[TriLUG] Fun Cheap Firewall (or web/email/dns/whatever server)

Clay Stuckey claystuckey at gmail.com
Fri Jan 15 23:45:14 EST 2010

I have been toying with the idea of using a cheap nettop computer as a
firewall at home. I didn't need much power. I could have pretty much done it
with any pda as long as I could have gotten 2 nics into it an Linux on it. I
used to have a Sharp Zarus PDA that would have done the trick nicely.

Tonight I broke down and went to Best Buy and laid down $199 for an Acer
Aspire Revo and another $29 for a Netgear WG111 wireless G USB adapter. They
don't carry any USB copper ethernet adapters at this time. The revo comes
with XP home and runs suprisingly fast. I would think that it would really
fit most day-to-day computing needs.

Here is the quick-n-dirty of how I got Fedora 12 installed. I don't have a
usb cd/dvd drive handy. While I have done it to many times to count, I
was feeling a bit too lazy to stand up a PXE boot environment. I hadn't ever
set up a usb thumb drive as a boot device. They are rather frowned upon in
the defense sector these days.

went here:
downloaded the windows app
installed it on a win XP machine
used it to "install" the fedora 12 live iso to an 8GB usb stick. (overkill
but all I had at the moment)
note: data I had on the disk before was not lost!
booted the acer revo
hit <F12> on boot to open boot order prompt
selected usb
booted into Fedora 12 live
launched the "install to hard drive" app once I got to the desktop

I probably could have use that app to "install" the regular dvd iso or even
the net install iso to the usb stick. The install took all of about 10
minutes. It was mindnumbingly easy. After I got in, I installed vim, updated
through yum and plugged the usb wireless nic in. It detected  and installed.
I used the gui networking utility to join my home wireless network. So easy
a caveman... Wait, that has been done before. Anyways it was super easy!!

$250'ish with tax, about 30 minutes from taking stuff out of the best buy
bag to having a real dual homed firewall ready to rock. I plan on swapping
the wireless nic out for a wired one when I find one. I have seen em as
cheap as $10. The revo has 6 usb ports, esata, sound, SD, VGA and HDMI. I
would say this is the coolest and cheapest firewall I have ever built.

Clay Stuckey

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