Questions about hardware for building my own



  • If you hadn't been aware, I have been looking in many different places for something to run pfSense, from a dual-Opteron server to a Firebox x700. However, I remembered that I have a spare Celeron 430 (socket 775) and a case and power supply sitting unused in my garage, so I think it would be wise to use them as much as possible. I still need some other parts, but I need to be sure that they will work. Here are the ones I am thinking of for the firewall:

    Have already:
    Intel Celeron 430 - socket 775, 1.8GHz, single core, 512KB L2, x86-64
    Generic ATX case + generic ATX power supply

    Will have to get:
    Socket 775 motherboard: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/160874: Foxconn G31MXP-K MicroATX - Intel G31 chipset, socket 775, onboard GMA3100 graphics, parallel + RS-232 ports, 1x ATA + 4x SATA, Gigabit Realtek 8111B
    DDR2 memory: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/82243: 512MB generic DDR2 533MHz
    More NICs: I am not so sure about which ones to get, since I know that it can be awkward to get FreeBSD supported NICs, but I was thinking about two of these: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/132471 due to their low price, the fact that I have sone of them in the PC I am using right now, and the availability of source code for the drivers. I also checked to see from the picture and it seems that they use a Realtek 8169SC chipset, and the re(4) driver seems to support the 8169S so I am presuming it will support the 8169SC. (feel free to correct me if I am wrong, of course)
    Some form of OS storage: Now, I can go two ways for this one: I can either install it on a CompactFlash or a USB stick. Going for the USB would be cheaper since USB sticks are incredibly cheap nowadays, and the adapter and the CF card together will cost more. However, the CF card would be usable as a ATA drive, which might be useful. What would you recommend for a pfSense firewall; USB or CF card?



  • You never mentioned what the use is going to be.  If you are using it as an ISP, the requirements are completely different from a home user.

    As a home user, I am using an atom 330 with 2gb ram, and a cheap intel dual port NIC (ebay) which is more than enough.  For the packages I run, I could probably get away with 1gb.  How much ram depends which packages you plan on running.
    I'd say the celeron 430 would be enough, but the nic you linked to is a Realtek card.  I'd suggest going for the intel dual port from somewhere like ebay.



  • Yes, this will be for a home firewall, but since I like to mess around with things it would be nice to have something I can use for VPN and such. (especially for use at school on my netbook :P ).

    I am aware of the dislike that a lot of BSD users have towards Realtek, however I do not really care too much as long as it works. An Intel dual-port adapter would be nice but it would cost more than the rest of the bits combined, which isn't exactly ideal when this is being done for as little cost as possible. I also know that putting two Gigabit NICs on a single PCI bus isn't the most efficent use of resources in the world either, but since all the heavy switching will be done by a dedicated Gigabit switch, and I only have a 20Mbit/768Kbit (Virgin Media cable, but with the possibility of getting a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem in the future with 50Mbit and upwards) internet.



  • As an FYI, it's not just BSD users that hate Realtek NICs.  While they're fine for home usage, I would NEVER use one in a business environment if I could at all avoid it (I have in the past and I've been hosed every time).


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    Much of the Realtek hate was for the 10/100 chips.

    There have been comparatively few problems with re-based gigabit chips.

    Also, there are no nasty notes in if_re.c as there were in if_rl.c about its dubious lineage.



  • @jimp:

    Much of the Realtek hate was for the 10/100 chips.

    There have been comparatively few problems with re-based gigabit chips.

    Also, there are no nasty notes in if_re.c as there were in if_rl.c about its dubious lineage.

    I'm not so sure about that. I built a Pentium 4 PC back in '04, the MSI motherboard came with an onboard Realtek Gigabit NIC.
    I had lots of problems getting it to work at 1000mb. I tried various driver versions and tried 3 different branded gigabit switches.
    I gave up and stuck an INTEL card in the box. Cleared up everything.


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    @ScottNJ:

    I'm not so sure about that. I built a Pentium 4 PC back in '04, the MSI motherboard came with an onboard Realtek Gigabit NIC.
    I had lots of problems getting it to work at 1000mb. I tried various driver versions and tried 3 different branded gigabit switches.
    I gave up and stuck an INTEL card in the box. Cleared up everything.

    There's a difference between a 6 year old chip (and 6 year old drivers, too) than what is coming out new today.

    Given a choice, Intel is generally better, but they have their fair share of issues too for some. A search on the freebsd-stable list turns up plenty of problems (checksum issues, tso issues, vlan hardware tagging issues, altq broken in 8.0-release, etc, etc)


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