The soft router is gaining traction as one of the most efficient bandwidth management techniques. Hence, managing network services is now easier than ever with the soft router system for many companies. Our article will cover all the key insights of this routing solution and the wide range of its applications in facilitating access across networks.
What is a Soft Router?
A conventional network switch
As the name suggests, it's similar to the conventional hardware router. However, unlike hard routing, where there's a hardware component, soft routing involves wireless access to a network via software.
This software can run either on a desktop or a server. Hence, in this case, the software enables access control to a router, eliminating the need for sophisticated hardware devices.
Features of Soft Routering
A soft router offers multiple access methods, unlike hard routers.
Among the key properties of soft routering systems include the following:
- Robust firewall function and efficiency in bandwidth management.
- Guaranteed email security and resistance to cyber threats.
- Blocking of illegal websites, thus avoiding legal risks.
- Multiple access methods and high work efficiency.
- A user-friendly management interface.
- Reduced network management expenses.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Soft Routing
You can set up a soft router on any PC.
- It offers efficient price controllability as you can use any computer as a server.
- Also, its multipurpose as the computer/server in soft routing can also be useful in other computer operations.
- Besides, it allows flexibility in function selection. For instance, different soft routers offer a variety of functions, unlike hard routers, which have a single specific function.
- It has a complex configuration which may pose problems to users.
- In addition, it consumes a considerable amount of power.
- Also, sometimes, the server hardware is not too stable as, in most cases, PC manufacturers do not designate them for sophisticated applications.
- Moreover, software updates may delay, thus, exposing the system to virus attacks.
Best Open Source Router OS Software
Here are the 13 great open-source router OS:
VyOS router OS guarantees high-performance routing for all types of networks. Also, it supports dynamic routing protocols that include RIPng, OSPF, BGP, and policy-based routing. Besides, only internal users can access internal resources as it blocks out unauthorized users via stateful firewalls.
RouterOS from MicroTik
RouterOS from MicroTik works on the Linux kernel.
It serves as the operating system for MicroTik router board hardware, which functions on the Linux kernel. Furthermore, it avails a wide range of features such as source firewall, bandwidth management, backhaul link, VPN server, and hotspot gateway.
Besides, it offers a wireless access point and other additional network services. Also, it's among the most popular systems owing to its ease of installation and user-friendly interface.
The OpenWRT software targets embedded devices and allow users to customize the router firmware. Among its key upsides include access to numerous routing capabilities. It is similar to having numerous network ports in the conventional hard router.
Besides, access to networks on OpenWRT is cost-efficient as this is a free open source software.
It's an open-source GUI-based router software that operates on Broadcom-based routers. It allows you to perform a variety of operations that include:
- Running custom scripts
- Access to a bandwidth usage monitor to manage internet connections
- Network port forwarding
- Ability to perform a wireless site survey
- Access to wireless client modes and WDS
Note: The primary downside to this firmware is that its developers haven’t updated it in years.
It's similar to the Advanced mentioned above Tomato, as both are open source routing firmware for use in Broadcom-based routers. However, unlike Advanced Tomato, the Fresh Tomato firmware still receives updates from its programmers.
Also, its other key upside is that access to router firmware is free.
The other open-source router operating systems include:
- pfsense software
- Sophos XG Home Firewall/Router
Building a Home Soft Router and NAS with a computer
Here's a stepwise illustration of building a home soft routing system and NAS.
You’ll need an SSD state solid drives disk.
Below we've listed some of the components you'll require and the specifications.
- A 8GB RAM + 64GB eMMC ReComputer motherboard
- A m.2 SATA SSD
- Grove - OLED Display 0.96"
- Cooling fan- 8cm, 4-pin.
- An enclosure
- Fan cables, SSD cables, and grove cables.
Note that acrylic sheets with a thickness < 3mm are best for the enclosure. Also, the cooling fan cables should be suitable for a 12V power supply.
- First, connect the Grove - OLED Display 0.96" to the enclosure.
- Next, attach the cooling fan and 2.5" SSD to the enclosure.
- Afterward, it would help if you connected the 4-pin cooling fan. The four pins include the tach pin, PWM pins for connection to Arduino, the power supply pin, and the GND pin.
- Next, connect the Grove - OLED Display 0.96" to I2C, PWR, and the ground.
- Also, you require to connect the SAMD21 serial port to the Intel CPU serial port.
- Once done, reconnect the front and rear lids of the enclosure.
Note that the fans enable cooling in this system by wafting cold air, which flows over the SSD and CPU cooling fans. Hence, heat dissipation of the system is efficient.
Proxmox VE Virtual Environment installation and configuration
You need an 8GB flash drive.
- At this step, you need to install an open-source server management platform, and in our case, we'll use Proxmox VE Virtual Environment. It requires an 8GB flash drive to install. Hence, plug in the USB drive with the program to the computer to install it.
- Next, press the F7 key numerous times to activate the boot device selection interface.
- Also, if you're having problems with the installation, consult the installation document for reference.
- Besides, note that the ReComputer features dual network ports. Let one of the ports be for use exclusively in the management network of the PVE.
- Next, connect the remaining port to the soft router system's WAN port.
Here is the Arduino Program that you will require to run this system:
- First, open the program in Arduino IDE. Next, click Seeeduino Cortex-M0+, then choose the bin file featuring the compilation log.
- The Arduino IDE will generate ReComputer.ino.bin.
- Copy this file and past it in PVE.
- Next, run the SSH
- Lastly, you need to download the mosaic flash tool.
- Once this is complete, activate the bootloader mode on Arduino. You will perform this by shortcircuiting the GND and RESET.
- Next, using the flash tool, flash the Arduino program. The screen will display the CPU temperature, system load history, and current memory usage.
Note that the fan will cease working once the temperature goes below 45℃.
Also, what we’ve described above is how to create a small PVE server featuring a smart cooling system. Our server also has a 2TB disk drive capable of running several virtual machines and useful for NAS storage.
Installing Soft Routing System
- First, download and install the lede third-party modified source code/image.
- Next, upload it to the PVE.
- Note that after compiling the image, you’ll export the .qcow2 file. Next, after you’ve downloaded the image, the following code will be handy in transforming it.
- Now you need to formulate a virtual machine to import the image. First, form a new WAN network port, then reboot the PVE. It will enable the WAN you’ve just created.
- Next, you’ll create a virtual machine and after configuring it, import your Lede disk image. This disk will be visible among the virtual machine’s hardware components.
- Hence, to add it, double click. Lastly, after completing the installation process, input the address 192.168.1.1. It will lead you to the OpenWrt login interface.
Installing the NAS system
- First, download and install the NAS image, then upload it to PVE.
- Then create a virtual machine and configure it.
- Once done, boot the virtual machine, then install openmediavault.
- After the installation is complete, remove the ISO image on the virtual machine.
- Next, on the console, reboot the virtual machine by clicking Enter.
- Lastly, search the above-provided address to get the OpenWrt login interface.
Soft routing is a crucial solution to some of the contemporary bandwidth management issues we commonly encounter. Also, it is easy to access as a considerable number of the soft routing software are free to download. Lastly, please reach out if you seek further clarification on this topic.