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Vyatta Open Source Router Has Dell in Tow

Dell might not be offering Linux pre-installed on its PCs yet, but that doesn't mean you can't get Dell hardware for running a Linux router. It's all in Vyatta's latest commercial release of its routing software, which the company said is proof the open source model can work where networking is concerned.

Vyatta, an enterprise-grade, open-source router platform, offers a number of enhancements in version 2.0 over the first version, which debuted in July. For starters, there is a community and a commercial edition, with the commercial edition offering enterprise support options. The company also shifted from a plain vanilla Linux base it built to a Debian GNU/Linux base for its distribution.

The 2.0 version also includes VPN functionality, which had been missing from previous iterations of Vyatta's router. Dave Roberts, vice president of strategy at Vyatta, told internetnews.com that VPN was one of the most asked for features from their clients.

Initially Vyatta will include IPsec VPN functionally, though Roberts noted that a future release would include SSL VPN functionality as well. Vyatta is also offering its version 2.0 on Dell hardware as a preloaded option. Roberts described Vyatta's relationship with Dell as being a formal OEM relationship.

"It's not just us buying from their Web site, slapping on Vyatta and shipping it out," Roberts said. "We'll handle all support issues between Dell and us and we'll do asset transfer, so Dell realizes that the hardware has been shipped to an end customer."

Roberts did admit that customers will have to go through Vyatta to get a Vyatta-powered Dell router. He did add, though, that customers could order hardware directly from Dell and then install the Vyatta software themselves.

Though Vyatta is an open source project, most of the development has been done by Vyatta staff. Roberts noted that there were some technical reasons for the lack of external contributions.

"All of the source code is up there, but there are some issues in terms of the build environment, which is a bit cantankerous right now," Robert said. "People have downloaded it and have tried to build it, but they get part way through and they get an error that is a nuance of our particular build environment at Vyatta.

"We've been trying to stamp out those issues and get the build recipe well documented."

The move to have external contributions and greater community involvement is a key differentiator between Vyatta and other networking vendors.

Roberts argued that, although some vendors such as Force10 may be using an open source base, which in Force10's case is NetBSD, none of them foster open development around their software. He argued that others just use open source as a foundation than build around that. With Vyatta, open source is the platform and it is open from end to end.

The 2.0 release is also noteworthy for Vyatta in that it helps to demonstrate that the company is a viable networking option.

"We've had a lot of downloads and feedback, but a lot of it just comes down to credibility and staying power," Roberts said. "I think we're demonstrating that month by month as we continue to put out releases."