After a few years of running Untangle on my old IBM box, I finally upgraded to something a little more powerful and efficient. If you aren’t familiar with Untangle, it is a Linux-based software appliance that manages and protects every aspect of your network. It acts as a router, firewall, antivirus/spyware blocker, ad blocker, content filter, and so much more. It can be downloaded for free from www.untangle.com. You can turn one of your old PCs into an Untangle box in about 5 minutes. All you need is a PC with at least 800 MHz, 512 MB of RAM, and 2 network cards.
I am running mine on a mini ITX dual core Atom motherboard with 4 GB of RAM and 3 network cards. My Untangle box is well over the minimum specs but for a good reason. I am protecting all of my PCs here, my web servers, providing VPN access with OpenVPN, and sharing internet with the built-in Captive Portal. The Captive Portal is what really sold me on Untangle. It allows me to open up my wireless network and protect it with a username and password. This allows me to advertise my wireless network (to potential users) but still protect it with a username and password.
If you’re thinking about adding some functionality or protection to your home network, Untangle is definitely a good choice. Chances are, you have an old PC laying around you can convert to an Untangle box. At most, you may have to add an extra network card (which you can find for less than $10). If you have some time and some old hardware give it a shot. It is definitely worth the (small) investment.