Several readers commenting on last week's newsletter about Vyatta, an open source routing company, said this approach sounded similar to several other open source network device projects.
Vyatta uses the eXtensible Open Router Platform (XORP) source code as the base for its forthcoming product - a complete router on a CD or downloadable CD image, complete with purpose-built Linux operating system. But many readers say other open source networking packages are already doing the job.
Smoothwall, an open source firewall and VPN platform, is another project that operates on the same model Vyatta is trying to emulate: free software, fee-based service and support. Smoothwall code allows users to turn a Linux-based PC into a stateful packet inspection firewall and VPN terminator.
The IPCop open source networking project, another reader pointed out, provides a Linux-based firewall distribution that offers good performance and runs on commodity hardware.
In the past, I've written about numerous other open source security products, such as FreeS/WAN, on which one company built its entire site-to-site VPN and firewall network.
XORP - which released a new version last week - seems to be another piece of the puzzle of open source networking platforms. Focused tightly on routing (vs. firewall, IDS or VPN) the platform could be used as a base for building an open source network infrastructure, with other platforms (from Smoothwall, to Snort, IPCop and others) either riding on top of the XORP - since it allows for add-on modules and packages - or running along side an XORP device.