Linux Router

Creating a Linux router is fairly simple. Some distros like Alpine Linux are well suited for it but any will do. I used Debian in this example.

Install the base OS without a desktop system. Assuming you have two network interfaces, pick one to be the LAN interface (traditionally the first one, eth0 or such) and set the address statically.

Basic Routing

To route, all you really need do is enable forwarding.

# as root

# enable
sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

# and persist
echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward=1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf

Private Range

If one side is a private network, such as in the 192.168, you probably need to masquerade. This assumes you already have nftables installed and it’s default rules in /etc/nftables.conf

# As root

# Add the firewall rules to masquerade
nft flush ruleset
nft add table nat
nft add chain nat postrouting { type nat hook postrouting priority 100\; }
nft add rule nat postrouting masquerade

# Persist the rules and enable the firewall
nft list ruleset >> /etc/nftables.conf
systemctl enable --now  nftables.service 

DNS and DHCP

If you want to provide network services such as DHCP and DNS, you can add dnsmasq

sudo apt install dnsmasq

Assuming the LAN interface is named eth0 and set to 192.168.0.1.

vi  /etc/dnsmasq.d/netboot.conf 

interface=eth0
dhcp-range=192.0.1.100,192.0.1.200,12h
dhcp-option=option:router,192.168.0.1
dhcp-authoritative

systemctl enable --now  nftables.service

Firewall

You may want to add some firewall rules too.

# allow SSH from the lan interface
sudo nft add rule inet filter input iifname eth0 tcp dport ssh accept

# allow DNS and DHCP from the lan interface
sudo nft add rule inet filter input iifname eth0 tcp dport domain accept
sudo nft add rule inet filter input iifname eth0 udp dport {domain, bootps} 

# Change the default input policy to drop 
sudo nft add chain inet filter input {type filter hook input priority 0\; policy drop\;}

You can fine-tune these a bit more with the nft example.


Last modified June 17, 2024: formatting (8285485)