I've got a generic home 'network' where my ISP supplied modem acts as router with a software firewall built-in. My PCs connect directly to this router to access the Internet.

I want to place a box in between my home computers and the broadband modem. This would act as proxy passing all traffic back and forth, together with a firewall and intrusion detection system/packet sniffer.

  • Is there a prebuilt Linux flavour that would do this out of the box so to speak?
  • What software on top of the OS is required?
  • Would installing a software packet sniffer here be a big performance hit? Would the proxy be a big performance hit? E.g. with multiple boxes active simultaneously, would the proxy need to be multi-core?
  • Can I just use any average desktop PC for hardware just so long as there's two network adapters or are there any specific specs for this task?
  • Also what is a known working linux/wireless card combo when the wifi adapter is operating in master mode i.e. a WiFi hotspot?

There are special-purpose distributions. They tend to cater to simple routers with basic firewall capabilities, with the aim of fitting onto devices with limited capacity. If you want a complex firewall with things like IDS a general-purpose distribution is more up to the task.

For something you'll run at home, an ordinary distribution (Arch, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, Ubuntu, …) has all you need and then some.

Any PC that isn't too antique will be up to the task. Your home network's bandwidth is limited by what your ISP will provide and even a slow, old PC can keep up with that. However, you might prefer some smaller hardware with an ARM or at least Atom processor which will consume less power, and produce less heat and noise. Even if you need to spring money for a new device instead of reusing an old computer you had lying around, the power savings might compensate in the long run.

The hostapd project page has a list of compatible drivers, try to find a card that uses one of those drivers. Make sure that the specific model you choose is compatible with the Linux drivers, sometimes models with very close version numbers require completely different drivers.


If you already are running Linux, use a (perhaps cut down) version of your favorite distribution. You will have to keep it up to date and otherwise manage it. Adding an alien to the household just results in a comedy like Alf. Comedy for onlookers, that is.


You need to some of one famous OS, there no difference: Fedora, Debian, ubuntu and centOS.

for IDS, you need to snort package: it's best ids that i saw.

for firewall, you need to iptables.

for proxy server , any proxy server , prefer to transparent you need to Squid.

i don't know why you want to sniff and what sniff.

  • does Fedora core not contain X11 DEs? – amphibient Mar 22 '13 at 22:15
  • Say I want to record all traffic through the proxy so I guess I'd want a packet sniffer for that? – user34789 Mar 22 '13 at 22:19
  • "Core" was dropped from the Fedora name years ago. – jordanm Mar 23 '13 at 5:02
  • oh i updated my answer. – PersianGulf Mar 23 '13 at 19:56

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