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Part 1: Introducing Vyatta

In the first of a multi-part series of articles, I wanted to take a minute to introduce Vyatta. Vyatta is an open source router that rivals the feature set, speed, reliability, and simplicity of the big commercial routers. Having come from a Cisco world, I struggled to find a solution that I was comfortable with for smaller firms on very tight budgets.

I have evaluated several open source and closed source systems for my current employer, and while DDWRT and Tomato have filled a gap while trying to find the right product, I finally came across Vyatta at the recommendation of a colleague.
Vyatta started as an open-source project with the aim of competing on the level of Foundry, Juniper, and Cisco. After being purchased by Brocade, Vyatta subscription edition was born, at which time they added a web interface (more on this later), and many other enhancements. Being that I came from a Cisco world, the GUI was not of terrible interest to me, but the router itself was of great interest. I needed a product which could be deployed on a hardware appliance as well as deployed in a virtual environment for a cloud infrastructure I am working on.
I talked to the folks at Vyatta, and they did their best to pitch the subscription edition to me, touting all the great things it did that the community release didn’t. At the end of the day, I found that the GUI was not much more than a web interface that showed me all the things I could type in to the console.
In regards to features, I have to say that Vyatta should fit your bill, including support for OSPF, BGP, and static routing, among others. It has fabulous support for both IPv6 and IPv4, stateful firewalling, nat translation, dynamic DNS support, VPN (IPSec, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN) and some of the absolute best documentation I have ever found for a router, free or paid.
I downloaded their community release liveCD VC6.5R1 and spun up a new virtual machine with 2GB RAM, 4GB disk, and 2 network interfaces. Booting off the ISO takes about a minute, at which point you issue the “install image” command which starts the hard drive installation process. Answer a few simple questions, shutdown the VM, eject the ISO, and restart your VM and you are ready to rock and roll.
After running the system in a production VPN environment for several weeks, I have realized that the resource requirements, despite having added 2GB of RAM and 4GB of disk, are much lower. My system is using 281M on disk, and peak memory usage has not gone over 512Mb, so I would feel safe building these using only 1GB RAM and 1GB of disk.
In the next article in this series, I will discuss how to get your system up and running. As I continue to test additional features, I will write additional articles on the seperate topics.
Next: Installing Vyatta Community 6.5R1 in a Virtual machine.


5 Responses for “Part 1: Introducing Vyatta”

  1. Part 2: Installing Vyatta Community 6.5R1 | One Bad Pixel Says:

    […] Part 1: Introducing Vyatta […]

  2. Stephen Hemminger Says:

    I work for Vyatta, thanks for the publicity.

    Just some minor correction to the histor.

    First, Vyatta started out as an open source product and the subscription edition was the same version, just with support and released more frequently. In more recent releases, some features have been added that are unique to the subscription edition, but the core set of packages are the same. The subscription edition has been around since the beginning, the Brocade buy out has not changed that.

    The GUI has had a checkered history. There was a GUI in earlier versions of the product that was useless and it used direct access to the config store and therefore was not easily maintained when the configuration access was sped up a couple of releases ago. At that time a new GUI was written. The GUI uses the REST API and both those features are now only in the subscription version (VSE).

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