Gateways and small systems

Stephane Russell posted on users@ asking for opinions on using commodity gateways (Linksys devices, etc) vs. DragonFly for a firewall and network gateway device.

Link summation time!  Those gateway devices can run open-source operating systems – most famously the Linksys WRT54G. However, they can be problematic, though “Tomato” was recommended, as was OpenWRT. For read-only security, you can also boot from CD, as Dave Hayes does.

Matthew Dillon pointed out a small device that boots an free OS is all you need, which leads to stores selling my personal fascination: teeny computer systems. Michael Neumann listed favorites and, and Thomas Donnelly added Logic Supply.

2 Replies to “Gateways and small systems”

  1. I like VIA EPIA boards. They are stronger and are a good way to host small, private servers.
    Okay, they need more power, but they still run fanless and are much cheaper than wraps or soekris.
    They use optimized (for less power consumption) x86 CPUs and some of them even include a hardware random generator and a crypto accelerator.

    As I said. They are perfect for small servers and much cheaper than most other embedded devices.

  2. I keep writing long replies to this, and keep tossing them, so before it leaves the front page — the problem with OpenWRT etc (and repurposing the ‘consumer’ embedded hardware) is that the manufacturers love to cost-reduce or entirely reengineer the products without incrementing the model numbers… if you’re really lucky, you might be able to make a guess from the box; remember to buy all your spares at the same time.

    It could be a fun hobby project if you’ve got the time and interface cables handy, but probably not what you want to rely on under normal circumstances without some extremely careful planning.

    Via chips and Geodes get the power consumptions into the watt and fraction-of-a-watt ranges, but any old Socket 7 machine (thinking of the K6-2, say, which probably has half the grunt of a current Via) with a CompactFlash to IDE adapter may be both powerful and efficient enough for basic ‘SOHO gateway’ needs. Where power consumption is concerned, mtree and regular monitoring (plus a stack of backups) probably makes more sense than spinning an optical drive. Remember to pull the old power-hungry 3D card and swap in a power supply of modern efficiency with PFC.

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