The following is the first part of a multipart series describing how I build (software not hardware) my own Linux router from scratch, based on Debian 11.
- Part 2: Interfaces, DHCP and VLAN
- Part 3: PPPOE and Routing
- Part 4: Firewall and Port Forwards
- Part 5: DNS with Unbound
- Part 6: WireGuard VPN
- Part 7: WiFi
- Part 8: NetFlow / IPFIX
For the past few years, I have been using a FRITZ!Box 7590 as my router:
It's it an amazing piece of hardware for the prize and offers anything you need for a consumer home network. It even got DNS over TLS support last year.
But for some time now I wanted to upgrade to a different router that allows for some more advanced features like:
- VPN connections (Wireguard, OpenVPN)
- Unbound DNS server
- Detailed traffic statistics
My first idea was to buy a router board and install an open source firewall distribution. After some research I wanted to give OPNsense a try. Then I looked for recommended hardware and stumbled upon https://protectli.com/ and their Vault series. I decided on a Protectli Vault FW4B:
I equipped it with 8 GB of RAM, 120 GB mSATA SSD Storage and OPNsense preinstalled. 8 GB of RAM is much more than I currently need, but this gives me room for more resource hungry software in the future.
When it arrived, I toyed around with OPNsense for about an hour until my curiosity took over and I wanted to build / configure my own router based on Debian 11.
But the vault only gives me routing capability; to replace my current FRITZ!Box I also need a DSL Modem, a Wi-Fi Access Point, and a Switch.
I live in Germany and have a VDSL 250mbit/s down, 45 mbit/s up connection. For this I need a modem capable of VDSL Profile 35b (Supervectoring). I could turn my FRITZ!Box into a modem in bridge mode, but I wanted to keep it as a backup. I went with a Draytek Vigor 165, with lots of positive reviews online.
When it comes to Wi-Fi equipment I heard good things about the UniFi gear. So, I ordered a basic AC capable access point from Amazon:
I thought about getting a managed switch, capable of VLAN, but then realized, that I would be the only one using wired connections, so I went with a cheap unmanaged one from TP-Link. This can be easily upgraded in the future if I have the need for it.
In total this was around 600 euros total. More than twice as much as a FRITZ!Box 7590. Two third for the vault alone (import tax) and one third for the other three items combined. A quite expensive setup for a home router, but also a lot of fun hardware to play with.
Up next: Interfaces, DHCP and VLAN