When it comes to firewalls, most people are fine with a consumer grade solution like a Linksys, Netgear or D-Link “router,” but these devices lack in features. With a Pentium II 200MHz processor and 1GB of RAM, you can create a firewall that’s way more powerful than the standard cable/DSL router you get from a computer shop, and thanks to free software it has features those other devices can only dream about. Here, is a quick and small comparison between Smoothwall Express 3.0 (based on Linux) and M0n0wall 1.231 (based on FreeBSD).
Both Smoothwall and M0n0wall run on low end hardware just fine. For both systems, you’ll want at least a Pentium 2 and 128MB of RAM. Smoothwall requires more hard drive space than M0n0wall, which only needs about 8MB! Machines like this are available at auction sites, flea markets and garage sales for next to nothing. Keep in mind that these machines will use more power than a consumer “router,” but M0n0wall does have an option to turn off the hard drive after a few minutes of being idle. Now, on to the feature comparison.
Smoothwall offers many more features than M0n0wall, including a caching web proxy server, DNS server, intrusion detection system, instant messenger logging, NTP server and email virus scanning.
By design, M0n0wall is only a firewall. It keeps to the Unix programming concept of doing one thing very well. If you want things like a proxy server, IDS or DNS, you’ll want to use Smoothwall. If you want things like 1:1 NAT, M0n0wall is your best choice. Both systems offer web based management and traffic shaping.
The bottom line is that both of these systems are excellent firewalls. Smoothwall has more features, but requires higher-end hardware, while M0n0wall’s web management of firewall rules and traffic shaping seemed to be easier to use.
This is a summary of a post found on Linux Brain Dump