Like a lot of people I have at least one old pc kicking around in the loft, so I decided to put it to better use than gathering dust and install some linux on it! I have a home network and have never got round to buying a router for it, instead relying on pc to share the internet connection. This started out many years ago with an old 486 running or should I say crawling Windows 98, but all it had to do was route the traffic and it did remarkably well. A few years on and a couple more PC's on the network this had to be replaced. The next incarnation was to use a full distro (Ubuntu) to route and share files around. This is great but if I make any changes to it, the internet ceases and an unhappy family occurs! The solution - create a dedicated router with the advantage of being a 'proper' firewall. After reading many web pages and magazine reviews I have settled on 'Smoothwall Express version 3.0' http://smoothwall.org/
The PC specs are :CPU - AMD Duron 1700 Memory 128Mb Harddisk 4Gb CDRom Drive Onboard Graphics 2 x Realtek 8029AS Networkcards (NICs)
The installation of this firewall is very straight forward, but you do not get any flash install screens, just a text driven process that will ask a few questions and make sure you are really sure you want to proceed with the install. This is really important that you are ready, as there is no way to partition on the install process. It will format the whole hard disk.
Once installed it will reboot and take you through the configuration process. This involves setting up how you wnat the firewall to work. The most basic way (and the way I chose) is to set up 2 NICs as Green and RED. This means that the Red NIC is connected to the modem/internet, and the Green NIC is connected to your internal network or router. You can add further colour zones if you wish such as a DMZ (de military zone) for connecting up a home web server, the advantage being that you can have a different set of rules applied to each colour and thus protection/detection.
Once the zone colours were defined, the next process is to assign the NICs to each one, the program detects the cards, displaying the make/model where possible, and the MAC address. The MAC address is very useful if you have 2 identical NIC like I have.
Next you can set the IP address of the firewall, best left at default 192.168.0.1, and the name of your firewall. This is needed when you remote admin via webpage later on, and will give you the address needed. So if you call your firewall 'smoothwall' your remote webmin page would be https://smoothwall:441
Lastley I choose the DHCP menu and enabled and set the address range for my network. One final reboot and it was up and running.
All the computers on my network were issued an IP upon request and the internet connected to each one fine. The webmin page set earlier was connected to and found to be very easy to use, although it did error a couple time, but a refresh soon got it back up. With this page you can configure any rules, connect to a virtual terminal, or just look at funky graphs of bandwidth and usage.
So far so good...........or so I thought!