SmoothWall is a GPL distribution of Linux specifically designed to be a router and firewall. SmoothWall allows you to create a dialup or always-on server on your network that has been exhaustively penetration tested and documented and has already proved popular in a myriad of networks large and small.
I have been using Smoothwall since version 0.9.4 to connect my home network to the Internet. Smoothwall is very easy to install and configure, and is ideal to install on that redundant 486 that all of us seem to have, although the web pages can take a while to be generated as they're all written in perl. A hard disk of about 100M and 8 to 16 Meg RAM are required, mine has 16 M RAM and works OK.
Smoothwall provides the following services to your network:
- A dial on request internet connection with selectable profiles for up to 5 different ISPs
- IP masquarading to give all machines on your network access to the Internet
- DHCP server for your local network
- SSH access if required to your Smoothwall box
- Name server relay daemon
- Firewall protection for your internal network
- A Squid proxy server
- A SNORT intrusion detection system
Firstly, download the ISO CD image and burn it to a CD or use a copy from a magazine CD perhaps. The CD is bootable if your BIOS supports this. Most old PC\'s don't support booting from CD so in that case make a bootdisk from the image supplied on the CD. Just a few simple questions and your Smoothwall installation is complete.
Next, go to another machine and point your web browser at the address you just allocated to your smoothwall box. I noticed that for some reason, the web server on the box is configured to use port 81 rather than 80. So you must point your browser at http://theboxip:81. From here you can setup your ISP details, confiure the DHCP server and remote access. You can also configure port forwarding if, for example, you want to play internet games or use a Napster clone.
Most of the pages on the web interface are protected by a password so that only authorised people can change the settings. You can set this during the installation.
Once everything has been set up the other machines on your network can be setup to use Smoothwall. On your client machines, you will need to set the default gateway to that of your Smoothwall box and, if you\'re not using DHCP, also set the Primary DNS server address to your Smoothwall box.
Facilities are available to view the logfile with filtering for PPP or Firewall. Graphs can also be generated to show the data trafiic on the PPP and Ethernet interfaces.
The logging facilities on Smoothwall are great. You can view the amount of hits on the firewall (people trying to hack you) and also the IDS log. The IDS monitors all the incoming and outgoing traffic looking for anything that shouldn\'t be there, e.g. Portscans or viruses being downloaded by e-mail. For some reason, it also logs things like ICQ...
Smoothwall supports standard external modems, ISDN and USB ADSL.
The SSH server on the Smoothwall box is also for some reason on a different port which means that you cannot easily connect to it from another machine using a standard SSH client. However, there is a JAVA SSH client included with Smoothwall which is accessible via the web interface.
Smoothwall also supports Virtual Private Networking which is also configurable via the web interface.
You can download Smoothwall from www.smoothwall.org or buy a commercial, supported version from www.smoothwall.co.uk.
Smoothwall.org are no longer accepting donations to the project, but you are encouraged to donate to the Free Software Foundation to show your appreciation.