is linux the answer?

Rasjid Wilcox rasjidw at
Mon Sep 9 21:54:37 EST 2002

On Mon, 9 Sep 2002 6:18 pm, Norvan Vogt wrote:
> Hello Linux'ites
> You'll have to excuse me as I am new to the open source Game but I would
> really appreciate some help with a problem that I have.
> I am currently configuring 6 client machines and a Gateway server so that I
> may put together a number of Computers that will all be able to access the
> same ISP 56kbs Dialup Account  so that they might be able to browse the Web
> and use IRC. This will be done as part of the Scout Activity JOTI and
> therefore it must be robust (ie the little kiddies can't get in and play
> with the OS) and 2 done for $0 (I have been collecting all sorts of old
> Computers for this task)
> I have decided that Linux is probably the best answer for this.(yeah!!!)
> The Client Machines are all basically P1 100mhz-133mhz with 32Mb RAM and a
> 500Mb (or so) HDD.
> The Gateway Server is a P1 166Mhz 64Mb RAM and a 4Gb HDD.
> After consulting a number of friends I have been advised to use Redhat 7.1
> (seawolf) with KDE as the OS should allow me to have all of the functions
> that I need and that Esmith 5.5 Gatway server should be the best answer for
> the Gateway server
> Here are the problems
> 1. Is this the right kind of thinking or have I just lost it, is there
> better software out there?

Pick the right tool for the job.  I use Esmith (Mitel SME) both at home and at 
work, and I think it is a great product, but unless you are planning to use 
its mail server and at least one of it file-serving or web-serving 
capabilities, it is the wrong tool for the job.  If all you want is a 
firewall / gateway to share the connection, then don't use E-Smith.  Instead, 
consider a dedicated firewall / gateway product.

Ones I have used or at least played with include:
Smoothwall (, IPCop (, Gibraltar 
( and Astaro (

Of these, Astaro is by far the best and most sophisticated, but it is not free 
for commercial use (although it is free for personal use - provided that 
there is less than 10 machines behind it), although they may be willing to 
negotiate with non-profits - worth at try.  It also takes a bit more work to 
set up (but worth the effort).

Gibraltar runs off a CD rom, and so does not need a hard-drive at all.  The 
command-line version is free in both senses of the word, but is probably for 
more experienced users.

Smoothwall is probably the original 'plug-and-play GUI Linux firewall' (plug 
and pray??), and IPCop is a fork of it.  Unless you want the 
mail/web/fileserver features of E-Smith, I would suggest one of these.

A note: ISA network cards are definitely out with Astaro, and with Smoothwall 
and IPCop it is a bit of the luck of the draw.  E-Smith also does not support 
ISA network cards, although I believe there is a HOWTO if you must.

> 2. Redhat 7.1 (seawolf) with KDE takes around the 700mb space which makes
> it too large for the HDDs that I am using

I agree with the previous post.  Don't even try and run a recent KDE on a 
machine with only 32MB ram.  Perhaps install RedHat 5.2 instead (several 
years old now, but it has some much more light-weight window managers).  Or 
give Debian a go - I'm sure it has a number of light-weight windows managers 
that you can just apt-get.  Or install RedHat 7.x without either KDE or 
GNOME, and then install a light-weight manager.

> 3. How the Smeg do you configure the esmith server to a gateway --- Is
> there any good step by step help doco (other than all the stuff on

E-Smith is really not hard to set up.  However, the other issue with E-Smith 
on dial-up is that E-Smith is really designed for a permanent or 
semi-permanent connection.  There was a big discussion on the E-Smith 
developers list recently about some clients that ended up with *very* large 
phone bills due to its dial-on-demand setup.  You have not really described 
your proposed setup in detail, but I'm making the assumption that it is not a 
permanent or semi-permanent connection - in which case I add another reason 
to use something other than E-Smith.

My 4 cents.



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