Provisioning a highly functional yet inexpensive remote network solution for remote sites is a continually evolving challenge. I have started an endeavor that will be considering the ClarkConnect Internet gateway distribution of Linux. The ClarkConnect gateway is based on Red Hat Linux and the 2.6 kernel. The goal of Toronto-based ClarkConnect is to provide an easy-to-use product that revolves around services targeted to the broadband technology market. It is appealing to use a canned software product that has no special hardware requirements (including being able to run on a virtual machine) instead of architecting complicated network solutions when someone else has done the work for you.

ClarkConnect is a full-featured distribution that includes most features that would be needed to facilitate access from a remote site. The open source version of ClarkConnect does not include the full inventory of features included in the commercial editions, but it does provide a comprehensive inventory of features as built. Among the features of the Office and Enterprise (commercial versions) is a NAT implementation that maps a single Internet IP address to a single intranet IP address (1-to-1 NAT) and functionality to manage multiple Internet connections for your outbound network interfaces (multiwan). The figure below shows the base installation options for the ClarkConnect gateway:

ClarkConnect is also available to be configured as an internal server, and during the installations you select Internet gateway or internal server configuration. The gateway installation option requires two interfaces, as one is Internet facing. The open source and commercial editions include VPN functionality, DHCP server roles, e-mail servers including Webmail, anti-spam functionality, windows file server roles, Web content filtering, and other network services. A full rundown of the network functionality is available in the ClarkConnect online user guide.