Linux distro on old computer -v- router
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Thread: Linux distro on old computer -v- router

  1. #1
    The Prancing Pirate
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    Jul 2004
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    Linux distro on old computer -v- router

    Hi,

    At the moment, I have a router with an inbuilt modem which is what provides the connection to my adsl line and shares the connection via ethernet and wireless. What I would like to do is put either IPCop or Smoothwall onto an old-ish computer and use that as the gateway. I assume that with IPSec/Smoothwall I would be able to do all the normal things like connect to my adsl via PPPoA, and have extra security with the firewall, MAC address filtering, etc...

    Also, which distro would you recommend, Smoothwall or IPCop? At Distrowatch, Smoothwall's at a mere 86th position, whereas IPCop is at 33rd, so I think I'll probably end up going with IPCop...

    If I did install IPCop onto an old computer, this would be the network's setup:
    External modem ---> Computer w/ IPCop ---> Wireless & Ethernet Network Clients
    Would this kind of setup be more reliable/more secure than just having a router with an inbuilt modem and firewall? I think it would because you can configure your own security parameters, so I'd probably end up following an IPCop tut and do it how it's explained!

    J_K9
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  2. #2
    Member
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    Like all good security questions, the answer to this one is "depends".

    In terms of reliability, it's generally safe to say that hardware is more reliable than software, so if that's your priority, a decent hardware router is your best bet. Even a Linksys can be quite stable if you use the most recent firmware.

    Another consideration is exploits. PCs, being more complex than routers, have more potential and practical exploits. With a router, you'll need to make sure you've got the most recent firmware, but with a PC, you'll need to make sure every service it's running is patched fully.

    Lastly, I think it's worth pointing out that PCs. especially old-ish ones, use VASTLY more electricity than a small router. While this may not seem like a big deal, remember that this is something that'll be on all the time for the forseeable future. The difference can add up to some serious cash.

    If you're really into fine-tuning your firewalls and access lists and stuff, I recommend the WRT54G, which has many excellent third-party firmwares, and the ability to run a linux kernel.

  3. #3
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    If you're really into fine-tuning your firewalls and access lists and stuff, I recommend the WRT54G, which has many excellent third-party firmwares, and the ability to run a linux kernel.
    I never knew a hardware firewall could run a linux kernel. I must try this.

  4. #4
    Hoopy Frood
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    Originally posted here by heinouskyle
    I never knew a hardware firewall could run a linux kernel. I must try this.
    It was news to me also a week ago. The sub-admin at my work does this very thing with this very router, I believe. He has either a VPN between his computer and the router when using wireless or else he heavily encrypts the packets.

    - Xierox
    "Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own."

    -- S๘ren Kierkegaard

  5. #5
    The Prancing Pirate
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    Hey,

    Thanks for the replies. The only problem with the WRT54G is that it doesn't have an inbuilt modem, if I remember correctly, and you can't plug USB modem into it either - so that option's gone...I currently have a WAG54G at home, and although it used to work very well with the latest firmware (1.02.7), it has currently gone into a stage where it refuses to enable the WLAN. I have configured all the wireless settings, and the wireless used to work perfectly, but a few days ago I woke up and the wireless didn't work! The wireless configuration is exactly the same as how it used to be, but the WLAN LED on the router isn't on any more, and I can't find the SSID! (-Broadcasting is on btw).

    This is why I'm not too keen on Linksys....This isn't the first time their products have failed me. Could someone please recommend another router? It would have to have an inbuilt modem (doesn't need to have wireless LAN capabilities), and _not_ be a Linksys! Oh, and if anyone knows how to fix my current problem, I would really appreciate any help!

    J_K9
    TAZForum <---- click

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    i like (and use it at home) the idea of a software firewall. Currently my home firewall is smoothwall. You can use also Coyote that has nice features. The only advice is to acquire a ethernet modem instead of a USB one; i really dislike those. For example, not all "linux firewall distros" support PPPoA. All support PPPoE.
    Meu sํtio

    FORMAT C: Yes ...Yes??? ...Nooooo!!! ^C ^C ^C ^C ^C
    If I die before I sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to encrypt.
    If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to brake.

  7. #7
    The Prancing Pirate
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    Cacosapo: sorry I'm not really sure what the difference is between PPPoA and PPPoE, but doesn't that have to do with the ISP in the first place? So, let's say I got a modem which was connected so my Smoothwall computer via an ethernet cable, would my connection then be a PPPoE connection to my ISP?

    Thanks,

    J_K9

    P.S Could you please recommend an ethernet modem?
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  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    see the diferences here (very short explanation) - not the best one but was the only ive found in english
    http://www.carricksolutions.com/pppoe/pppoevspppoa.php
    on my last post, i think i can induce you in a mistake: i was talking about two diferent subjects:
    a) use a ethernet modem instead a USB modem - better support on all O.S. (in special *nix)
    b) use PPPoE instead PPPoA. If you can choose, choose PPPoE.

    If you use PPPoE, you will use an ethernet modem, so...
    About models, i cant help you, since i dont live there
    Meu sํtio

    FORMAT C: Yes ...Yes??? ...Nooooo!!! ^C ^C ^C ^C ^C
    If I die before I sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to encrypt.
    If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to brake.

  9. #9
    Hoopy Frood
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    Originally posted here by J_K9
    Hey,

    Thanks for the replies. The only problem with the WRT54G is that it doesn't have an inbuilt modem, if I remember correctly, and you can't plug USB modem into it either - so that option's gone...I currently have a WAG54G at home, and although it used to work very well with the latest firmware (1.02.7), it has currently gone into a stage where it refuses to enable the WLAN. I have configured all the wireless settings, and the wireless used to work perfectly, but a few days ago I woke up and the wireless didn't work! The wireless configuration is exactly the same as how it used to be, but the WLAN LED on the router isn't on any more, and I can't find the SSID! (-Broadcasting is on btw).

    This is why I'm not too keen on Linksys....This isn't the first time their products have failed me. Could someone please recommend another router? It would have to have an inbuilt modem (doesn't need to have wireless LAN capabilities), and _not_ be a Linksys! Oh, and if anyone knows how to fix my current problem, I would really appreciate any help!

    J_K9
    Try resetting the device witht he Reset button on the bottom back to default settings and firmware. Worth a shot at least. Then you can reupdate to the latest firmware and see what happens.

    - X
    "Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own."

    -- S๘ren Kierkegaard

  10. #10
    Priapistic Monk KorpDeath's Avatar
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    I use sveasofts linksys kernel. It's worked flawlessly so far.
    Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.
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