Introduction to MikroTik CHR

MikroTik Cloud Hosted Router (CHR) is a RouterOS version intended to be used as a virtual machine instance.

It runs on x86-64-bit architecture and can be deployed on most hypervisors such as:

  • VMWare, ESXi, Player and Workstation
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Oracle VirtualBox
  • KVM‌
  • And others, like Xen, but I haven’t tested it yet

Some special requeriments apply depending on the subyacent hypervisor.

ESXi

Network adapters must be vmxnet3 or E1000‌. Just use vmxnet3 to get the most. Disks must be IDE, VMware paravirtual SCSI, LSI Logic SAS or LSI Logic Parallel.

Hyper-V

Network adapters must be Network adapter or Legacy Network adapter .Disks IDE or SCSI.

Qemu/KVM

Virtio, E1000 or vmxnet3 NICs. IDE, Sata or Virtio disks.

VirtualBox

Networking using E1000 or rtl8193, and disks with IDE, SATA, SCSI or SAS interfaces.

Licensing

The CHR images have full RouterOS features enabled by default, but they use a different licensing model than other RouterOS versions.

Paid licenses

p1

p1 (perpetual-1), which allows CHR to run indefinitely. It comes with a limit of 1Gbps upload per interface. All the rest of the features provided by CHR are available without restrictions. It can be upgraded p1 to p10 or p-unlimited.

p10

p10 (perpetual-10), which also allows CHR to run indefinitely, with a 10Gbps upload limit per interface. All features are available without restrictions. It can be upgraded to p-unlimited.

p-unlimited (really?)

The p-unlimited (perpetual-unlimited) license level allows CHR to run indefinitely. It is the highest tier license and it has no enforced limitations.

Free licenses (yay!)

There are two ways to use and try CHR free of charge.

free

The free license level allows CHR to run indefinitely, with a limit of 1Mbps upload per interface. All the rest of the features have no restrictions. This level comes activated by default on all images.

60-day trial

Th p1/p10/pU licenses can be tested with a 60 days trial.

Cool. How can i try it?

The easiest way to spin up a working instance of CHR is using the OVA appliance provided by MikroTik.

https://download2.mikrotik.com/routeros/6.43.14/chr-6.43.14.ova

Deployment on ESXi

Once downloaded, the OVA can be used to deploy a new instance. I’ll be using ESXi on this example. The OVA comes preconfigured with a single network adapter, but more interfaces can be added on a later stage.

Creating new VM from OVA template
Setting VM name, and uploading OVA file
I’ll use local storage for it
Thin provisioned disks, and a previously configured VM network
Review everything, and deploy

Initial Configuration

After the VM boots, log in via CLI with the default credentials:

  • Username: admin
  • Password: none

CHR comes with a free licence‌ by default, limited to 1Mbps upload limit. This is handy for lab purposes, or low traffic scenarios like stand-alone DHCP servers.

A DHCP client is enabled by default on the single existing ether1 interface. Use any of the following methods to find out the adquired address.

/ip dhcp-client print
/ip address print

Let’s get a trial licence. You will need the credentials for your MikroTik account. If you don’t have a MikroTik account, get one here.

The CHR instance will also need Internet access, so be sure to connect the virtual NIC to a VM network where it can make its way to the outside.

[admin@CHR] > sys license renew account=your@account.com password=yourpassword level=

Level ::= p-unlimited | p1 | p10

Once you request a trial license, check the status with

[admin@CHR] > sys lic print
        system-id: 0ywIRMYrtGA
            level: p1
  next-renewal-at: may/05/2019 17:59:59
      deadline-at: jun/04/2019 17:59:59

We’ll install The Dude on the next post, and configure it for some custom monitoring.