Thursday, January 30, 2014

Building A Router / Firewall with FOSS!!!

Last year I wrote an article about pfSense® titled, "pfSense Makes Good Sense!!!."  While writing that article and creating the accompanying video, I promise to show how I did it.  There are plenty of tutorials for creating an open source router / firewall so, what I will do here is show you how I used those tutorials / how-to(s) to create my FOSS router/firewall.
First, I had to purchase a few items to complete the task.  I needed a second NIC for an older machine thus it would have to support regular PCI and not PCI Express.  Now, that took a bit of hunting but I really recommend eBay for all your retro hardware purchases and to just find a great deal on just about anything.  Next, I needed a new switch to network my PCs.  Last, I needed wifi support so, I purchase a Cisco®/Linksys® wireless router. Now, my home network would not be on the ATT® Uverse® modem/router/switch/cablebox/telephony equipment, instead it is sitting behind a FOSS firewall/router that I built! How cool is that?
I installed the NIC into the older machine that had an Intel® Celeron® CPU 2.40GH, 20 gig HDD, and 1 gig of RAM that I also upgraded.  Now, I really tried using this equipment as a desktop production machine, and it was dismally slow. But as a firewall/router it is perfect!  Most of the open source projects for firewalls / routers requires very low hardware specification. As a side note, the more expensive router / firewall equipment uses a proprietary port of UNIX or GNU/Linux to power their equipment.  Thus, it just make good sense to use an open source solution to build your own router / firewall home equipment.
After viewing Smoothwall®, OpenWRT®, M0n0Wall®, and  DD-WRT®, I decided to go with pfSense® on my home network.  Separating my home network from my Internet modem was one of the all time best tech upgrades I have completed.  I highly recommend this for any power user that want to do more than browse the Internet, check email, and write an occasional letter.  If you want to create a media server, PXE server, game server, have more control of dhcp, dns, proxy server and firewall settings then, this is the way to go!
Choosing any of these FOSS projects should improve your home networking experience.  Finding these projects all grew out of the desire to install a PXE server on my home network.  Thanks, AT&T® Uverse® for not supporting PXE in your modem, because I would have never started Googling for a better solution.  This video is a bit long since I demostrateded both SmoothWall® and pfSense in VirtualBox.  The setups for the two systems are quite different with SmoothWall® being the more difficult install, but it sure does not lack on features.  It took a bit of perseverance to get it installed but the effort was well worth the wait. I plan on make my first truly outlined step by step HowTo on setting up SmoothWall® in a virtual network environment.  I hope that this article and the video below will be of service in helping you create your very own FOSS Router / Firewall too!!!

Be Blessed!!!