Installing Sophos UTM

Well, I apparently missed doing this. And there are some important steps here, because the installation for Sophos UTM isn’t as turn key as it could be.  There are some specific things you have to do before it’s up and running 95%.

So lets cover that.

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Port Forwarding with Sophos

Previously, I’ve covered a lot about Sophos and why I love it. The last post was about the firewall, and how to let services through to the outside world. Being able to access these services is a pretty important aspect, and is why I covered that first.

However, this time, I’m going to be covering Port Forwarding, also known as NAT (Network Address Translation). This is just as important, especially for us “home server” guys, as this is how you configure the router to allow you to access internal resources (such as a website) from external sources (aka, the outside world, and how you’re reading this).

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Learning to use Sophos’ Firewall

Previously I talked about, well how awesome the firewall and intrusion countermeasures in Sophos are. And I didn’t get to how to actually configure them because of the shear amount of content I covered.

This time, we’re going to walk through how to add services to the firewall, and how to lock down or allow traffic through Sophos (your firewall). This includes how to enable Sophos to do the normal “Consumer Router firewall” stuff, as some people are “too lazy*” to set this up properly.

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Sophos and a Draconian Firewall

As I said previously, I am going to talk more about Sophos and my adventures with it.

The first part that I need to address is Sophos’ firewall. It’s beyond awesome. But the phrase “draconian” is an absolutely accurate description. During the initial setup wizard, Sophos ask you what services you want to allow by default. The default services it configures Remote Access (RDP, VNC, etc), Instant Messaging, VoIP, Email and Web Surfing. You can select any combination of these services

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Adventures with Sophos

Due to some issues lately, I’ve taken the excuse to upgrade the hardware on my network.

Specifically, my pfSense box now refuses to boot (CF Card isn’t taking any new flashes apparently), and my Linksys router is on the way out. By on the way out, I mean that turning on QoS causes the system to overheat and lock up. Frequently and quickly.

This is left me in need new hardware, as I host a number of services off of my network. This blog included. That means that I need something that works, and works well. I’d been using pfSense, but it had left me wanting. It worked pretty well, but it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t remotely simple to configure things. Especially more advanced features.

Since I was going to be upgrading the hardware and re-installing anyways, I took the opportunity to check out some of the available router/UTM solutions out there. The list is kind of small, unfortunately.

m0n0wall: A great simple router OS. However, it’s heavily Linux oriented and I don’t have the time or inclination to learn an OS just to provide a firewall and NAT and maybe more.
pfSense: This is what I had been using, but experiencing some weird issues with. May have been hardware related. However, the OS and options just felt lacking or like they took too much time and effort to get working right. Not turn key even remotely.
Untangle: A great solution, with a lot of options. Very turn key. However, pretty much everything but NAT and a basic firewall requires a subscription. And not exactly a cheap one. Great for a SOHO maybe, but not for me. And the UI still looks very dated.
Smoothwall Express: Spent about five minutes with this. It’s a glorified DD-WRT install. Or at least that is how it felt. Very plain and basic. Both in the UI and functionality. And no expansion to speak of. Avoid. At all costs.

Then I got to Sophos. It has a “Home” version mostly due to it’s roots as “Astaro”. But don’t let that fool you. It’ very light weight, incredible powerful, and looks incredibly polished. The WebUI is just phenomenal. It looks like something out of this decade.  However, as with most things with a lot of power, it’s very complicated to setup and use. Very. Because there isn’t a lot of great documentation or even a “real” getting started guide to speak of, for somebody that’s not a networking professional, setting this up initially may be tricky.

However, after spending half an hour or so just hammering at it, I managed to figure out how to setup Sophos, enable port forwarding and a few other things. A bit over 24 hours on Sophos, and I have to say that I’m not just impressed, but ecstatic about the software. It’s everything a tinkerer could hope for.


As I figure out how to use Sophos, I plan on releasing a series of blog posts on how to setup and configure it to work with my network, the way that I want.

First up? Talking about about Sophos’ awesome firewall.

Posted in Networking Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

When it Rains

So, recently, I’ve been having issues with my server.  It occasionally randomly reboots, and then fails to boot back up until I’ve powered it off for a few minutes. This isn’t good in any sense of the word. Something very wrong is happening here, and it needs to be addressed.

The up side is that when it fails to boot back up, it does have a boot code, and that indicates the issue. Specifically, it appears to be a System Timer issue, or possibly a RAM issue. As the issue is new, I seriously doubt its RAM, and I’ve already ran a full 3 pass memory test. So I’m pretty confident that it’s this “System Timer” issue, which means the board is trash and needs to be tossed/RMAed.

Now, how serious is a “System Timer” issue? Well, it basically keeps all the component in sync and talking to each other at the correct rate. So if it’s malfunctioning, that means you will get all sorts of errors. Especially reboots. And it the issue only gets worse.

Or as a friend put it “hertz” not “seconds” clock.

Now, ASRock doesn’t believe me about the issue, and wants me to reflash the bios, and do some testing. But, as this page is being delivered from said server… I’d rather not. Especially, as I need it running for work. And for those of you that use Subsonic on it.


So basically, it means it’s time for a hardware upgraded. I’ve been itching to do so for a while, but it seems like now is the time.

Posted in Announcements, Rants

New X:\Files Editions

So yes, I’ve decided to do a new version for X:\Files Edition. Namely. an update for WHS2011, and Server 2012 (and R2) Essentials.

There are some challenges though. I want to be headless as possible, and to interfere with processes as little as possible as well. And I don’t want to learn coding, just to add some more customization to the install. Call me lazy if you wish, but I’m not doing this for me (entirely).


I’m also going to do a separate (and yet not) build for the Restore disks. And these will be included in the Install images of the Server Install disks, so you can use the “Create USB drive for Restore” option and get these disks as well.

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Why is that the most important choices in life so very simple, but so very hard to actually follow through with?

Posted in Feelings, Rants Tagged with: , , ,

An X:\Files Edition of Server 2012 Essentials?

Though, I doubt many read this blog…
I’ve been looking over the Windows Server 2012 Essentials OPK (OEM Preinstallation Kit), to see how you can customize the server for installation on new systems. And I’ve found a lot of great information. And I was wondering if anyone was actually interested in a custom version, much in the way that I’d done with Windows Home Server v1.

The big things that I would include would be drivers, updates, and a few software packages. Including Subsonic and PHP.

Posted in Announcements, Server Installation, X:Files Edition Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Lot Learned

I’ve been cleaning a lot lately. Both in a physical manner, and in a mental/emotional manner.  A good friend commented that the reason I’ve been cleaning (physically at least), is because it gives me a degree of control over my life, when I otherwise feel that I have none. And I have to agree.

And it gives me time to be introspective, as I’m not on my computer, not checking my phone, listening to books, or the like. It a decent amount of down time, where the only thing to do with my mind is to let it wander. And normally, I don’t like letting my mind just wander, because it can go to some very dark places. Especially when I’ve been feeling depressed.

But I guess, coupled with the fact that I was cleaning, and cleaning my parents place specifically, it basically reviewed a lot of my childhood, and things that happened then.  And it made me realize that I’m a lot more damaged than I had thought or believed. And that most of my self esteem/self image issues are directly because of my father. Not for any specific way that he treated me, but because of how he interacted with me, and how he tried to “help” me. That because of that, it is why I lack ambition, that I don’t have confidence in myself or my abilities. Even when I know I’m overqualified.

And it’s why I tend to let fear rule my actions, and why fear was a bigger motivator to get married than love for me…

Posted in Feelings Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

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