Firewalld vs. iptables – Which is the better option for Linux

Packet filtering is widely considered buy IT experts to be a cost effective and standard security means, since most routing devices come with integrated filtering capabilities. When using a Linux Operating system, the choice for a packet filtering application lies strongly between firewalld and iptables.

Both firewalld and iptables are effective tools in managing firewalls on various Linux machines designed specifically for packet filtering, also known as static filtering. This is a firewall technique that allows users to control access to a certain network. This is done by managing incoming and outgoing information packets, in regard to the system in question and either allowing them to pass through or restricting them based on pre-set firewall rules in regard to their source and destination protocols as well as ports and IP addresses. These rules provide very efficient security mechanisms which make information packet filtering a great defence against devices routed outside the system LAN (Local Area Network) It would be important to note that firewalld was originally introduced as a software to manage iptables, making it easier for the user to navigate it.

What are the differences between Firewalld and Iptables?

Firewalld (Winner)
Effecting changes made to the configuration
Happens immediately on runtime
Requires rebooting the system to effect changes.
User Interface
Graphic user interface
Command Line interface
Parent project

Firewalld Vs. Iptables – How do they compare?

System configuration

They use different configurations and default storage settings. This implies that with iptables, every change means flushing out all the old rules and reading the new rules, which is the reason the system has to reboot. With firewalld, the rules are not re-created rather the differences and changes made are applied to modify the existing rules, which is why changes can be effected in normal runtime.

User interface

Firewalld uses Graphic User interface (GUI), while iptables uses a Command Line interface (CLI). This implies that accessing the Linux kernel firewall rules using firewall is simpler though having a shorter response time than accessing the firewall directly from the iptables which would have a faster response time. Arguably, this response time is not very significant except in the case of processes that are extremely time sensitive or whose efficiency relies on time accumulation.

Additional features

Both iptables and firewalld are designed for the same purpose, the difference being the interface with which the tasks are done. However, on top of allowing changes to be effected in runtime, firewalld also comes with a notable feature, which is the concept of network zones. This feature allows the administrator to separate the network into different zones, based on the level of trust that is placed on the users and devices in each zone. The administrator can then filter and control the information going through each of the zones, which is a useful additional layer of cyber security.

Firewalld Vs. Iptables – A comparison review


This is a great firewall for new users on The CentOS Linux. It is very convenient to use because it provides an interface for users to use applications or other services to add firewall rules directly to it. This makes customizing the system rather fast and convenient. This feature also makes it rather dynamic since changes to the system configuration can be made and immediately implemented at any time, without a need to manually save or apply these changes. It also makes it simple to do tests and accompanying evaluations for the system in runtime, because permanent configuration and runtime are separated. This means that there is no disruption of the existing network connections when changes are made and tests are being run which goes a long way in making working with Firewalld a smooth and efficient experience. An added advantage to this feature is that the user can use runtime for system configuration changes that can be set to be active for a set amount of time to test it out on the system before saving it permanently.


  • Changes are done and effected immediately without rebooting the system.
  • It makes adapting firewall settings easy for applications, services and users.
  • Its interface is user friendly and easy to understand
  • It is free to download and use on any Linux device


  • For a user who has adapted to running the Linux kernel firewall directly through iptables, it would be difficult to make the switch to firewalld.


This is an application that allows a user to meet his specifications by adding or removing firewalls rules from the security tables that are provided by Linux Kernel Firewall. It does this by giving the user the freedom to configure said firewall security tables using different protocols, which allows the user to get the best out of the firewall. Firewall rules in iptables are only configured by a System Analyst or System manager which implies that a user must have root privileges in order to execute an iptables rule. This is a layer of administrative security that is helpful in monitoring the use and management of the system.


  • It is a rather versatile control tool for the command line.
  • It allows the user to tweak all aspects of the Linux firewall
  • Its basic concepts are fairly easy to understand
  • There is an extensive, free and openly available array of documentation about it which allows the user to study iptables straight from the source


  • The system needs to restart in order to effect system changes
  • It is fairly difficult to use


Both Firewalld and iptables are capable of functioning in fairly the same capacity on a Linux device. However, Firewalld is XML based and runs iptables under its hood together with its own command line and configuration file. This makes it easier to configure and is also what allows the simultaneous effecting of changes in runtime without having to reboot the system which is very convenient for system development, which makes firewalld preferable.

Verdict- So which is betterFirewalld or iptables?

Firewalldis definitely the better option because it performs all the functions that iptables does, but with a facelift that makes it easy for the user to configure and make their way around the Linux kernel firewall along with the added advantage that it effects changes in normal runtime.


What is the difference between Iptables and firewalld?

They are designed to serve the same purpose, which is packet filtering, but use different approaches. Iptables flushes and restarts the entire system each time while Firewalld allows you to immediately effect changes.

What are iptables used for?

Iptables is a command line interface that is used to configure the Linux Kernel firewall that is implemented with the Netfilter project. Simply put, it is used for packet filtering in the Linux kernel firewall. The term iptables is also commonly used to refer to said Linux firewall, which can be configured directly to iptables or through a graphical front end such as firewalld.

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