After some rather interesting deals with FedEx, I finally received all the parts required to build my m0n0wall system. It should be noted that this was among the easiest projects I've ever undertaken which is remarkable given that m0n0wall requires some intermediate level of networking skill and my last experience with *NIX operating systems left me with nothing other than feelings of general hostility.
I was in a quandary as to what type of system to base the firewall off of. Tommy has a lovely MiniITX board that runs completely solid state when booting off the CF card. The only problem is that those all-in-one systems can run upwards of $180 before memory. The embedded PCs that m0n0wall was designed to operate on also suffer from the same types of cost. I'm in agreement with Tommy that most of it is due to lack of demand. I decided that it would be more cost effective as an enterprising young lad living in one of the most expensive places on earth to acquire some old PC; something on the order of 400MHz of processing power and 128MB of RAM or so (the m0n0wall minimum is 64 for swap space).
I ordered a Dell Optiplex G1 from RetroBox.Com. They specialize in reselling old gear that is surpluses by corporations when they upgrade their technology. For $48 shipped I received a 400MHz slot Celeron with 192MB of PC133 RAM. It was nearly perfect for what I'm trying to do. When I received the unit, I promptly stripped out the 4GB hard drive, generic CD-ROM, floppy drive, and PCI sound card. See pics here.
After cleaning everything out, it was time to install the CF to IDE Adapter I purchased. It takes a standard 40-pin IDE cable but with one exception; it has a pin for the dead pin spot just above the center notch. Having no IDE cables that fit this job, on the advice of a buddy I warmed a knife and melted the plastic covering the hole. The pin inserted nicely and everything was fine. Under the CF card are the instructions for jumper settings; it came configured for standard voltage and to be the master drive on the IDE channel so no changes were required. It takes a standard floppy power connecter and the LEDs are very bright. See pics here.
The next thing to do was to add an NIC. The motherboard on the G1 came with a 3COM 10/100 NIC built in. I needed an extra interface for WAN/LAN connectivity. Because m0n0wall is built on FreeBSD 4.x, I felt relatively comfortable pulling an old NIC out of a stack I have in my Cabinet O' Geek™ and slapping it in. As you'll see in the next installment, this was not a problem. It was interesting, however, to see how m0n0wall read the interfaces.
The next (and final) installment will cover loading the m0n0wall image on the CF card and initial setup of the unit. Thanks for reading.