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In the last years, networking device architectures based on open source software, like Linux, have aroused lively interest from both scientific and industrial communities. The key to this success can probably be found in the flexibility and fast development time of the software approach, and the reliability level guaranteed by large communities of users and developers. In this contest, our aim is to customize, to analyze and to optimize a Linux based architecture for an exclusive networking use. In particular, the objective of this work is to study, to evaluate the performance and to optimize the IP lookup mechanism included in the Linux kernel. With this aim we have released a set of kernel patches to enhance the performance of the system by optimizing the IP lookup mechanism. We present a complete set of benchmarking results with both internal and external measurements.