical to an iLO, and has none of the issues you list. It costs more, but so do the dedicated remote management cards from HP, IBM and Sun.

Re:Server (1)

InterBigs (780612) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244047)

Actually, all the DRAC Enterprise cards that I've worked with (say the last two or three generatios) have a dedicated ethernet port. The whole management card functions separately from the server, as it should. Sure, the remote console works through a Java Web Start application which seems kludgy but it has never failed me (much like pretty much all Dell server hardware we operate over here).

However I agree with you that a complete server would be a waste of resources for this scenario so it's kind of a moot point.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244903)

That's not completely accurate re: sharing the eth0 port. If you get the DRAC 'Enterprise' version, it has a dedicated port.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243809)

Front panel LCD suitable for remote graffiti - check

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243821)

Strictly speaking, the network interfaces on a Dell server are not open. You have to load them with non-free (as in freedom) firmware from Broadcom.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243827)

How many NICs can you put in one Dell server? Enough to build a decent sized switch?

Re:Server (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243887)

Just looking at the 1U box in front of me, it has 4 ports on board and you could put in two more quad port cards.

12ports in 1U is pretty terrible.

Building your own router that way seems fine, but switches don't really seem feasible.

Re:Server (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40246089)

Good for you and your 1U box, but you need to use the right tool for the right job. A quick google search turned up at least one server vendor who has a 1U server with 32 ports onboard. Yes, you can get more ports on a dedicated switch, but in this case you're basically combining a switch/router/server in a single 1U chassis, which should make up for the space savings. I imagine that you'd want to replace one of the network modules with something faster for uplink anyhow, though.

Re:Server (2)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245097)

It would be cheaper to purchase an advanced Layer3 1Gb/10Gb switch than to make a computer into a switch, not to mention better performance under load. Many L3 switches can do IPv4/6-routing + vLAN + ACL at full media speed on all ports at the same time

Where a computer competes for price and performance is an edge router, assuming only some 10Gb links. I don't think a computer could keep up with those high end 100Gb+ links when they're using custom hardware.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40247509)

I think 4 10 gig-E links is about the limit of current hardware. Each 10G is 1250 megabytes per second each way(theoretical maximum). Assuming Dual Channel DDR2 @ 800mhz you're looking at... 4.4ish gigs a second or about two cards at full saturation with a stopover on the cpu. Up to double that on server-grade ECC DDR3. Hence 4 cards is about the max you could look forward to, assuming no other chokepoints in the system. I assume this is the reason 10G, despite being.. 10ish years old, hasn't taken off in the same way 100 megabit did (and gigabit failed to, although it's approaching 'ubiquitous' nowadays.)

That said, I think the next jump in networking speeds isn't going to happen until board-level optical interconnects start becoming common. There's too many potential electrical issues in modern hardware and reducing those by only relying on electricity for supply not signal should go a long way in mitigating that.

But hey, I'm not an EE, or a physicist, or any of a number of other possibly related fields, so maybe someone who is can chirp up :)

Re:Server (1)

ChrisBachmann (1675584) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244107)

I'll need to echo this. They also have Broadcom NICs with TOE + iSCSI offload. I use some Dell blades with a dual head Sun 7410 system and that runs Citrix XenServer running Debian squeeze VMs plus some windows VMs. The blades are built to have redundant NICs and room for up to two more network types. Whether it's ethernet, fiber channel, ininiband, etc. Plus the network modules in the blade chassis can be switches themselves. Plus the range of product options is pretty good too.

Re:Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40246703)

DELL hardware is "MADE IN CHINA" garbage, and one CAN NOT get it without hardware RAID; and their hardware RAID is LSI MegaRAID garbage with the worst CLI ("MegaCLI") ever.

Take my advice son: get a noname, generic 19" mountable server from intel, ASUS, TYAN or SuperMicro, slap Solaris 10 with ZFS on it, and enjoy the most advanced networking stack the computer industry has to offer. If you can get a server manufactured by intel themselves, Solaris 10 works particularly well on those, because intel has a dedicated team of Solaris kernel developers.

Re:Server (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 2 years ago | (#40247069)

Or just get a Power Router running Mikrotik OS (Linux based) []

duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243699)

Xeon/Opteron based platform. you want enterprise, you order enterprise--something with ECC, and you could probably use memory mirroring on such an networking platform. Then, get the latest Intel NIC's whic have ECC throughout the NIC's components (not sure if new feature, or only newly advertised).

then, choose a major vendor. IBM/HP/Dell/Supermicro

every appliance uses linux (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243749)

checkpoint, xangati and a bunch of others i've seen use linux. have you even looked?

Re:every appliance uses linux (2)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243789)

Of course they haven't. Ask Slashdot is the place for incompetent IT monkeys to get told how to do the basic tasks of their job.

anything vyatta runs on? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243751)

Re:anything vyatta runs on? (1)

garrettg84 (1826802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243941)

Mod parent up! Vyatta CLI is very much like the other big network vendors as far as configuration goes. The hardware is the choice, however they do actually provide appliances. Vyatta is excellent for both routing and firewall purposes. Above link points local, here is actual link: []

Re:anything vyatta runs on? (0)

bandy (99800) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245597)

"Like" but isn't really. Most of the commands my fingers remember from not only using IOS, but from having added new features and fixed bugs in it, don't work. First stumbling blocks: conf t and wr t. They're definitely trying, and if you fiddle with it long enough, you can actually get a pair of tunnels to an AWS VPC with "redundant" BGP up.

Re:anything vyatta runs on? (1)

garrettg84 (1826802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245799)

Yes. Exactly the definition of "like". This is exactly why I chose the word. I'm sure CISCO's intellectual property goons would take issue if it were EXACTLY IDENTICAL (why I did not use the words 'exactly' or 'identical' in the original comment). Good for you with your mastery of IOS. I've had no troubles with BGP or any tunneling/VPN I've had to set up with Vyatta, we use it extensively in a very large virtualization environment. The original posted question was asking if there was any enterprise grade hardware that ran linux, not your opinion of the hardware and it's configuration compared to IOS.
If they ran IOS on it, it wouldn't be linux and it would defeat the original posed question.

Re:anything vyatta runs on? (0)

bandy (99800) | more than 2 years ago | (#40246939)

I'm sorry I voided in your Cheerios.

Re:anything vyatta runs on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40246023)

They're de-emphasizing and phasing out physical appliances to bolster the software/services model now...

Lol (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243753)

Translation: Please do my job for me because I'm an idiot. Oh and don't tell my boss.

Re:Lol (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244603)

So anytime someone posts an Ask Slashdot question, it means that they're idiots? Nice to know. The OP would have done well to have been clearer as to whether he was talking about servers or networking gear. But aside from that, if the OP is looking at sinking a whole ton of cash, which he'd have to in order to get all the things he listed, such as redundant power supplies, backup controllers and so on, he is doing the right thing by asking around people who have made high value purchases to find out which ones work w/ Linux, and which don't.

So if you had this job, all you'd do is visit the websites of the vendors in question and look @ their online product catalogs, where they are bound to list their shortcomings as well as their strengths? Good idea!

Supermicro (3, Informative)

BaronAaron (658646) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243761)

I've used Supermicro equipment for years. Their 1U Atom based systems work great for firewalls, routers, or any other kind of Linux network device. Low power, mostly fanless (power supply has a fan), expansion slots, decently priced. You can go up the line to full blown Xeon based systems with all the redundancy you need.

Their support is good also. You get to talk to knowledgeable people who speak English.

Supermicro website []

Re:Supermicro (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243843)

Dude said enterprise. Supermicro does not provide enterprise support, they have fine phone support but replacements are slow to arrive and unreliable. Hell their build quality is dodgy at best. (Stuff may not fit identically unit to unit, poorer quality fans, etc) I like them a lot, used them for a 400 server build a couple years back, the cost/value is fantastic, but they are not "enterprise" by any stretch. Just reasonably priced Chinese server gear.

Re:Supermicro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244033)

I can also give a thumbs up to the IPMI features (especially the remote KVM over IP); I won't buy anybody else's server boards because of this.

Arista? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243771)

If you're looking for very high throughput switches and network equipement running Linux, I heard about Arista a while back which might be what you want:

Their switches essentially run a standard Linux userspace with extra daemons controlling the switching hardware.

Re:Arista? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245119)

Thanks for the info. Never heard of them, but nice to know.

ImageStream (2)

acoustix (123925) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243793)

I have a friend who operates a small ISP in rural Iowa. I believe he's using ImageStream [] routers. Just a quick look at their lineup and I'm guessing that they can cover small to mid size businesses. They claim to be able to replace Cisco 3945 and 7206 routers. I'm not sure about hardware redundancy though.

Re:ImageStream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40246833)

Great they can replace Cisco routers from the early 90s. The Cisco 7206 hasn't been state of the art since 1993 or so. Replacing it with a Linux box isn't impressive.

You don't need linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243813)

You just need the hardware with the highest throughput and fastest switching. That is going to be something using FPGAs to help intelligently route gobs of traffic and using an iOS interface. What use would Linux be?

Re:You don't need linux (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244665)

Uh, IOS is Linux based. And it's not iOS - that's Apple's iToy OS. IOS is Cisco's OS for managing their routers.

Oh, and while on this topic, make sure it supports IPv6.

Re:You don't need linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40245133)

Where did you get the idea that Cisco's IOS is based on Linux?

Re:You don't need linux (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245241)

Just checked out wiki - stand corrected

Have you imagined... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243815)

...a Beowulf cluster ?!?

Try ALIX? (3, Informative)

guises (2423402) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243903)

ALIX boards can run Linux or FreeBSD (Monowall, pfSense) and support PoE, so you can set up your own redundant power system. For board redundancy, just use two routers.

Actually, the Soekris boards seem to be similar - they both use x86 CPUs.

Re:Try ALIX? (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245243)

ALIX boards are nice but they're a step back from the soekris in terms of performance.

Re:Try ALIX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40247247)

Current ALiX is a little long-in-the-tooth, but they are 100% "PC-compatible" and fantastically reliable, even in my tropical off-grid installation.

Switches (2)

laptop006 (37721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243905)

Pretty most software devices I've seen have either been a rebadged Dell or Supermicro, with the top end running custom cases, and the low end doing whitebox.

In terms of "real" networking kit though, there is a bunch of switches that run linux:

Arista (everything)
Extreme (everything running XOS, which is all current models)
Cisco (everything running IOS XE, the only switch being the 4500-X)

All Juniper devices that run JunOS are FreeBSD, this includes both the EX and QFX switch lines, as well as their SRX firewalls.

Also most of the openflow-aimed switches run Linux, eg []

Re:Switches (1)

Hydrian (183536) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245391)

Just as a point of reference, the Juniper Secure Access (SA) switched from BSD to Linux in firmware >= 7.x.

Re:Switches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40247303)

Cisco switches with IOS XE may be running a unix kernel to provide the UI and overall system control but all the performance-critical stuff - L2/L3 packet forwarding, ACLs, QoS queuing/policing etc - is done in custom hardware. The vast majority of the traffic that goes through the switch doesn't touch the CPU at all.

There's plenty (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243989)

There's plenty of options, but relatively few that an individual might be able to purchase for a pet project or for a small number of prospective clients.

Off the top of my head, Dell offer an OEM scheme [] whereby they'll rebrand one of their servers with your logo and install your software on it before shipping it out to your customer; another company called NEI [] will do something similar. I've actually got an NEI box right next to me now - I'm the customer of a company that uses them.

HP is good (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244099)

Their Proliant line is still pretty good and supports *nix.

Re:HP is good (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244877)

It seems the OP was talking about networking gear. But if he was talking about servers as well, then HP's Integrity servers would be even better, since one knows that they are enterprise class and would scale well. Granted, the options of OS are pretty thin here - on Linux, there's only Debian, and on BSD, there's only FreeBSD. But the good thing about that it that it forces the company to stick to FOSS like ProgreSQL, which in the long run, ensures that it will be around regardless of support. The temptation to switch to Windows 2008 Server or Oracle Linux or other such things are eliminated.

Penguin Computing (1)

ggendel (1061214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244117)

We've had good results with boxes from Penguin Computing. We get boxes with redundant power supplies, redundant NICs, and RAID. We've spent a lot of time qualifying these boxes before deploying them to our customers and currently have a lot of them in the field.

Re:Penguin Computing (1)

ggendel (1061214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244155)

I need to qualify this as our needs may not be yours so their offerings may not be suited to your task.

Don't tell anybody... (3, Interesting)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244161)

...but I use Sun Microsystems hardware for this task.

The X2100, X4100 series servers more than meet my needs, and are available on the used market for a song these days.

The lights-out management works great, the rackmount kits and cable management arms are first-class, the hardware is well-made, and they look cool. Heck, they're even certified to run RHEL 5 or so.

Best of all - buying used Sun gear and putting Linux on it pisses off Larry Ellison. What more could you ask for?

Re:Don't tell anybody... (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244743)

Would putting Oracle Linux on it piss off Larry? Since Oracle Linux is rebranded Red Hat Linux. Or does Oracle Linux not support Sparc, even though Red Hat does? That would be too funny.

Or were you talking about putting a non-Oracle Linux, such as either Red Hat itself, or something like Debian or something else? If you put on it BSD flavors like OpenBSD, pFSense or Monowall, that would be like dragging it from its SVR4 roots back to its BSD roots, and would be even funnier.

Re:Don't tell anybody... (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 2 years ago | (#40246817)

Not sparc, for Linux I use AMD Opteron Suns. These are very high-quality rackmount PCs.

And I put CentOS on 'em.

That oughta get Larry steaming.

Firmware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40245207)

Last time I tried to do update firmware on an x2100 I needed an Oracle Support account.

I don't have, and won't have one of these, so my machine is stuck in 2008.

Re:Firmware? (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 2 years ago | (#40246945)

My X2100s have been running continuously since 2008, so I haven't even /tried/ to upgrade them.

Never saw a need to upgrade the X2100 M2s I have.

Besides the BMC software, are there any firmware upgrades that are necessary?

(Note - BMC software upgrade is not necessary, but it is nice)

Of course, I don't have a support contract either. I couldn't hang up the phone fast enough when I was quoted over $25,000 to bring an Ultra 5 "back into compliance" so that I could get a firmware upgrade I *did* need. I threw it out instead.

I worry less about x86 hardware in this regard. It's not like the PC industry is particularly good about this crap in the first place...

Any vendor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244181)

HP, Lenovo, Dell... pick any major vendor. This is their bread and butter. Or is the issue that you don't really want to pay for enterprise-grade?

Lanner Inc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244211)

You might want to give Lanner x86 hardware a look:

Then have a look at some of the hardware that WatchGuard supply. Look similar?

(I have no association with Lanner other than having considered their hardware for a similar project)

Take a look at ImageStream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244287)

You might want to take a look at ImageStream's ( line of Linux based routers.

What you want is a "switch" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244437)

Companies like Arista Networks make switches that run linux and that expose that linux to the end-user.

My Day Job. (5, Informative)

cheetah (9485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244625)

Ok first thing first, I work for ImageStream as the Technical Support manager. So I might have a slightly biased viewpoint when it comes to the place I have been working for the last 16 years... But we have been doing Linux Based networking for the last 14 years.

What the OP wants to do is rather difficult for a few reasons. First, after shipping thousands of Linux based routers I can tell you that redundant power supplies that fit into standard PC hardware have a much higher failure rate than a standard Power Supply. Granted, if you have a failure you still have a functional power supply(which is now working twice as hard and is even more likely to fail).

Second, standard PC hardware just doesn't support multiple redundant components. Sure you can get redundant power supplies, but redundant buses or Cpu's your talking different about a totally different class of hardware(see below).

Third, If you truly have an Enterprise application, and your asking about hardware to support your application you are already in over your head. Sorry it's just the truth. The OP is talking about building a custom solution for a mission critical application and they have to ask on slashdot about hardware solutions. What happens when(not if) the OP has a problem. The real reason that many people buy our(ImageStream's) hardware is for the support. If something doesn't work they don't have try and troubleshoot a strange Pci bus condition or an obscure Linux Kernel issue that you only see when you have +5,000 networking interfaces in a system. It's one thing if your a Google and you want to build something that just doesn't exist like the OpenFlow switches they are using in their Gscale network. But for a normal organization you are going to spend money and time to develop your custom solution and in the end if anything doesn't work, you will spend more time fixing it.

Now if the OP still wants to do this... I would look at an ATCA (AdvancedTCA ) chassis. You can get support for a redundant dual loop back plane, multiple CPU cards, redundant power supplies and in most cases a out of band management module for the chassis. But this is VERY costly hardware. If your not budgeting at least $20k in hardware your likely not going to end-up with anything that had real redundancy.

Re:My Day Job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40246783)

"Second, standard PC hardware just doesn't support multiple redundant components. Sure you can get redundant power supplies, but redundant buses or Cpu's your talking different about a totally different class of hardware(see below)."

this statement is only partially true, modern systems, even desktop boards--a number of the PCI-E lanes are direct from the CPU. true, there are some which can also come from the south-bridge, but for server class---most come straight off the CPU. redundant cpu's are more tricky--i believe the high end xeons can do this if the software supports. do any network gear companies actually have redundant CPU's in their gear?

nobody has mentioned ATCA (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244677)

Current state-of-the-art in off-the-shelf ATCA gear (chassis, switch cards, compute cards, etc.) provides redundant 40-gigabit backplane connectivity on the data fabric. It's available with linux support.

It's telco-grade stuff, so redundant power supplies, redundant fans, redundant networking, redundant shelf management, etc.

You're going to pay for it though.

Re:nobody has mentioned ATCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40245127)

The amount you end up paying for an ATCA shelf + blades will come close or exceed what you can buy from Cisco / Force10 / HP / etc. At least with the latter, it's a proven solution that you don't have to hobble together from scratch + software.

Arista (1)

jon3k (691256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244745)

Arista Networks. 10GbE, insanely low latency, insanely low per port cost and last I checked was running a Fedora kernel and userland.

"Enterprise Grade"..."Networking Hardware"... (1)

E. Edward Grey (815075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244761)

You don't define precisely what you mean by these things.

* If we're talking about switches, forget it. Cisco does it better and faster, easier to manage, with more robust hardware and a better service plan (limited lifetime warranty on all fixed configuration switches!). A non-Cisco switch doing anything of value on your network is a surefire way to convince me that you are bush league.

* Routers - it really depends. What are you going to do? Just route traffic between LAN interfaces? A Cisco L3-capable switch will probably be the fastest for this job, considering that many of its traffic routing tasks can be done in hardware which has been made to spec. But if you're looking to stick with Linux, you can configure a Linux server with the hardware you require and load it up with a network protocol you need it to run. A Linux server can certainly run OSPF or BGP. However, what else are you need? Do you also need a firewall, a VPN concentrator, an intrusion detector, a WAN optimizer, a small phone system? Because if you need those things as well, a hardware router will do these things at once in addition to its routing tasks, with a better performance:price ratio. Configuring it is not hard to learn to do. If you don't have time, you can always phone someone else who's contractually obligated to fix it.

* Firewall - this is wide open. Every single piece of firewall software seems to approach things in a totally different way, especially in terms of management interfaces. I would look around for the one that communicates to you in the way you find most intuitive, and then buy the gear that runs that. While I know Linux on a server will have some powerful firewalling capabilities, I simply can't use most of the Linux-based management packages because they just don't seem to think the way I do. Hopefully this is remedied soon, because most firewall vendors are incredibly overpriced and, in the case of Cisco especially, occasionally hard to even obtain at all.

I'm no Cisco fanboy, although I do rely on them for my income (full disclosure). I also don't want to be a Negative Nancy, as I understand that not everyone warms up to the whole "you should be grateful to have our logo in your rack" attitude you get from Cisco...I certainly don't. But there is a reason beyond simple groupthink that causes people to buy their stuff - frankly, there just is no serious alternative when it comes to switches or multi-function routers.

Supermicro blade chassis (or Dell, HP, IBM) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40245315)

Look at the blade options from these guys.

Backplane - check
Integrated switching at the backplane - check or optional
Redundant power and fabrics - check
Modular design - check

Supermicro is more flexible in what they can turn out - this for example: can house four of these:

Redundant Hardware: Complete waste of money. (4, Insightful)

Quick Reply (688867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245331)

Here is something different to all the other experts.

It is absolutely useless to have redundant hardware, eg: Dual PSUs, Dual CPUs, Dual Motherboards, etc. on the same computer. You will never be able to 100% protect against a hardware failure as they will invariably share hardware to allow the interconnection between the redundant components to occur, it is unlikely to protect from things like a short circuit/power surge which would take out everything until the UPS. Then if a component does fail, to repair it your are going to have to take it offline to restore that redundancy anyway.

You are far better off getting two (or more) completely separate servers, geographically diverse if possible, which uses software to provide redundancy. If one goes down, the other(s) would be powerful enough to handle all the load, and when everything is rosey, it just load balances.

The real world difference is you are looking at a $5000 server with identical specs as a $20,000 but without all the redundant PSUs, etc. but you would be better off buying two $5,000 servers ($10,000 total), set them up to have redundancy of each other (So you truely have two COMPLETELY separate sets in redundant hardware of all components, and geographically separate too if possible), and as a bonus you have twice as much computing power (or scale down power draw when not needed) for when both servers are working. If you need to pull one down for maintenance, you don't need to shut off the whole thing.

If you are into Dual PSUs, etc. equipment in addition to also load balancing/fallover between other servers which also have redundancy, this is pointless because you should have ability to cope with the complete failure of a "redundant" server anyway, for the time it takes to replace the defective part the window that the other server(s) will have a failure in that time is not very high.

The only exception to this is Hard Drives, Hard Drives make sense for redundancy, not just because of their high rate of failure, but the fact that if there is a failure, it is a lot more work to recover from (Whereas other components are just a straight hardware swap) so it is saving extra work in the long run.

For a smaller environment where a small amount of downtime would be acceptable, You can even have a Cold Server, an exactly clone of the Main Server ready to go with all the software setup but powered off until needed if there is fault with the main server, the Cold Server can then be powered on to take over. There is no redundancy or fall over with this, but then again, in a smaller environment, your app might not support any kind of redundancy. With a Cold Server, just turn off the faulty server, switch on the cold server, restore the latest data set, and off you go. Microsoft doesn't require that Cold Servers hold a separate license either.

Network Appliances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40245375)

If you search for x86 network appliances, you'll get a lot of results.

A few off the top of my head.

You can also go to and search network appliances.

Most of the devices are comparable. I have an Axiomtek and Lanner device right now. I am more impressed with the build quality of Axiomtek, but it was pain to get. Lanner is easy to deal with.

I've seen what the OP wants, and it works great! (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40245655)

However, the company used FreeBSD, not Linux.

Still, it was one of the best routers the company I worked for (100.000+ employees hi-tech company) ever installed. We had mostly Cisco gear, but the FreeBSD-based routers (they used some special motherboards) were a pleasure to admin and came with some service-level routing capabilities as added bonus. Performance was stellar for the time.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40246055)

Why Linux? is it just because you like open source, and those crap closed source vendors are just plain silly? Or do you want to do something that can be done specifically in Linux? For example, we're looking to deploy configuration management (make sure feature X is turned on for every switch) on our switches and we found some that have an embedded linux controller (but not actually passes packets around) which will make this easy for us.

What is the definition of enterprise grade? If redundancy and throughput are the definition, I don't think that is "enterprise grade". All switches should provide good throughput (though some are better). Enterprise grade to me are things like increased port density to support large datacenter, and easy management with existing tools. Things such as monitoring and configuration for example should have APIs and integration with standard tools, for example.

Forget component redundancy! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40246401)

Go with the cheap router and buy TWO or more.

Deploy using VRRP or other active/standby or active/active configuration.

PICMG 1.3/SHB? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40246717)

This probably isn't the right path for the OP, but throwing this out since this is an option that might be suitable for some readers.

More "industrial grade" than "enterprise grade", but if you need a flexible high-slot-count solution you may want to look into PICMG 1.3 (System Host Board) based hardware. Instead of a motherboard with PCIe expansion slots, there is a passive backplane consisiting for a system slot and some number of PCI and/or PCIe slots (anywhere from 1 to 20 depending on the particular backplane). The system slot takes a "Single Board Computer" that performs all of the "motherboard" functions with options ranging from atom to dual xeon processors to suit most processing needs. Since the hardware is really nothing more than standard PC components on a card instead of a motherboard, just about any PC OS is supported.

If you go with a 3U or 4U chassis, you can easily find redundant power supply options and service is also easier (you can swap out the processor card as easily as any other card). The only "difficult" maintenance is a backplane failure, but even that is normally a much simpler process than a conventional motherboard layout. There is no bus-level redundancy (though with a "split backplane" you can actually have 2 indepenent units in a single chassis... but you are better off with 2 separate chassis anyway). You can easily put together a "spares kit" of processor cards, backplanes, and network cards.

These systems are mainly used in industrial settings, so they tend to more rugged than typical systems. Due to the level of customization, you would also end up spending quite a bit of time selecting a configuration and doing testing. Depending on the number of systems you anticipate needing, this might be more effort than you'd want to spend.

Many vendors to choose from, if you are interested in looking into the option here are a few starting points:
    (look under Products: Board Products). They produce high-performance processor cards (single and dual socket "Core" and Xeon).
    turnkey systems and some interesting PCIe bus extension products if you want to share a rack of cards
    a wide array of cards, backplane, chassis options including "lower-power" cards (celeron/atom) as well as higher-end.

Their web site is stupid, too (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#40247691)

Hover over the Products tab. You get choices for the various product line numbers. But this is obscurity for the public market. The marketing director might know exactly what all those numbers mean. But those who are new to this company will not. That's not to say they must not list their products by number somewhere. But I am saying they need to list their products by what functions they do and what problems they solve, so that new customers can go right to the correct pages. Potential customers won't be, if they have to step navigate sequentially by going in and out of different pages. They be better off scrolling than doing that.

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