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  1. #1
    RetroSteve! My location

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    Building a router/firewall and a server

    I've decided to have a go at building my own router/firewall.

    I have a nice little Baby AT motherboard with a Pentium 133* which should do the job nicely. It is in a Baby AT case and has an AT PSU.

    Firstly, I would like to make it much quieter. So I would probably run the OS off a compact flash card. For a router/firewall, IPCop or SmoothWall would probably do nicely.

    Then there's the PSU. Maybe it would be OK to get a modern OCZ ATX PSU like I have in my main PC and use an ATX-AT adapter.

    What are the chances of running two motherboards in one case and from one PSU? I'm not too bothered about this at the moment, but it may be a good idea if I decide to set up another machine as a server as well. n.b. I'm not too interested in neatness as most things here are bodged. ATX splitter cables don't seem to be too easy to get here. There seem to be quite a few of them available on websites in America though.

    Back to the Pentium, did it ought to run OK without a fan? Currently it only has a tiny fan and a tiny heatsink, but doesn't seem to get very hot.

    *Its currently running a fresh install of Windows 95 OSR2, and is working quite well on the internet, despite only having 16MB RAM.

  2. #2
    Retro Addict Administrator
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    Burger Time Champion, Sonic Champion Harrison's Avatar
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    Smoothwall and FreeNAS as definitely 2 projects worth using, however FreeNAS won't run on your Hardware AFAIK. Or why not just use a version of Linux for the task?

    If you want to use it as a server you should try to get some more ram if possible though. 64-128 MB at least.

    I wouldn't recommend using 2 motherboard from a single PSU as the 12V power draw will make both systems very unstable.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  3. #3
    RetroSteve! My location

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    I don't think I will use this as a server, and just use it as a firewall/router.

    I'll just stick to running the one machine for now. Do the 12V rails not tend to supply enough power for two motherboards then?

    As for memory, I will need to find some SIMMs. Though 16MB ought to be enough for some of the smaller linux firewall and router distros.

  4. #4
    Retro Addict Administrator
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    Let me know what type of simms you need as I have lots of spare ones and you could have a couple for the price of postage if I have any that would work.

    If you are going to be using it as a firewall or a router remember that you will need at least 2 LAN ports in the PC, so that one faces the WAN and the other the LAN.

    It is appealing to setup a PC as a firewall/router as it gives the most control over configuration of the whole thing, but I've never bothered myself as standalone broadband routers these days have good enough setups with this all included. For larger networks like offices I can definitely see it as a much better solution than a standalone box because you can monitor and control everything completely.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  5. #5
    RetroSteve! My location

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    The motherboard takes 72 pin SIMMs. The motherboard is very similar (but not identical) to this: http://www.motherboard.cz/mb/amptron/PM-7900A.htm.

    I will happily take some if you have some spares ones. If you give me your preferred payment details I can send you the cost of postage and a donation for the site.

    Is there much difference between cheap and (not quite as) cheap ethernet switches? I've been looking at some on CCL, and they have one of their own brand for about a fiver, whereas Netgear ones are more like 20-30.

  6. #6
    Retro Addict Administrator
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    Burger Time Champion, Sonic Champion Harrison's Avatar
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    Pay a bit more for a switch and only buy known brands as budget ones are always based on old technology and generally don't work as well as more expensive makes.

    I highly recommend ZyXEL switches. You can get the ZyXEL 5 port gigabit switch for 22 and it will perform much better than most others. It has some very nice features such as sensing the length of ethernet cables and adjusting its power for the length, and also altering power output to each port based on what is connected, or if the system on that port is on or off.

    I always used yo buy Linksys switches but they really went down hill in recent years and now don't seem to make many consumer switches at all. Netgear also used to be good, but their recent switches have loads of issues with overheating. Something else good about the ZyXEL switches is their all metal casing.

    Regarding ram. That is seriously old if it is similar to that link. I've not seen ISA ports since my old Pentium 2. Do you know what the maximum simm size is they support? 16, 32, 64 or 128MB? You might struggle to get the best firewall setup with a system that old, and FTP/NAS setup is out of the question as it would not support enough ram or CPU power.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  7. #7
    RetroSteve! My location

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    Couldn't say what the maximum is, but it currently has 2x8MB in it.

    I might get a ZyXEL switch then. I like the idea of a nice simple metal case. Looks loads better than strangely shaped plastic ones.

    I'm only going to use this system as a router/firewall. Should do that fine. I suppose I may also have to get a wireless access point. I already have an old 802.11B AP, but a newer one might be better.

  8. #8
    RetroSteve! My location

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    I have ordered one of these ZyXEL switches: http://www.amazon.co.uk/ZyXEL-Dimens...989813&sr=8-12

    I went for the 10/100 instead of the Gigabit as there is currently only one gigabit device on the network and I'm not planning on increasing the number of gigabit devices.

    Got a couple of Realtek 8139 cards as well. Interesting review this one has: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B...F8&me=&seller=.

  9. #9
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    Not that great a review of that card then Steve. You are sticking with XP though aren't you?

    I must say that compared to XP, Windows 7 does a brilliant job of finding and installing most hardware automatically. Vista wasn't quite as good and never quite identified and installed everything automatically, but it did a much better job that XP ever did.

    I'm wondering if that Realtek card using some drivers or system files in XP that are no longer in never versions.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  10. #10
    RetroSteve! My location

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    I've no idea why he is having trouble with Vista. But I know that an 8139 card should work automatically in Linux so should be fine with any of the Linux based router distros.

    I'm pretty sure it is an 8139 that I have now, and that works fine in Windows 95, 98SE, 2000, XP, and Linux with minimal effort.

    My main PC has a Gigabit card built in though, and that works automatically on Linux. Can't remember if I needed to install drivers for it on XP though.

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