Commercial Routers Suck

FEBRUARY 10, 2017


For a number of reasons I've decided to create my own router. The two biggest reasons is that:

  1. Commercial hardware tends to fail after a short while

  2. You don't see updates for them often.

Another reason important to me I want some semblance of control over things in my life. One could say that that is reason 2 above restated, but it is is more. It is the common reason of why I do a lot open source projects.

Me being me, this brought me to building my own. BTW, update, it's still running in 2020!!!


Since I've been burned with commercial routers numerous times over the years, I want to make the most of investing another $300. I want something to work for a long time and work reliably.

I started with a Shuttle DS67U, it has fairly decent hardware and powerful enough for a router. The most important part is dual NICs (one for Internet, one for local area network or LAN) and a built-in wireless adapter (also for LAN, well WLAN). The NICs are 1GB and the wireless is ac/b/g/n. The full specs are:

  • Processor: Intel Celeron Processor 3855U - 1.60GHz

  • Memory: 4GB DDR3L-1600MHz SODIMM Notebook Memory

  • Hard Drive: 120GB 2.5" SATA SSD

  • Wireless: Realtek 802.11 ac/b/g/n Bluetooth 4.0 WLAN

  • NIC: Dual Intel, 1 x I219-LM, 1 x I211

Software / Distro

The next question is what do I run on the hardware. I need an OS that does all the things a router does. Professionally I use Untangle, but it had trouble recognizing both NICs (as of 2016). I did install Ubuntu, which recognized both NICs, but managing it as a router was a bit too "grey beardish" for me and my household. There is also pfSense, but I'm way more familiar with Linux.

In the end, I went with IPFire. I had more thoughts to put up here, as a sorta mini-review. But I don't have lots of time. IPFire works great as router and wireless access point. Their updates come quite regularly; usually every 3 months or so. It has a great webUI for managing everything, and have sophisticated features beyond the typical home-user. They also have a ton of Add-ons, if you want more features or to make your device multi-purpose (print server, backup, NAS, etc.).