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Gateways are machines that are used to route traffic from one subnet to another. In its simplest sense, a gateway is barely a router at all, and simply blindly forwards traffic intended for another network across physical interfaces if it knows how to get it there. Most gateway devices are somewhat more complex, and may also include Network Address Translation and/or firewall capabilities.

More robust gateways with access to multiple paths to the same network(s) may also use routing daemons such as routed or zebra in order to automatically discover the network topologies surrounding their interfaces, so as to dynamically route traffic to the best interface for that traffic based on real-time conditions, rather than always forwarding traffic headed to a particular destination the same way.

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