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Since I've got yet another old pc kicking around, I was thinking about using one of the many linux firewall installs and connecting it to my router, to which the other three pc's I have connect to.
My question is if it's worth it - Would a dedicated linux firewall provide any extra security? Would it slow down my overall net connection? I'm currently using a linksys router and haven't had any trouble.
I just figure it'd be a way to put the old pc to use and maybe add a layer of security.
A hardware router/firewall like what you've got, if set up correctly should provide 'reasonable' protection.
The distinction between a hardware and software firewall is just perception. A "hardware" firewall like the Linksys box is nothing more than a computer running software that performs the function of a firewall. The main distinction that people use to differentiate is that a software firewall is loaded on to a PC that has other functions (i.e. loading NIS on to a desktop system) and a hardware firewall is a computer (PC or otherwise) whose main or only function is to be a firewall. In this case, a PC loaded with Linux setup as a firewall would be considered a hardware firewall (and almost indistinguishable from the Linksys firewall, which depending on the revision is probably also running Linux).