BananaPi BPI-R3 - Initial purchase questions

Hi all. Excited to be on this forum! I’m very optimistic that the R3 will assist with my networking needs!

The R3 will be replacing my mother’s router in the UK and I’m specifically interested in the VPN capabilities and customization. I want to connect my VPN router (router B) in the US to her network in the UK so certain devices on that router “think” they’re in England.

I’m wondering a few things…

  1. Does the board come ready for basic plug-n-play internet or do I need to flash the operating system onto the board, such as with a raspberry pi? Is there a preferred OS people are using?
  2. Does the software include any built in VPN options?
  3. Is the board controlled exclusively with the command line or is there a GUI?
  4. How customizable is this board when it comes to enabling bridging? My goal with this project is to make the devices on my “B” router think they’re on the same subnet as the home network in England. I know this is generally a more complex way of doing things, but I’ve been reading up on it and would like to test it. Certain devices I have here in the US must be on the same subnet as some devices on the UK network.

Currently I am running two TP-Link ER605 routers with IPSEC, which works, but I am unable to expand on the capability to bridge or masquerade the IP addresses coming in over the VPN to be on the same subnet.

Thanks so much for any help or tips!

  1. Board has pretty outdated non-standard OpenWRT build by default. It is recommended to flash recent OpenWRT build to it. Currently we have potentially unstable snapshot OpenWRT builds and more stable 23.05.0-rc2 OpenWRT build (will become stable 23.05.0 build in couple of months). Some people here also flashed other Linux distros to it, like Archlinux.

  2. No built-in VPN solutions, but you can easily install and configure it by yourself (I’m using Wireguard, for example).

  3. Snapshot builds don’t include GUI by default (but you can install it in ~ 10 seconds). RC build has pre-installed GUI. Stable build will have it too.

  4. I can’t answer this, but it should be configurable via VPN. Just google some OpenWRT VPN config examples, depending on your needs before buying the board.

@Voidstranger - thank you. This helps a lot.

Another question - the internet connection this will be plugged into will be 1Gb fiber. I realize this is a gigabit router, but I’m interested if there’s any advantages to purchasing an SFP module and connecting to the fiber ONT that way via the SPF/WAN port?

I’m using SFP module with BPI-R3 now.

As for advantages… SFP module doesn’t require separate electric outlet. I don’t require ISP’s ONU. One device (BPI-R3 + SFP) looks prettier, than 2 devices (BPI-R3+ ISP’s ONU). SFP module in many cases much quicker, than ISP’s ONU (my module supports up to 2,5 Gb/s speed, ISP’s ONU supports only up to 1 Gb/s).

So…What do you want from sfp-module?