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I am going to be setting up a router and NAT device but I am unable to choose between pfSense 2.x (FreeBSD 8) and RHEL 6.

The device will need to forward a medium (2k hosts) sized network where almost all the clients are NATed but a few will be using WAN assigned IP addresses. The router will not be a firewall. IPv6 support will eventually be needed.

The key performance sepcifications would be (unsorted):

  • number of concurrent NATed connections
  • throughput

This can be either out of the box performance or based on performance tweaks that are clearly (organized) documented.

If there is no clear way for me to decide which to use, except for a bake off, because I cannot find documentation on this. Is there any documentation, and if so where?

To clarify, I am asking for answers which are references to research on this issue that contains facts, references, or specific expertise, since my google fu has only resulting in:

It appears that there may be no noticiable performance differences, in that case features will be compared.

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closed as not constructive by mdpc, Khaled, Dave M, kce, mgorven Feb 4 '13 at 18:20

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I'm curious as to why you're choosing the OS/software approach versus a purpose-built hardware device. It seems like a large network installation. – ewwhite Feb 3 '13 at 19:00
the network is a lab network, and as such I do not get a budget, and thanks for adding the http prefixes, I am too new to SF. – Jason Pyeron Feb 3 '13 at 20:16
possible duplicate of Can you help me with my capacity planning? – kce Feb 4 '13 at 17:11
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Both OSes can easily saturate the PCIe bus on modern CPUs, no meaningful difference in throughput.

I would assume Linux's NAT implementation can handle hundreds of thousands of concurrent connections, FreeBSD certainly can and I haven't heard of either claiming any significant superiority over the other recently.

The decision should come down to whichever you are more familiar with. If neither, pfSense has a web management GUI out of the box, but a similar system can be installed on almost and *nix system.

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I will look at the two based on features then. Ex pfSense supports NAT address pools out of the box... – Jason Pyeron Feb 4 '13 at 4:10

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