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IPCop based Home Gateway
Posted on June 1, 2002



  1. Assembling the hardware
  2. Installing IPCop
  3. Connecting your Home LAN
  4. Using IPCop


The time of the single-PC household are numbered. Very often these days homes have more than one PC (possibly due to the fact you have to upgrade them every 18 months!). The cost of PC's is continually in a downward spiral and home-networking hardware is flying off the shelves.

Once people have a couple of PC's a very common request is to share the household Internet connection, be it (A)DSL, Cable or just a dial-up modem. There are various ways of doing this, but most commonly you just use the Internet sharing wizards in Windows 98 or 2000. This works fine in most cases but it's not ideal, and not very flexible. There are also hardware-based routers, which are great in my opinion but like all hardware-based solutions have limited upgradability.

Hardware devices from such manufacturers as D-Link, NetGear and Linksys usually include four things:

  • DHCP Server for your home LAN so all your PC's get their settings automatically
  • Network Address Translation to enable sharing of your Internet connection with a single IP address
  • Simple Firewalling to protect your network from intruders
  • Port forwarding so that you can make certain software work (like hosting multi-player games for you and your friends) from the Internet

What if we told you that for about the same money you're going to spend on that hardware router you could make a high performance EPIA firewall based on Linux? Well, it's true - but what are the advantages?

  • It's totally upgradable, not just simple stuff but things like IPV6 which will break ALL other home routers
  • The packet-handling abilities of Linux are far better than any Windows or hardware based firewall (in my experience).
  • You can easily add other software to do things like web caching and traffic shaping (which prioritises your most important traffic - such as voice over IP or gaming)
  • It's small and quiet and being Linux will run indefinitely but if you get bored with it you can install something else...
  • It's a cool project and you'll probably learn something from it!

When we started this project, we planned to use Redhat Linux 7.3, adding all the required software components to make it into a home gateway. But once we actually started writing that project wequickly realised that it was just too much to present in an easy manner, so we went back to the drawing board. After looking at a few pre-built Linux firewall distributions we came across IPCop, and it's perfect - easy to install, simple to use and powerful.


  • 1 x Bootable IPCop CD - Click here to download (at the time of writing the latest version is ipcop-0.1.2b2.iso). Write this to CD using your favourite CDR software. The file is about 25Mb and takes just over an hour to download over 56K.
  • 1 x EPIA Motherboard with either 533Mhz Eden ESP5000 or 800mhz C3 (the ESP5000 is more than fast enough)
  • 64MB or more of Memory
  • A Hard Disk (any size, the quieter the better)
  • 1 x extra Network Interface Card, USB (A)DSL Adapter or Analogue modem.
  • a CD-ROM drive - only needed during the install process.

1. Assemble the hardware:

I'm not going to go into minute detail here, if you're attempting this project I am assuming you know how to assemble a PC. Remember a few ground-rules. The Blue IDE connector goes onto the motherboard, the Black one onto the Hard Disk - everything else should be easy.

If you're using the 2677 case you should find that a low profile NIC should match up with the hole on the back of the case - push out the metal covering the hole and discard it. Remove the metal blanking slot from the card and push it into the motherboard.

You'll need a CD-ROM only for the install process, so take one out of another PC, connect it to IDE2 and leave the case's cover off.

2. Installing IPCop:

Insert the CD & power-on.

As this article is meant to for people who have had no experience with Linux or IPCop before, I am going to go into a lot of detail to make sure nothing goes wrong.


If the boot CD is working, you should see this screen warning you that your hard-disk is about to be wiped. Only proceed if you're sure your hard-disk's contents are no longer needed! Hit the Enter key when ready.


If you speak English, select English, if not select -erm- Deutsch.


We're installing from CD, so just select CDROM.


Keep pressing enter until you see this...


99% of the time a probe of the network adapters will work, so just select PROBE.

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