Jonathon Rossi

My little bit of the internet.

Hardware Network Firewall

I have been planning to build a standalone hardware firewall for my home network for quite a long time. I brought a 1Ghz VIA ITX 17cm x 17cm motherboard towards the end of last year for the firewall but couldn’t find a decent case to mount the board in.

I have been looking on eBay for months for a cheap old rackmount network switch or router that I can gut and mount the board inside, but nothing has come up cheap. Yesterday I won an eBay auction for a brand new 1U rackmount case, a little flashy for a firewall, but I got the case cheap and it has plenty of space for all the components compared to an old network switch.

I was always planning to install IPCop, but after some research I found both m0n0wall and one of its children pfSense seem more polished. I know from playing around with IPCop that it wasn’t the easiest firewall to configure and with m0n0wall/pfSense having a single configuration XML file that I can commit into Subversion it is shaping up nicely. pfSense is a fork of m0n0wall and has more features but requires a slightly more powerful chip and more RAM. pfSense has several features I am interested in that m0n0wall doesn’t, including a traffic shaper and installable packages, which includes both snort and squid. I am now planning to install pfSense because it seems a lot more polished than IPCop, but I haven’t tried out pfSense myself.

Once I get all the hardware together I’ll post further details of my experience. If you have done something similar yourself or just want to voice your opinion then I am interested in hearing your comments.