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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?
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A cheap computer? Back when I started to build my main firewall, I went to a local privately-owned computer shop that had older computers, and older computer parts. I picked up about four or five NICs for about 20 dollars, and I had an old tower that someone was throwing out. For a firewall, the computer you are using does not need to be the fastest and the greatest. My current firewall is still running, with a Pentium 3 processor in it, and 256 MB of RAM, with a whopping 40 GB hard drive. It does the job good.... Also remember, you will want to design the backend distro headless; Think about it, you won't really need to access it too much. I SSH into mine all the time, and download my traffic reports remotely.
It depends how you define “cheap”. In the short run, you should be able to assemble a PC mostly for free; you only need the case, the motherboard, the power-supply, and a network card to add to the one included on the motherboard.
Connect your own peripherals just the time to install and configure Linux with SSH, and you’re done.
But in the long run, electric consumption is not negligible. So you may want to invest in a low-power device, such as a plug computer with Linux inside (eg: from Marvell).
electricity cost is not that high. 10 watt/hour means about 10 dollars of electricity per year.
A celeron based laptop where you plug a few usb to ethernet adapters might be the right hardware.
I'd personally be more worried about the noise level. So I might go for a celeron based machine with a 10 inch display and no fan.
I agree with most of my fellow LQ members. If low power is the issue then of course build a unit that will meet those factors. Everyone must remember not everyone has power costs as cheap as we do here in USA. Nor 24/7 power!
Low cost system could be used that is acqired from recyclers would be cheap and allow a properly configured server/firewall for a SOHO.
If the OP would provide more information as to how used and what the system requirements actually are then we could expand more. It seems at first low power and small as in µATX.
To the OP, please read;
FYI: I suggest that you look at 'How to Ask Questions the Smart Way' so in the future your queries provide information that will aid us in diagnosis of the problem or query.
I went through a phase of repairing older pcs for a company, and was frequently caught in the time domain (Stuff I buy now will not work with what they bought then). When I wanted a replacement pc, I would have the following conversation with a pc dealer.
"Hello, do you sell upgrades?"
There is an enthusiastic affirmative response, to which I reply
"Good, have you any DOWNgrades?" :-))
I make it plain that I will pay beer money for whatever he has taken from others (and has lying under the bench) as part of an upgrade; I won't take a motherboard if I don't see it boot. I promise to format any hard disks. Before 2 minutes are out they are pulling out boards, plugging them into a disk and monitor etc and I would walk out with €200 or so worth of old kit for €20.
Somewhat the same but I was the re-cycle that would take older equipment to refurbish for people that could not afford new. Sometimes I would barely pay for my time. Usually it was a person on fixed income and I would just provide the system at no cost. After doing that a few times I had to get something to buffer the return nuisance calls for people who really did not have a clue as to how to use a PC.
I still do some but now I just do repairs. That does pay for other hardware to purchase for the shop/LAB.
Slowing down there too. Rebuilds and consulting for family & friends can be time consuming without payment.
I really do not go to the larger recycle centers. Unless you buy in bulk they tend to be over priced. Colleagues and friends still provide hardware to be re-cycled. My connections with local business & laboratories provides loads of equipment. Lately I have been turning them down due to my health issues. Thanks to them and suggest to please check with me at a later date. Try not to burn a bridge!
A hotel owner is having problems with users downloading things they should not. The ISP has contacted the owner, but will not give details as to what was downloaded. The admin at the ISP only said no physical layer filtering. I have been tasked to filter and monitor three hotels.
I am looking for something small like 2u computers with micro ITX motherboards to use as firewalls. That would also give the business appearance I am looking for. The computers can not look like junk beside the Cisco routers I used at his gas station.
I will start with something like smoothwall than create a long rule set by hand. For monitoring I will setup a VPN than use nimbus to monitor the client side IP
You might look at Dell refurbished machines. They do have µATX desktops. I cannot remember the model(s), go to their site 'dell.com' and look at resale/refurbish machines. Some are just open box returns.