I purchased a Soekris 4801-60 with a LAN1641 plugin board for my parents’ home, to replace a Debian-based internet gateway on an old pc that I set up way back in 1999.

The idea was to replace the old, coax-based network with a UTP network, and use the Soekris as internet gateway/switch. Its seven ports suffice for this small home network, at least when combined with a couple of small switches in other parts of the house. Also, the Soekris only uses a fraction of the power of the old pc – even though my dad designed some ingenious electronics to power the pc on and off (not on standby, really off) based on network traffic or the absense thereof.

I had not used m0n0wall before, and while I have seen a couple of Soekris boxes up close – and have one in use at a colocation – I had never set one up before. That turned out to be ridiculously easy – hook up serial (19200n8) to see the console, and you can do what you want. I installed the latest stable m0n0wall image onto an old CF card (8Mb is big enough!), plugged it in, and the thing just worked.

One thing that disappointed me about the Soekris is that it’s network ports are not autosensing. In this setup that’s somewhat annoying, but it’s not a big deal, we just rewired the lines throughout the house to be cross cables.

m0n0wall is pretty much perfect – except for one thing: it only supports bridging over 2 interfaces. Ideally I want to bridge the 6 LAN interfaces – but it looks like I’ll have to install a full-blown OS in order to do that. For now I’ve bridged the 2 most important interfaces, which is probably sufficient, but I’d still like to bridge all 6. It’s only a problem for microsoft networking, of course – for everything else it does not matter.

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