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Unleashing ZimaBoard A User’s Journey – 3: ZimaBoard 216 – Your Gateway to Network Innovation

In this series of blog posts, we have the privilege of sharing the remarkable journey of D. Rowland, a loyal community member who has been with us since the crowdfunding stage of ZimaBoard two years ago. He purchased three boards, each with a unique application scenario. In this series of blogs, we will delve into his experiences with these boards and how they have become invaluable tools in his tech arsenal.

In this chapter of our ZimaBoard series, we delve into the world of networking innovation with ZimaBoard 216, a powerful and cost-effective lab gateway. Join us as we follow D. Rowland’s journey of transforming the ZimaBoard 216 into a versatile network gateway, breathing new life into lab environments.

Note: ZimaBoard 216 has upgraded to ZimaBoard 232.

Hardware Environment:

  • ZimaBoard 216

Software System:

  • VyOS 1.4 Rolling Release

The Quest for the Ideal Lab Gateway

When D. Rowland helped fund our Kickstarter campaign, he purchased an 832 (mentioned in the first of this series) and a 216 unit. The allure of dual network interface cards (NICs) immediately struck him as an opportunity to create a robust and affordable hardware CLI-based router. With a vision to replace traditional Cisco-style units with an innovative solution, he embarked on this networking quest.

Setting the Stage

The ZimaBoard 216 found its home in D. Rowland’s lab, where it was poised to become the gateway to a world of network possibilities. The first step was to wipe the pre-installed CasaOS and make way for VyOS, a powerful, open-source network operating system known for its flexibility and reliability.

Following the VyOS documentation, D. Rowland configured the baseline system and worked through exploring the various aspects of VyOS running on the ZimaBoard 216. Since VyOS is based on Debian, which was also in use on D. Rowland’s 832 servers, he was sure this system would continue to run smoothly as he experimented.

Elevating Reliability and Configuration

D. Rowland’s approach to the lab gateway was both practical and forward-thinking. Recognizing that the configuration and OS changes would be infrequent in a lab environment, he chose to install VyOS directly on the eMMC storage. This decision not only streamlined the setup but also mitigated (his) concerns about eMMC failure. In the event of system loss, the configuration backups provided an added layer of security.

Optimized for PerformanceThe ZimaBoard 216 was put to the test by configuring essential firewall policies and baseline system configurations. Connecting it to the lab’s gigabit WAN, D. Rowland was met with impressive results. During the workday, the lab gateway consistently achieved speeds of 800+ Mbps, showcasing its capabilities.

A Tool for Innovation

D. Rowland’s experience with the ZimaBoard 216 lab gateway has been nothing short of exceptional. The unit has proven to be a valuable asset in preparing servers and conducting training labs with coworkers. Its adaptability and performance have streamlined networking tasks, enabling the exploration of various network configurations and scenarios.

The ZimaBoard 216 lab gateway exemplifies the ZimaBoard ethos of versatility and innovation. It offers an accessible and efficient solution for networking enthusiasts and professionals seeking to elevate their lab environments.

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