IPCop is a specialized Linux distribution whose sole purpose is to safeguard the computers and networks it is installed on. The distro proudly claims, “The Bad Packets Stop Here!” I recently installed IPCop 1.4.16 on my SOHO LAN, and found that it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

My LAN is constantly in a state of flux, but at a minimum it contains at least two computers and a wireless access point. I use the wireless router both for Internet access from my laptop and to provide access to a Hewlett-Packard network printer that’s located in a spot where a cable would be inconvenient. I add and remove the odd computer from the mix on an ongoing basis.

I mention my LAN topography because the first thing you should do when considering an IPCop deployment is to plan its configuration. IPCop can handle everything from a single machine to a LAN with both wireless access and Internet-facing servers

The software provides the ability to create different zones on your LAN, with varying degrees of security, and with each having its own network interface card. If your Internet connectivity is Ethernet, you’ll need at least two NICs in the machine it’s installed on, and perhaps as many as four in total, depending on your LAN. If you connect to the Internet by modem, you may need only one.

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