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Playing Half-Life online is a gas! However, some of us with more than one computer, may have the gaming machine safely tucked away behind a firewall or proxy-server or a gateway. This may be a little tricky.

There's two ways of sharing your internet connecting on your LAN. a) A Proxy-server, or b) a Gateway. Both options has its pros and cons.

Proxy server

A proxy server is a piece of software that will inspect every packet coming in, check its origin and destination, and then determine if the transaction should be allowed. This is a rather "slow" process, and for the purpose of gaming, it might add a little bit of latency to your game. A Proxy server will also normally perform a Network Address Translation, which means that your real IP address will be hidden from others, only the IP address on the proxy will be known. This is also referred to as IP Masquerading.

Gateway

A gateway is usually faster than a proxy server because it doesn't perform the same inspection on the packets as the proxy does. It will simply forward the traffic from one side to the other, often performing some packet filtering which gives it its potential as a firewall. A gateway will or can also perform a Network Address Translation (NAT), so your real IP address will be hidden. The gateway solutions that I have looked at (nat32, sygate) are easy to configure, all you'll need to do, is set up the Default Gateway address in the TCP/IP address on the machines behind the gateway to refer to your newly installed gateway.

Linux IP Masquerading

I've gotten some flak for not mentioning this solution before. Linux comes with its own gateway/firewall software, which does the job just fine. Since Linux can run on such a low-end machine, an old 486 can easily be set up to act as gateway/firewall for your LAN. I'm not sure of its ease of configuration, as I have not tried out Linux yet, but it comes highly recommended from many sources. It's not really a "third" options, as the solution is a gateway, but I have listed it separately, as it is not a Win32 solution as the others are.

In general, with a router (or Network Address Translator), you are much better off than if you have a proxy-server. It is in general faster, and there's less configuration. If you get it running, it should be working for any software from behind the router. The top-ranked software in this category is SyGate from SyberGen. For a small network (3 users), the price is $49, which is a lot less than the cost of a second internet connection.

If you want to try working with a proxy, you can try my hints-page.

1999 - 2004 Lars M. Hansen