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During installation, you'll get the chance to select between standalone and gateway/firewall modes, with the latter requiring at least two network cards. In standalone mode, ClarkConnect works as a server, providing file, print, and other services as needed. In gateway/firewall mode, ClarkConnect adds Internet connection sharing and firewall functionality to the list, including inbound and outbound bandwidth control.

ClarkConnect Home Edition software can be downloaded here (the current version is 2.2). You can perform a network install, that is, boot a minimal install disk and download the necessary files from the Internet as you install them, but I elected to just download the complete ISO file and burn my own CD. Keep in mind that ClarkConnect system requirements are for a Pentium class processor, 64MB of memory, and 1GB of IDE or SCSI disk space, so not every old doorstop you have lying around will work.

Once you've created the bootable CD, you should be able to simply pop it in and boot it on most systems (you may need to get into your computer's BIOS and modify the boot order setting). Older computers that can't boot from the CD may require you to create a boot floppy to get things started. At any rate, once underway, the installation system is very reminiscent of a text-based Redhat install.

If you intend to install ClarkConnect to dual-boot with another OS on the same computer, then be aware that during the installation you'll receive some rather dire warnings about wiping out your entire hard disk. But as long as you select custom partitioning when the time comes, you'll get to safely create new partitions (or reuse existing ones) using Redhat's familiar Disk Druid partitioning tool. If you ignore those warnings, the installation will automatically repartition your entire hard disk, effectively wiping it out. Other than that, the installation is very straightforward, and most common hardware, including network cards, will be detected and configured automatically.

Tip TIP: ClarkConnect may have trouble configuring older 16-bit ISA-bus network cards. For trouble-free installs, try to use PCI-based network cards only.

Once the installation is completed, booting ClarkConnect will result in a very simple text-based interface intended to set up the basic configuration of the system. Once logged in as root using this interface, you'll be able to configure the network connections and switch between standalone and gateway/firewall modes, but that's about it. All of the remaining configuration is intended to be done through the web interface.

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