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I'd say I'm relatively new to Ubuntu but have been using it for a few weeks now and already learnt quite a bit about it but there's one thing I'm confused about which is the use of firewalls.
I read somewhere that the kernel provides support for iptables but I have no idea how to set these up and also, is it really relevant for Ubuntu to use a firewall?
I don't know if the kernel has any other online support like this or anything so I'm just wondering before finding a good firewall and installing it.
Could someone give me a little point in the right direction?
Setting up a firewall is really dependent on what you are doing with your machine. Are you planning on running any services off of it like a webserver, fileserver, etc? If you are at home with a router and not planning on running anything out of your home, the default settings on most routers these days are okay at blocking most of the troubles out there.
If you are using a laptop and are mobile, that can complicate things. Fortunately the default settings with Ubu's uncomplicated firewall are pretty okay for most computers.
Hope this gets you started, but feel free to reply here if you have more questions or want clarification.
You kinda answered your own question really. Different wireless access points will pass out different IP addresses to your lappy, etc. In addition, laptops have the wireless card as well as the ethernet port to worry about instead of just the ethernet port on a desktop. So if you were to decide to go hard core and script your own iptables startup, for example, you could cause connection issues from one access point to another or switching from wireless to ethernet, etc.
Since you said that you are relatively new to Ubu, uncomplicated firewall would be a great solution for you. By default it will not block outgoing connections (you requesting a website), but will not allow other machines to connect to you.