Netgear’s New Open Source Router

So Netgear has released an open source router. Thus it has something to compete with the open source version of the venerable Linksys WRT-54GL. Garrett Smith has an interesting viewpoint on this. One that I’m inclined to agree with.

I’m not a typical user. I’m an early adopter. I don’t mind putting in some effort to making something work up to its promised potential. I also like open source, but I just don’t see the value in running 3rd party software on a hobbled router platform. It’s just not good use of my time.

I’m interested in Vyatta, which Garrett Smith notes is a worthy contender in the open source router world. However, Vyatta targets a larger and more sophisticated installation than I face. I’d suggest that Vyatta, while interesting is beyond the scope of most SOHO applications. It’s administration has more in common with Cisco IOS than a consumer Linksys or Netgear router.

Instead, I run m0n0wall on a Soekris platform. I’d also consider pfSense which has greater depth than m0n0wall but requires a more capable host platform.

When I initially implemented m0n0wall the Soekris Net4801 that I selected cost over $200, expensive compared to the Linksys WRT-54GL. But completely worth the cost for the added hardware flexibility.

However, the newer ALIX boards that from PCEngines now cost only $125 with a case. For that price I’d rather have the ALIX board than the Netgear hardware. Much more powerful, configurable, open hardware.

For me, requiring only a few systems, there’s just no compelling reason to go ultra-low-bid with Linksys or Netgear hardware when I intend to run open source software.

I generally like Netgear products, but I don’t see much value in this new router. There’s nothing to make it stand out. If it had some great new hardware capability, like more RAM, support for WMM, a couple of FXS ports and support for Asterisk…that’d be a whole ‘nuther matter.