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Why Contributing to and Improving Open Source Software Like DENT Matters

By Blog

Croatia-based open-source company Sartura is actively involved in open-sourceprojects and ecosystems as part of its service-oriented business model. Sartura believes that the reason why open source is critical to the IT ecosystem is that it relies on a non-proprietary model and shared effort, the result of which is common good created by a large number of people, each with different goals.  

Sartura has years of experience in providing embedded Linux support on various architectures supported by different semiconductor vendors. Sartura makes use of open-source engineering to bridge the gap between open-source as a technology demonstrator and open-source as the basis for enterprise-level technology. 

We talked with Luka Perkov, CEO of Sartura, to find out why they are committed to contributing to the Dent project and how using upstreaming as a permanent strategy is important to Dent.  

How is Dent different from other embedded Linux projects that you’re experienced with? 

We built our reputation by providing services for Linux-based projects that eliminate vendor lock-in and empower companies and users to seize control of devices from the Wi-Fi and CPE ecosystem. Dent does the same in the Ethernet switch domain by unifying companies from diverse industries toward a shared goal: an open-source, full-featured network operating system. However, the Dent project stands out for its inclusiveness of every project and community member, which is why we feel motivated to contribute to the project in various segments. 

Please explain some of the other open-source networking projects that Sartura is involved with and why your company invests so heavily in giving back to the open-source Linux networking community. Which projects are of particular interest to the Dent community? 

As mentioned, Sartura started by providing considerable contributions to projects such as OpenWrt, which is a Linux-based distribution for embedded devices such as home gateways or wireless routers. Companies looking to leverage these projects also regularly turn to us for development, integration, and consulting services to tailor the distribution to their needs. 

In the past year, we launched, an open-source and customizable Gentoo-powered firmware builder for various networking infrastructure components. The builder can currently generate firmware based on popular third-party distributions (Debian, Ubuntu, and Gentoo), and this is going to be extended to support additional distributions as well. Another key trait of the builder is that it leverages upstream community projects such as Linux kernel, U-Boot, systemd, BusyBox, and others to ensure that the generated firmware benefits from the latest mainline advancements of upstream community projects. We are continuously working together with the Dent community to demonstrate and evaluate this technology and its benefits for the Dent project. 

Why did Sartura join Dent? What’s the benefit for Sartura? 

Dent aligns perfectly with our mission of contributing to and improving open source projects. Regarding the benefits, we provide software and support services to companies looking to leverage the Dent concept. 

In the long term, we are working with the Dent community to officially adopt our platform, which would enable Dent to leverage a unique Linux-based NOS that runs on devices ranging from Wi-Fi access points and CPE to high-end network switches and core routers. 

What’s the benefit to network equipment vendors of having a standardized network OS? 

The Dent project and the platform provide open source and Linux-based NOS solutions that eliminate vendor lock-in and enable easy customization for various network applications and workloads. They allow equipment vendors to compete with industry giants by offering affordable hardware coupled with a free and Open-Source NOS that their customers can tailor to their requirements. 

Do you envision that each network vendor will make extensive modifications to Dent for their specific device, potentially using only those components of Dent that they need? Or, is the vision similar to server Linux distributions where a server vendor takes a standard Linux distribution and ships it with little modification to ensure that apps can run on it? 

I believe that we will see a little bit of both. Some vendors will go the extra mile to enable specific use cases on their devices and attract particular sectors and companies. Others will likely take the safer route by simply ensuring a functional base feature set on their hardware. 

This uncertainty is a key reason why end-users opt for open-source software – they retain the ability to modify and customize their NOS in ways that are not possible with traditional closed-source NOS providers. 

Can you summarize Sartura’s recent mainline contributions and how these contributions benefit Dent and their user base? 

We work with Dent to increase the level of support for numerous devices within the ecosystem that both Dent and utilize. Once Dent supplied us with initial hardware samples, we started implementing and contributing the Board Support Package (BSP) to the mainline Linux kernel. This work includes delivering support for components such as power supply and sensors. We upstreamed several kernel drivers, including the Delta DPS-920AB PSU drivers and the Texas Instruments TMP1075 sensor. The support for the latter component significantly reduces maintenance overhead in the Dent project since many switches supported by Dent use this sensor. I would particularly like to thank our lead kernel developer Robert Marko, who continues to drive these upstreaming efforts forward and collaborates with the Linux community. 

We implement a zero-patch policy throughout these efforts, which means that we contribute everything back to respective upstream repositories. Furthermore, we apply the same principle throughout our platform development to enable customers with a long-term alternative to the current Open Network Linux Platform (ONLP) based concept. 

How do you engage with the Dent community? (Example: pull requests on GitHub, providing assistance on mailing lists, provide strategic guidance on architecture) 

Sartura is very active through different subgroups of the Dent project, including Dent Developer Discussions, the Roadmap and Features Working Group (RFWG), and the Upstream Working Group (UWG). We are currently working together with Dent to set up support channels, where we aim to provide a range of development, integration, and educational services to companies starting with Dent. 

What is the Dent Working Group on upstream components and drivers? How does someone join? 

We believe that for any open-source project to be sustainable, it must collaborate with the ecosystem it utilizes. Leveraging upstreaming as a permanent strategy brings several short and long-term benefits to the project, including reduced maintenance costs, easier upgrades, and higher code quality. Because of this, we initiated the Upstream Working Group, which aims to align the project members’ goals on the critical element of upstreaming and thereby ensure technical excellence, longevity, and increased commercial growth of the DENT project. To get an invite, please consider subscribing to the Upstream Working Group. We welcome all interested parties to join the Upstream Working Group meetings held every second Monday at 7:00 am Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Why WNC Sees Dent as Key to Growing the Networking Industry

By Blog

Wistron NeWeb Corporation (WNC) is dedicated to improving the operating performance of new networking technologies. The company offers technical support in hardware and software design, mechanical and antenna design, user interfaces, and system development. Headquartered in Taiwan, WNC has operations in the US, UK, Japan, China, and Vietnam.

We talked with Cheer Ko, Associate Vice President of Networking Business Group at WNC, to find out why WNC joined Dent and what benefits they see for their customers.

Can you tell us a little about your organization?

From 1996 onwards WNC has enjoyed a number of achievements, including ranking #1 with 35% of the world’s market share for laptop antennas and becoming Taiwan’s top satellite communications product-export manufacturer, shipping over 300 million units of satellite communications products and digital home products. WNC serves as the Alpha site of the world’s major chip suppliers. Additionally, WNC is one of the world’s major automotive electronics suppliers.

Why did WNC join Dent?

WNC foresees customer need for open and standardized network equipment. The Dent project is key to the provision of open source services, applications, and hardware. WNC can better contribute its technologies and design/manufacturing services by joining Dent, and thus benefit end-users.

What objectives would you like to see Dent achieve in the next three years?

We hope to see more collaborations between developers, service and solution providers, and end-users resulting in the adoption of Dent open-source OS products in the market.

What are the benefits to WNC of being part of an open-source community?

Being a part of an open-source community like the Linux Foundation, has enabled WNC to contribute patches, codes, documents, etc. to this community. At the same time, WNC is able to benefit from the sharing of member resources.

As the Dent system is adopted in the market, we would expect that more and more partners will contribute resources back to the community. In this way, customers will have more time to focus on marketing their products. In addition, during this contribution process, WNC is also learning about advanced features and applications of other Dent partners.

Do you have a general company strategy for open source?

For the networking industry, open source is the key to growing this piece of pie into a bigger one. It’s unavoidable and it’s coming. For example, OpenWrt is pretty stable and has been adopted in many devices at many levels.

With a reliable open source OS, we can focus on adding new features more efficiently with less manpower. Additionally, it can reduce design costs and shorten the product development cycle. Our strategic aim is to contribute, adopt, verify and help customers get the right products on time.

What changes do you envision for wireless communication solutions in the next three years? (Example: more video, higher definition video, mix with LAN versus wireless)

We believe that more IoT deployments will enforce the need for high quality connectivity and higher bandwidth. This implies greater demand for time-sensitive services and low-latency enabled devices. Given the required features, hybrid networks of wired switching, Wi-Fi, & 5G technologies ideally suit IoT networks.

If you’re in an elevator and someone random, possibly not super technical, asks you, “What is Switchdev?”, what would you say in a sentence or two?

With Switchdev, you don’t have to know which ASIC is in your box. Since all networking applications and network interface configurations work with the standard Linux method, you can use Linux commands to manage the network without knowledge of the chip vendor’s API.

Open Networking for Network Switches – How the Open-Source Dent Project Levels the Playing Field

By Blog, Community News

Originally published to

The promise of an open-source networking operating system (NOS) is enticing. Compared to legacy networking (Cisco, Arista, Juniper) which is proprietary, expensive, and complex to operate, the open networking model is disaggregated, easy to automate, and provides major cost reductions. 

An open-source NOS could give segments like data centers, retail, remote offices, and campuses an alternative solution that has significantly reduced the cost of goods and services (COGS), reduced integration time, wide access to hardware, and provides support with existing Linux toolchains, using, for example, the Ethernet switch device driver model Switchdev as infrastructure with value add apps on top.

Under the Linux Foundation, the DENT Project utilizes the Linux kernel, Switchdev, and other Linux-based projects as the basis for a solution without abstractions and overhead. DENT unifies and grows the community of silicon vendors, Original Design Manufacturers (ODM), System Integrators (SI), Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), and end-users to create an ecosystem of contributors around a full-featured NOS.

I talked with Roopa Prabhu, an engineering leader and architect at NVIDIA, to find out more. NVIDIA is a founding member of DENT.

Prabhu and her team work on all things Linux kernel networking and Linux system infrastructure. Her primary focus areas in the Linux kernel are Linux bridge, Netlink, Routing, VxLAN, Lightweight tunnels, and  E-VPN data plane. 

She is involved in several Open networking communities – Linux kernel networking, Open Compute Foundation, netdevconf, and the DENT project. Her past experience includes Linux clusters, High-Performance Computing, ethernet NIC drivers, and Linux KVM virtualization platforms. She has a BS and MS in Computer Science.

What is NVIDIA’s role at DENT?

NVIDIA Networking has a decade of experience in developing Open disaggregated network systems. We were at the forefront of the Open networking revolution when it started. Having had the maturity in this space, our role in DENT is to provide strategic guidance on architecture, reviews, engaging, and developing for the Linux kernel and ecosystem. 

We are contributors and maintainers for various Linux ecosystem components that make the DENT stack – including FRR (free-range routing suite), Linux kernel switchdev, Linux networking subsystems like vrf, bridge, vxlan.

What benefits does NVIDIA get from joining DENT?

NVIDIA believes in choice for its customers. DENT gives NVIDIA an opportunity to proliferate and design and build NVIDIA hardware for the distributed disaggregated space. It also gives us an opportunity to design and develop systems with our partners and customers. We believe this strengthens our value proposition as a player in the open disaggregated networking space.

How do NVIDIA customers benefit from DENT technologies being used in the NVIDIA Linux Switch product?

NVIDIA networking customers get the choice of an Open indepenDENT operating system on NVIDIA networking hardware. DENT provides an Open ecosystem and collaborative development environment for our customers. It gives our customers visibility and participation in design, architecture, testing, and the full development lifecycle of their open network operating system stack on NVIDIA networking hardware.

What can we expect to see from DENT in the next year?

DENT ecosystem, features, and partners will evolve over time. I think we will see more features, more contributions, and more hardware vendors. 

What is the biggest problem that DENT needs to solve in the next 5 years?

Getting more operators, HW vendors, and users on board will be key to DENTs success in the next few years. 

Is DENT ready for mainstream deployment? Where do you recommend people deploy DENT?

Yes, DENT is ready for mainstream deployment. Though DENT’s initial feature set has been for the distributed edge, DENT architecture is capable of enabling more platforms and use-cases. 

What are the benefits of open API and standardized open-source components for the network manager evaluating their options versus proprietary solutions?

Open solutions provide transparency, flexibility, and control. Open communities and Open ecosystems provide faster innovation and a shared resource pool which is an economic incentive. Open ecosystems and projects like DENT also provide adopters with a path to influence the design/architecture and development of software they intend to deploy and maintain. 

This sense of control and participation is very powerful when compared to proprietary solutions.

Multi-vendor hardware with the same software stack is also a huge incentive. It enables uniformity in operations without single vendor lock-in.

Can you summarize some of NVIDIA’s contributions to the DENT community?

NVIDIA networking was the first company to enable switch ASIC support (switchdev) in the Linux kernel along with their hardware driver which enables DENT on NVIDIA switches. Since then, NVIDIA has worked with the kernel community to evolve and revise the switchdev API and infrastructure. 

Along the way assisting other hardware vendors to get on board with switchdev with reviews and feedback. NVIDIA Networking has and continues to contribute many networking features in the areas of routing/bridging/vxLAN/VRFs/Mpls to enable native HW accelerated Linux kernel networking on datacenter and edge switches and routers.

For people wondering how to work with the Linux kernel community, do you have advice on communication with people, submitting features, and generally effective techniques to make contributions?

Patience and working through feedback are critical areas to work on when working on kernel submissions. The additional scrutiny is justifiable as the kernel is the most important component of your operating system stack. Effective submissions are always clear cover letters, clear commit-msg. Looking at old email archives to see what works for a particular subsystem always helps. Git logs on a particular subsystem you are submitting to help get a feel of what has worked in the past. CC the right folks you want to call attention to.

A positive attitude on learning from feedback always works and you will get better with time.

Do you feel that there are any differences between how a large company like NVIDIA can work with open source versus a small startup?  

The best thing about open source is it levels the playing field for everyone. All participating members benefit. Of course, big companies might have more resources to maintain and engage in open-source communities, but small companies bring focused interest and agility. Diversity fuels open-source communities and all members big or small involved benefit from it. 

A shared resource pool works economically in favor of all participants. 

Do you have any advice for female developers that want to make solid contributions to the Linux kernel? Are people generally friendly and polite about newcomers making contributions?

Linux kernel community has helped me in many ways in my personal growth. Even today, I think many things I learn are from the kernel mailing lists. I don’t expect nor look for friendliness on mailing lists. Mailing lists are the place for reviews and technical discussions. As long as you have an appetite for constructive feedback, kernel mailing lists are a great place for learning and growing. 

For any new female developers wanting to learn Linux kernel development, the best thing to start with is lurking on mailing lists. It’s a good learning experience to get started. It has helped me. Organizations like Outreachy are doing a great deal to help female developers get on board in open source communities. 

Start slow and be patient. It is very rewarding.

How can a hardware vendor get started with assessing DENT?

There are many ways to get started. Get familiar with the DENT software architecture so that you know what the hardware-software integration points are. Reach out to the DENT community, join weekly calls, join the mailing list, collaborate with other vendors. Since DENT is based on Linux kernel switchdev, learning about Linux kernel support for switch ASICs helps. 

There are a lot of open-source technical conference presentations on the subject. The best part of integrating hardware in an existing open-source operating system and ecosystem are the things you can leverage and borrow from existing open work. 

If you could add one enhancement to the Linux networking stack, what would it be?

Linux networking API is constantly evolving with newer features and API, but it takes a really long time for network infrastructure applications to catch up. Plus, there are separate APIs or channels for each networking subsystem in some cases (eg., ethtool, devlink, rtnetlink). The kernel community has been doing great work in unifying all networking API under Netlink and also a lot of effort goes into extending user-space utilities like iproute2 with code to enable new API and example code. 

Having been through some experience with network operations and network infrastructure code, what is missing is a library that can unify all networking APIs and is developed at the pace of networking features being added to the kernel. I have spent time on extending libraries like this for my own company and have seen everyone doing the same. Having such libraries come out of the kernel development community or as part of kernel releases will be a great thing for faster adoption I think. This is already happening in some areas like the eBPF libraries for faster eBPF adoption, and it’s a good trend. 

The other thing I would like to see is unification in the kernel and hardware network programmability APIs. Linux networking has had great success with hardware acceleration support, and I hope it continues to have this along with kernel networks programmability technologies like eBPF and XDP.

Dent Member profile: Janet Chen – Arcadyan Technology Corporation

By Blog

Arcadyan Technology Corporation is a Taiwan-based manufacturer that focuses on 5G, Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) switches, broadband access technology development, and optimizing audio and video streaming quality. Arcadyan delivers a full line of broadband access and digital home solutions. We asked Janet Chen, CTO, to find out more about why Arcadyan strongly supports an open source community approach and what advantages a company gets from joining Dent.

Can you tell us a little about your organization?

Founded in 2003, Arcadyan Technology specializes in broadband, multimedia, wireless and mobile network communications. Arcadyan focuses on the research and development of wireless communications, Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) switches, 4G/5G high-speed network Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), small cell devices. We combine voice and multimedia technologies in order to provide diversified solutions for a digital home using mobile broadband systems, multimedia over wireless networks, and equipment for 5G vertical scenarios.

Arcadyan Technology has been actively investing in R&D for many years and continues to maintain a leading position in the global networking industry. With our R&D talents and industry experts, our R&D team is leading the industry in hardware design, software and management development. We sell customized and differentiated products and services that meet our customers’ needs. We have developed full featured and comprehensive smart home networking solutions, customized Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) switches and more. For more information, visit

Why is your organization adopting an open-source approach?

Arcadyan believes that an open-source network operating system (NOS) will be an important option to pool together wisdom and strength to support networking operating system development. Open source provides an open area to allow experts in different areas to have a place to contribute their knowledge and skills to the public.

Customers always have the freedom to choose proprietary or open source NOS technologies. We encourage open source because it is the place for innovation. It’s a creative paradise.

Why did you join Dent and what sort of impact do you think Dent has on the edge, networking, and IoT industries?

Arcadyan develops edge and access market segment products for vertical domains. Our Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) switches are suitable for enterprise and edge networking and as IoT application backhaul.

We believe these are growth areas.

Arcadyan sees edge, networking and IoT industries converging as 5G quickly becomes more prevalent.

What do you see as the top benefits of being part of the Dent community?

It is helpful for the future product development. As part of the Dent community, we can learn market trends in enterprise and edge business segments. Another benefit is communication and information sharing around feature development in the open source community to meet future market demand.

By cooperating with chipset vendors, for example, it may create more features on silicon allowing for more creative applications to be developed in the future.

What sort of contributions has your team made to the community, ecosystem through Dent participation?

Arcadyan had router networking experience in hardware and software development for tier-one telecoms. On the software side, we have our own firmware and network management team. On the hardware side, our technology covers xDSL IAD, GPON Router, WIFI, MEC SDN switches and 5G small cells.

By providing platforms for Dent NOS, we are actively contributing our expertise in hardware development, software integration and testing. 

What do you think sets Dent apart from other industry alliances?

The Dent project welcomes new contributions. As a representative on the General Board of the Dent project, we see the Dent open source community as a community that can collect and aggregate public wisdom and guide trends in technology development.  

How will Dent help your business?

Dent product development and cooperation is based on open-source networking around the Enterprise segment. It may show, for example, that it is good for some customers to get a high cost performance ratio with Amazon extra services. This type of information can expand our company viewpoint on this product segment.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining Dent?

Silicon vendors, ODMs, SIs, OEMs, and end users across all verticals should consider joining the Dent community. There are many novel applications that may occur in the near future. The availability of NOS options may make your product or business more profitable.

Dent Member profile: Todd Gregory – Delta

By Blog

Todd Gregory


Delta is a global provider of power and thermal management solutions. The company provides innovative, clean and energy-efficient solutions that focus on addressing key environmental issues such as global climate change. Delta’s business categories include Power Electronics, Automation, and Infrastructure. Delta was recently named 2021 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year for the sixth consecutive year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

We spoke with Todd Gregory, Director for White Box Networking at Delta Electronics (America), to find out more about why Delta views disaggregation in data centers, and the Dent project, as a key emerging technology for Delta customers

Please explain what your organization does and why you joined the Linux Foundation Dent group?

Disaggregation is the new way for Open Networking and has been widely accepted in data centers and telecom infrastructures. Dent is a disaggregation model in Edge compared to what’s happening in data centers and telecom markets. We view this as the market trend, and we are pleased to join Dent.

In broad categories, how do you personally calculate the total cost of ownership for deployment of networking equipment?

In broad categories, I would calculate TCO = Opex and Capex costs. This formula includes four broad areas that include capital costs, administration, operations and user operation. 

Factors include acquisition price, cost of maintenance and upgrades in the costs of service or support contracts, cost of deployment and network integration costs. These are the typical factors used in calculating costs for data center managers.

For a service provider, they typically look at the TCO as the cost per port. This method is used to benchmark the main building blocks of an architecture, overall cost and the number of ports in each configuration.

What’s the number one reason people are looking at Dent?  (Example: Is it equipment cost savings?  Flexibility to pick best-of-breed equipment? Avoiding vendor lock-in?  Simplified API abstraction? Open source advantages?)

Disaggregation would definitely result in equipment cost savings in the long-term. It also provides the flexibility to select suppliers and avoid a vendor lock-in situation. Moreover, since it is open sourced, customers control their own destiny.

Where would you like to see Dent in 3 years

I would like to see Dent broaden its scope into WiFi AP/Router and IP security cameras.

In the next three years, what challenges do you feel Dent needs to overcome to become even more widespread?

Dent needs to line up more chipset vendors to support SwitchDev, add more features in Linux protocol stack and attract more end-users to adopt/deploy Dent products.

Do you feel that changes to remote work policies around the world will affect Dent development and adoption?

People will need more edge security devices at home, and Dent can provide these solutions. This will encourage more chipset vendors, OEM/ODM suppliers, SW service companies to participate in Dent – resulting in more Dent products to end-user customers.

It’s common to think of retail and educational campuses as big users of edge networking equipment. Are these groups interested in Dent? Where do you see interest in Dent?

I agree that the retail sector and educational institutions would be “big” users of edge networking equipment, especially given the current COVID-19 environment where remote services have become commonplace.

I have had inquiries from the retail sector in regards to Dent. They are highly interested.   Education is another industry where Dent could have a significant impact.

I see Dent expanding beyond retail and into both the education and government sectors. Organizations have been directed to look for Commercial Off The Shelf equipment and software (COTS). Dent would be an economical solution for these sectors and gain wide adoption.

What advice would you give to a network manager interested in deploying Dent for evaluation?

I would tell any network manager to engage with the Linux Foundation and project Dent community. There are hundreds of networking experts, software companies and manufacturers that are eager to advise and assist anyone interested in deploying Dent.

This knowledgeable community can aid in deployment, share lessons learned and show the factors needed for a successful Dent launch.