PfSense on re-purposed Firebox or other like hardware w/ Gigabit



  • Looking to get into pfSense at home and was reading a lot of stuff regarding re-purposed hardware, specifically the Firebox's, which I think is a handsome idea.  Now, I've made the decision I'd like everything on my home network to be hardwired gigabit, which leaves me fewer choices in this regard to re-purposed hardware, seeing not all of Watchguard's equipment came with gigabit NICs.  It looks like only some of the Core & Peak series come with gigabit outputs (x6000, x8000, x750e, x1250e, any else I'm missing?). I've read pfSense is more compatible with Intel NICs as opposed to Realtek.  I think I've read somewhere that the Peak boxes have Intel and Core boxes have Realtek, is that (some what) true?

    So my question is: which model would be the most ideal in regards to ease of installation of pfSense, and compatible gigabit outputs (Intel)?


  • Netgate Administrator

    Only the X-Peak (X5000, X6000 and X8000) has Intel NICs. It has 3 Gigabit and 6 10/100, all Intel.

    The newer X-E boxes have 8 Gigabit NICs (except the X550e which has 4) but they are Marvel. They are supported by pfSense. Some boxes had 4 fibre NICs but I have no information on those.

    The X-peak is easiest to setup. The X-e boxes require a bios change but it is well documented.

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    Only the X-Peak (X5000, X6000 and X8000) has Intel NICs. It has 3 Gigabit and 6 10/100, all Intel.

    The newer X-E boxes have 8 Gigabit NICs (except the X550e which has 4) but they are Marvel. They are supported by pfSense. Some boxes had 4 fibre NICs but I have no information on those.

    The X-peak is easiest to setup. The X-e boxes require a bios change but it is well documented.

    Steve

    Thanks, Steve!  It looks like I should be looking for one of the X-Peak models, but they seem to be fairly difficult to find on ebay, are there any other reliable sources? There seems to be a greater number of the X-E models.  There seems to be a relatively wide range of prices for both the X-Peak and X-E models, though. What gives?


  • Netgate Administrator

    Well when you originally paid £10,000 for a piece of equipment it's hard to put it on Ebay for £50.  ;)

    The X-E boxes are still supported by Watchguard so may still have valid software etc making them more valuable.

    Steve



  • The Fireboxes still suffer from watchdog timeouts due to the Realtek nics, correct?


  • Netgate Administrator

    It's hard to say for certain.
    What can be said is that only the X-Core (x500, x700, x1000) models have Realtek NICs and that many people are using them without any problems with a current snapshot.
    It seems to be largely dependent on what equipment you have connected to them and how much tarffic you're trying to push. I don't have access to one at the moment.

    Steve



  • Looking more like I'll be getting an X-Core-E box, but I may have a problem.  Looking through the X550e Thread, this post:

    http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,20095.msg190456.html#msg190456

    states I'll be needing a null modem cable to get through the bios work around. What would be the best solution if I didn't have a computer with a serial port?  Would this TrendNet serial to USB adapter work:

    http://www.amazon.com/TRENDnet-Serial-Converter-TU-S9-Blue/dp/B0007T27H8/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    Also, going through the serial port, would I still need to set up the keyboard on the firebox unit, or would I be making any alterations through the terminal program?



  • I never had any issues with time outs on my x-500 (all realtec nics).  The only reason I replaced it with a x-6000 was the performance improvement.  I have unique requirements for my home networks and the use of VPN's for business and personal reasons.
    RC


  • Netgate Administrator

    You can use a USB to serial converter for console access.
    You don't need a keyboard attached to the firebox, everything is done via a terminal program.

    Steve



  • HI gaping46and2

    Just a bit of info 2 u, i just got my x550e up and running yesterday with a 512mb cf card and th 2.0 rc3 img and did not have to do anything in the bios.  And i added the expansion card from a dead x1250e to it and all runs fine now.

    Wish you the best with pfsense and watchguard, it is a good combo, have been running x700 with 1.2.3 on cf now for as long as i can remember and have not had any problems.

    It is just power up, config and forget (Almost, needs updating some times) ;D  ;D



  • @Unubtanium:

    HI gaping46and2

    Just a bit of info 2 u, i just got my x550e up and running yesterday with a 512mb cf card and th 2.0 rc3 img and did not have to do anything in the bios.  And i added the expansion card from a dead x1250e to it and all runs fine now.

    Wish you the best with pfsense and watchguard, it is a good combo, have been running x700 with 1.2.3 on cf now for as long as i can remember and have not had any problems.

    It is just power up, config and forget (Almost, needs updating some times) ;D  ;D

    I should be getting my x750e in sometime today. I've got a 4gb CF card w/ 2.0 rc3 already installed and steve's bios image installed on a 64mb card, and that serial to usb cable I linked to up above. So, I think I should be good to go and be up and running pfsense this evening.



  • I think you are as ready as you can be  ;D

    Now of to finaly let my old x500 take a break and let my new x550e take over(Network heart transplant starting)



  • Not ready enough, apparently.  I just realized the USB to Serial adapter I have is a male serial connection. Hopefully Micro Center or Fry's has a Female to Female adapter that I can pick up tomorrow during lunch.

    On another note, apparently the box I got was supposed to already had pfsense installed onto a 4gb CF card, but it doesn't seem to be booting properly.  It passes the memory test and gets to the Booting OS… dialog on the front LCD, then a few seconds later the 4,5,6,7 LEDs flash in sequence followed by 0,1,2,3. After that, it doesn't seem to do anything else.  I can see the Storage LED on the front lights up during the boot process, but after the link LEDs blink in sequence, nothing happens.  Any ideas?



  • @gaping46and2:

    It passes the memory test and gets to the Booting OS… dialog on the front LCD, then a few seconds later the 4,5,6,7 LEDs flash in sequence followed by 0,1,2,3. After that, it doesn't seem to do anything else.  I can see the Storage LED on the front lights up during the boot process, but after the link LEDs blink in sequence, nothing happens.  Any ideas?

    Do you have a pcie graphics card ??  If so i would recommend hocking it up and have a proper look at at the bootup and see on what and where it hangs/crashes


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