Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Fri 9th Feb, 2007

The Touch Of Death

It had to start on Thursday morning, right when I was involved with getting Kate to the airport for a conference on time. My Smoothwall firewall, which had given four years of continuous service, had decided during the night to stop working. Of course, since it's the DHCP server on the network as well I found this out by not having an IP address.

First I suspected the drive, since on rebooting it would get to the same spot in the boot process and freeze. So I got it working with a spare 40GB hard drive (everyone has one lying around, right?). That did me for Thursday night.

But in the morning it was dead again, and the heatsink on the Via C3 processor was almost too hot to touch. So, dead processor, eh? Hmmm. I grabbed one of my old machines which was still pretty much all in one piece (everyone has an old P3-800 lying around, right?), put the drive in it, and fired it up. Hmmm; not booting at all. I fiddled with a few things, but still didn't get the screen to fire up. Not so good.

Casting my eye around the room, I spied my gaming machine, which I had recently swapped for Kate's machine (everyone has a spare Athlon 3000 in a Micro-ATX machine with a GeForce 6600 lying around, right?). Plugged it in, turned it on, big grinding sound, smell of scorched plastic, no boot at all. Not good. I'd put in my large heatpipe cooler and hadn't noticed that the fan cowling was being squeezed by pressing on the Northbridge heatsink. So I got the spare AMD heatsink (everyone has a spare AMD heatsink, right?) and attached that, but it still wouldn't boot.

So, three machines down, and still no firewall. Time to bring that old P2 that no-one wants home from work. Everyone has a spare machine lying around at work, right?

But meanwhile, I have ordered a WRAP-1-1 box from Yawarra, with a mini-PCI 802.11a/b/g card to replace my Belkin. This finally realises my goal of having a firewall with no moving parts. Having pfSense preinstalled is a bonus, and with pfSense's ability to log to an external syslog server, there's no unnecessary writing to the CF card. Hooray!

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