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Spam Blocking And Web Filtering With The Untangle 5.3 Network Gateway

Untangle bundles common open-source applications for blocking spam, spyware, viruses, adware and unwanted content on the network in one single Linux distribution. It can be integrated into existing networks either as a router or as a transparent bridge (directly behind the router, but before the switch that connects the client PCs with the router). The best thing about Untangle is that you don’t have to reconfigure the client PCs – Untangle works out of the box.

This document comes without warranty of any kind! I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

The Untangle Gateway Platform and 12 of the applications that run on it are open source and free to use under the GNU General Public License v2 (GPL). There are also some non-free add-ons available (see for more details), but I will concentrate on the free add-ons in this article.

I will install Untangle as a transparent bridge in this article, i.e., on a system directly behind the router, but before the switch that connects the client PCs with the router. The Untangle system needs two network cards for this – one connects the Untangle system with the router, the other one with the switch. Of course, you can as well replace your router with the Untangle system, but in either case it needs two NICs.


2 Installing Untangle

Download Untangle 5.3 from and burn it onto a CD. Then boot your system from that CD:


The Untangle installation wizard starts. Click on Next:


Accept the license agreement by clicking on Next:


Select the hard disk on which you want to install Untangle. Please note that all existing data on that hard drive will be erased:


Next, the install checks if the hardware fulfills all requirements. In my case my memory was a little bit low, but still enough to continue. If your hardware doesn’t fulfill the minimum requirements, the installer will let you know and abort the installation.



Before the installer starts the partitioning of the hard drive, the wizard warns you again that all data on the drive will be deleted. Click on Finish if you want to go on:


Click on Continue to confirm that you want to proceed:


Afterwards, Untangle is being installed on your system. This can take a few minutes, so please be patient:


Click on OK to finish the installation and power down the system. After the system has shut down, switch it on again and remove the installation CD from the CD/DVD drive:


After you have removed the installation CD, Untangle will boot from the hard drive:



4 The Untangle Client

The Untangle client should now launch automatically (if it doesn’t, you can launch it manually by clicking on the Launch Client icon). Fill in the admin password and click on Login:


This is how the Untangle client looks. On the left you see a library of available add-ons on the Library tab, the already installed add-ons on the My Apps tab, and the current configuration on the Config tab. The main part represents a rack where the add-ons will be installed – just like in a data center where physical servers are installed in a rack.


To install an add-on, click on it (I select the Open Source Package which is a meta package that contains all the available free add-ons):


Firefox should then show Download started… where the Free Download button was. You can now close Firefox.


In the Untangle client, you should now see a download progress bar:


After the download has finished, the package is being installed:


During the installation, you can see how the single add-ons are added to the rack (at the same time, they disappear from the Library tab and appear on the My Apps tab):




The add-ons are automatically turned on except for the OpenVPN add-on which must be configured (if you need it):


The next two screenshots show all add-ons that come with the Open Source Package:



To modify the default configuration of an add-on, you must click on the Show Settings button of that add-on. You can then change the settings of that add-on and click on Save. Click on Hide Settings to hide the settings. If you want to delete the add-on, click on Remove.


To switch off an add-on, you can simply press its power button:


The My Apps tab contains now all the installed add-ons:


On the Config tab you can modify your Untangle settings. For example, if you want to change the network settings, click on Networking


… and the network configuration will appear in a browser window where you can change it, if necessary:


As I said before, no client-side configuration is necessary which makes the Untangle deployment a breeze even for large networks.


  • Untangle:

3 The Untangle Server Setup Wizard

After you’ve booted Untangle for the first time, the Server Setup Wizard comes up. Click on Next:


Accept the Untangle license again:


Fill in your personal details (name, company name, email address, etc.) and the number of computers that you want to protect next. The number of computers is important only if you plan to install commercial add-ons (see the pricing details).


Next type in a password for the Untangle admin user and select your time zone:


The next screen shows your network interfaces. Click on Next:


Specify a hostname for the Untangle system (if unsure, you can leave the default one as is) and do the network setup for the external interface (the one connected to the router) – either select DHCP or assign a static IP address. Because I’m using Untangle as a transparent bridge, I select Disable PPPoE because the router connects to the internet. If you want to use Untangle as your router, you might have to select Enable PPPoE here (that is, if your ISP uses PPPoE):


Next, we can test if the Untangle system can connect to the Internet. Click on the Connectivity Test button…


If all goes well, the test should be successful. If it isn’t, chances are that you have connected the wrong network card to the router – connect the other one to the router and this one to the switch, and run the test again:



Select the mode in which you’d like to use Untangle – I select Transparent Bridge here:


Next you must fill in some email settings so that Untangle can send you reports. If you’re getting a dynamic IP address from your ISP, you should select Send Email using the specified SMTP server as most dynamic IP addresses are blacklisted nowadays, and fill in a third-party mail server (e.g. from your ISP) together with a username and password for that mail server. You can click on the Email Test button to make Untangle send a test email to you:


Fill in your email address and click on Proceed. You can then check your email account, and if everything went well, you should find the Untangle test mail there.


Click on Next to leave the email settings page:


The Untangle configuration is now finished – click on Finish to leave the setup wizard: