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I found this linux distribution, called SmoothWall. I read its documentation and it looks pretty for me. The only problem is, that I'm not a big linux professional and I have also not a lot of experience but I want to know your thoughts about this "Firewall OS"! Can it be used for small-business environment, with 15-17 PC-s?

I would use the server also as cache proxy. Is this a good idea? (I mean, using one server for two things)

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up vote 2 down vote accepted works, if you set up the hardware correctly. It's not really a "linux" thing since it's meant to be turnkey, and managed from a web interface.

If you have the hardware with multiple NICs, you aren't losing anything by trying it out. The only expense is the hardware. If you don't like it, you download a different distro.

Other people will have different opinions. Mine is that you are only losing time if you try it, don't like it, and try another one until you find one that suits your needs.

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And witch distro would you prefer for this task? – Max Ruf Jun 21 '10 at 17:26
I've used Smoothwall for something similar to what you're describing before, worked fine. – Bart Silverstrim Jun 21 '10 at 17:27
Again, it depends on your own expectations and what shiny's you want in the interface, what stats you do or don't want, what features...for me it worked. A friend of mine uses an older machine with pfsense for routing and firewalling and likes that. So...I've used smoothwall and think it was fine to use, but other distros are capable at handling basic firewall chores too. Not really a right-or-wrong thing so much as a personal taste thing. That's why I encourage you to try it firsthand and see if it handles what you throw at it. – Bart Silverstrim Jun 21 '10 at 17:30
I've used Smoothwall for 5 years now, and it's the bomb. Easy to setup, easy to use, and pumps data through like none other. – Daniel Huckstep Jan 9 '11 at 20:22

Smoothwall and a number of other firewall distros were reviewed at the weekend by Tech Radar. You should take a look at that page and compare. One distro not mentioned is Untangle, which I've been pretty happy with - though the most useful parts of Untangle are commercial addons rather than opensource.

If you're not entirely sure then just download one or two of these distros and have a play, either on a spare box or a virtual machine. Any of these should manage 15-17 users pretty easily on relatively cheap hardware, especially if you don't go mad turning on every single feature.

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Yes, SmoothWall is generally considered to be pretty decent. It is relatively up to date, easy to use, uses modern tools, and popular.

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I'm using Smoothwall Express 3.0 at home right now and it has major problems. I have an extremely basic setup and it keeps locking up (I have to hard reboot) when I am downloading a large file via torrent.

My setup is as follows:

[Road Runner] ---- [Smoothwall] ---- [Netgear GS108 (8-port Gigabit Switch)] ---- [Several other machines]

This is the most basic setup you can have and it's great when it works but it keeps failing (not gracefully at all) and it's bugging the hell out of me. I have tried tweaking a few settings to no avail. I will have to try something else.

Edit: I have fixed the problem. The NIC or drivers were bugging out so I replaced the NIC and used different drivers. That seems to have fixed the issue. With that said, I am not very impressed with the Smoothwall web interface. It doesn't work very well and is far from bullet proof. I'm sure there must be something better out there but I haven't tried anything else besides DD-WRT (on a router, not a PC) which was great compared to Smoothwall.

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could that be a hardware issue? – Crash893 Dec 18 '10 at 12:27
It was either hardware/driver related. Replacing the NIC with a new card/driver fixed it. The firewall still doesn't seem very well polished though – Joe Philllips Dec 20 '10 at 3:36

I used SmoothWall for years in a small business environment (~25 users at that time), and loved it. It performed well on a crappy old PC and it was extremely easy to set up and administer. We eventually moved to ISA Server because we'd grown and needed an application-aware firewall that integrated with Active Directory and could securely publish internal web apps, but I have absolutely nothing bad to say about SmoothWall. It's a great firewall. My only advice would be to mark your NICs with a Sharpie to indicate which one is "red" and which one is "green"...I can't be the only person who's ever forgotten :)

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