FreeBSD on Acer Aspire One Netbook - Why?


Why would I install FreeBSD on a netbook?

Because I can.

Seriously, though, I had an Acer Aspire One D250-1026 netbook with WinXP on it (it's the machine my girlfriend uses, honest!).   Curiosity got the best of me, so I took a 32G flash drive that I setup with FreeBSD/i386 7.2 and Xorg (and Firefox and OpenOffice) and booted the netbook.   The kernel liked the hardware - I had both the wireless and wired interfaces showing when I checked ifconfig, and the harddrive happily appeared under the ad driver (SATA HDD).

So I bought another netbook.  

My existing firewall was FreeBSD 8.0 on a pretty (sub?)standard desktop system - a Celeron (ick) Pentium 4 2.4GHz, 1GB RAM, and a pair of mirrored (RAID1) 36G SCSI harddrives.

From what I saw of FreeBSD 7.2 running from a flash drive on the netbook, it looked promising.   A netbook with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, and a 160GB HDD sounded like a fair firewall.  

What is the firewall doing? ...

  • Connected (via RJ45/Cat5) to my wireless modem - Scarlet is the ISP
  • Wireless access point - I was able to remove all my ethernet switches!
  • BSD ipfw rulesets - for both internet (wired) and LAN (wireless) interfaces
  • Webcache - Squid - web proxy for my LAN
  • SMTP server - Sendmail - MTA for unixninja.net
  • IMAP server - Courier IMAP - IMAP for Squirrelmail
  • Webserver - Apache - unixninja.net website and webcache auto-configure for my LAN
  • Webmail - SquirrelMail - email interface for humans

    ... So I was able to remove an ageing desktop system, it's voltage regulator (power in Curacao is prone to surges and brown-outs), it's 1100VA UPS, and two small ethernet switches... and replace it all with a little netbook.

    It sounded like a good plan to me.
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