comparative reviews

Feature overview of Linux and BSD firewall and router distributions

Note: This post features two, long tables. Unless you want to scroll from here to Burkina Faso, it is highly recommended that you do not try to view this (post) on a single page, that is, do not click the “View All” link above or below this post.

There are more than a dozen distributions listed under the Firewall and Router category on this site (see the sidebar), with many more over at Distrowatch. And that’s a good thing: The more to choose from, the better. Question is, which one is the best? Or more correctly, which one is right for your needs? Since I don’t know what features you are looking for in a firewall cum router distro, the best that can done – to aid your search – is to present the features of all the distros in a manner that makes it easy for you to choose, to see which distro has the features that you need.

The material presented in this table is based on a default installation of the distros. Some distros (IPCop, IPFire, pfSense, Smoothwall Express, and Untangle, for example) are modular by design, and the basic functionality can be extended by an additional installation of plugins, addons, or mods.

Hosting ProviderRAM, CPUStoragePriceData CentersComments
BSD Virtual Machines512 MB, 1 Core10 GB$14.95One data center - US (Fremont, CA)Minimum RAM offered is 256 MB. Only offers VPS servers at this time. Cloud servers coming soon. This appears to be a very young company. Offers the latest FreeBSD release.
512 MB, 1 Core20 GB SSD$20.67Data centers in Switzerland (Zurich), US (Honolulu, Washington DC, and San Jose, California)RAM, CPU, Storage are all customizable. You can spin up an instance with RAM and storage less than what's shown here. Offers demo account.
Company is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland.
DBI Hosting512 MB, 1 Core20 GB$16.50One data center - US (Miami, FL)VPS servers only. RAM starts at 256 MB. Offers FreeBSD 9. Based in Miami, FL (USA)
DigitalOcean512 MB, 1 Core20 GB SSD$5.00/monthData centers in the Netherlands (Amsterdam), US (San Francisco, New York), UK (London), and Singapore.Offers Droplet snapshots and ability to send snapshots to others. Second cheapest service, after TransIP.
512 MB, 1 Core
20 GB
$0.03/hr, or $21.60 for a 30-day monthUS data centers - Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA,
and Ashburn, VA.
RAM, CPU, Storage are all customizable. Only offers FreeBSD 9 at this time. Company is headquartered in Arlington Heights, IL (USA).
Host1512 MB, 1 Core15 GB$32.60NorwayLowest RAM and CPU is given here. Company is based in Norway.
Interoute (in German)8 GB, 1 Core100 GB59 € plus 29 € setup fee. That's $68.00 USD plus $33.40 setup free. Mimimum contract term is 3 months.German data center(s).RAM, CPU and storage given here are the mimimum. Company is located in Duesseldorf, Germany.
JohnCompanies512 MB, 1 Core40 GB$12.00/month. Cheaper than a similarly-configured Linux server by $2.00/month.Two data center in the US (Southern California).Offers FreeBSD 10.1 and provides backup services for files and directories only, not the entire system.
NQhost512 MB, 2 Cores30 GB $12.00/monthData centers in Germany, US and Russia.Minimum RAM offered is 128 MB. Company is based in Stodulky, Czech Republic.
RootBSD512 MB, 1 Core20 GB$19.97/monthData centers in Germany (Karlsruhe), US (Raleigh, NC and Dallas, TX).Company is headquartered in Raleigh, NC USA. Minimum RAM offered is 512 MB.
Tier1 Hosting512 MB, 1 Core20 GB $15.99 CAD/monthData centers in 18 locations in Canada, Netherlands, UK and US.Aside from VPS servers, also offers customizable Cloud servers. Company has its headquarters in Canada.
TransIP1 GB, 1 Core50 GB SSD5 €. That's about $5.77 USD at current exchange rate.One data center in the Netherlands (Amsterdam)Minimum RAM offered is 1 GB. Offers demo account. Cheapest service. Headquarters in Leiden, Netherlands.

HE: Home Edition
CE: Community Edition

Table 2 on Page 2 features IPCop, IPFire, pfSense, SmoothWall Express, and Zeroshell.

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  1. Luinux comes preconfigured so, ideally, you just have to install it and play.

  2. You can replace your routers with a small or old PC that performs all the functions and then some! They are able to handle more connections than an expensive Cisco router too.

  3. Would love to see ClearOS added to this comparison!

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