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I have some questions regarding building your own router.

  1. When should one build their own router?
  2. What are some of the advantages/disadvantages in building your own?
  3. What are some of the knowledges you need to have before building it.
  4. What is your insight in building a router?
  5. Should one who is very interested in building their own web server look into building their own router?
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1  
Wow, is this seriously about building routers? Interesting.. –  Jake Mar 14 '12 at 5:58
1  
My answer to #1 is "if you have the parts on hand, your old Linksys one doesn't work well for some reason, and you can handle setting up pfSense". At least, that was why I put one together. The PC is hardly capable by today's standards (~1GHz Athlon, 512MB or so of memory, a couple of old 10/100 NICs), but that was what I had and it works fine. (In fact, you can use older hardware than that with no problems.) –  user55325 Mar 14 '12 at 6:15
    
Answer to #1: When you want to mess with your neighbors. See my post superuser.com/a/405751/86978 –  kobaltz Sep 11 '13 at 1:01

2 Answers 2

When should one build their own router?

  • When you want to learn networking.
  • You need to do obscure and unusual things that standard distributions do not make easy. Linux offers some extremely advanced routing/networking functionality, that can be used and abused in very weird and obscure ways.
  • You are a control freak and don't want to be limited by any web interfaces, guis, scripts, or so on. You want to dig into the guts and really understand.

What are some of the advantages/disadvantages in building your own?

  • You have to learn networking
  • You have to maintain the system

Should one who is very interested in building their own web server look into building their own router?

To build a router from a general purpose OS you will have to learn and understand networking. That may help in setting up a web server, and may help you understand some complex problems, but many people run web servers with out that level of understanding.

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When should one build their own router?

  • When you want to learn networking as @Zoredache says
  • When you want to use any of Linux's advanced networking features on your own traffic in addition to routing/packet filtering/NAT, such as transparent bridging, Layer 2 filtering/frame mangling, QoS, SCTP, MPLS, Netflow, etc.
  • If you want to host VPNs on your network such as OpenVPN or pptp, doing that on the router makes things easy, especially if you want to bridge into your physical network.

What are some of the advantages/disadvantages in building your own?

  • Advantages: you probably won't have a higher level of control over the traffic and what you can do with it without buying expensive networking equipment.
  • Disadvantages: This is a critical machine that's the gateway to your network. So you need to invest in ways to keep it up constantly such as RAID, UPS, etc. It's also the same with anything that gives you more control, you have more responsibility - it's up to you to configure everything properly where you are secure, etc.

What are some of the knowledges you need to have before building it.

Basic knowledge of how TCP/IP works and how TCP/IP routing works, including the OSI model, and subnets. Know the format and meaning of each field in the IP header. Study the ip command's syntax and capabilities. Tools like iptables and tc are complex and will take you a long time to learn.

You'll likely be dealing with getting an IP from your ISP via DHCP, as well as handing them out to hosts on the rest of your network via DHCP, so knowing about Linux DHCP client and server tools is as must. You'll probably want to eventually do your own DNS so be prepared to get into that. Knowledge of routing protocols such as RIP, OSPF, BGP isn't needed unless you want to do multi-site setups with multiple routers in your LAN (really complex stuff).

What is your insight in building a router?

Never going back to a plastic router if I can help it. I have learned a lot and like the level of control I have.

Should one who is very interested in building their own web server look into building their own router?

Not unless you really want to get into lower-level stuff about how the Internet and TCP/IP works. It's convenient to run your webserver on your router but sort of bad from a security perspective.

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