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In my network, I need some manageable switches. So, somebody advised me to configure the Lab Linux servers as bridges using brctl. Those new bridges should act like switches.

What should be the difference between those bridges and manageable switches.

P.S. I know the difference between a switch and a bridge device.

  • Your very last line negates the entire question. – David Houde Apr 20 '15 at 18:40
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The three major differences between a managed switch and using Linux bridge interfaces are performance, port density, and features.

Most managed switches will embed some of their programmed functionality into specialized hardware. This is not true in all cases, but this specialized hardware will tend to outperform devices that are purely software based (at least for the functionality embedded in the hardware).

Second, if port density is of concern, there aren't many server systems where you can pack 12-48 ports into a 1U chassis, and of the ones I have seen they were designed to be a network device.

Finally, are the features. Managed switches will typically have features that either are not present on a Linux platform, not as easily configured, or may require additional CPU/memory resources that will further impact performance if you use them.

However, aside from the differences in the two platform choices, it sounds like you are setting up some sort of lab/test/dev environment. My primary concern would be that you should try to match your actual/production environment as closely as possible. Your Linux "switches" do not behave the same as your managed switches, so something you implement in the lab may act entirely differently when implemented on your managed switches.

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  • "Finally, are the features. Managed switches will typically have features that either are not present on a Linux platform," the reverse is true too though. – Peter Green Feb 8 '17 at 13:07
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    @PeterGreen, can you provide examples of features present in Linux bridging that are not present in the majority of managed switches? I can provide quite a list of features present in most managed switches that is not present in Linux bridging, lets just list a few: RST, MST, DHCP snooping, DAI, ... – YLearn Feb 8 '17 at 20:27
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    Linux bridge traffic passes through ebtables and can optionally also pass through iptables/ip6tables. This gives you a very wide scope for filtering and mangling the traffic. – Peter Green Feb 8 '17 at 20:44
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    Most managed switches have a wide range of features for filtering and managing traffic as well. – YLearn Feb 9 '17 at 17:18
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The linux bridge is a pure software switch -- the cpu is involved with every packet. With a "managed switched", there will be dedicated switching hardware.

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