Subject: Re: What plateform for a home Firewall ?
To: Eric Delcamp <>
From: poston <>
List: current-users
Date: 12/13/1999 13:02:45
On Mon, 13 Dec 1999, Eric Delcamp wrote:

> Hi !
> Cable-modems and others permanent-connection device to Internet begins to be
> more and more popular (at least in France). To avoid piracy and assure a
> privacy, a firewall is necessary. For a home user, there is actually only
> two solutions: a dedicaced computer with Linux/xxxBSD but this cost some
> money and need expertise, or a software (under Win95/NT) to block access of
> some ports. I want to study a third solution : a lost-cost computer with
> NetBSD and 2 network interfaces.
> The perfect machine should be :
> - Easy to install. No keyboard, no screen, just 2 network ports, and power
> (by AC Adapter or direct plug)
> - Easy to use. No knowledge of networking. Minimal configuration by
> Web-browser (with statistics) or telnet (expert mode ?)
> - Reliabilty. No mechanical parts, no drives, no floppy. Maybe just a fan.
> - Easy upgrade. Software on memory card (PCMCIA, CompactFlash, others...)
> My first think was about StrongARM architecture. But I don't know hardware
> manufacturers for this. I want to avoid Intel (but it's only a personal
> choice ;-). Don't know about SH3, or other "exotic" processor.

Hmmm, well Stanford has a "matchbox-PC" project running Linux, which meets
most of your requirements, it's part of the Stanford Wearable Computer
Lab stuff <>.  However, currently it is
still expensive for want you want (which isn't a wearable firewall,
I presume).  The cheapest way to go is more or less what I've done in
my home... 486 PC with 16MB memory, in a old PC case, two cheap network
interfaces (one for the DSL, one for the LAN), and a small hard disk
(1GB IDE).  No keyboard, no screen, no mouse.  Total parts cost if 
purcahsed new (assuming one could still buy new 486s and MBs), somewhere
around $250.  Works great as a firewall / router / other related stuff.
However, is has a disk and fans and needs a 110AC power.  Might be able
to pick this stuff up from an auction for far less (say $50 US).  

Sonicwall also does what you want, but costs a bit more and you can't
control the horizontal and vertical like do-it-yourself routers.  
Cobalt makes a fine appliance PC running Linux which does much the same,
but with more capabilities than the Sonicwall (Samba server, mail server,
etc), and they start around $1000 US.

> I need advice or help to choose the architecture, the motherboard (2 network
> interfaces, don't forget this), level of performance, maybe to build driver
> (could NetBSD boot on CF-cards ?), etc...

The two network interfaces will be a bit of a challange with the
all-in-one PCs that you might find.

> My goal is not commercial, I just want to do something "usefull" with
> NetBSD. The goal is to build a project, maybe a prototype. If it could bring
> some money to NetBSD later in a commercial version, why not, but it's not my
> first priority and I don't want to be implicated on this business.
> Thanks.

My .02
-Alan Poston