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I know that this is not how a true admin would do it, but this is for a small home network and for a person who's not very comfortable with the command line iptables configuration.

There's a small home network with a shared DSL connection (funny, huh? why won't everyone get his/her own DSL connection - but it is not cheap here). There's currently an Ubuntu server 8 box in front of the DSL modem to shield the modem from eventual flood (why's the flood - let's say we can't control it) and the admin would also block the internet access for some users using iptables on the server. So its a simple router + firewall configuration.

Is there any built in or freely available GUI tools to simplify network configuration on linux?

(He could switch to a desktop version of ubuntu and remote through VNC, that's not a problem and it is not a production environment so security is not that a big consideration, neither is performance.)


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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Some distributions include Webmin, which is a web based interface for system administration.

For Ubuntu, I would first try apt-get install webmin, but if that doesn't work I found an installation tutorial for webmin on Ubuntu...

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Thanks! Looks like a great tool. – axk Jul 25 '09 at 15:43
iptables is not a big mystery, I recommend you getting used to it. webmin is good for beginners, but it will surely hide the way how iptables/netfilter work from you, leaving you in "darkness" forever – asdmin Jul 25 '09 at 18:21
I agree, I'm pretty comfortable with it. Its not for me personally and the person is not very comfortable with the command line thing, its not even the concept of iptables, just the fact that one has to type ommands instead of working with a GUI. I've looked at the webmin tool and it doesn't seem to abstract the concept of iptables in any way. So I think here it is just a matter of personal preference. – axk Jul 25 '09 at 19:02
@axk: right, webmin is nothing more than a nice frontend to the usual config files. the iptables module is fairly complete, meaning that anything you can put in iptables can be done with the tool. i've only found it lacking when i needed some script dynamically modifying the rules. – Javier Jul 25 '09 at 19:46

If this is for a small home network where no one is really comfortable with iptables, why not get a little Linksys or comparable home router?

You then get a pre-packaged device that is specifically designed to handle that sort of setup and you get an easy-to-use web interface to configure any sort of advanced configuration you may need to do (port forwarding, etc.).

Setting up a Linux box on the edge like that without having some working knowledge of networking, IPtables and even what is running on the box could very easily lead to a compromised Linux box.

If you wanted to get fancy and keep with the Linux theme, you could get an OpenWRT supported device and use that. Then you get the best of both worlds: a dedicated device for handling network traffic as well as a Linux system filtering the traffic for you.

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I agree that a router device would be better, the problem is they didn't have money for such a device and used an old box someone wanted to get rid of and was glad it would be taken away for free. But such a device would be a good consideration in the future. – axk Jul 27 '09 at 19:28

If you want to go the command line route and you are already running Ubuntu I would use the UFW (uncomplicated firewall) It's very easy to use via CLI.

If you want to go GUI with Ubuntu, use Firestarter. (you'll have to google for a link because i don't have enough mod points to post more than one yet)

Both are super simple to use and should provide the control you are looking for with minimal fuss.

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Thanks! Look like nice tools, I'll have a look. – axk Jul 27 '09 at 19:31

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