Linux vs. Cisco 1720

Posted on 2005-03-22
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-03-18
I have a number of Cisco 1720 routers in my organization. They are all configured with a on-board 10/100 interface and an add-in 10Mbs WIC. My issue is that I feel they are a bottleneck to my network. I can't seem to find a 10/100 WIC to replace my existing 10Mbs WIC with, so I am left searching for alternative solutions.

I have quite a few Compaq Pentium 90 PCs with 64MB lying around. My question is if this would make a viable replacement router. I would install a pair of 3Com 10/100 NICS and allow linux to route for me. Will this outperform the Cisco 1720, assuming it will go beyond 10Mbs? I am doing no special features on the router, just very basic routing.

Is the hardware enough to sustain the traffic I am looking for? I assume it is, but you know how that goes.

And finally - Is there a very lightweight kernel for doing routing only. I don't need any other bells and whistles - just basic routing!

Thanks for your help in advance!!!
Question by:jasenwalker
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 13602254
It is hard to answer your question, First, I would want to know how your network is designed, what you are running on the 1720s,
i.e NAT, routing, ACLs, etc., to see why these devices are not performing. In addition, the 1700 is a SOHO router, small office home office, and is not designed to do much more. I think the prudent thing to do is to determine what is causing this percieved bottleneck. A PC can be configured to operate as a router, but, a router is a device that is optimized for routing. The fact is that your network may not be desinged correctly or the hardware you are using is not up to the task.


Author Comment

ID: 13604889
The 1720 routers are the gateways of the subnets og my individual buildings. The physical network is made up of multiple buildings (6) tied together with 54MBs Cisco wireless equipment. Each building has a 1720 router with a subnet local to the building (ie. 10.0.x.0) on the 10/100 onboard interface, and a subnet shared by all the routers (10.1.0.x) on the 10MBs interface which then ties to my wireless bridge in each building. I am doing no access lists or NAT routing, just simple routing between buildings. Our building all share a single internet connection (6MBs DSL) which they reach thru a Sonicwall 4060 firewall (

The only pre-build routes on them are routes to each other subnet / router I have. The SonicWall handles all NAT and security functions.

I think it is pretty obvious that the bottleneck is in the fact that I cannot upgrade the Cisco units to go over 10Mbs, which was ok when wireless was 11MBs and our internet connection was a single T1 ...

I understand that the best solution would be to go out and purchase a bunch of Cisco equipment, but as a school district, that is out of the question. I had equipment lying around and thought it might have served a purpose for me.

Does this help?
LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 13607978
I can't say is your Compaq boxes could handle simple routing of a full 100Mbps connection or not. A lot will depend on what NIC's you use (Intel or 3Com PCI cards would be best) and what chipset is on the motherboard. But it would be simple enough to set up a test box and load test it in place of one of the 1720's.
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Author Comment

ID: 13608056
I was not sure they could either -  I was looking for an educated guess. Remember that any thruput over 10MBs is an improvement ... I think I only get about 7MBs true thruput using the 1720s

I was just looking for any improvement without spending big $$
LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 13608099
I'm reasonably sure that you'll get over 10Mbps, I just don't know how much more.

Author Comment

ID: 13608149
Is there a thin pre-built linux kernel made specifically for doing what I am doing? I don't need any other functions.
LVL 40

Accepted Solution

jlevie earned 750 total points
ID: 13608219
There could be, but I've never looked. If I were going to do this on that hardware I'd probably install a minimal RedHat 7.x or 9 system

Author Comment

ID: 13608555
Thanks for the help - I am going to give it a shot and see what happens - I changed out a few Pentium IIs today - I might just start with them and see what happens!

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