Wi-Fi Hardware - build and install the kernel driver.
This is an old and frequent discussion point - finding wireless NICs that work with pfSense. I've looked through the man pages for the later versions of freeBSD and from the dates of the cards and chipsets supported, it seems there's a big gap in support. Now there's such a huge number of NICs from manufacturers it doesn't surprise me that drivers are a problem. I want my NIC card driver to accept the later WPA2-PSK but most of these older cards fall short. Why would i build a secure router if I can't secure wifi or am I missing something?
Newer 802.11 cards are supporting the fastest ac mode and these cards with drivers can work with Linux and Windows OS. Most wireless card manufacturers release drivers for Windows and Linux which I think can be used to create the kernel driver for freeBSD?
If I want to stick with a pfSense and freeBSD release version without upgrading, I'm prepared to try and generate a custom driver via freeBSD same version platform using the manufacturer provided driver files.
My question is how and where do I Install a custom wireless NIC driver in pfsense? Or is this an impossible task on the pre-compiled kernel?
I'm a newbie, but am prepared to have a go if people here have done it.
No replies but I think I've answered my own question:
Building a pFsense box with wi-fi based on a mini PC card requires the PC to have a M-PCIE slot and wifi NIC which the freeBSD version will support. The support list will always be out of date with respect to current wifi cards and technologies, although a (pfsense) supplier integrating in their hardware would recompile the kernel and it would be worthwhile for large volume sales.
The downside is if the NIC was replaced at a later date when a custom driver or freeBSD driver is no longer compatible. Most NIC drivers are supplied for the popular platforms Windows, Apple, Linux but not freeBSD. I can see why pfSense users argue against wifi being a core part. However, in the real world many are now using portable wireless devices rather than desktop pcs and some imported devices without firewalls can have suspect firmware leeching personal data to who knows where.
I'm surprised I didn't get replies, because others starting the way I did would hit the same brick wall? I didn't get this problem trying openWRT because my wireless nics were supported. Wireless nic compatibility would also be better running Ubuntu as a server with firewall packages.
My solution is to consider pfSense for routing wired Ethernet only and to use any of the cheap 802.11n or 802.11ac mode routers in Access Point (AP) mode on a defined lan port. From what I understand, that would give me the option of setting up multiple ssids, guest access, wi-fi extenders and use pfSense firewall and url blocking. I can also site the wi-fi AP remote from the pfSense router on CAT5 where r.f signal propogation is best. A further advantage is the router in AP mode will still work as dual band 2.4/5G with multi antenna steering to provide the best wifi access and latest security options. 4 LAN mini pc boxes are also cheaper without the m-PCIE option built in. There have been some reports of freeBSD wireless nic drivers not supporting dual band mode?
Most NIC drivers are supplied for the popular platforms Windows, Apple, Linux but not freeBSD. I can see why pfSense users argue against wifi being a core part. However, in the real world many are now using portable wireless devices rather than desktop pcs and some imported devices without firewalls can have suspect firmware leeching personal data to who knows where.
The reason for this is that with few exceptions H/W manufacturers ignore FreeBSD completely and this is basically down to market share and profile of FreeBSD, it has a reputation of being a "server OS" with no market value in desktop/portable platforms. Firewalls/routers also fall outside the normal "server OS" usage. This has resulted in the situation where the only drivers for wireless H/W that you can expect to work are the FreeBSD's own homegrown drivers and it's very rare that a H/W manufacturer provides their own FreeBSD drivers.
Thanks, that pretty well confirms my suspicions. Clearly it's in the best interests of the community for those interested to get results without the heartache of wireless nic incompatibility. If my problem solution to find and use a standard router in AP mode is o.k, I wonder why there are so many discussion threads and a wiki on compatible wireless nic drivers which don't cover latest enhancements anyway? Surely if you are going to start with pfSense you get a pc host with at least 3/4 configureable lan ports and use a remote wi-fi AP? I haven't worked through the pfSense port and firewall setup yet, but I gather I can put the external AP on a port with an IP address outside the local network but still restrict access to websites and block ports on the Wlan.
Now I've realized an inferior wireless nic that might work in the box with pfsense probably costs about the same as using a fast 2 channel beam forming router in AP mode, there is no contest. However, I haven't yet got answers to the question of port speeds. Most wi-fi routers claiming 800Mbps on 5Ghz band only have 10/100 lan ports. Perhaps I'm an idiot and don't understand yet why they aren't spec'd as Gigabit lan?