Thursday, 18 March 2010

On the web

Or, subtitled, how I fought the Verizon modem and won.

For DSL service, Verizon supplies a model 7500 Versalink modem. This modem is also a router and I have it set up to be our DHCP server as well. It certainly works well and I am fairly content with it. But recently, I was threatened with the loss of my web page. This was enough for me to swing into action and put an ancient Sparcy (Ultra 2) into action. It's interesting to note that the current version of Solaris is incompatible with ancient hardware like this. So, my next choice was something secure, so I went for OpenBSD. I had various adventures with the dead CD-ROM reader, the incompatible external CD-ROM reader, etc. I finally was able to netboot it only to discover that OpenBSD didn't like the onboard SCSI drives. Say what? Well, that meant NetBSD. And you know what? It worked right out of the box. I had to get the package manager up and running so I could get apache. And apache also worked straight up. So, onto the web... And the router.

It seemed simple enough: just enable port 80 (HTTP) and we'll be ready to go. Not so fast! First, there's the issue of host addresses: I wanted the machine (now named "cullen" after the town in Scotland named for skink, a certain stew) to have a static IP address. Well, if I did that then the router had trouble (I went for a different subnet and it didn't like that). I eventually figured out that I could have it both ways! In the deep recesses of my mind was the notion of aliases and this is what I did: One static, one dynamic.

Back to the router. I tried to open up port 80 by creating a new profile called "cullen" (shock). Didn't work. All the external tools said it was closed. After sleeping on it, I decided that maybe this additional port forwarding didn't work... Maybe I should add it to the "default" profile. And lo and behold. The port was open.

One of the interesting tidbits from this is that in spite of registering with, if I try and put the symbolic host address into the brower, I'll get the modem/router home page. But if I am external, I definitely get the right page. At this point I don't care. Originally, I was also going to enable SSH but I am tired of script kiddies, so for the time being it's closed. I might open it when I go away...

The machine also had two ethernet ports --- I might use one for a direct connection to the router and the other for internal net traffic. It should handle that. Famous last words.

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