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Open source Turris MOX router offers modular expansion

May 7, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 1193 views

CZ.NIC is crowdfunding an open source “Turris MOX” router that runs a security-enhanced, OpenWrt based stack on a Marvell Armada 3720, and offers modular expansion to add WiFi-AC, mini-PCIe, 4x or 8x GbE, or optical SFP+.

CZ.NIC, a Czech non-profit that maintains the CZ Internet domain, launched the open source Turris router in 2014 and followed up with the Turris Omnia router in 2016. The organization has returned to Indiegogo to fund a modular new Turris MOX model. CZ.NIC raked in $1.2 million for the Omnia, but it will be challenged to make up its $100,000 deficit to reach the MOX’s $250,000 fixed goal in the next 10 days. Still, we liked the Turria Omnia, and are generally intrigued with open source, modular hardware, so we’ll give it a quick look here.



Turris MOX Classic boardset with Basic, Extension, and 4x GbE modules connected (left) and Classic with case
(click images to enlarge)

The prices seem reasonable for the still available early bird packages, which are due to ship in Oct. or Nov. 2018. For example, you can get a $149 “Classic” combo package with USB 3.0 port, microSD slot, dual-band WiFi-ac, 4x Gigabit Ethernet ports, and a WAN port, all controlled with a security-enhanced Turris OS distribution based on OpenWrt Linux.


Turris MOX Classic

While the Turris Omnia used a 1.6GHz, dual-core ARMv7 Marvell Armada-385, the Turris MOX switches to a 1.2GHz, dual-core Cortex-A53 Armada 3720. The SoC is available as part of a Basic board with 512MB RAM, a USB 3.0 port, WAN port, microSD slot, and 34x GPIO pins. The Basic module is offered in a $55 “Start” package that includes a case and power supply. Adding another 512MB for 1GB RAM costs $29.

The idea is that you can buy the pocket-sized Start module first, and then later add other modules a la carte. However, with the exception of the 8x switched GbE Super Ethernet module, only one module of the same type can be used in any MOX configuration. The system uses a modified PCIe-based interconnect that CZ.NIC calls Moxtet. Documentation will provide instructions on how to modify existing PCIe cards to the format.



Turris MOX Basic board (left) and with Extension board

Most users will want to add an Ethernet module with a 4x switched GbE ports with LEDs, and/or add an Extension module with a mini-PCIe slot and SIM card slot that can support WiFi, LTE, or SSD expansion. Each of these modules costs $29. Add a $29 dual-band, 3×3 MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi card to this configuration, and you’ve got the $149 Classic package.

You can combine up to three of the $55, 8x GbE Super Ethernet modules to produce a 24-port system. All the Turris MOX Ethernet ports are Power-over-Ethernet ready, and you can add PoE to your system for a $29 upgrade. There’s also a $29 optical SFP+ module for up to 2.5Gbps throughput, but you can’t mix it with the 4x GbE module.



Turris MOX Basic board (left) and 4x GbE Ethernet board
(click images to enlarge)

Instead of configuring the Turris MOX as an Ethernet router, you can build a WiFi access point router. For example, you can select a $129 package that offers everything in the WiFi-enabled $149 Classic model except for the 4x GbE module. Since the WiFi card directly connects to the Basic module, you could have a dual simultaneous WiFi access point by adding the Extension module with a mini-PCIe-based WiFi card.


Turris Omnia

Another option called the Double MOX AP & Omnia Bundle gives you the old Turris Omnia router with 2GB RAM, as well as 2x MOX WiFi access points with dual power supplies. Among other options, you can also buy the MOX WiFi add-on to upgrade your existing Turris Omnia.

If all the package combinations are a bit confusing, the software situation is straightforward. All of these configurations ship with Turris OS 4.0, the latest version of the security-enhanced OpenWrt stack that launched on the Turris Omnia. This automatically updated distribution is based on OpenWrt 18.5 and Linux 4.14 LTS, and offers an OpenVPN server, HaaS (honeypot as a service), a PaKon parental control tool, and a NetMetr Internet access measurement tool, among other open source software packages. (If you were staying away from OpenWrt due to the recent fork, note that the OpenWrt and LEDE OS projects have reunited under the OpenWrt name in January of this year.)

 
Further information

The Turris MOX will be available through May 17 on Indiegogo starting at $55. More information may be found on the Turris MOX Indiegogo page and website.
 

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