A Simple Linux Router Upgrade

by Phil Hughes

Linux Routers

Apparently as a Christmas present someone cracked into my old router for my home network. It looks like they couldn't do much because of the sparse configuration on that system but I decided it was time for an upgrade.

I was running a Debian distribution from a couple of years ago that I had configured myself to do IP Masquerading and some port mapping. All this on a 486/33 with a 500MB disk. What you might call a set it and forget it system.

Well, the crack inspired me to go for a change. I knew of a few single-floppy routers but had never configured one. This seemed like the perfect chance to try one out because it meant I didn't have to trash to running but insecure current config making it possible to fetch stuff off the net if my first try didn't work.

I decided to go for a quick search on freshmeat and see what was out there. The listings are alphabetical and the first I came to that sounded like it would work was BBIagent.net. This package offers a Linux 2.4.13 kernel, fits on one floppy and includes a form on the web site that you fill out to get your own custom floppy image. To top it all of it would run in 8MB of RAM--an easy fit for my huge 16MB system.

Once you boot it up you configure it remotely using a Java-enabled web browser on your LAN. Sounded secure enough so I went for it. After all, the price was right and it looked like very little work.

The configuration was almost a snap. That is, it was a snap but the first two disks I wrote weren't happy setting up my two 3C509 Ethernet cards. I had been thorough and gave I/O addresses and IRQs.

I decided being dumb was probably the way to go and told the config program I didn't know this info so it should auto-probe. Another boot and it worked like a charm.

Once you configure it from the browser you can save your configuration options to the boot floppy. That's about it. Now I just need to pop the case on the system and unplug the now unused hard drive.

email: phil@ssc.com

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