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Old 06-09-2004, 07:58 PM   #1
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Registered: May 2004
Distribution: Red Hat 7.3,9.0,Fedora, Enterprise
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Home Network Server

I have a few questions about setting up a home network with a linux server. I would like to end up with a secure network that will allow all my PCs to access each other and the internet and have email filtered by a mail server. I'll try to separate these questions for clairty.

I currently have 3 PCs wired to a Linksys router. The router is connected to a cable modem that is a "one way" connection. A dial up modem is connected to the cable modem to establish a connection. All the PCs are set for DHCP. I dont have a static IP on the WAN side.

Two of the PCs are Windoze boxes (Sorry I have Kids) and one is a Linux box. But, I also have another extra PC with 2 network cards. (Total 4) Would it be safer to use this extra box as a router then remove the Linksys router and have all the machines go through this box to the internet?

Or, should I add the 4th box to the network, setup DNS, sendmail and Samba? This would allow me to manage mail and file sharing. But then all the boxes would connect directly to the web.

I would really like all traffic internal and external go through one box with a secure firewall. I have a teenager in the house with an AIM account.

Are there any good newbie papers on setting up a secure network with a server?

Any help is appreciated.
Old 06-11-2004, 04:48 PM   #2
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
Distribution: RH, Fedora, Suse, AIX
Posts: 736

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Personally, I don't think using the one machine as a router is going to be particularly safer than doing it simply using a router/switch/hub/whatever that you're using now. Some will say that iptables makes a much stronger firewall than using a store-bought router, and they may be right... but the pain and heartache of setting up iptables yourself is almost not worth the security its buying you.

In my case, I have the router splitting the connection to each of my boxes and using Zonealarm as my firewall on each of the machines.

If you setup all of your machines to be connected to the router (normal hardware router... not a PC) you can do port forwarding from the router to the system you plan to use as the mail server. That way, all your mail can still reach the box. Then, you can setup your mail clients on each of the PCs in your house to retrieve mail from the mail server.

This isn't too hard, but the thing you have to be aware of.... if you install a mail server on a system that has a dynamic IP address, some ISPs on the internet may block your server. I have heard tales that some ISPs will block any IPs that are dynamic, preferring only static IPs. Anytime you run a server, it's best to have it on a static IP... otherwise it makes domain name changes a little bit difficult.

For example... you have your email account is YOu would have to setup your server so it answers for and can receive mail for this domain too. That means when your IP changes (since your IP is dynamic) the domain now points to the wrong IP! There are ways around this using services like but they can also be tricky with email servers who prefer you have proper reverse DNS setup.

Setting up a server is no small affair.


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