I do like the idea of an open-source software router, and I’ve tried several of them so far. Most open-source routers would concentrate on implementing the main IP routing protocols one by one. Administration features like CLI or SNMP seem to get less attention. There is little or no support for integrated Access Control Lists, NTP, DHCP or DNS functionality. This is in sharp contrast with the commercial routers where administration and network management are first class citizens.
RCP100 seems to break the tradition. It has a Cisco-like command line interface (CLI), and all the regular administration and management protocols. Starting with version 0.99 it also features a simple and intuitive web interface, making the router accessible to less sophisticated users and beginner administrators.
In this article I will set up a basic RCP100 IP router on a Ubuntu 12.04 computer using the web interface. This means there will be lots of pictures and no CLI commands. Networking experts will definitely get bored.
I am installing the software on a regular Ubuntu 12.04 LTS computer running LXDE. This is an older 64bit machine with two Ethernet interfaces, eth0 and eth1. The computer is connected to the main network on eth0, and it is auto-configured using DHCP. Upstream, a regular small router handles the DSL Internet connection and provides DHCP services.
The steps are as follows:
Disable existing network services
I start by disabling DHCP on the Ubuntu computer. For this, I go into Preferences/Network Connections, press Wired connection 1 and in IP v4 Settings tab I switch the connection type from Automatic (DHCP) to Manual. I set the interface IP address and DNS servers field and save them. The values I chose are actually the same values pushed previously by DHCP. For DNS servers I use the public 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 provided by Google. I also disable Automatic (DHCP) on the other interface.
Starting with Ubuntu 12.04 version, a DNS server – dnsmasq – is installed and started by default on the computer. I disable it since it will collude with RCP100 DNS functionality. For this I edit /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf and comment out the dns=dnsmasq line.
When all is set, I restart Network Manager
$ sudo restart network-manager
RCP100 provides .deb packages for Ubuntu. The latest software version is 0.99.2 and it is available here. The package was build for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and it will also work on Ubuntu 12.10. I use dpkg to install it:
$ sudo dpkg -i rcp100_0.99.2_1.deb
Reseting the computer in this moment will automatically start the router. You can also start the router manually with start rcp100 command, and stop it with stop rcp100 from a terminal.
The next step is to login into the router using the web interface. I start a web browser and point it to http://0/index.html. I type in username rcp, password rcp and I am immediately asked to change the default passwords. I am then directed to the main router page.
From here I go to the configuration page, where I configure all router features I am interested in.
In DNS configuration page I just enter the same DNS server addresses – 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 – as before, and I enable DNS proxy server services. Then, I type in the password and press Save Configuration button. The local DNS proxy server is started immediately. Anybody on the network can use this server to speed up name resolution.
Interface configuration page allows you to set the IP address for all interfaces. I enter 192.168.1.19/24 for eth0 and 192.168.22.1/24 for eth1.
br0 and br1 are two bridge interfaces created by RCP100. The interfaces are mainly used for connecting virtual machines to the real network. If you don’t need them, just mark them as shutdown.
The last configuration item on the menu is Network Time Protocol. I specify two external servers for synchronization and I enable the local NTP server. I intend to use this server to synchronize the time on all the other machines on the network.
RCP100 is easy to install and run on a regular Ubuntu computer. The web interface is easy to use, you can basically set the router without any CLI knowledge. If you are a CLI fan, you can always telnet into the box and set it using the regular CLI commands. Most of the commands are exactly as Cisco’s, the occasional differences are minor and can be resolved easily by typing “?” on the prompt line.