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No joke: running BGP on a $100 home router / Wi-Fi access point (posted 2021-04-01)

For some time, I've been hearing about Mikrotek routers, which couple being quite capable with being affordable. But I never got my hands on one. I'm now in the process of upgrading my home network, and learned about the Mikrotik hAP ac³. The ac³ defies easy classification, but I think it's mostly a home router and/or Wi-Fi access point. I paid € 95 and shipping, and I believe it's available in the US for about $100.

I was somewhat disappointed to learn that "5 gigabit ports" doesn't mean ports that are capable of 5 gigabit, but 5 ports that just ordinary 1 Gbps Ethernet. Initially it seemed the box didn't support IPv6, but it turns you have to enable that under "packages" and then reboot. (Not shutdown.)

However, I wasn't disappointed to learn that the ac³ supports RIP, OSPF and BGP, both for IPv4 and IPv6. So I made a configuration on the ac³ that fits with the lab network that I use for my training courses. Initially it didn't seem to work, but then after a reboot of the ac³ the BGP sessions came up. Pretty cool!

The filtering is quite different from what I'm used to, so I'll need a bit more time to figure that out.

The hardest part was setting up VLAN IP interfaces. For some reason I needed to use the command line to create the VLANs:

/interface vlan add interface=bridge name=vlan1401 vlan-id=1401
/interface ethernet switch vlan add ports=ether3,switch1-cpu independent-learning=no switch=switch1 vlan-id=1401

After that, I could use the web interface to add IP addresses. I also set up BGP through the web interface, but the command line export of that looks like this:

> /routing bgp export
# apr/01/2021 20:50:37 by RouterOS 6.48.1
# software id = C3HH-K6NW
# model = RBD53iG-5HacD2HnD
# serial number = E7290D96999E
/routing bgp instance
set default disabled=yes
add as=65082 client-to-client-reflection=no name=Router82 router-id=
/routing bgp network
add network= synchronize=no
/routing bgp peer
add address-families=ip,ipv6 hold-time=1m30s instance=Router82 name=ISP30 out-filter=out-as-filter
remote-address= remote-as=65030
add instance=Router82 name=ISP40 remote-address= remote-as=65040

Initially it seems the Mikrotik won't show you any BGP info, but with a bit more digging you'll get there:

Way back in 1996 the global BGP table was 30,000 prefixes and that just about fit in the 16 MB that was the maximum a Cisco 2501 router would take. The ac³ has 128 MB storage (using less than half of that) and 256 MB RAM, which is probably enough for 200k - 500k prefixes but not a full table. And of course the ac³ is not an obvious choice for such a task in the first place.

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