Is there support for business class Cisco Hardware

I have been googling around and assume (based on my lack of findings) that this is a no-go for various reasons but, I would like to pose the question anyway.
Is there any alternative firmware for Cisco business class hardware? I am thinking about ISR's, Catalyst switches, etc... This gear can be picked up fairly easily after it is EOL and would make a nice platform for other firmware.
If there is not, can someone set my mind at ease by telling me why? My assumption is that there is some sort of hardware protection built in that will only run with keyed software but maybe I am wrong.


Could you be more specific about the individual hardware?
The exact cpu and wifi SoCs are a good start. Then search on the wiki.
Did you check to see if Cisco offer a copy of the source code for the device?

It's likely that you could repurpose OpenWrt for a piece of Cisco hardware if you put the work in, dependant upon how the hardware has been engineered. Embedded devices are not commonly "generic" and won't simply require just a one size fits all approach. OpenWrt is a really nice template to start with, if you want to create support for yourself.

Cisco would obviously loose customers if it was as easy as just flashing some software onto their old tech, so that as an existing customer you didn't have to buy their new tech.
Planned obsolescence is unfortunately everywhere, even if it is difficult to prove and prevent.

The value which Cisco provided via the hardware when it was brand new, doesn't just appear without some considerable effort involving software engineering and testing. That coupled with their reputation (earned or not) is why their products and services are expensive.

It seems like they have a lot of proprietary chips in their equipment and probably rely on them heavily for hardware acceleration. The CPU seems underpowered for what the unit does but that is likely because it is used mostly for management.

The "Small Business" line like the SG-300 series is built out of commodity parts, but people will pay extra for them because of the Cisco ecosystem. It wouldn't make sense to buy one even at used prices to not run the Cisco firmware.


I only know the ON100 to be supported by OpenWrt. It's a dual-core, device with 2 ports. It was used with a now defunct cloud-based monitoring service provided by Cisco as a LAN-to-WAN inspection tool.

As @mk24 noted, even at at the ON100 used (or new-in-box) price, it's not quite worth it (for only 2 ports).

The ON100-K9 has the same CPU as the EA4500 router. It is a single core ARM at 1.6 GHz. The ON100 has more RAM and flash than the EA4500, and also adds a SD card slot, but lacks the Ethernet switch and wifi system.

Router vendors do not even like their product being resold used, so you will often see the licensing conditions of the software to not transfer with a change in ownership, and hence one should buy a new license for the software for a used product.

There is indeed a lot of vendor specific ASICs in higher end commercial routers and in pretty much all switches. Not even most lower end broadcom chips are always well documented and therefore allow easy third party software. Just remember how much effort RPI went through to make its firmware open source. And thats just using another ARM SOC.

Last but not least, newer commercial router/switch hardware will likely less and less allow running of third-party firmware due to secure boot infrastructure.

If you want to run open source software, try to support and buy hardware that is built to support this. Commercial router vendor products most often are not.

a) The backplanes incorporated in most cisco gear are very specific

b) what i would do is get a micro x86 board...... trunk it, and write a library for common functions ( port vlans etc )....... this could have the option of running over console.... actually... id prefer it...

What you then have is the best of both worlds.....