This diagram describes how a typical home network can be constructed around a Linux server. This design is only one of many that can be constructed, but it is a recommended method of configuring your home network.
This system includes both an analog modem and a cable modem. You would not normally use both types, but it is useful to have the analog modem available if there are problems with the cable modem. If you do not have one of the items, then don’t bother installing both as they are not both needed.
Lets talk about each piece of hardware individually so we can understand it’s intended purpose and choice considerations.
There are some routers which include internal firewalls. I normally use an old PC as a firewall and simply install Firewall software. I use IPcop but I have also used SmoothWall. I like the Open Source firewalls since they tend to be better maintained and reliable.
The reason I use a separate firewall, is that if the fire wall is attacked and broken, I can reformat the fire wall computer, and reinstall the software to plug the hole. Since I have an old computer collecting dust, it is economical as well.
This is the heart of the home network. It allows you to run a mail server, a web server, shared disk drives, and common backup from one point on the network. This is the type of application server that Linux really shines at. This computer is a standard PC, but you might want to consider a better quality computer in this location since it is the heart of the network.
A couple things to consider for this PC. It should probably have larger hard disk space since it will be sharing space with the other computers on the network. It should probably have some type of backup drive installed. Tape is still the cheapest and work well in Linux. I use SCSI disk drives on my server, it is more expensive, but also more flexable. As an example, I have 3 hard disks, one zip drive, one CD drive, one 4mm tape drive, and a scanner all running on a single Adaptec SCSI controller.
For this discussion I will assume you already have Linux installed on the server and the linux workstation. If this is not the case, you need to bring the computer to an install fest, or learn how to install Linux. It is not difficult with the modern distributions, but outside the scope of this talk. For this talk, I will be using and configuring Redat Linux version 7.3. Since the tools we will be using will mostly be an editor, the instructions will likely work on most version of Linux.
Hardware selection issues are up to you. I will describe the hardware I am familiar with in the configuration steps. As with many things in Linux, there is more than one way of doing things. I will use serial ports for the analog standalone modem, and 10baseT connection for the cable modem. I will use generic hardware information mostly since this is simplier. Many variations of hardware are possible, if your configuration does not match this one, it will probably be easy to modify the instructions for your configuration.
The configuration of the windows box will reflect Windows 98. This is what I use and it works. The configuration for Windows 2000 or XP is slightly different. Again, it should be fairly straight forward to use the information on other configurations.
I will assume you already have an internet provider and you can get the information from them that you need. Many Internet providers do not directly support linux, but if you ask the right questions, they will give you the infomation you need. Often the information is posted on their web pages, you just need to find it.
Finally, I will assume you know how to use a simple editor such as vi, pico, or some other text editor. There are graphical front ends to some of the configuration, but everything can be done with an editor. Do not assume you need to go out and learn VI. We are only going to be using a couple of commands in the VI editor included with Linux known as VIM. Or if you are unsure about using VI, give the pico editor a try. It is available on most Linux system, you will need to load the pine rpm. Pico is a simple text editor, with a limited command set, but it includes on screen help.
Written by John F. Moore
Last Revised: Wed Oct 18 11:01:35 EDT 2017