Whitebox switches and licensing for home lab?

  • 4 January 2016
  • 6 replies


I'm looking forward to using Cumulus VX in my home lab (thank you for making this freely available), but am also interested in a future purchase of a whitebox switch to run Cumulus Linux on in my home lab.

1. Are there any plans at Cumulus to offer a cheaper home lab / non-production license of Cumulus Linux? VMware has done this with their VMUG membership ($200/yr), I currently run ESXi in my home lab.

2. Are there any plans at Cumulus to port / support any cheaper switches? I was hoping there was a smaller, less featured switch that I might be able to use in my home lab / network for $500 or less, the cheapest options I've seen for a 1Gb switch are around $2500.

6 replies

Userlevel 4
Hey Don,

Unfortunately the margins get thinner the smaller the form-factor. The most inexpensive switch we could sell is the Cumulus RMP (http://www.penguincomputing.com/products/network-switches/arctica-4804ip/) currently available from Penguin Computing for around $999 USD (software + hardware + support). It is still a 48x1Gb with 4x10Gb uplinks (line-rate). If you want to talk to a Cumulus sales person email sales@cumulusnetworks.com.

There are no current plans in our pipeline for a smaller form-factor switch. However now that we have been around 3+ years in production you might start seeing 'used' equipment on Ebay/used market. Make sure its on the Cumulus HCL (cumulusnetworks.com/hcl). We can't promise support will be available for EOL (end of life) switches but you might be able to get something working....

Is there something specific that Cumulus VX does not do that you need a physical switch? We can improve VX to make it a better free product for customers to learn and try it out on.
Userlevel 5
Current time-line does not include this but it is definitely worth a look. I will share this internally. In the mean time you can also email sales@cumulusnetworks.com and open dialogue with a sales manager to help share this desire.
Has anything changed with this in the last two years?

I would like to set up a small lab in a school computer club and was wondering what the cheapest hardware I could run cumulus linux on was.
Userlevel 4
@darren this hasn't really changed. Cumulus Express is still the most affordable way to run Cumulus. You can buy the switch from Penguin Computing or direct from Cumulus.

As a small business owner, I find the opacity in pricing on these switches + software + support extremely frustrating.

I see above that around thee years ago there was a 48 port 1GB switch that could be had for around $999 -- but I can’t find a switch like that now!  Sure, I can find it used on ebay, but then I have no idea about Cumulus software licensing costs.


We need two switches with MLAG for redundancy.  The only reason we’re looking into a switch that can run Cumulus vs. a cheap Netgear consumer switch is for switch redundancy, and I find it simply insane that I can’t find a cost effective way of doing it!  $999 x 2 would be almost acceptable, but I can’t even find an easy way of purchasing even that without jumping through hoops, contacting a sales rep, etc., which I’m guessing will end in me spending way more than $999 per switch, and wasting a bunch of time talking to sales reps.


I’m with Don here. Most network/automation/infrastructure engineers with a slight passion for technology would want a non-prod environment to test on physical devices.

Don’t misunderstand me, VX is great and I love how fast I can deploy new infrastructure to test in a virtual setting, but for some testing scenarios, having a physical device helps and also to learn and practice.

I’ve seen devices such as the Dell 1100 series that are also open to 3rd party software. Not sure if Cumulus could run on them (well enough to be used in a home lab). Thsoe devices go for $400 dollars on eBay.

I think it would be in Cumulus’ best interest to provide engineers that can potentially influence a sale with these kind of capabilities so testing can happen. Sean talks about margins as if there were financial constrains for this to happen. I think it’s an investment to be made on Cumulus side to promote the use of the OS in the industry.