Open Source

Review: Firestarter firewall for Linux

So long as a personal computer is connected to a network it is vulnerable, so adding a firewall is critical. Firestarter is one of the easiest firewall tools to use for both the Linux desktop and the Linux server.

In today's perpetual, social, network-able world, PC security is a must have on all machines. Not just your corporate, enterprise servers but desktops as well. When you're dealing with a Windows machine, the first thing you do upon completion of the operating system installation, is install security tools. When dealing with the Linux operating system, most people ignore this because they assume their operating system is fool proof. This is a tragic assumption to make. So long as a machine is connected to a network it is vulnerable. And so, adding a firewall is critical. The application Firestarter is one of the easiest firewall tools to use for both the Linux desktop and the Linux server.

Requirements

Who's it for?

Firestarter is for any user of a Linux machine (be it a server or a desktop) who needs to add a level of security not found on a default installation. Firestarter is for the user who does not have the time, or inclination, to learn the specifics of how a Linux-based firewall works. Because iptables is a very complex tool, a user-friendly, GUI-based tool was necessary for the average user.

What problem does it solve?

Firestarter allows the average user (or the admin without the time to create complex iptable chains) to have a solid firewall up and running quickly and painlessly. But the simplicity does not take away from the security added with this outstanding tool.

Standout features

  • Easy to use interface
  • Simple firewall creation wizard
  • Desktop and server-specific settings
  • Real time event monitor
  • Inbound and outbound policy definition
  • Open or stealth port support
  • Port forwarding support
  • Whitelisting and blacklisting support
  • Active network connection monitor
  • Tuning for ICMP and DoS attacks

What's wrong?

The biggest issue with Firestarter is that there is only a graphical version available. Because many use Linux servers as text-only, they are left with having to learn iptables to gain security. It would be nice if a console version of Firestarter could be made available. The other issue is that Firestarter should be installed by default in any new Linux installation.

Competitive Products:

Bottom line for business

You can never have too much security - even with a Linux computer. And when you have a tool that makes this addition as simple as a Firestarter is, without losing the strength of it's underlying tool (iptables) adding such an application is an absolute no brainer. Firestarter is free and so this addition to standard Linux security is all upside.

User rating

Have you encountered or used Firestarter? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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