Inward Bound

    June 5, 2006

There’s a Boston customer I have serviced for many years now.

They run Unix, so there’s never much to do (we Unix folk have less work than Maytag repairmen), but some years ago I had put in a small Linux server just so that some of their order entry folks could ssh in from home and then telnet to the SCO box that their app runs on. That’s been chugging along for many a year on a DSL line.

Recently they decided that they needed faster Internet access and their own mail server. That seemed like the ideal time to upgrade the Linux server and install Kerio Mailserver.

The old Linux was setup as a gateway: one nic had the public ip that they would ssh to. I really do not like this configuration: I prefer hardware firewalls. As mentioned elsewhere, I also implement internal firewalls; that is, I have the hardware firewall forwarding the ports I want inward but at the Linux box I also specifically both disable and block all ports not being used.

So, on the day of the switch-over, I brought a hardware firewall and Suse Linux CD’s. I first configured the firewall from information provided by Conversent and tested it with my laptop.

By the way, let me put in a plug here. I’ve done quite a few turnups with customers using Conversent and my experience with them really has been excellent. Support has responded quickly, accurately and intelligently every time I have had a problem. They really get high marks in my book. No, I’m not a reseller and I get nothing for saying that.

Anyway, that worked fine, so I took down the old Linux box, wired in the router and had everyone reacquire DHCP from it so that they wouldn’t lose Internet access while I loaded Suse. I did a straight text install and did not install any desktop – this is a server, it doesn’t need a GUI.

I configured the firewall to forward tcp ports 22 and 25 to my new Suse box. I then downloaded Kerio Mailserver and installed that. The RPM failed however because it needed libstdc++, which was not installed. I had a little difficulty figuring out what rpm was actually needed; it turns out to be compat-libstdc++. After that, Kerio ran fine.

To test, I ssh’d out to my own web site and tried telneting back to port 25. Hmm.. no response. I double checked “lsof -i:25” on the Suse, Kerio definitely was running.

Oh duh! Forgot the Suse Firewall. I added


to /etc/sysconfig/SuSEfirewall2, restarted the firewall (/etc/init.d/SuSEfirewall2_init restart) and tried again.

Still blocked.


OK, maybe there’s something wrong at the firewall. I reconfigured it to send 22 to my laptop’s IP and opened ssh on it. Nope, that didn’t work either. It was starting to feel like it was time to check with Conversent, so I called and explained what was happening.

*Originally published at

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A.P. Lawrence provides SCO Unix and Linux consulting services