Billy Kirwin

Jan 312018
 
May 2017 – Project Firewall
Over the winter, I grabbed a lower end CPU off of a “Slickdeal” with the intention that I would build a firewall to filter content at home. The Intel G4560 CPU seemed like a good chip with more than enough power for a firewall appliance.  When I started to look at software solutions for the firewall, I determined that Untangle seemed like it had the features and simplicity that I wanted.

 

Untangle Grphs

 

When I picked the remaining hardware for my Untangle firewall, I wanted as small a footprint as possible.  Having previously built a micro-itx system for my Hackintosh, I decided I wanted this system to be as small as possible.  After some research, here is the component list that I ultimately decided to use:

 

The very first time I fired up the system, nothing happened.  Being my first time building such a low powered system (80 watts!), I immediately suspected that the problem was with the power supply.  I ordered a different pico power supply at 160 watts from Amazon, and a few days later I was back where I started.  Turns out that the BIOS revision of the motherboard did not support the G4560 CPU.  $10 and a few days later, I had a new BIOS chip.
 

Loading Untangle was a breeze.  Setup was easy, and everything worked great. Everyone was happy, except the kids – they could no longer get online after lights out.

 

Untangle Firewall

By July, though, the box was having so many errors on the LAN NIC that I had to power cycle the firewall every few days.  The ASRock motherboard was equipped with two NICs.  One was a RealTEK chipset, and the other was an Intel chipset.  I naturally assumed that there would be no problem with either of these due to the fact that they were two recognizable chipset manufacturers with good reputations.  Unfortunately, The Intel i219-V NIC on the Asrock motherboard had the tendency to disconnect and stay disconnected.  Further research seemed to indicate that this particular Intel NIC was a piece of shit.  This didn’t bode well for a firewall. I had to add an external USB NIC.  Of course, USB NICs are not supported by Untangle… Go figure!  Luckily, another user had previously figured out how to get a USB NIC working on Untangle here: Untangle with ASIX-based (AX88179) USB 3.0 Gigabit dongle.

 

Fast forward seven months, and an automatic update killed the USB NIC support, rendering my firewall useless.
I picked up a Linksys WRT1900ACS and loaded Untangle on that.  It’s much less powerful than my previous setup, and doesn’t include all the same Untangle modules (no antivirus, no anti spam, etc), but I don’t use them anyway.  I did notice that 5GHz wifi does not perform as well as it did on my Asus RT-AC86U.

 

Untangle WRT-1900ACS
UPDATE 20180130
I just had my first negative experience with Untangle on the WRT1900ACS.  I was connected in remotely, and decided to rename the wireless network adapters to more suitable names.  I made the adjustment and clicked, ‘save’ and now I am waiting for someone at home to hard boot the device.  So far, I much prefer the original setup, especially where the Linksys unit lacks the RAM to run all of the modules.  I might try and modify the case of the original firewall appliance to accommodate a low profile PCIe NIC, but I’m going to wait and see how reliable the Linksys unit is for a time.  After all, I’m not convinced that the spam/virus modules are important given my mail server is in house, and I don’t run any Windows systems.
Oct 022017
 

Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the latest Windows 10 update.  It ruined his ability to log in to his local user profile, and he spent days copying data between the old and new profiles, and still days more re-registering all of his software.  Fast forward a few days, and I see the High Sierra update.  I figure, I’ve got a newish MacBook Pro, and I’ve not had any problems with migration since 10.5 that I can recall.  So I load the update, but I cannot log in – invalid password.  I boot to recovery, reset the password, and same result.  I attempt various versions and sequences of this with no progress.  I even loaded the system clean and attempted to transfer my data with the migration tool.

No love.

So I created a new user profile and soldiered on…..   day 3