|Sure, a $50 Linksys box will protect your home network. But how about something a bit burlier? If your old system has a Pentium processor, 64MB of RAM, a hard drive, and a CD-ROM drive, it's painless to build a pretty serious network firewall, called a SmoothWall. |
What you'll need
You'll need at least two Ethernet cards: one to connect to your Internet source, and a second to connect to your home network.
How many computers are you protecting?
You might want a hub if you want to connect more than one PC to the firewall. You could also use this as extra protection between the Internet and a wireless access point such as the Apple AirPort Express. What you'll do 1.
Download the SmoothWall Express ISO from SmoothWall.org
Burn it to a CD-R as image data. Don't burn as a file. 3.
Make sure your old PC will boot from the CD. You may have to do this in the BIOS. 4.
Reboot from the new SmoothWall CD you've created. 5.
Follow the onscreen directions to install the firewall software.
Just plug the Internet and your new PC or network into your old PC; now your home network has some serious protection.
Wondering what all the fuss is over the Linux OS or FreeBSD or any other non-Microsoft OS that will run on a PC? Head straight to LinuxISO.org. There you'll find ISO files that you can burn to a CD and use to install a Linux distribution, such as SuSE, onto that older system.
Not sure you want to wipe out that old install of Windows 90-something? Try Knoppix
, which runs from a CD and won't touch the files on your hard drive.
You'd be shocked at how outdated the systems are at many schools; call yours to see if they can use your PC. If you're a supergeek, volunteer to help keep it running, too. Is your school set? Donate your system to the National Cristina Foundation
At the very least, have that PC properly recycled--there's some nasty stuff in there. If you use Dell's recycling program
, you might even earn credit toward a new PC.