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Re: [NTO] XP FIREWALL

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  • Brian Binder
    It s fine for in-bound security, but does little to nothing for things like worms or compromised programs that contact the Internet from your machine. So if
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 9, 2008
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      It's fine for in-bound security, but does little to nothing for things
      like worms or compromised programs that contact the Internet from your
      machine. So if that's important to you, you can add something else like
      Comodo, as an example.

      M.M. wrote:
      >
      >
      > Hello,
      > Recently installed Windows xp pro + sp2 (previously I had with sp1), noticed
      > it has that security center and a firewall. Previously I had a separate
      > firewall installed.
      > I would like to ask if the Windows firewall is good enough or should I
      > install again some other firewall program - and disable the original?
      > Will appreciate your opinions.
      > Many Thanks
      > Mordechai
      > m.mordechai@... <mailto:m.mordechai%40gmail.com>
    • David Smart
      One of my customers was using Zone Alarm, and it was a pain in the proverbial. He is happy with XP Home Windows FireWall on his laptop. I run Windows FireWall
      Message 2 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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        One of my customers was using Zone Alarm, and it was a pain in the
        proverbial.

        He is happy with XP Home Windows FireWall on his laptop.

        I run Windows FireWall on my 2003 server for my cable connection, and XP Pro
        FireWall on the laptop I connect my cellular Internet modem to. I've never
        had problems with them.

        Regards, Dave S

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "sisterscape" <sisterscape@...>
        To: <ntb-OffTopic@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 10:54 AM
        Subject: Re: [NTO] XP FIREWALL


        >I immediately disabled the Windows firewall and installed ZoneAlarm. I
        > don't think you can run another firewall with the one in Windows.
        >
        >
        > --- "M.M." <m.mordechai@...> wrote:
        >
        >> Hello,
        >> Recently installed Windows xp pro + sp2 (previously I had with sp1),
        >> noticed
        >> it has that security center and a firewall. Previously I had a
        >> separate
        >> firewall installed.
        >> I would like to ask if the Windows firewall is good enough or should
        >> I
        >> install again some other firewall program - and disable the original?
        >> Will appreciate your opinions.
        >> Many Thanks
        >> Mordechai
        >> m.mordechai@...
        >>
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ____________________________________________________________________________________
        > Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your home page.
        > http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs
        >
        >
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
      • Greg Chapman
        Hi Mordechai, ... It s fine for in-bound security, but does little to nothing for things like worms or compromised programs that contact the Internet from your
        Message 3 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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          Hi Mordechai,

          Brian is right when he says:
          ---------------
          It's fine for in-bound security, but does little to nothing for things
          like worms or compromised programs that contact the Internet from your
          machine.
          ---------------

          so when...

          On 10 Jan 08 08:04 "David Smart" <smartware.consulting@...>
          said:
          > One of my customers was using Zone Alarm, and it was a pain in the
          > proverbial.

          You have to ask a bit more.

          Windows Firewall is utterly painless. It just sits there doing what it
          was designed to do and requires no training by the user.

          ZoneAlarm, or any full firewall that handles both inbound and outbound
          traffic, will, initially, appear to be a pain. Dialogue boxes will
          appear constantly warning you of activity and asking you for a
          decision about how to handle this type of traffic in the future.
          Perhaps that was the pain for David's client?

          Even after initial installation it will recognise every software patch
          and program update, and assume that it is an infected program and
          require confirmation that you are aware of the change. If you're
          computer/network naive then it can present you with questions that are
          meaningless gobbley gook, and you'll stab at them wildly never knowing
          whether you "played safe" or have done something "dangerous".

          > He is happy with XP Home Windows FireWall on his laptop.

          Whether David's client is better protected by a badly set up ZoneAlarm
          or by the "incomplete" Windows Firewall will depend entirely on the
          nature of the traffic passing between the Computer and the rest of the
          internet.

          > I run Windows FireWall on my 2003 server for my cable connection,
          > and XP Pro FireWall on the laptop I connect my cellular Internet
          > modem to. I've never had problems with them.

          Never having "problems" is pretty meaningless. It will depend
          entirely whether you would recognise a problem if you saw one.

          For example. the kind of software that "invades" a computer and then
          acts as someone else's proxy, so it's your machine that's doing the
          dirty to everyone else on the internet is, by its nature, designed to
          remain invisible, and cause "no problems" on the host computer. That
          doesn't mean there's not a problem for the rest of the world. This
          kind of program can come in attached to an e-mail and appear to a
          firewall (Windows or any other firewall) as legitimate traffic.
          (That's why you need effective anti-virus software running to stop
          this kind of thing.) Once in, Windows Firewall will not detect its
          precence, but it will sit there doing its worst.

          In the days of dialup connections the activity that these programs
          generated was obvious to the user. There'd be, for example, constant
          requests to connect to the internet, or on-line activity would appear
          to run very slowly. However, in the days of high-speed always-on
          broadband connections, such activity will be indetectable by the
          average user.

          So it all depends on what you, or others, do on your computer as to
          whether Windows Firewall is sufficient for your needs. Unfortunately,
          it's one of those Catch 22 questions, because, unless you understand
          the issues you can't setup a full firewall properly and if it's not
          set up right then it's not doing the job it was intended to do. If
          that's the case, you might just as well stick with Windows Firewall.

          Greg
        • hsavage
          ... Mordechai, Almost any of the reviews and/or opinions of the EXPERTS that test software and write the articles about firewall programs seem to be united
          Message 4 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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            At , you wrote:
            > Hello,
            > Recently installed Windows xp pro + sp2 (previously I had with sp1),
            > noticedit has that security center and a firewall. Previously I had a
            > separate firewall installed.
            >
            > I would like to ask if the Windows firewall is good enough or should I
            > install again some other firewall program - and disable the original?
            >
            > Will appreciate your opinions.
            > Many Thanks
            > Mordechai
            > m.mordechai@...

            Mordechai,

            Almost any of the reviews and/or opinions of the "EXPERTS" that test
            software and write the articles about firewall programs seem to be
            united against the use of "Windows Firewall".

            From the never-ending number of reports of security holes in the
            Windows OS I tend to believe the "EXPERTS".

            ·············································
            ºvº SL-01-73 -created- 2008.01.10 - 00.30.12

            Measure of SUCCESS:
            At age 50 is.....
            "Having money."
            ¤ ø ¤ hrs ø hsavage@...
          • Brian Binder
            I will comment on this particular comment, just for the benefit of the group. Keep in mind, that most firewall programs have vulnerabilities, whether they are
            Message 5 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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              I will comment on this particular comment, just for the benefit of the
              group.

              Keep in mind, that most firewall programs have vulnerabilities, whether
              they are based on the security of the OS or a problem with their code in
              specific. Even Zone Alarm falls prey to both, so if you aren't in a
              habit of keeping Windows XP up to date on patches, your firewall will
              fall prey to attacks from OS vulnerabilities over and over anyway...so
              by using another firewall you aren't ensuring better protection if you
              happen to be lax with updates - and I've seen that plenty.

              What most experts agree on is that they wish Windows XP's firewall took
              care of outbound connections, and it really doesn't. It attempts to
              prevent you against being attacked by other machines on the Internet or
              network, etc.

              There is something that is also very important to mention when it comes
              to every single firewall out there: "most people mis-use them", and
              that's me, quoting myself.

              I've gone to countless service calls, businesses, end users, etc. where
              people have their machines so botched up because of things that they
              have denied through their firewall. Rules for stopping parts of the
              TCP/IP stack, rundll32.exe when it needs legitimate access, print
              spoolers for network printer access, etc.

              They deny so much "stuff" (because its use is unknown to them) that they
              end up crippling the performance and functionality of their PC's.
              Therein lies the reason (in many people's opinions, including my own)
              that Microsoft continues to deny making a firewall that analyzes
              outbound traffic. If you are unsure of the connection, most people
              "play it safe" and block it.

              Take this for what it's worth, but it's worth keeping in mind when
              making a decision on what to do for your firewall situation.

              hsavage wrote:

              > Almost any of the reviews and/or opinions of the "EXPERTS" that test
              > software and write the articles about firewall programs seem to be
              > united against the use of "Windows Firewall".
              >
              > >From the never-ending number of reports of security holes in the
              > Windows OS I tend to believe the "EXPERTS".
            • Scott Fordin
              FWIW, I ve had good luck with both Panda Internet Security 2008 and Norton Internet Security 2008. Installing either of them will automatically give you the
              Message 6 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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                FWIW, I've had good luck with both Panda Internet Security 2008
                and Norton Internet Security 2008. Installing either of them will
                automatically give you the option to disable the Windows XP
                firewall (do it) so there aren't two potentially conflicting
                firewalls at work. I used to use ZoneAlarm, but became less than
                thrilled with later versions, starting about two years ago.

                Scott

                Brian Binder wrote:
                >
                >
                > I will comment on this particular comment, just for the benefit of the
                > group.
                >
                > Keep in mind, that most firewall programs have vulnerabilities, whether
                > they are based on the security of the OS or a problem with their code in
                > specific. Even Zone Alarm falls prey to both, so if you aren't in a
                > habit of keeping Windows XP up to date on patches, your firewall will
                > fall prey to attacks from OS vulnerabilities over and over anyway...so
                > by using another firewall you aren't ensuring better protection if you
                > happen to be lax with updates - and I've seen that plenty.
                >
                > What most experts agree on is that they wish Windows XP's firewall took
                > care of outbound connections, and it really doesn't. It attempts to
                > prevent you against being attacked by other machines on the Internet or
                > network, etc.
                >
                > There is something that is also very important to mention when it comes
                > to every single firewall out there: "most people mis-use them", and
                > that's me, quoting myself.
                >
                > I've gone to countless service calls, businesses, end users, etc. where
                > people have their machines so botched up because of things that they
                > have denied through their firewall. Rules for stopping parts of the
                > TCP/IP stack, rundll32.exe when it needs legitimate access, print
                > spoolers for network printer access, etc.
                >
                > They deny so much "stuff" (because its use is unknown to them) that they
                > end up crippling the performance and functionality of their PC's.
                > Therein lies the reason (in many people's opinions, including my own)
                > that Microsoft continues to deny making a firewall that analyzes
                > outbound traffic. If you are unsure of the connection, most people
                > "play it safe" and block it.
                >
                > Take this for what it's worth, but it's worth keeping in mind when
                > making a decision on what to do for your firewall situation.
                >
                > hsavage wrote:
                >
                >> Almost any of the reviews and/or opinions of the "EXPERTS" that test
                >> software and write the articles about firewall programs seem to be
                >> united against the use of "Windows Firewall".
                >>
                >> >From the never-ending number of reports of security holes in the
                >> Windows OS I tend to believe the "EXPERTS".
                >
                >
              • Alan C
                I use Linux with its own open source iptables firewall on the internet. I don t use my Win beyond my LAN. (that s, for 4 to 5 years now or longer, my
                Message 7 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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                  I use Linux with its own open source iptables firewall on the internet. I
                  don't use my Win beyond my LAN. (that's, for 4 to 5 years now or longer, my
                  personal solution to the Win internet security issue).

                  For emailing and web browsing my friends use the Linux of their dual boot
                  machine -- and its other OS is Win XP for use but except for rarely if ever
                  on the internet.

                  For their Win XP laptops and the one mentioned XP desktop, my friends just
                  some weeks ago installed Norton 2008 internet security suite and have had no
                  problem with it whatsoever.

                  For several or more years now, my friends have been using Norton -- in 2007
                  the Norton they purchased came with virus protection and its own personal
                  firewall which we used (turned off the XP built in firewall)

                  In 2006 the Norton they purchased was for virus protection only though it
                  also monitored and notified if and which firewall is on or off. I set up
                  this Norton on his XP laptop and I installed Zone Alarm and turned off the
                  builtin XP firewall. This setup lasted them without incident through 2006
                  up to the begin of 2007.

                  What originally prompted my friends to increase their security is his Win XP
                  laptop got (very -- as in totally, no longer useable anymore) severely
                  compromised when using just the builtin Win XP firewall. That was 2005 or
                  2006 when they first then subsequently bought the Norton.

                  Same laptop got very severely (wasted, again) compromised in 2007 (yes it
                  had the mentioned Norton on it then). Though they wouldn't admit to it --
                  they have a teenage son. I think the son and his teenage friends were
                  turned loose on this laptop on the internet -- without any adult
                  overseeing. I fixed it, saved their data, restored from a previous disk
                  image file, copied back their data, updated the Norton.

                  The only difference after that is "users of the laptop *must* get involved
                  here" (I let 'em have it, bang). They were more cautious/careful -- got
                  them through the remainder of 2007 without another incident. (just because
                  it has Norton on it is not a panacea).

                  Given if the users are educated enough and cautious enough, it is probable
                  that the builtin XP firewall would or could suffice. But I think this a
                  tall order due the huge amount and the height of sophistication of phishing
                  and social engineering taking place all of the time these days. All it
                  takes is one little slip up by the user -- which could get something
                  illegitimate installed that would then begin making outbound requests from
                  within -- the builtin XP firewall is now useless, totally worthless, at this
                  point.

                  Another point to mention is running with user versus administrator
                  privileges.

                  My friends are not at all much computer literate. I set up a user and asked
                  them to try it to see if it would do everything they need. They (very busy
                  people) just take the easiest path -- faster and easier to use the default
                  administrator account rather than try something new.

                  Due that lack of cooperation on their part and my time constraints, they
                  still run all their XP machines with admin privileges. (I'm certain that
                  this admin privilege contributed to their mentioned 2007 contamination).

                  --
                  Alan.


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Alan C
                  On Jan 10, 2008 11:15 AM, Alan C wrote: Another point to mention is running with user versus administrator ... Theoretically, if a user
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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                    On Jan 10, 2008 11:15 AM, Alan C <acummingsus@...> wrote:

                    Another point to mention is running with user versus administrator
                    > privileges.


                    Theoretically, if a user is not allowed to install software (not even to a
                    user area of the disk) *and* if the user is not whatsoever allowed to change
                    any web browser security related settings.

                    Then, if the administrator (with a very secure admin password) had
                    adequately and sufficiently and securely enough "set up the machine for this
                    user" then the built in XP firewall should suffice alright (for this user)
                    given this case scenario. *And* that the administrator rarely, if ever,
                    logs on (does so only when needed for sys maintenance).

                    Linux is natively already oriented towards just such a case scenario as what
                    I just mentioned. Windows, on the other hand, for ages, ran contrary to my
                    mentioned case scenario.

                    Bill Gates for the longest time said "people want usability over security".

                    Thus the (Win) default account being the administrator privileged account.

                    AFAIK the native Linux firewall does just what (the same as) the built in
                    Win XP firewall does.

                    I think a person would need to purchase commercial software for their Linux
                    so as to get the type of checking that (for instance) Zone Alarm does
                    (monitoring of applications that might seek to do outbound request).

                    Linux is natively locked down like my mentioned case scenario whereby
                    "nothing illegitimate can get installed" and therefore there will be no
                    illegitimate outbound requests which makes it so that there is no need to
                    monitor apps that potentially can do outbound requests.

                    Perhaps I've been partially in the wrong by not (not enough anyways)
                    attempting to admin my friend's Win XP so as to make their Win comply with
                    my mentioned case scenario or what I've termed as the "Linux is natively
                    locked down." (takes too much time [need to learn etc.] is the excuse so
                    far for not making their Win to be like my mentioned case scenario or Like
                    Linux with respect to the security model).

                    --
                    Alan.


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Gerard Huijing
                    ... This remark re WinXP native firewall and Linux firewalls may be a bit confusing, but maybe you mean something quite different than what the message appears
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
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                      Alan C wrote:
                      >
                      > AFAIK the native Linux firewall does just what (the same as) the built in
                      > Win XP firewall does.
                      >


                      This remark re WinXP native firewall and Linux firewalls may be a bit
                      confusing, but maybe you mean something quite different than what the
                      message appears to say.

                      The firewalls in the Linux distributions I know of come with a set of
                      preconfigured rules that regulate both incoming and outgoing traffic. In
                      other words, they are two-way firewalls and Windows' own firewall, in XP
                      at least, is not. This the reason why I have immediately switched it off
                      and use a proper (software) firewall instead, in my case Agnitum Outpost.

                      Cheers,
                      Gerard
                      --
                      Gerard (E.G.P.) Huijing
                      2312 ZD Leiden
                      Netherlands
                      inboxgen@...
                    • Alan C
                      ... ? ... What Linux distros are you refer to since I know some distro that do not even ship with a firewall (one must provide their own firewall). I use
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
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                        On Jan 13, 2008 6:52 AM, Gerard Huijing <inboxgen@...> wrote:

                        > Alan C wrote:
                        > >
                        > > AFAIK the native Linux firewall does just what (the same as) the built
                        > in
                        > > Win XP firewall does.
                        > >
                        >
                        >
                        > This remark re WinXP native firewall and Linux firewalls may be a bit
                        > confusing, but maybe you mean something quite different than what the
                        > message appears to say.
                        >
                        > The firewalls in the Linux distributions I know of come with a set of
                        > preconfigured rules that regulate both incoming and outgoing traffic. In
                        > other words, they are two-way firewalls and Windows' own firewall, in XP
                        > at least, is not. This the reason why I have immediately switched it off
                        > and use a proper


                        ?


                        > (software) firewall instead, in my case Agnitum Outpost.


                        What Linux distros are you refer to since I know some distro that do not
                        even ship with a firewall (one must provide their own firewall).

                        I use Slackware and Debian. And I maintain a CentOS 4.6 box for my friends.

                        Ok, I should have limited my comment in my former post, more specifically to
                        "Linux distros that I myself use" because what I said now absolutely
                        applies.

                        proper? I definitely agree with you on that one for Win XP but not for the
                        Linux distros that I use.

                        What's "proper" is what's needed according to the overall or bigger picture
                        context.

                        Perhaps you missed my point?

                        My point was: if it's not even possible for something illegitimate to get
                        installed -- then -- there will never ever be any illegitimate outbound
                        requests therefore a "proper" firewall in this case is one with
                        characteristics just like the native Win XP firewall since in this (Linux or
                        *maybe* a tightened Windows system) case there is no need, not ever, to
                        monitor for potential illegitimate as to the or any outbound requesting sort
                        of apps

                        IOW (due the overall or bigger picture construct, I used the Linux (*distros
                        that I use*) security model as an example) if there can't be, not even the
                        possibility of illegitimate outbound then there's no need to monitor (using
                        firewall) for something that cannot happen.

                        Greater separation of user versus root or administrator. Run all the time
                        as a "user".

                        User is not privileged enough to install software nor alter any www related
                        security things.

                        User can't do anything but use. For anything else, root or administrator
                        must be logged onto. (as in separate accounts to log onto, each of the
                        mentioned separate account with drastically different in the way of
                        privileges or the amount of power of what is allowed to do).

                        So, once again, what sort of firewall is needed is dependent upon how tight
                        or how loose you are, security wise, in the mentioned overall or bigger
                        picture. That was the point that I was attempting to make.

                        But my intention here is not to advocate that "thus and such requires the
                        use of (whatever)"

                        But, to me, (mainly, anyways, the intention or point that I attempt here to
                        get across) that the concept of computer security that there are many many
                        components or ingredients that can make for and which can also make for the
                        lack of computer security. (a software) Firewall is *only one* of such
                        components or ingredients.

                        Even the built in Win XP firewall "monitors" outbound -- it does so for the
                        purpose to only allow back in what had been initially requested from within
                        -- oh, well, too bad if it was an "illegitimate outbound request that was
                        initiated from within (no protection)"

                        So, such built in XP firewall monitors outbound and inbound.

                        So does your mentioned Agnitum.

                        The difference is that the Agnitum also monitors for the potential of
                        "illegitimate requests that are outbound requests that are initiated from
                        within".

                        --
                        Alan.


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Gerard Huijing
                        ... Fedora, and openSUSE. I have used several other distributions in the past (ZenWalk, Vector among others) I will stick to the first two: they have a
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
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                          Alan C wrote:
                          >
                          >
                          > What Linux distros are you refer to since I know some distro that do not
                          > even ship with a firewall (one must provide their own firewall).
                          >
                          > I use Slackware and Debian. And I maintain a CentOS 4.6 box for my friends.

                          Fedora, and openSUSE. I have used several other distributions in the
                          past (ZenWalk, Vector among others)
                          I will stick to the first two: they have a configuration file that
                          regulates inbound and outbound traffic. It is configured on the basis
                          of choices offered by the install program. ("Do you want this machine to
                          provide ftp services?" etc.).

                          If I tested my service ports after I had installed (which I alway did),
                          e.g. with Gibson Shields Up, the report would be with SUSE: all ports
                          stealthed (DROP) except 113 (IDENT) which was closed (REJECT). ICMP echo
                          requests from outside to the firewall were rejected. I could choose to
                          stealth 113, and change the other rule: DROP the pings). I always did
                          that too. Mine is a stand alone PC and I had no problems (although the
                          documentation says that changing these settings can have adverse effects).

                          When you install SUSE or Fedora that configuration file (essentially a
                          script for iptables) is also generated. On those grounds I would say
                          that a firewall is in place to start off with.

                          > proper? I definitely agree with you on that one for Win XP but not for the
                          > Linux distros that I use.

                          I used "proper" because I have read so many criticisms of the XP
                          firewall saying exactly that: "Yes, indeed XP has its own firewall but
                          it's not a *proper* one: it only monitors inbound".

                          >
                          > What's "proper" is what's needed according to the overall or bigger picture
                          > context.

                          I quite agree.

                          > Even the built in Win XP firewall "monitors" outbound -- it does so for the
                          > purpose to only allow back in what had been initially requested from within
                          > -- oh, well, too bad if it was an "illegitimate outbound request that was
                          > initiated from within (no protection)"

                          Precisely! It's the unnoticed illegitimate ones I am worried about.
                          Thank you for the more precise description of what is going on in XP
                          firewall BTW.

                          Your point was, very much in a nutshell: the situation WinXP plus native
                          FW is comparable to Linux 'sec' with some essential qualifications
                          regarding the whole implementation of the OS, which make Linux so much
                          safer to start with.

                          I quite agree, again. I know that the situation in ArchLinux or FreeBSD
                          is like the one you have in mind. You have to install and configure your
                          firewall yourself, from scratch.

                          I quite enjoy trying to figure out iptables rules myself (after all I
                          can only screw up my own PC), but I am also very happy that openSUSE and
                          Fedora give me some safe settings to start off with.


                          Cheers,
                          Gerard





                          --
                          Gerard (E.G.P.) Huijing
                          2312 ZD Leiden
                          Netherlands
                          inboxgen@...
                        • Alan C
                          ... Red Hat 8.0 was my first Linux. Then Red Hat 9.0. Then Fedora Core 1 and 2. Then I tried Slackware 9.0 or 10.0. I liked it. But then I hated it. But
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
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                            On Jan 13, 2008 2:29 PM, Gerard Huijing <inboxgen@...> wrote:

                            > Alan C wrote:
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > What Linux distros are you refer to since I know some distro that do not
                            > > even ship with a firewall (one must provide their own firewall).
                            > >
                            > > I use Slackware and Debian. And I maintain a CentOS 4.6 box for my
                            > friends.
                            >
                            > Fedora, and openSUSE. I have used several other distributions in the
                            > past (ZenWalk, Vector among others)
                            > I will stick to the first two: they have a configuration file that
                            > regulates inbound and outbound traffic. It is configured on the basis
                            > of choices offered by the install program. ("Do you want this machine to
                            > provide ftp services?" etc.).


                            Red Hat 8.0 was my first Linux. Then Red Hat 9.0. Then Fedora Core 1 and
                            2.

                            Then I tried Slackware 9.0 or 10.0. I liked it. But then I hated it. But
                            then I liked it.

                            It was all about how much Unix/Linux acclimated I was back then.

                            Near 2001 'till now be near 7 years since I first began my Linux foray.

                            Since Slackware 10.2, Slackware has been my first go to distro (it's
                            Slackware 12.0 now) (I no longer have the hate periods -- it's now all "I
                            like it").

                            It a very fun distro to customize to your own personal liking. (lots of
                            community support for this distro). Once got (grasp) Slackware, am now
                            acclimated to the Unix/Linux way.

                            Slackware ships without a firewall. I use:

                            http://www.slackware.com/~alien/efg/

                            (rather powerful, loads many security related kernel modules).

                            I also use:

                            http://firehol.sourceforge.net/

                            I once used a Debian package of that one on Debian.

                            Debian is just for practice -- to keep me on my toes. I boot it only about
                            20% of the time. Slack gets the other 80%.

                            My friend's CentOS gives me some akin the direction of Fedora/Red Hat.
                            After a while (no rush) I may put Debian or Slackware on my friend's box (so
                            I don't have to scratch my head about CentOS things when I work on it).

                            <snipped>

                            I quite enjoy trying to figure out iptables rules myself (after all I
                            > can only screw up my own PC), but I am also very happy that openSUSE and
                            > Fedora give me some safe settings to start off with.


                            I stay away from iptables rules (never end up with enough time to dedicate
                            to it so as to learn it). I'm thankful that many various configurator tools
                            for the task exist.

                            --
                            Alan.


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