building a more efficient smoothwall

i’ve decided to look more into power efficiency of my computers at home. while my power bill isn’t horrible, it could most definitely be lower. there are only a few computers that i leave running 24/7. one of them is my smoothwall. while i built that computer with power efficiency in mind, i didn’t take things to the extreme that i could have. now i want to build a solution that is closer in power consumption to your typical home router appliance. after doing some research, i found a solution that would not only be power efficient but also cost effective. the solution is the soekris engineering net4801.

soekris engineering net4801

this is basically a 586 class pc that runs headless and uses a serial console for access. i thought about buying one directly from the manufacturer but then i saw the prices and they seemed more expensive (new units start at $213.00) than i wanted for such a small project. luckily i was able to find a used unit that i bought on ebay for $96. not only did this cost less than half of the price of a new unit, but it was a *-60 model instead of the *-40 they are selling now (266 mhz proc vs 233 mhz, 256mb of ram vs 128mb).

along with the unit itself, i purchased a 2.5" hdd mounting kit since i didn’t want to go with a compactflash solution and i already have an extra 2.5" ide hdd. hopefully i should receive everything sometime next week. i haven’t used any devices that use a serial console since i worked with cisco appliances in college but i ran a trial run of how i would install everything in vmware and it seemed to go easy enough. i’ll do a more detailed breakdown of how to install an os on a unit that is headless and has no optical drive for installation once i have everything on hand.