Long back, when I was running a Windows only PC, a firewall utility was always among the first software that I used to install on a newly formatted machine. Along with an Antivirus, a firewall used to be considered a must for any Windows installation that was in any way connected to the outside world.
Of course, times have changed now. I use Linux almost exclusively and rarely see the Windows login prompt. Most Linux distributions are far more secure than Windows, out of the box, but the threat is still there and having a good firewall protecting your computer is still a good idea.
Almost all Linux distributions comes bundled with a firewall software known as iptables, which is a command line based software for configuring Firewall rules for all network traffic to and from the Linux kernel.
Being a command line tool, the syntax tends to be a bit cryptic and even, intimidating for the first time user. This is where Firestarter comes into the picture.
Firestarter is a graphical interface for the iptables firewall. To install Firestarter on Debian, which is the Linux distribution that I use, give the following command.
And then launch firestarter using the Applications -> Internet menu entry.
Instead of an intimidating interface, Firestarter uses a simple wizard to take new users through the steps necessary for configuring the firewall.
The first step is to identify which network interface will the firewall listen to. This is usually the primary network interface of the machine which is connected to the Internet.
Next comes the part where the user is asked to chose wether the particular machine is used for sharing the Internet connection. Select the secondary network interface of the machine which is connected to the rest of the internel network, if this machine is also being used for sharing the internet connection.
That’s it. The firewall is ready to be deployed.
Click on the Save button and you will see the Firewall status window. This is where you can see current statistics about your newly created firewall and also tweak the rules even more if you so desire.
By default, this firewall is fairly restrictive but if, for example, you want to create a rule that only your friend should be able to remotely access this machine, then you can add a policy to whitelist your friend’s IP address.
Firestarter is, in my opinion, a very simple and easy to use utility to configure and manage the iptables firewall, both for the novice and the experienced user.
Do you use any other firewall software on Linux ? Let us know in the comments?