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Setting up a Linux Router

written by: Ada Stoy•edited by: Eric Stallsworth•updated: 9/12/2010

Setting up a Linux router is hardly the easiest way to configure a router. You can buy a router and just deploy it. However, setting up a Linux router on your own definitely has its advantages.

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    Why Would You Set Up A Linux Router?

    There are many reasons why you would set up a Linux router. First, if you have an old computer you are not using, turning it into a Linux router is a much better idea than simply throwing it away. A Linux router doesn't require a powerful configuration, so an old PC is just a perfect solution. You might need to acquire a second network adapter if the computer currently has only one, but this is not a big problem.

    Second, when you build your own Linux router, generally you have more control over what's deployed on it. You also have much more flexibility in regards to configuration in comparison to when you are using a router you bought from somewhere.

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    How to Set Up A Linux Router

    There are many ways in which you can set up a Linux router. It is hard to say which of the options is the best – it is up to you to decide. Here are the two ways to set up a Linux router:

    1. Get a dedicated Linux distribution. Probably the easiest way to set up a Linux router is to use a dedicated Linux distribution, such as Linux LiveCD Router. As the name implies, Linux LiveCD Router is a Linux distribution with a router functionality. It is a Slackware-based live CD, which means that you don't have to install it to the hard drive - you can run it from a disk or a USB drive.

    It is a small distribution but it has everything you need in order to set up a running Linux router. Unfortunately, the development of Linux LiveCD Router has been discontinued but the versions available online are usable.

    2. Configure an existing Linux system to be used as a Linux router. If you don't like the idea to use a discontinued distro, you can use other Linux distros and with some adjustments you can make them fit for your purposes. Needless to say, this is the harder way. You can use almost any distro you like but it is best if you get a distro, such as Gentoo, where many of the functionalities you will need are already installed.

    The procedure of setting a Linux router is pretty long and if you have a limited idea of networking, it might be a mission impossible for you. Still, if you are brave enough, this guide explains step by step what you need to do in order to turn your Gentoo into a Linux router.

    If you favor other Linux distros, then you should check their site if there is a similar guide. Though most of the steps are similar for many Linux distributions, there are also differences that can turn everything upside down. One good guide, which is applicable to many Linux distributions, can be found here. Follow the instructions and with some luck, you will soon have your very own Linux router.