2006 Original Mac Pro New Life as Pfsense Box

  • Hi,

    Thanks for reading this in advance, I have a older Mac Pro that I have setup running OSX server 10.6…..And to be honest, OSX is shitty at best as a gateway/firewall/vpn....I was about to pull the trigger on a SMB grade solution from netgear or watchdog or sonicwall ect....then I stumbled upon pfsense and I am wondering if I can/should just install it, on my Mac Pro (that I am not using)....its got two dual core Xeon chips @ 3Ghz and 16gb of RAM. HD space is irrelevant, but has two onboard Intel NICs 10/100/1000

    I think I might just be really stubborn in trying to repurpose this box.

    I am going to build another server to run Open Directory, File Serving..ect and and I guess could do a scaled back version of that box....but then I am stuck with a MacPro nobody wants.

    Am I better off starting from scratch and build 2 machines, selling the Mac Pro....and putting whatever I get into something new?

    Or can I breathe new life and function into the MacPro as a pfsense box...would I get good performance out of it?
    Any info would be helpful.....oh last bit of info, I can get my hands on a used watchguard firebox x750e for like 500 bucks. Would that be a better route? I saw a thread where someone loaded pfsense onto it. This whole project btw is just a hobby....mostly, this box will run at my office, no more than 4 users, with light traffic....the internet connection I have is a 35/35 FiOS line with a static IP. I want to make sure that I can utilize all of that bandwidth. would love to setup a site to site VPN to my parents house as well....don't know what for, but seems cool.

    Another idea, is to use the MacPro...to be the opendirectory,fileserver,plexserver, then either build a pfsense box with your guys recomendations....or maybe pickup that watchguard x750e....

    sorry for the tangenty, disorganized thread....kinda thinking as im writing...an info would be helpful.

  • Netgate Administrator

    The MAC pro would make an interesting pfSense box be to be honest it is way over powered for your needs.

    The x750 makes a pretty sweet pfSense box. It can push 50Mb VPN so will easily handle your bandwidth requirements even if you want to encrypt everything. Thinking about it that may have been after I swapped the cpu for a pentium-m but they are pennies on ebay.
    $500 seems quite a bit, I paid £30 for mine.

    An Atom powered machine can route/firewall 100Mb.


  • You could run PFSense in a VM on that Mac Pro and still use it as a workstation.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Yep that would be a much better use of the hardware and fun with VMs.

    Be aware that it's not as secure though. Probably fine for hobby use though.  :P


  • You actually have a lot of option with that Mac Pro. Since it's Intel based you can install Windows, Linux, Pfsense, Vmware ESXi or OSX on it. You could also try to sell it as Mac tend to hold their value better, so it should still be worth a decent amount. For your internet connection you're not going to need a whole lot of CPU power to keep up. You could use a P4 box with 2GB of ram in it and have more than enough power to run PFSense. http://www.pfsense.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=52&Itemid=49 The thing to keep in mind is that a lot of your SMB devices are really only being powered by a single core CPU that is 1ghz or less. Most desktop computers have much faster processors in them.

    If you have another pc with any type of dual core or say a P4 you could use that to build a PFSense box. Then you could just go back to regular OSX for your multimedia needs.

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