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John Hokanson Jr.

Firewall and File Server - How low can you go?

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Evening Gents,

 

This my first post. The retro Mac bug has bit me. I own two iMacs that I perchased from forum member Mike Richardson, and I love them dearly.

 

I don't know where else to put this, so I figure I'll try posting it in the RetroChallenge forum, since it's kinda a Retro Challenge I'd like to do.

 

What I was thinking about doing is turning an old Mac into a file server and/or firewall. Similar to what Linux users have done with old 386/486 computers lying around? However, I'm kinda wondering what would be the lowest unit that I could realistically do this with. Like for instance, a 68040 running BSD would be awesome. Particularly if I could get it running with say...a Quadra 605. 30W power supply and small footprint sounds tailor made for this. And the thought of working with 68k processors sounds awesome.

 

However, I've noticed that most Linux/BSD firewalls require at least two LAN Cards, and that's not going to fly on an old Quadra. Plus, an IDE bus would be best for serving files since you can install large drives. So I'm leaning toward an old PCI Mac instead, unless they made a NuBus Mac with the capability to have two LAN cards. Say maybe a 6400.

 

I have four 72-pin SIMMs (all 16 meg) basically sitting around and doing nothing, along with various 168 pin DIMMs.

 

Video doesn't matter at all. Even vampire video will work okay. This machine will likely spend the majority of it's time headless. I can get an old 14 inch CRT to display video if I ever need to change settings.

 

Ideas?

 

- John

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I had a PPC machine running as a firewall/router for a while, a free linksys router is what I ended up replacing it with. I also used a 466 Celeron PC for the same task when I was experimenting with a linux firewall router.

 

To be honest a computer just takes up to much space and energy for a firewall, and as for an all purpose server I think a Win2k server based machine is best for multi platform use (works as a old mac server very well). I did and do use my WGS95 for a classic server (fast too) but I only fire that up as needed while my win2k server tends to be on 24/7.

 

Never did get around to running hotline on a LC3.. one of these days.

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Yeah, I thought about just getting a Linksys router, and I still might, but the idea of using a Mac as a File server still appeals to me. Sure, Wintel might be even less of a PITA, but that's not the point.

 

Since your Win2K machine is on 24/7, I assume that if you added the Firewall features onto the box, you wouldn't really be running any more energy (probably even less in fact).

 

Plus, it would give me an excuse to dink around with Linux and/or BSD and give an old Mac a good home. I could even have floppy capability for the price that it would cost to buy a USB floppy.

 

Does anybody know what the max HD size in the old 68030 and 68040 Mac were?

 

- John

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That's what I was afraid of. I had heard that 7.5.2 added support for volumes up to 2TB, but at the same time, I noted that the caveat was that it only applies to machines that came with 7.5.2, or have PCI slots. That rules out any of the Quadras as being good choices for file servers.

 

- John

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With OS 8.1 HFS+ you can use huge partitions and 8.1 runs on any 68040.

 

Some of the later 7.x OS can read HFS+ but cannot boot from it I think.

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I've run various versions of NetBSD on a IIvx. There would also be no problem with multiple network cards.

 

NetBSD on a LCII runs poorly, even with an FPU.

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Consider a 630 if you want a 68k machine. Not as small as a 605, but it does use IDE disks, and will support two NICs via the Comm slot and the LC PDS.

 

http://lowendmac.com/quadra/quadra-630.html

 

Note that a volume size limit is not a disk size limit. You can partition a larger disk into multiple smaller volumes.

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Good point Bunsen,

 

But on the other hand, aren't you limited to something like 16 volumes?

 

So realistically, that means the largest disk size that you can take advantage of is 64 GB (4 * 16 = 64). That's not terribly bad, but it is somewhat ungainly.

 

But then again, that's why this is a retro challenge.

 

- John

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Before I went wireless at home, I used a IIci running NetBSD as my router / DNS server. Worked like a charm. The box fit under my desk and could run headless, so I didn't have to worry about it.

 

One option for file storage is to combine a bunch of old SCSI drives into a JBOD. You'd need a SCSI enclosure of course, but you could run up to 7 drives total and create one massive disc out of them. I've got a stack of old SCSI drives that I'm toying with for this exact purpose. :D

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Just to clarify a few things, most non-compact, non-laptop machines from the Mac II and newer can support multiple network cards. Many have a motherboard network interface, plus you can add at least one more via NuBus or PDS. The exceptions would be the LC models, the Quadra 605, the IIsi, and perhaps a few others.

 

With regards to drive sizes, any machine with a SCSI bus can support drives up to 2 terabytes. This is because all SCSI block numbers are expressed as 32 bit numbers, so you can have up to 2^32, or 4 billion, 512 byte sectors. Of course, there are various limits on volume sizes, but you can use any size disk on SCSI busses. I have 250 gig and 500 gig drives on SCSI-IDE and SCSI-SATA adapters on m68k Macs, and I even have a 1.5 terabyte drive on an Amiga 4000 (SCSI-SATA). IDE, on the other hand, is limited to 128 gigs (2^37) on m68k machines with IDE (some people call it 137 gigs because it's 137438953472 bytes).

 

I've used m68030 and m68040 type machines to do NAT, DNS, IPv6, port forwarding, and so on. A typical m68030 machine like an IIci can do at least 100 kilobytes/sec and usually more than 150 kilobytes/sec, which is around the speed of a T1. This is perfectly adequate for slow broadband such as phone company DSL. An m68040 machine can usually do around 300 - 400 kilobytes/sec, which is good for slower cable modems or faster DSL. I even had five ethernet cards plus the motherboard ethernet in a Quadra 950 back in the day, which was used to share internet with three different buildings. Macs, in general, are very stable machines.

 

I run NetBSD on my machines because there is no standard GNU/Linux for m68k, plus compiling GNU/Linux for yourself on a legacy architecture can be a full time job in and of itself. NetBSD, on the other hand, supports older machines just fine, and the source tree will build m68k stuff simply and easily without fuss on any other machine (for speed), or natively, if you have the patience.

 

We (NetBSD) also have a binary distribution so that people can make use of LC040 systems, which isn't possible with GNU/Linux or the standard distribution of NetBSD (well, it works technically, but the system will segfault like crazy). So if you have an older machine, buy a NuBus or comm slot ethernet card, install NetBSD, set up NAT, and you're good.

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For a second NIC, you could find one of the SCSI-to-Ethernet converters. One internal NIC, one external.

 

For hard drives, you could find an IDE-to-SCSI converter. Let you use a large IDE drive on the old internal SCSI interface. Can go very large that way. As long as the converter supports large LBA, it should handle up to the largest IDE drive made. (750 GB is the largest I've seen. Bigger than that appears to be Serial ATA-only.)

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