One of the goals of Firewalla is to use open source hardware. That is, the board design is open source. And NO, the raspberry pi board is not open source. If we ever build anything, it will be open sourced as well.
- Prototype faster
- Easier to modify if needed
- Lower cost, making Firewalla affordable. This benefit will be passed on to our users
- We believe that customers don’t want to see another piece of technology, we are not planning to make Firewalla pretty. Our money will be spend on useful features, security and good software.
There are various clones of Raspberry Pi, and the major ones we are looking are:
- Orange Pi
- Banana Pi
- Nano Pi
- Odroid (Korean)
- Raspberry Pi (as the reference)
All of these are made in China (except Odroid) and builds upon the same ARM chip, AllWinner. (A few Nano Pi also use Samsung)
The board we need is very simple, ethernet interface/s + CPU.
Although these pi’s cost at a fraction of Raspberry Pi, they all HAVE HEADACHES, HUGE HEADACHES, PROBLEMS to make engineers go nuts.
- Heat: The power regulators on these boards in combination with the SoC will make the SoC a bit hot. The core temperature will go as high as 70C. Which will cause some older software to shut down cores and eventually reboot… To compensate, need shutdown components and better manage the frequency of running cores. And to test, put a sock over it to speed up the heating process 🙂
- Software: Rasbian in the raspberry pi world is extremely stable. The kernel is not the latest, but it’s predictable. The clone boards, unfortunately at times only support factory made images that are old … and out of date. We have to turn to after market OS suppliers and build kernels ourselves. They are not perfect either and requires tuning and endless testing … For example, ethernet interfaces on these distributions are not always perfect operational.
Fortunately, the quality of the boards are not bad, so far, no DOA with the 30 boards I have (they have fevers … but that’s something software can compensate).
We are still testing some boards and hopefully can narrow down to a couple for the final Firewalla. And yes, we are excited to make cyber security simple and affordable to the general public.