My firewall

In my latest post (Switching to kernel 2.6), I spoke quickly about my firewall. In the comments, I was asked for information about it. So I decided to write a new post.

My firewall is based on a micro-ATX PIII mainboard with an Intel Celeron 600. I know that it is too much for my use (the load is almost always 0), however I already had the mainboard. This processor is one of the slowest processor that the mainboard accepts (the lowest speed is 500 MHz). Anyway that kind of processor is a good choice for such a computer, as it is one of the first processor using a 0.18µm technology, thus it doesn’t need a lot of power (for an x86). Using an Aqua 690 heatsink it can run without a fan.

This mainboard has an integrated Ethernet adapter, and 3 PCI ports. I chose to use them to plug three Ethernet adapters, that is to say a total of four. Currently three of them are setup in bridge, but I can later un-bridge one or more ports if I need. It could be useful to plug a WiFi access point, or to create a DMZ for my servers (just for the fun as I am the only user of my LAN).

Instead of using an hard-drive, that makes noise and heat, I chose to use a 256MB Compact Flash instead. I made a CF/IDE adapter using the article published in Elektor (April 2002 for the French edition). It is now possible to find such an adapter in some webshops.

I packed all that stuff in a metal box, with a 120W Shuttle Power Supply. The longest part was to machine the metal, with a drilling machine and a file in my case.

On the software side, this firewall is running Debian, with two scripts of my own using iptables: one for IPv4 and one for IPv6. 256 MB is enough for that and some useful packages (ADSL modem drivers, radvd, ping, traceroute, tcpdump, ethstatus, lm-sensors, snmpd, ntp, logcheck, etc.).

Below is a photo of the inside (sorry for the poor quality, I took it with my webcam as I still don’t have a digital still camera):

Inside my firewall

You can see a fan grille on the front, however there is no fan behind it. I removed it as it was making noise, and was not really necessary. Concerning the processor’s fan, I control it using lm-sensors, and it is almost always off, resulting in a very silent firewall.

I used the same box for my servers, however they are using an hard-drive. It is possible to put up to two hard-drives (useful for RAID1) in a such box, if you are using low profile RAM.

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