Sunday, April 02, 2006

How We're Different

Over the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to talk to a number of people about the Vyatta and our OFR product. One question that seems to come up a lot is: how are you folks different than other open source networking projects?

This question is usually followed by a story that falls into one of three basic groups:

  • The story of a friend who has been running their network using Linux routers for years
  • The story of how closed source networking companies have used Linux/FreeBSD/NetBSD in their products since the dawn of time
  • How it's trivial to take Linux + iptables + busybox + gated and make a router

    We feel that the Vyatta OFR is distinct from each of these examples and at the same time, inspired by them. Without friends of ours (and some employees and community members) having the experience of running Linux routers for years we would not have had the information we needed to contemplate building the OFR. Closed source networking companies that take Linux or xBSD and use it for a commercial product accentuate the point. Not only do they use the open source products, they take them, add some features and sell their products.

    The third story above may be the most telling of all to our ears.... People are right - we have not developed any new technologies or protocols in the Vyatta OFR. We have taken numerous projects and built a distribution that we feel makes a whole router/firewall product. We integrated these projects into a distribution with a CLI (and a GUI to be released shortly), help system, logging system, install scripts, documentation, etc. We've spent lots of resource testing and qualifying our distribution to the point where we can confidently and passionately support it. If folks want to do this integration and testing on their own, that works too - but we think taking our free distribution may be a better use of your time :-) The way I look at it is this - if you want to get a Linux system that is more of less equivalent of Fedora you can go to,,, etc. and build your own. Or, you can go download Fedora, which, again, might be a better use of your time. So, the third story, like the first two are absolutely correct, and is a major part of our inspiration.

    This may explain why we are different from a product point of view. Yet, there is one final message about how Vyatta is different from vendors.

    We are focused on spreading the adoption of commodity software on commodity hardware. We're not in the business of selling technology or software features. We're in the business of integrating open source software into a distribution of commodity networking features, performing testing and qualification, building an inspired community, and providing commercial support to those that wish to purchase it from us.

    That's how we're different. Please let us hear your comments here or via email!


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