Through the use of open-source software (OSS), outdated PC hardware, and a little know-how, you can build a cheap and highly effective gateway firewall to protect your SOHO LAN.Software
FreeBSD has its roots in the server environment, and continues to impress me with its performance, ease of use, and security. Combined with it's zero-dollar pricetag, FreeBSD provides the average user with a culmination of the most modern features, powerful network services, and intuitive setup processes. Apple apparently liked it so much, that they combined FreeBSD with the Mach 3 microkernel and a fancy desktop environment known as Aqua to create OS X.Hardware
The hardware used for my gateway firewall consists of the following:
- An old Pentium 3
- 256MB of PC100 RAM
- Two 100/10baseT(X) NICs (one on-board)
- 50GB IDE hard drive
- Generic IDE CD-ROM drive
- An old junker desktop ATX case
- 300W PSU
- Some Cat5/5e/6 ethernet cable
Most of this stuff can be found at computer scrapyards for between cheap and free. The USMC actually donated the case, motherboard, and processor to me when they cleaned out an old computer warehouse.
Believe it or not, dumpster-diving (eeek!) can turn up a whole slew of useful hardware. Large businesses and educational facilities often throw outdated computers away in large quantities. Though outdated, these would be ideal for our purpose. Be sure to ask the owners if you can help them dispose of their trash before you go digging around though.
I have quickly built a shopping cart on Newegg.com to give you an estimate of what it would cost to build this project with completely new parts. The grand total came to $171.94. Please realize though, I HAD to choose hardware that is considered overkill. People just don't sell the old stuff anymore. It costs them more to keep it in inventory than they can make selling it.