MikroTik RouterOS is the operating system of MikroTik RouterBOARD hardware. It can also be installed on a PC and will turn it into a router with all the necessary features – routing, firewall, bandwidth management, wireless access point, backhaul link, hotspot gateway, VPN server and more. RouterOS is a stand-alone operating system based on the Linux kernel, and our goal here at MikroTik is to provide all these features with a quick and simple installation and an easy to use interface. You can try RouterOS today, go to www.mikrotik.com and download the installation CD image. The free trial provides all of the features with no limitations. In the following pages you will find examples of some of the most important RouterOS features.
RouterOS is the operating system provided with MikroTik RouterBOARD devices, but it can also be installed on PCs and other X86 compatible hardware devices, like embedded boards and miniITX systems. RouterOS is now built upon the Linux kernel and supports multi-core and multi-CPU computers (SMP). You can run it on the latest and greatest Intel motherboards and use the newest multicore CPUs. RouterOS supports installation on IDE, SATA and USB storage devices, this includes HDDs, CF and SD cards, SDD disks and more. You need at least 64MB of space to install RouterOS, which will format your partition and become the default operating system of the device it’s in. Of course RouterOS has a multitude of supported network interfaces, including the latest 10 Gigabit ethernet cards, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless cards and 3G modems.
RouterOS supports various methods of configuration – local access with keyboard and monitor, serial console with a terminal application, Telnet and secure SSH access over networks, a custom GUI configuration tool called Winbox, a simple Web based configuration interface and an API programming interface for building your own control application. In case there is no local access, and there is a problem with IP level communications, RouterOS also supports a MAC level based connection with the custom made Mac-Telnet and Winbox tools.
RouterOS features a powerful, yet easy to learn command-line configuration interface with integrated scripting capabilities.
New in RouterOS v4 is the Lua scripting language, which opens up a multitude of approaches in automation and programming of your router.
The firewall implements packet filtering and thereby provides security functions, that are used to manage data flow to, from and through the router. Along with the Network Address Translation it serves for preventing unauthorized access to directly attached networks and the router itself as well as a filter for outgoing traffic. RouterOS features a stateful firewall, which means that is performs stateful packet inspection and keeps track of the state of network connections traveling across it. It also supports Source and Destionation NAT (Network Address Translation), NAT helpers for popular applications and UPnP. The Firewall provides features to make use of internal connection, routing and packet marks. It can filter by IP address, address range, port, port range, IP protocol, DSCP and other parameters, also supports Static and Dynamic Address Lists, and can match packets by pattern in their content, specified in Regular Expressions, called Layer7 matching. The RouterOS Firewall facility also supports IPv6.
RouterOS supports static routing and a multitude of dynamic routing protocols.
RouterOS also suppors Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRF), Policy based routing, Interface based routing and ECMP routing. You can use the Firewall filter to mark specific connections with Routing marks, and then make the marked traffic use a different ISP. Now with MPLS support added to RouterOS, VRF is also introduced. Virtual Routing and Forwarding is a technology that allows multiple instances of a routing table to co-exist within the same router at the same time. Because the routing instances are independent, the same or overlapping IP addresses can be used without conflicting with each other. VRF also increases network security. It is often used in, but not limited to MPLS networks.
MPLS stands for MultiProtocol Label Switching. It can be used to replace IP routing – packet forwarding decision is no longer based on fields in IP header and routing table, but on labels that are attached to packet. This approach speeds up forwarding process because next hop lookup becomes very simple compared to routing lookup. Efficency of forwarding process is the main benefit of MPLS. MPLS makes it easy to create “virtual links” between nodes on the network, regardless of the protocol of their encapsulated data. It is a highly scalable, protocol agnostic, data-carrying mechanism. In an MPLS network, data packets are assigned labels. Packet-forwarding decisions are made solely on the contents of this label, without the need to examine the packet itself. This allows one to create end-to-end circuits across any type of transport medium, using any protocol.
Some of the supported MPLS features:
To establish secure connections over open networks or the Internet, or connect remote locations with encrypted links, RouterOS supports various VPN methods and tunnel protocols:
This means that you can securely interconnect banking networks, use your workplace resources while travelling, connect to your home local network, or increase security of your wireless backbone link. You can even interconnect two branch office networks and they would be able to use each other’s resources, as if the computers would be in the same location – all secure and encrypted.
A variety of Wireless technologies are suppored in RouterOS, the most basic of them being the wireless access point and client. If it’s a small hotspot network in your home, or a city wide mesh network, RouterOS will help you in all situations. Some of the features supported by RouterOS:
RouterOS also features the NStreme proprietary wireless protocol that allows to extend the connection range and speed, when using MikroTik routers at each end. This has helped to achieve the current non-amplified wifi link lenght world record in Italy. Also supported is NSteme dual which allows to use two antennas at each end, one for receiving and one for sending.
The MikroTik HotSpot Gateway enables providing of public network access for clients using wireless or wired network connections. The user will be presented a login screen when first opening their web broswer. Once a login and password is provided, the user will be allowed internet access. This is ideal for hotel, school, airport, internet cafe or any other public place where administration doesn’t have control over the user computer. No software installatin or network configuration is needed, hotspot will direct any connection request to the login form. Extensive user management is possible by making different user profiles, each of which can allow certain uptime, upload and download speed limitation, transfer amount limitation and more. Hotspot also supports authentication against standard RADIUS servers and MikroTik’s own User Manager which will give you a centralized management of all users in your networks.
Quality of Service
Bandwidth Control is a set of mechanisms that control data rate allocation, delay variability, timely delivery, and delivery reliability. Quality of Service (QoS) means that the router can prioritize and shape network traffic. Some features of MikroTik RouterOS traffic control mechanism are listed below:
RouterOS supports Hierarchical Token Bucket (HTB) QoS system with CIR, MIR, burst and priority support, and provides both advanced queuing, and also an easy solution for basic QoS implementation – Simple queues.