Make your home network scream with a high performance router and firewall. Darren builds a custom network appliance using cheap parts, free and open source software and more power tools than he’s typically allowed to touch. Plus, need an online backup solution? Fancy 50 gigs in the cloud for free? Shannon’s got the hookup.

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Chuck that plastic router

Sure you could go out to your local big box store and pickup a cheap plastic box that claims to route packets for you and your dozen Internet loving devices, but unless you fancy your multi-core gaming rig being limited by a network-toy with a smart phone processor it’s time to step it up a notch. This week we’re breaking out the mini-itx boards and, wait, someone let Darren touch the power tools?


While Tux the penguin may be the official Linux mascot, Larry the Cow is the unofficial mascot of which Linux distribution?

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Building a cheap acrylix mini-itx case

Why pay for a fancy mini-itx case when you can easily build one out of scrap parts for next to nothing? In this segment Darren breaks out the power tools to find out just how skillful he can be. Be forewarned that Darren makes no claims at being handy. Please send all hate mail to 😉

Innovative Online Storage

Props to JPG for sending this in!

Lets face it, local backups only get you so far. And unless you’re shipping hard drives to grandma’s place every other week a true offsite backup solution is, unfortunately, not commonplace. Of course there are services like dropbox and sugarsync, but with a paltry 2 gigs with the free accounts it beacons back to the 2 meg days of Geocities. And don’t get me started about Geocities Thankfully there is a service that, if you’re willing to contribute to, will offer you up to 50 gigs of cloud storage.

Wuala is a service by Lacie that let’s you store a gig of data up in the cloud. Of course like any other similar service you won’t be backing up operating system or program files, this is just for the priceless material. Photos, documents, and. Um. Maybe music.. Anyway, what sets Wuala apart from the rest is the ability to trade gigabytes of local storage on your own personal hard drive for storage in the cloud.

Some of Wuala’s features include:
Ad free
private, shared and public modes
personal folders and groups
secure file storage
Pro users get version control

If you’re not keen on sharing your precious hard drive with others there is a paid version of the service that starts at $25/year for 10 GB and ramps up to $1000/year for a terabyte. Personally if you’ve got that much stuff that needs a home on the web you might be better off with Amazon’s S3 storage solution — as long as you don’t need to upload and download it frequently.

Wuala is available for Windows, Mac, and oh yes, Linux. Thanks to Go To Assist Express I can easily walk you through the simple Windows setup on one of our Hak5 cloud labs boxes. Downloading Wuala is very easy, you just follow the steps that pop up and tada! You’re done. I would suggest checking out the included tutorial for a very quick look at how to use Wuala in a nutshell.

To upload a picture I simply click add files, choose my image, and open it. Once the image is uploaded, it’ll have a little green bullet next to the file. You can also drag and drop a folder or file into Wuala. To change the privacy settings of a folder, right click, go to properties, change the visibility by clicking change, and choose private, shared, or public. I’ll choose shared, then I’ll select ‘all’ friends. Since I dont’ have any yet, just picking this will include all my future friends. if you have friends already, it’ll list them in that popup. I save, and in a few seconds my folder will turn red, showing me it’s a ‘shared’ folder.

Wasn’t that easy, now your essential files are backed up to the cloud using industry standard encryption. I <3 online backups nearly as much as I <3 portable apps. Do you? What are you using? Email me at with any of your thoughts!

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Installing Smoothwall

With our hardware built our focus shifts to setting up the software for our spiffy new router. There are quite a few free open source solutions to choose from, including m0n0wall, Smoothwall and pfsense. I’m a big fan of Smoothwall so in this segment I’ll be guiding you through the interactive installer.


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Rememebr we’re in LA for E3 this week. Darren Kitchen and Jenn Cutter will be bringing the Hak5 perspective from the show.

If you want to know the latest on Hak5 be sure to follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Also, now is also a great time to grab some swag from the HakShop – including the new airport friendly WiFi Pineapple with free world-wide shipping.

And finally if you’d like to suggest a topic for a future show feel free to hit up

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  • Jeremy 4 years ago

    Awesome episode! One of my favorites. I enjoyed the moving episodes, but it is nice to see the regular format coming back!

    • Jeremy 4 years ago

      I forgot to ask, what were you calling the DC power adapter you were using to supply the power for the Mini ATX? A mullox?

  • I have to agree with Jeremy. It’s nice to see the step-by-step, hands on builds in these episodes and I look forward to the wireless AP you’ll be creating with the other board. Keep up the good work!

  • Parman 4 years ago

    Great episode. I’m going to have to throw one of these together looks fun.

  • Playgame38 4 years ago

    Fantastic episode!
    Can you list all the specific hardware you used in this episode?

  • George Smaistrla 4 years ago

    Where specifically can you order the motherboard power connector illustrated in the episode? Been looking — but not finding anything. Great show!

    • Sukrim 4 years ago

      It’s called “Pico-PSU”, should be findable via Google under that name… Make sure you use a decent notebook-DC connector though if you build a router using more than just 2-3 dozens of Watts/hour!

  • Thomas 4 years ago

    Wow! Very awesome episode! I didn’t know you could turn a simple little mini-itx to an awesome router like that. I’m still a noob to these kinds of projects but, they’re pretty awesome and useful! I’d love to see more stuff like this. Even that bridged router with multiple itx boards. (or how about repeaters?)

    • sp1ke0k1ll3r 4 years ago

      What a disaster! Not only does he build a router that is more susceptible to attack, but he builds it crooked. Why does the HD
      go underneath instead of next to the board? The design was crap and not even well thought out.
      Great idea with alot of potential. Incredibly foolish implementation and design.

  • Great episode, love when he is singing the sneaker pimps 6 underground while he is screwing down the screws. Classic song, love that group. Bring back Wess though, Darren is not the hardware hacker, I am pretty sure everyone would like to know what happened to Wess, I have been through every episode and no one mentions him coming back. At least give us an explanation, did he die in a horrible hacking accident and the rest of the Hak5 crew buried him back at the old hakhouse?? Any story would be better than he got a job and left us.

    • Bandy 4 years ago

      Go read the forum they gave an explanation on why wess left.

      • I had known why Wess left, I just wanted a better story than he moved on. Plus Darren even mentions him in this episode which was why I was hoping for a little more story. Something better than “He got a job!”. Maybe something like “Evil Server awoke from its hibernation and spun his hard disk of death furiously at Paul and Wess jumped in front of Paul in a moment of glory and took a 80giger to the chest.” Totally not true, but once again funnier and better than Wess had different things going on and left the show for a job in Colorado(which I did put at the end of my last post trying to make it clear I had known what really happened). And I’ve read through the forums enough to see that even after all this time Wess is still missed.

  • dark3r 4 years ago

    Great episode! I just installed pfsense on an old pc for the QoS. (my girlfriend has a bad habit of maxing out ower connection with netflix) Now I can keep my k/d ratio on live while she watches Sex in the City. QoS ftw!

  • Great show. Nice to see a hardware How To again. Why not just use a nice cheep Ikea cabinet? That way you can hide the mess of wires and nobody would ever supect an evil Ikea cabinet.

  • -=Boris=- 4 years ago

    love this ep of hak5 =)

    i think this is what Darren used for the power supply

  • GreenDixy 4 years ago

    Just had a quick question about the network setup. After you do the red + green setup, And it is all up and running. If i hook up a 8 port switch and connect my devices, It should give all my devices it’s own ip address correct?

    • Yeah, it would pass DHCP through to your entire network.

  • Now we’re talking, this was an great episode. Glad to see you guys going back to what I love about the show. Definitely need to try this one out on my own.

  • GreenDixy 4 years ago

    awesome thanks for the reply working on one as we speak one question as i dont have a wifi pci card if i hook up a wireless router would that work also? untill my pineapple gets here hehe got a linksys router and a belking maybe use openwrt or something on them?

  • the Koala Bear 4 years ago

    Hey! Just wanted to say GREAT SHOW! I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a very long time, just never got around to it. I hope you do more shows like this one *and shows like the building your own i7 Server*. HURRY UP WITH THE WIRELESS BUILD!!! 😀

    Keep up the great work!

  • GreenDixy 4 years ago

    Thanks for this vid, I got my new router up and running! Worked out great once i got the dhcp enabled. It did not do it from first install, So anyone who has the same problem after install login as root and do “setup” from the shell and enable it threw there.

  • Thanks for this great episode. Would like to see a firewall configuration how to.
    Keep it up!

  • IrishFavor 4 years ago

    I have to Say this Is an awesome episode. any plans on adding in the docsis 3.0 to the build? maybe add a web server or Apache server into the cluster?

  • I really look forwarded to the “Wireless” cus i can never seem to get it work right on my Smoothie. Unless there some wired N card that work that i dont know about. I really dont like using this dd-wrt as my AP

  • Been watching hak5 since season 3 now and love the show. Nice to see Darren at his best, brilliant episode! More of this sort of stuff, and some more bt4 ;o)

  • Two other helpful Wuala features are directory backup, which will automatically store files when they are modified, and filesystem mounting, which allows access to your saved files as if they were on a network drive.

  • Nuno Santana 4 years ago

    5 star episode.

  • sloth2slow 4 years ago

    Fantastic. Would love to see a bunch more of these types of shows. You could probably do all sorts of little mini-servers supporting all sorts of different things.

    Please, please, let the Frankenstein HAK5 Network begin . . . :)

  • VoodooTorture 4 years ago

    Anybody know where there is a good place to buy acrylic sheets for projects like this? Darren – I am assuming you used a special blade to cut the acrylic?

    • DaBeach 4 years ago

      Probably your local glass shop or perhaps even Home Depot or Lowes.

  • More hardware content would be awesome!

  • Liked the show, been using pfsense/m0n0wall since ~ 2000-2001 Id recommend if you are looking to run on embedded hardware m0n0 is a little leaner.

    PFsense though has a ton of available feature and extendability through their plug-ins. Its definitely my router of choice. by default it runs a true nat with source port re-mapping (this breaks things like sip) however once properly configured for your needs its solid. I’ve pushed personally over 50MBps through metro E on it running on a power-edge 1950.

    Those that are looking for an embedded platform check out soekris

    Their products are bullet proof. I have a 4801 in a water tight case on a 100+ foot tower acting as a wireless bridge… its been running since 2001(m0n0wall)

  • Great episode cant wait to see the wireless version

  • Justin 4 years ago

    I’ve been running pfSense on an Alix for about 2 years now. (300+ days uptime because I accidently unplugged the wrong outlet)

    I used smoothwall for a while before I finally bought a ALIX:

  • Phillip Cooper 4 years ago

    loved this episode, i love all things embedded and to get hands on with hardware such as in the episode. good job Darren :)

  • Niels Stevens 4 years ago

    AWESOME episode. Still I have one question why use a motherboard that can support only 1 nic ? Like this you still have to put a switch after your router to have a decent amount of ports, isn’t ? And you can’t support wireless either.

    But still great episode

  • muhahahahaha smart hacker hacking away!!!


  • This episode was great. I like the hardware content that episode has. Perhaps fast forward though some of the slow parts (i.e. twisting on nuts, etc.). I am usually more interested in software, but i also love to build things as well.

  • brian 4 years ago

    Great show!

    Smoothwall has not been updated in over 1.5 years. Does that concern anyone?

    I really want to see the building of a wireless one. The problems with the ITX boards is that space is limited. Building a dual band wireless and have two eth ports is going to be tough.


  • Nice Show, Darren. Smoothwall is one of the decent firewall that uses Squid..or let say Web Proxy…Hope you can show more basic configuration about Web Proxy or Maybe you can throw another show featuring Basic Installation and Configuration of ISA Server 2006.

    Thank you very much…watching your show since Season 1…More power gonna buy Pineapple when i get back to dubai..Im from Philippines by the way..

  • 5 stars! keep it up

  • Steve 4 years ago

    How about a parts list for the hardware of the router, or even better links?


  • Glynne 4 years ago

    Really like this episode.

    Could you put Smoothwall into a VirtualBox, so the PC could also double up as a NAS (FreeNAS etc)?

    Oh, by the way, put the power tools down and walk away before someone gets hurt :-)


  • Oliver Kuster 4 years ago

    Very nice video! I watch this show for some time now and it was a nice addition.

    Just please keep some explanations shorter, like DHCP server or network ranges or NIC configurations since I think(and hope) that most of the viewers already are tired of seeing such stuff(like myself).

  • Saravana Kumar 4 years ago

    Hi darran,

    First gr8 episode. I am having Acer Aspire One AOD250 sleeping in my store room. Is it possible to add a usb to rj45 adapter as second ethernet and install smoothwall. Onboard Ethernet will go to the switch, USB Ethernet to the Cable modem and in addition we will have one wireless adapter left.

    will my idea will work?

  • Anthony 4 years ago

    I really liked this Episode. I was messing with Smoothwall the other day, it detected my NIC’s but every time I would hook up and try and get it working, it wouldn’t do squat. Maybe another day I’ll get it up

  • Awesome episode, let’s see some more smoothwall hacking!!

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    I watched untill 4:00… then RAGED.

    Preparing LOIC…

  • anyone know where to get the risers? all i am finding in google is the little short ones.

  • Droooiiiiid 4 years ago

    This is EXACTLY the kind of stuff we like to see on the show. Ground-up home/office projects are the best. Keep it coming Darren despite not being on the east coast anymore still love and support the show. Love hardware projects like the router, server etc.,

  • SamS. 4 years ago

    Does anyone know the specific board that Darren used or a similar one that would be compatible with this project?

  • excelent show but like others here would like a parts list for the build specifically the power adapter used. i built one and used pico but havent a clue what to use to power it as he skipped over that bit. but good show.

  • How many watts does this run at?

  • stephen white 4 years ago

    Great show could you give me an exact model of the mini atx you used ?
    Many thanks keep you there great shows !

  • Clayton 4 years ago

    Hi darren,

    Great work!! I like this DIY stuff… made me go directly on eBay and buy a uATX for a kick-ass router!! 😛 Been watching Hak5 vids for almost 2 months now… and I must say that I’m really lovin the show!! Well done to all crew and keep it up!

    Clayton (Malta)

  • sukotto 4 years ago

    Think I need to get off my ass and build something like this one of these days.. Lots of great options out there besides SmoothWall too..

  • So if I only want the box for a router for general game and web surfer and not to load anything on the box, what is the real advantage of putting this box together? I know you can put apps on it but if I don’t, does it really work better than a store bought box?

  • dreyer 4 years ago

    Great idea, to do this with a atom, and the way building the “case” – really cool!

    But i think the software choosen, could be bit more advanced. What aboute i debian box with those features, dhcp, iptabels, so on…?

    Would be happy to see more, maybe on same platform – part2?

  • 3beezer 4 years ago

    I am thinking of building this router. Can anyone tell me whether Smoothwall or Untangle support wireless bridge (whereby my router will connect wirelessly to a primary router and clients can connect wirelessly to my router).

  • Jack Kirby 2 years ago

    Reviews – Pico PSU Round Up

    Quote below:
    The next PSU we obtained from Logic Supply is the wide input range PicoPSU 120W, model number 120-WI-25. It too is incorporated into a 20-pin ATX power connector and comes with a peripheral, SATA and floppy power connector. This one sells for $52.50. Considerably more than the regular PicoPSU 120, but you may save money on the power brick used to power this unit due to the availability of a wider range of power bricks.

    Hope this helps.

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