Friday, April 30, 2004

Advanced networking for idiots like me

honestly i hold my own in networking, got a cert from microsoft several years back that is now outdated (NT4) but most of what my job requires is boring desktop support "my email doesnt work!" and ive forgotten a lot of the advanced stuff i learned back then

so recently ive decided to take all these computers i have laying around and make myself a profesional network to play with (including a webserver that hopefully will host this blog someday if i can get a HD for it)
one of the major requirements i had was VPN server
so i began looking for linux based router distributions that a non-linux guy like me could handle
first i found smoothwall, which is an EXCELENT product, however it lacked the VPN abilities i wanted (id rather have the vpn serve on the firewall than internal)
so further searching found me at, its a GREAT distribution that has lots of bells and whistles even smoothwall doesnt, including both PPTP and IPSEC servers

the PPTP server was up first, my plan is to be able to sync my palm from japan to my local computer while im away this summer
and it looks like i got it all working properly, except i have to figure out how to configure my internal dns server properly

next up will be the IPSEC, this way i hope to establish a permanent VPN with my friends in Salt Lake City and Woodland Hills

IPSEC is definately going to be quite a bit harder than PPTP to set up, but the advanced security and the permanent conection should be worth it

anyway if any of you would like to check out astaro without having to install it you can go to and play around with version 4
i have the new version 5, but really most of the changes are just organizing the interface better so far as i can tell
astaro and smoothwall are free for home use, and astaro can add virus scanning and intrusion detection for ~$100 (60 british pounds is the price, your exchange rate will vary)

anyway if youre a geek like me but need a bit of handholding when it comes to advanced stuff then give either astaro or smoothwall a shot- theyre quite an upgrade from the home routers lots of you probably have, and if you got an old computer lying around its FREE!!

happy networking

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