4 Router OS Turns Old PC Into High Performance Router And Enterprise Network Switch

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If you have an old Windows Desktop PC lying around collecting dust, why not turn it into a gateway and router for your home (overkill and waste of electricity) or a small office network? Ideal for a high traffic environment such as a coffee shop, school, hostel, and etc. It’s an affordable way to get ‘Huawei’ enterprise features over what is available in consumer-level routers. For better electricity usage, it is a better idea to run the OS on a raspberry pi.

See More ▶ 8 Virtual Wifi Router For Hotels And Cafes With Bandwidth Control

By converting your old computer into a dedicated router and network switch, you can boost up the network services for a small-to-medium sized business, or deploy a public hotspot. You can add features such as virtual LANs, multiple SSIDs, hotspot and captive portal, and VPN server and client capabilities. Some even provide network-wide antivirus, spam, and Web filtering. Here are 4 router operating systems that will transform your old desktop pc into a powerful enterprise level ‘cisco’ router and network switch. Note: Hardware requirement may varies, more users requires more CPU processing power and RAM.

1. VyOS Router

Hardware Requirements | Minimum 512 MB RAM And 2GB Storage

VyOS Router

VyOS runs on a wide range of hardware from small office routers to large servers, as well as virtual machines and multiple cloud providers. VyOS is not just a router, it’s an open, customizable platform for network devices. Fully Open Source: Its entire codebase and build toolchain are available to everyone for auditing, building customized images, and contributing.

  • Routing – BGP (IPv4 and IPv6), OSPF (v2 and v3), RIP and RIPng, policy-based routing.
  • VPN – IPsec, VTI, VXLAN, L2TPv3, L2TP/IPsec and PPTP servers, tunnel interfaces (GRE, IPIP, SIT), OpenVPN in client, server, or site-to-site mode, wireguard.
  • Firewall and NAT – Stateful firewalls, zone-based firewall, all types of source and destination NAT (one to one, one to many, many to many).
  • Network services – DHCP and DHCPv6 server and relay, IPv6 RA, DNS forwarding, TFTP server, web proxy, PPPoE access concentrator, NetFlow/sFlow sensor, QoS.
  • High availability – VRRP for IPv4 and IPv6, ability to execute custom health checks and transition scripts; ECMP, stateful load balancing.
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2. pfSense Community Edition

Hardware Requirements | Minimum CPU 500 Mhz and 256 MB RAM

pfSense Free Router OS Turns Old PC Into High Performance Router And Enterprise Network Switch

pfSense is a free, open source customized distribution of Small FreeBSD iconFreeBSD tailored for use as a firewall, and router. In addition to being a powerful, flexible firewalling and routing platform, it includes a long list of related features and a package system allowing further expandability without adding bloat and potential security vulnerabilities to the base distribution, making it a fully qualified UTM device. pfSense is a popular project with more than 1 million downloads since its inception, and proven in countless installations ranging from small home networks protecting a PC and an Xbox to large corporations, universities and other organizations protecting thousands of network devices.

3. ClearOS Community

Hardware Requirements | 32-bit or 64-bit Processor, 1 GB RAM and 10GB HDD Space

ClearOS Free Router OS Turns Old PC Into High Performance Router And Enterprise Network Switch

ClearOS is an operating system for your Server, Network, and Gateway systems. It is designed for homes, small to medium businesses, and distributed environments. ClearOS is commonly known as the Next Generation Small Business Server, while including indispensable Gateway and Networking functionality. It delivers a powerful IT solution with an elegant user interface that is completely web-based. Simply put.. ClearOS is the new way of delivering IT.

ClearOS is agile and versatile. Designed primarily for deployment on server and network devices, it can also be deployed virtually, or can be deployed as the host OS to other virtual machines. ClearOS features Marketplace, which provides a turn-key app installation engine for quickly scaling the functionality of your server. ClearOS delivers a simple & beautiful browser-based interface. Leave the black screened world of command line interfaces behind. With ClearOS Professional, anyone can learn to manage their IT environment.

  • Bandwidth & QoS Manager
  • 1-to-1 NAT Firewall, DMZ Firewall, Egress Firewall, and Incoming Firewall
  • OpenVPN, ibVPN, PPTP Server, and IPsec VPN
  • Antimalware Signatures
  • Anti Spam Signatures
  • Content Filter Blacklists
  • Gateway Anti Phishing
  • Gateway Antivirus
  • Kaspersky Antimalware
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4. MikroTik RouterOS

Hardware Requirements | Intel or AMD 100MHz or more, 64 MB or more recommended and 64 MB space Hard Disk Space

MikroTik RouterOS Free Router OS Turns Old PC Into High Performance Router And Enterprise Network Switch

RouterOS is the operating system of RouterBOARD. It can also be installed on a PC and will turn it into a router with all the necessary features – routing, firewall, bandwidth management, wireless access point, backhaul link, hotspot gateway, VPN server and more.

5. ZeroShell

Hardware Requirements | Minimum Pentium 233MHz, 96MB RAM an ATA CD ROM reader or ATA Compact Flash adapter

ZeroShell Free Router OS Turns Old PC Into High Performance Router And Enterprise Network Switch

[ Discontinued ] Zeroshell is a Linux distribution for servers and embedded devices aimed at providing the main network services a LAN requires. It is available in the form of Live CD or Compact Flash image and you can configure and administer it using your web browser.

It includes many enterprise-type features, including virtual LAN (VLAN) support, a RADIUS server for 802.1X, VPN server/client, captive portal, proxy-based virus filtering, and UMTS/HSDPA support using 3G modems. It also offers load balancing and failover of multiple Internet connections. It has a wireless access point mode that works with Atheros-based wireless adapters and supports multiple SSIDs and VLAN. You can configure the settings through the Web-based control panel.


  1. Gravatar

    RouterOS isn’t free….

    • Gravatar

      Where in the title did it say free?

  2. Gravatar

    ZeroShell demands donations for the package-repository to work, so also not free.

  3. Gravatar
    Wini Hapa [ Reply ]

    pfSense is free.

  4. Gravatar
    Don McCauley [ Reply ]

    Another option is Untangle. Also works on older PC and turns it into a router. basic is free but more advanced addons cost- fail over etc.

  5. Gravatar

    Sophos have a free version of their paied firewall. very rubust and free, it works very well on PC.

  6. Gravatar

    VyOS is an open-source router

  7. Gravatar
    Tatum Dilley [ Reply ]

    Go Ziggy!

  8. Gravatar
    Darren [ Reply ]

    Untangle is the best

  9. Gravatar
    Will Jacks [ Reply ]

    Untangle at Home, Home Protect Basic is $50.00/year, wiuth Home Protect Plus $150.00/year.

  10. Gravatar
    Ricardo [ Reply ]

    VyOS is an open-source router, but not free

  11. Gravatar

    The vast majority of operating systems out there can act as a “however one chooses” to deploy. The specifics that “someone else did the work to make to a specific need”, will always come at a cost. Every listing here is well worth the small asking price.

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