OK, you catch me as this is not from Cisco, but is related to networking and security, so I believe it fit in the idea of this blog. What I’m talking about here?! Well, let’s assume that you are the IT guy of one small business or even your home network, and like all of us, you want what’s the best for your network. With today’s key words (even I don’t understand why) like saving, cost reduction, zero budget for new deployments no manager will approve new hardware to be bought. And to be fair enough why would you like to buy an expensive Cisco 6500 if you have 50 PCs in your network and some servers? Cisco and other brands in the same line are good, actually very good, and money worth spending to have them, but only if they are really required. Continuing on this idea, somebody asked me to find a solution for his small to medium business as he has a small user network and some servers. Of course he wanted all the possible features and security but without investing too much, or if possible nothing. To keep everything into this limits, I had the idea to use a Linux box with 3 NICs and a bunch of software for achieving the other features like QoS, routing and so on. But I found something better to manage and to maintain over the time.
The product is called Untangle and I found out to be perfect for my solution and maybe for yours if you want to give it a try. Among the other good features that it has integrated, you will see that this is a FREE product. Of course nothing is just white and black, and if you want some features you have to pay for them. Anyway I managed to do everything without paying anything. Untangle can be installed on a dedicated machine or as an application in Windows. Installing on Windows is …how can I say…useless, at least from my point of view. I mean who put the trust of his network gateway on a Windows machine?! As a dedicated machine is one of the best solutions that I tested.
As explained on the Untangle documentation, this solution can be installed on any regular Intel / AMD machine with some decent configuration. If you want to keep this solution for a longer time and logs I would recommend something dual core with 2 GB of memory and at least 80GB hard-disk capacity. The minimum requirements from the developers would be a 800Mhz processor with 512KB of memory and 20GB hard-drive, if you plan to run this for a network with less than 50 stations. The process is very simple, you download an image, burn it on a disc and then install it. If you ever installed another OS, you will handle this for sure.
The new device can be deployed as a router or as a transparent bridge:
On my private installation I deployed it as a router, as I wanted this to be the main gateway and to separate the LAN from the DMZ area. After you configure the basic stuff, you may want to choose what services you will use on this machine. Everything is modular. You have a virtual rack in which you insert free or paid applications. Maybe you are wondering which are the free applications. Here is the list: Web Filter, Virus Blocker, Spam Blocker, Ad Blocker, Attack Blocker, Phish Blocker, Spyware Blocker, Firewall, Routing & QoS, Intrusion Prevention, Protocol Control, OpenVPN, Reports. This covers most of my basics needs for a small network. If you want advanced features like WAN Load Balancer, WAN Failover or Remote Access Portal than you have to buy this applications. Of course I would preferred to have this also for free, but as I said in other articles, nothing is 100% free on this world.
Every module is than configured in a graphical interface with easy to understand and follow menus. You can choose what to activate, what traffic to be inspected, what packets to be subject of QoS and may more. One thing before you proceed to test this. By routing please don’t understand Dynamic Routing Protocol or other advanced features. Like I said before this solution is for small to medium sites which does not have to support complex routing environment. However it does support basic routing and it can be installed as a router. Regarding the support you get for this product there is good forum and also a Wiki page
Below I prepared a small gallery with screenshots from Untangle. The screenshots are copyrighted to Untangle.com and can be found on there site together with a some nice video presentations of the product.
Please be aware that this site is not affiliated in any way with Untangle.com. The opinion presented here represent my own experience with Untagle product.