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What hardware do I need?

Before you install NetBSD/i386 Firewall, you need to know if you've got all the equipment you're going to need.

Here's the hardware you need, step by step:

  • A spare computer. This won't have to be a sophicticated modern speed monster, just a working PC you have lying around doing nothing is enough. In the left column you'll find a link with supported hardware that has a exhaustive list of the hardware that is supported by NetBSD. This list has a lot of stuff your Firewall is not going to need, because it's the full list of hardware suppored by the full version of NetBSD, and people use the NetBSD operating system for a lot of things. Below is the list of things you do really need.
  • Two Ethernet cards. One will connect to your cable or ADSL modem, one to your own private network.
  • An Intel 80386 CPU. (or one more recent, like the 80486, Pentium, AMD, K6, Celeron, Athlon, etc). As you can see, it doesn't have to be too fast. Of course, if you're going to support a lot of computers browsing the Internet, you may need a faster Firewall.
  • 8 MB of memory. More is always useful, the firewall will use it for temporary storage. If you're going to support a lot of computers browsing the Internet, you may need more. Most unused computers will have at least 8, so chances are you won't have a problem finding this..
  • 40 MB hard disk space. Again, more is usefull. The bigger the memory in the old computer, the bigger the harddisk needs to be.
  • 1.44 MB Floppy disk drive. The installation program runs from two floppy disks. After installation, you'll no longer need the floppy disk drive.
  • video card. Most computers will not work without one, but it can be the cheapest VGA card you can find
  • Maybe a keyboard. During installation you'll really need a keyboard, but if you need one later depends on your computer. Not all computers will start up if you remove the keyboard (they'll give you the funny "no keyboard - press F1 to continue" error), but usually you can turn off that behavior in the BIOS setup. Refer to the computer documentation on how to do that.
  • Maybe a monitor. During installation you'll really need a monitor, but once the firewall is running you may not need it. The firewall will display diagnostic information on the monitor, but for normal operation, you don't really need to look at that. If you're tight for space where you want to put the firewall, or if you don't have enough monitors to keep one on the firewall all the time, that's fine.


Here's some hardware you do NOT need:

  • 3D graphics video card. You're not going to play games on it, so that is overkill.
  • Sound Card. There's no reason for the firewall to need to make noises beyond the standard beep all computers can make.
  • CD-ROM player (maybe). The installation gets all its information from the network. Although NetBSD is also available on CD, the firewall software is small enough to download quickly. Also, if your provider uses PPTP or PPPoE to connect, you can only do the installation from CD. After the installation is complete, you can remove the CD-ROM player from the computer again.