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Protecting Your Linux System with FireStarter and Storm Firewall - page 4

Using a GUI to Configure a System

  • December 1, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

Storm Firewall is available from the Stormix Technologies site for $99.95 or from a number of online retailers for about $10 less. In addition to the firewall software itself, users get 60 days of phone and 90 days of e-mail installation support, a copy of Storm Linux 2000, and a printed manual 113 pages long.

System requirements for the package are somewhat limiting with regard to supported distributions: Red Hat 6.x, Storm Linux 2000, or Debian 2.2 are the only ones listed that the software is "known to run with". It installed with only a minor hitch on our Progeny Debian system via a simple text-based installer, and installed icons on our GNOME (and KDE) menus. The manual states that the installer will allow a user to go ahead and attempt installation even if the distribution in question isn't officially supported.

The hitch we encountered has, according to a spokesperson for the company we spoke to when first looking at the product several weeks ago, been corrected, but there was an apparent error in the order in which the installation tries to install the packages that comprise the firewall software itself and the components of the Storm Administration System (SAS) required to launch the configuration module. Users who get an older copy of the software can simply abort the installer when it encounters the error in question, install the needed package by hand from the CD using either rpm -ihv or dpkg -i, and then restart the installer. Again, this problem has been corrected according to Storm.

A Word About the Manual

We'll confess to a profound aversion when it comes to reading the fine manual with most products. In general, it's either something you figure out or you don't, and the manual is a last resort because technical writing is so often wearying. We were, however, very pleased with the quality of documentation provided with this product.

Not only is the installation and use of Storm Firewall outlined, but a very thorough introduction to networking and security basics is provided over the course of 42 pages before Storm Firewall itself is even mentioned. In a lot of ways, that 42 pages creates a lot of the value to be found in the package, providing much usable information that turns configuring the product into less of an exercise in blindly pointing and clicking through recommended options. With sections like "Understanding the Protocol Stack," brief explanations of UDP, TCP, packet fragments, and more, Storm has provided a useful tutorial that's fairly readable, as well. A final section details how to respond to possible attacks or hostile port scans in measured, reasonable tones.

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