Port Forwarding

This HOWTO describes the steps required to setup your RedHat (well any Linux distro) firewall to forward the port used by gtk-gnutella to a machine on your internal network. This is useful because it allows your gtk-gnutella client to behave in a non firewalled mode and thus more of the gnutella network is available to you. In particular, other machines that are behind firewalls that can handle push requests will become available to you.

What is Port Forwarding?

Port forwarding is a feature of the IPTables system. It allows one computer to forward connections made to it so that another computer can actually process the request. If you want a very simple metaphor you can think of it as mail forwarding. Each computer has a number of addresses called ports, and IPTables allows (among other things) connections to these ports to be sent to another computer. The most common use of port forwarding that I am aware of is allowing servers to run on machines that would normally be hidden behind a firewall.

Firewall script

I am going to assume that you are using the default firewall script that comes with RedHat or whatever distribution you are running. My system is currently running RedHat 8.0 (heh, not anymore). And I am using a firewall script called rc.firewall-2.4. You should be able to find it in your /etc/rc.d directory. If you don't find it it may be that I had to install it and just don't remember. :) You can search for rc.firewall-2.4 on Google and find many copies.


My goal was to make gtk-gnutella work in a non-firewalled mode from within my firewalled LAN. To do this people suggested a line of the form:

$IPTABLES -t nat -I PREROUTING -p tcp -i $EXTIF --dport 6346 -j DNAT --to

Where $IPTABLES is the iptables executable, $EXTIF is the external ethernet interface (I use two ethernet cards in my firewall), port 6346 is the gtk-gnutella port and is the machine on my internal network on which I wished to run gtk-gnutella.

With the rc.firewall-2.4 script this doesn't quite work. The reason is that by default any connection that would open a new session from the outside world is dropped. This is done with the line:


The solution is to add a rule into the FORWARD chain that causes connections from the outside world to port 6346 to not be dropped, but instead to be accepted. Then the PREROUTING rule above will be encountered and the connection will be forwarded to the internal machine as desired. The line to accomplish this is:

$IPTABLES -A FORWARD -i $EXTIF -o $INTIF -p tcp --dport 6346 -j ACCEPT

I placed this right before the line:


I did this because this line will will add a rule that causes all rules added after it to not be checked.