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The OP of this question, Secure connect & access across 2 separate LAN Subnets using PFSense/ Sophos?, insists that the Tomato and DD-WRT router/switch/firewall/Wi-Fi devices should be on-topic.

I have taken my guidance on this subject from this Meta answer: Consumer Networking Products. I have suggested multiple times that the OP bring this up on Meta, but, for some reason, that hasn't happened.

The OP comments:

"some small business class devices" - Tomato & DD-WRT are the perfect SMB class starting points.. eventually lead up to PFSense/ MonoWall/ Sophos etc. nowiressecurity.com/#!dd-wrt-wireless-router-enterprise-ap/cn3w – Alex S 10 hours ago

and

smallbusinesscomputing.com/webmaster/article.php/3684976/… – Alex S 10 hours ago

and

PS: Additionally - flashrouters.com - Commercial Support - Does this now qualify these Open Source/ Linux based router tech for NE on SE? – Alex S 19 mins ago

The question I present is, "Does this make a difference to the community about allowing these types of questions?"

My preference is that we still do not allow these questions since it really does open up to the home "super users". Questions involving this consumer-grade equipment are currently handled on Super User by an active community which is familiar with the OSes and hardware limitations. The OP really wants the consumer-grade hardware, which typically has one WAN and one LAN, to be able to perform something for which it is not designed, and which could easily be handled by a typical SMB router.

EDIT:

I left this question out here for a week, and there has only been one answer. The answer was well reasoned, from a moderator, and a positive score. I will accept the answer since there are no competing answers, and I will assume that the community wants to maintain the status quo.

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  • Actually, DD-WRT and Tomato are capable of changing the number of WAN/ LAN ports. Also, PFSense is open source as well, M0n0wall etc are great options for SMB / Startups. Given that SDNs - Software defined networking is the way things are going, why should they be left out? If having commercial support in the market is the only barrier left then there are vendors to support. Fact is, the border line & definition of what is Consumer grade can very easily overlap with an SMB/ Startup. – Alex S Jan 8 '16 at 5:41
  • I am not saying you have to taken in Tomato/ DD-WRT etc. But just as Linux took over the Solaris space, so do these Open Source initiates have potential to do so. Especially, with the incoming IoT wave, what is commercial and consumer will change a lot and borderline OSI projects will be wide spread. – Alex S Jan 8 '16 at 5:42
  • What happens when SMBs/ Startups & their budgets cause them to use a mix of tech from both sides - some SMB/Consumer and partially Commercial/Enterprise e.g. Managed HP ProCurve stuff? What happens then? – Alex S Jan 8 '16 at 5:43
  • Typically, consumer-grade hardware has one WAN and one LAN. The multiple ports on the LAN side are usually connected as a switch, not router ports, and it doesn't matter which OS you run since the switch ports cannot be used as router ports. The single LAN is a virtual interface connecting to the built-in switch. That sort of hardware, while capable of running a more advanced OS, still only has two router ports. – Ron Maupin Jan 8 '16 at 5:45
  • @AlexS, you should post an answer detailing your position so that the community may vote on it. – Ron Maupin Jan 8 '16 at 5:47
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TL;DR: No.

More complete answer in response to comments by this user.

Tomato USB based Router - Enterprise features at fraction of price.

Just because a product has "Enterprise features" doesn't make it an enterprise class of device. Certainly either of these firmwares may be arguably better than vendor provided firmwares, but that doesn't make them enterprise.

Are you saying questions for a small company or startup are not valid here? - Most consumers dont bridge 2 lans or put in ProCurve switches.

No, this is not what we are saying, but we are also not going to say that this is the wild west and anything goes. This community has set certain limitations on the scope of the site, just as most SE sites have. Consumer devices and many "small business" devices are not considered on topic.

I understand many small businesses and start ups can be cash strapped and looking for alternative/cheaper ways to do things. But this site is not here to provide solutions for those alternatives.

If your question fits within the definitions of "on-topic" for this site, it is welcome here, whether you are a carrier, enterprise, edu, small business or start up. If it doesn't fit here, then there are other places on the SE network where it likely will. Perhaps startups.se or SuperUser would be a good fit depending on the question?

Would PFSense be called Consumer Grade or Enterprise grade?

A bit of trying to compare apples to oranges here, but I will still attempt an answer even though this can be a bit of a muddy issue. The developers of pfSense provide both a paid support option and hardware with their product pre-installed.

Neither DD-WRT or Tomato do. They are also typically run on consumer hardware, although this is not always the case.

"some small business class devices" - Tomato & DD-WRT are the perfect SMB class starting points.. eventually lead up to PFSense/ MonoWall/ Sophos etc.

The line we have drawn is if the vendor of the product classifies it as at least small business and provides a paid support option for their product(s). Tomato and DD-WRT do not fit this bill.

PS: Additionally - flashrouters.com - Commercial Support - Does this now qualify these Open Source/ Linux based router tech for NE on SE?

No, flashrouters.com is not DD-WRT or Tomato.

Actually, DD-WRT and Tomato are capable of changing the number of WAN/ LAN ports.

Depends on the hardware. On the platforms they are most commonly deployed (i.e. consumer products) this is not the case.

Also, PFSense is open source as well, M0n0wall etc are great options for SMB / Startups.

The issue is not that they are open source. Nor are we saying that they aren't good options for small business or startups. They just do not fall within what this community has determined is on-topic for this site.

There are many great tools/options/products that do not fit as on topic for this site. For instance, I just got this great new bandsaw that I haven't even unpacked from the box yet. However great I may find this product, it is not on topic here.

Given that SDNs - Software defined networking is the way things are going, why should they be left out?

Point one, we don't leave SDN out. SDN is covered by our site to some degree. However DD-WRT and Tomato do not qualify as SDN.

Point two, SDN may be the way things are going. Many promising technologies "die on the vine" so to speak. SDN is still largely only adopted in edu's or implemented as proprietary solutions.

Having just had a long discussion with the SDN experts at Gartner within the past six months, they feel that the technology is promising but still isn't something that has seen wide industry acceptance outside of mainstream vendors that have implemented it in proprietary fashions.

If having commercial support in the market is the only barrier left then there are vendors to support. Fact is, the border line & definition of what is Consumer grade can very easily overlap with an SMB/ Startup.

Which is why consumer devices and many SMB devices are off topic. The key difference is that vendors who provide paid support for their own product have a vested interest in the product. Many consumer/SMB products are given only minimal development, engineering, or QA resources once the product has launched.

Further, devices with paid support options often also provide better documentation.

I am not saying you have to taken in Tomato/ DD-WRT etc. But just as Linux took over the Solaris space, so do these Open Source initiates have potential to do so.

Linux took a LONG time "taking over the Solaris space" and can I ask you which versions of Linux are most widely deployed in the enterprise? In my experience RHES and Oracle Linux at this point. Why? Because the vendor provides a paid support option (and frankly, Ksplice is just too cool for enterprises concerned about uptime to overlook).

There are a few others I have seen deployed as well, but why only a handful among the dozens or hundreds of Linux distributions? Can I also ask you how many Linux distributions fell by the wayside while this happened? I can think of quite a list and I am no Linux expert.

There have been MANY open source products with the "potential" to make a difference. Most are now dead or only religiously adhered to by the truly faithful.

Especially, with the incoming IoT wave, what is commercial and consumer will change a lot and borderline OSI projects will be wide spread.

Most of the whole IoT buzz revolves around client or "end user" types of devices. Even when connecting to the network, most IoT devices use some sort of "bridge" and communicate among themselves using Zigbee or a proprietary wireless protocol.

From home automation to municipal wide deployments (was just working with a Silver Spring Networks deployment last month), so far the IoT has been making very little impact on networking in general even when scaled to hundreds or thousands of devices.

What happens when SMBs/ Startups & their budgets cause them to use a mix of tech from both sides - some SMB/Consumer and partially Commercial/Enterprise e.g. Managed HP ProCurve stuff? What happens then?

Happens all the time. If the question revolves around the enterprise solutions and their operation, on topic. If it revolves around the consumer products, off topic.

Yes, sometimes this does require a judgement call and we may not get everyone of those right, but that is why the site is community moderated (i.e. can be self correcting) and has a place like meta if we need to discuss things.

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  • 1
    Thanks for the detailed answer. We currently have a Mix of HP Pro Curve Managed S/W {Enterprise} + Converted to Tomato & DD-WRT Routers. There are also now vendors commercially selling & servicing these devices - vpnpick.com/dd-wrt-vs-tomato-vs-open-wrt – Alex S Jan 12 '16 at 11:33
  • Also, there are a few managed cloud management services that leverage & manage all kinds of devices - tanaza.com/tanaza-powered-access-points and docs.cucumberwifi.io/article/… – Alex S Jan 12 '16 at 11:35
  • An article on 2/3 of these companies networkcomputing.com/wireless/cloud-managed-wifi-smb/1514760925 – Alex S Jan 12 '16 at 11:37
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    @AlexS, if you disagree, you really need to post your own answer detailing your position and your justifications for your position. You just keep sniping through comments, both in the original question and here, in this question, and it looks like you just want to gripe, which is not at all productive. If you feel so strongly about it, then you should let the community vote on your position, otherwise the policy will stand as it is today. I went out of my way to do you a favor by posting this question when you failed to do so, but I can't do everything for you. – Ron Maupin Jan 12 '16 at 22:30
  • @RonMaupin - I will post an answer as well and I apologize as I am in the middle of some activities :) – Alex S Jan 13 '16 at 5:16
  • The crux of the DD-WRT/like not on-topic subject is that if these devices have exactly the same way of configuring an option as an enterprise version, why on earth wouldn't a networking professional be given the opportunity to answer the question, especially if they are not active on the likes of superuser. – user66001 Sep 24 '17 at 23:41
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    @user66001, so most deployments of DD-WRT use a centralized management platform or controller for configurations? That is a change I am not familiar with. And how are hey exactly the same as the enterprise versions if not all the enterprise versions are exactly the same? That aside, just because you say it is so doesn't make it so. – YLearn Sep 25 '17 at 1:59
  • @YLearn - I said "...__if__ these devices have exactly the same way of configuring an option as an enterprise version..". I wasn't saying there is an "enterprise" version, or not, just that if DD-WRT makes use of IPTables, and there is an Enterprise-class router that also makes use of IPTables, why of earth could a question not be given the possibility of someone familiar that these being able to answer it. It seems that questions are voted to close as off-topic without establishing whether they are about enterprise-level knowledge or not. The knowledge base in the likes of SU is different. – user66001 Sep 25 '17 at 5:54
  • Also, I don't know where your "centralized management platform" comes from... – user66001 Sep 25 '17 at 5:54
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    @user66001, most enterprise class wireless devices are configured through a centralized management solution or controller. i was trying to point out your assertion that they "have the exactly the same way of configuring an option" is patently false. For the record, most enterprise class routers do not make use of iptables. You are far better off asking at Superuser or Serverfault as has been pointed out. – YLearn Sep 25 '17 at 12:06

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