ImageStream IS Gateway and Rebel Routers
Testing the operation of a high-end router without having a high-end use for it can be a serious challenge. Fortunately, ImageStream was kind enough to provide a pair of routers so I could get a feel for setting up high-speed circuits. In all of my testing, I was never able to heavily load either router noticeably. In fact, both routers took everything I could throw at them and didn't blink once.
Regular configuration file backups will be easy for people with physical access to the routers. The menu-based backup option will use the floppy drive only to save or restore. An administrator could perform his own network backups, of course, but an option to generate an archive file and store it using FTP would be nice. If you do not expect to do a lot of reconfiguring, you won't need to do a lot of backups, and the biggest maintenance hassle will be keeping the air filters clean—a hassle I could live with quite easily.
Tracking down problems when something does go wrong may be a bit of a headache. You will need to exit the menu in order to diagnose all but the simplest problems, but unlike mainstream routers, knowledge of Linux networking will actually help. The system and network interface status can be read and viewed using standard commands such as ps, uptime and ifconfig and exploring the /proc file system, but some of the most important information is unavailable. For example, you can read the current active route tables using the route command, but the router cannot tell you where the routes came from. Tracking down a BGP or OSPF configuration problem is going to be like dancing blindfolded—possible, but best done without an audience. ImageStream includes 24/7 tech support with their routers, so you'll always have a dance partner available and that should be a real help. The latest release of GateD includes new routing status monitoring tools, and when ImageStream updates their system later this year, the diagnostic capabilities will take a quantum leap forward. As it is, the limited diagnostic information available is the worst feature of these routers.
The Gateway and Rebel routers, as tested, performed every task set before them flawlessly. While there is room for improvement, especially in the area of feature documentation and diagnostic information, their functionality and features cannot be denied. If you know Linux and are looking for a high-end backbone router, the ImageStream routers should be on your list—or in your rack.
Born at the beginning of the microcomputer age, Jon Valesh (firstname.lastname@example.org) has pushed and been pushed by computers his entire life. Having run the gamut from games programmer to ISP system/network administrator, he now occupies himself by providing technical assistance to ISPs and small businesses whenever his day job doesn't get in the way.
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