Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Fri 16th Feb, 2007

The touch of life

After my firewall fun last week, and my modem fun at the start of the week, I think I now have working replacement gear to run my home network. I'm gradually configuring up the two boxes - the nice red Yawarra box running pfSense and a new Netcomm modem purchased from Harris Technology while I get my refund from Orange Computers (who, after a bit of fiddling around getting case numbers from Netgear, have agreed to not worry about the '7 days or less for refund' clause on their receipt).

After a bit of poking around in various manuals, I found that it is possible to put the modem in bridge mode, effectively allowing the pfSense firewall to do the PPPoE connection. I prefer this method to having the modem be a firewall and the second firewall just act as a pass-through - it seems less flexible to me. But this raised a somewhat sacrilegious question in my head.

With the way modern modems run cut-down free operating systems to do their firewalling and administration, is it necessary for me to have a separate firewall running another free operating system in order to get the functionality I want? My old Belkin Wifi AP, for instance, allowed two WPA pass-phrases - one for 'full network access' and one that could only access the internet; pfSense only has one, that gives full network access. The NetComm's advanced setup was as sophisticated as anything I've seen from pfSense or Smoothwall, albeit without the neat graphs and SSH access. Should I be paying an extra $450 for a separate piece of kit where a $100 modem has the same functionality?

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