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I was thinking of replacing my current wireless router. I could either use an old laptop or a raspberry Pi. I am leaning towards the raspberry Pi due to its low power consumption.

I was thinking of running IPFire. I would be using the basic router functionalities and the firewall and maybe set up openVPN. I might add a WAN load balancer and Bittorent in the future.

Is the raspberry PI "powerful" enough to do all that?

  • 4
    why don't you replace an old router with a new one? cheap, simple and 100% reliable and working solution. – lenik Feb 21 '14 at 9:47
  • Well..I could use the old wireless router as an AP plus is there a "cheap" wireless router with the possibility of a good firewall, VPN, WAN load balancer and maybe even a web proxy I could add later on? And did I mention the learning experience thing? – Nithin Feb 21 '14 at 9:59
  • Because with Linux he can install OPenVPN, SSH into it from outside, host some light webpages, have full control over everything. Using Raspbian will all the extra junk might be a problem but this should be just fine for home use as typical routers use 300mhz~600mhz MIPS processes with 32/64mb ram. Obviously the OS on those is micro Linux or custom kernels. – Piotr Kula Feb 24 '14 at 21:45
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In theory, the Pi can do all jobs you ask for, even simultaneously. But take in mind that this is a little 700mhz computer with Ethernet on the USB-Bus (which itself is not the fastest). Also it's limited to 10/100 Lan speeds.

IPFire with Firewall and OpenVPN running might just be fine. For the torrent part, be prepared to max out at a 100 connections and about 1 to 3 mb/s. The bottleneck here is definitely the CPU and you will experience unresponsiveness.

  • Both the WAN connections are well under 10 Mbps. I do have a separate gigabit switch. So technically the Pi never has to handle traffic anywhere near 100 mbps. I was also concerned about the torrents. So if I move torrents to a different box within the network, will it make a difference? What about wan load balancing, which will need 2 additional usb ethernet ports? – Nithin Feb 21 '14 at 12:07
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    go with a router and put openwrt on it! you won't get far with the raspberry as a ethernet device anyhow... – Gotschi Feb 21 '14 at 12:13
  • The router I have, has ddwrt.. the 4mb version. No VPN and it drops connections too.. would openwrt be different? – Nithin Feb 21 '14 at 12:23
  • depends on the router and configuration, OpenVPN works perfectly fine on my WNDR3700. – Gotschi Feb 21 '14 at 12:26
  • But wouldn't having a separate router and the wireless router acting just as the AP solve connection issues ie provide better wireless performance with the existing hardware? – Nithin Feb 21 '14 at 13:26
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I am a firewall administrator for 100k+ firewall clusters by Juniper, Cisco + Checkpoint. The Rasperry Pi (running linux or bsd) can be an excellent home firewall that on a smaller scale can do most things i do with these on a daily basis. But you have to ask yourself if you know what your doing or if you want to invest in the time to make your pi a suitable firewall. You can make a firewall out of simple ip tables rules alone. But it is a thorough understanding the rules, NATs, ALGs, ipv6 if used, creating policies etc, response types, traffic usage etc which makes some platforms easier than others.

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I configured my raspberrypi 3 as a wireless router, and my internet speed is close to 20Mbit/s. In terms of CPU performance, every time I use "top" command, "top" itself is always at the top of the list, even when it's working full speed at 20Mbit/s. Every other process takes no more than 1% or 2% CPU. I tend to believe though yours is raspberrypi 2, and you want to run a vpn service there, there's still plenty of power from the CPU.

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    This is not very useful without information about your typical traffic and the exact router software you're using. Simply configuring something as a router doesn't consume any CPU cycles. – Dmitry Grigoryev Dec 13 '16 at 8:30
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    @DmitryGrigoryev You're raising a good point. I've updated my answer to include the traffic speed. – Samuel Li Dec 21 '18 at 20:50
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Don't bother with IPFire on the Pi if you need more than 2 interfaces (Green + Red) as adding a third interface (Blue or Orange) locks it up. The IPFire developers are aware of this bug but don't seem inclined to address it. OpenWRT is supposed to work on a Pi but I have not tried it yet - just wasted 2 weeks trying to get IPFire to run. :-(

  • So what did you end up doing? So I suppose the old laptop is the way to go for me. – Nithin Feb 25 '14 at 7:28
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The official OpenWrt wiki maintains a hardware list. As you can read yourself, a Raspberry offers enough power to act as a router. Furthermore, keep in mind that a commercially sold router typically provides a web interface and therefore needs to run a web server. That web server unnecessarily raises hardware requirements. So do other redundant services added by the manufacturer such as scripts for firewall configuration etc.

Since you want to keep it simple, a device having only one Ethernet interface is not an option. This will only cause you additional work which is not applicable to more demanding topologies. No one would prefer a router on a stick to a regular device, although it allows EoUSB.

Since you did mention BitTorrent: Dedicate your Raspberry to one or more service, plug it to a switch and keep it running.

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Raspberry pi as a router/firewall is a great idea, but it is limited and not meant for it. Just seeing that it has a 100/10 nic is enough to turn me away. I own several raspberry pi's but each of them is purposed for one given task and they do superb at it. In my opininion your best option is to find a Netgear wndr3700 and flash it with the latest version of DD-WRT. I have the wndr3700 for years and is rock solid, plus it has all the needed features and you can run linux scripts for other services like proxy or minidlna. Many things are supported from the getgo like Open VPN and FTP/NAS.

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