Pfsense virtualized on windows host - virtualbox or which vmware?

  • I've got a windows server host sitting idle most of the time as a file server (my home backup file server).  Since that machine is sitting idle anyways, I thought I could down my atom pfsense server and run pfsense as a vm.  It would also let me play with 2.0, as I could run 1.2.3 by default, but switch over to 2.0 when I've finished playing with it.
      I have pfsense running (not fully tested) under virtualbox (cant find anyone running pfsense fully under hyper-v).  Virtualbox looks like a light vmware install (almost as plain as hyper-v).
      Anyone have any thoughts on virtualbox?  pfsense fully stable?

    I looked at vmwawre products, but it's almost confusing with new/old products and their renaming stuff.
    vmware server 2.0 looks like it's the nicest but it's end of life and an old release. 
    vmvisor is free, but it replaces my host os, which I want to keep. 
    is it worth running workstation?  Anyone have it stable in workstation?
    esx is enterprise grade, so that should be out.

    Feedback appreciated.  I've been looking at this forum, but lots of the posts are outdated and could have changed things in the last year (ex: vmware server EOL).

  • I have been testing out the v2.0 on a Virtualbox v4.08 setup on a Windows 7 64bits host.
    I use the intel gigabit nics that are available in virtualbox.
    That worked great for me as far as I could see.


  • I am having good luck with virtualbox.  I just wanted opinions on if it's stable for full time deployment.
    Since I'm  early into vm on pfsense, I also wanted to see how others are working with vmware products also.  Performance is not my main concern, mostly stability.  I want pfsense to be as reliable as it is today.  Reboot it once every couple of months…

  • i use vmware workstation.
    it works fine for me right now.
    the only thing that i observe is the speed.
    sometimes it will slow down your net.
    what i did, restart host pc so as pfsense in vm and that's it.
    back to normal speed

  • refering to tests done recently by the german c't magazine virtualbox is very stable running on a linux host but under win it's rumored to be quite buggy…

  • vmware freebie ESX4.1 has been solid like a peradam

  • @photonman:

    vmware freebie ESX4.1 has been solid like a peradam

    +1 here.

  • @tester_02:

    vmvisor is free, but it replaces my host os, which I want to keep.

    esx is enterprise grade, so that should be out.

    These two statements confuse me. I'm not familiar with vmvisor, but the name and the fact that you say it "replaces your host os" makes me think it's a hypervisor, much like ESXi, whereon you would just install your guests, such as pfsense, your file server, etc. What's wrong with that?

    I don't run pfsense in a vm, but I do have a trio of servers, including a file server, on ESXi and it's a great solution. What is it about "enterprise grade" that you don't like? It's not expensive and it's not difficult to use, so I can't really see a down side to it.

  • This issue is that I have a windows box that actually has a use.  It's under utilized, but I need to keep it.  I have no need for an esx box, as I want my host os to continue to work.  If I used esx, then it would be another machine just for esx/pfsense which makes no sense for me.
      Vmware workstation was a mess trying to get to run as a service, so I gave up on that quickly.
      Virtualbox worked well, but a bit of a pain getting to run as a service.

    Anyways, I settled on vmware server.  Starts the OS automatically on bootup on the 2008 server box.  Pfsense 2.0 is up and running 3 days now and no issues.  Somewhere in the future I think virtualbox will get another evaluation as I think vmware server is EOL.

  • My main problems with VMWare Server are that it is slow and that it doesn't support para-virtualization, so it is slower than it has to be on newer hardware. I'm to the point that I'm replacing VMWare Server with Workstation in a couple servers running a couple VMs (even if I can't start VMs automatically, it works faster, and having to start the VMs manually is an acceptable compromise).

    Personally, I don't like the free ESX edition(s) because they seem crippled (just looking at the specs), and if you want to do anything serious, the price tag goes up quickly. However, for your case, you might want to consider virtualizing your Windows file server, and then you could install ESX (same would apply to other full hypervisor solutions) and have the Windows file server as one of the guest VMs.

    On larger projects, I've been using Hyper-V. I just wish pfSense worked better with it (ie, not having to restart interfaces, issues in RC1 and RC3, lack of IC drivers which limit performance and the number of interfaces).

  • VMware server is working great.  It's running new hardware and has no issues.  Performance wise, it's running great for pfsense, which is all I plan to virtualize on this box.  i just wanted my server to stay the way it is, and then add pfsense (saving a seperate pfsense box).
    Workstation is not an option, as if I have a prolonged power outage (more than ups can run for), then when the power came back, pfsense would not start back up on workstation.
      I like the esx edition and would run it on other setups, but not in this case.  I also do like hyper-v, and if it ran pfsense, this server setup would go away.  It's really close, just the dhcp issues and slow performance since they optimize for windows guests.

  • I just did what you did, decided to make better use of a single machine, and setup a windows host (file server) with VMWare Server, PFSense, and Debian (for a web server).

    I looked into VirtualBox, but I don't think it can run as a service "out of the box" (there are third party solutions for that), which to me was a problem.  If I run the file server/host headless I would need to have it automatically login to get the virtualbox started.  Also, I wanted to setup my server for access outside the local network via a VPN & SSH (Not a lot of luck with the VPN yet, but SSH works fine), and wanted the system to be able to power back on if power is lost and I am not home.

    I have not done any major local network speed tests, but a 200 megabyte executable on my laptop transfered over a bridged wireless router to the server pretty much instantly.  uTorrent downloads wired were running over 1M, (cable internet is 10 Down 1 Up, so that speed is pretty decent for me).

    So far, no major bottlenecks, except I had to use a wireless AP from a switch, I couldn't just use a wireless PCI card on the host (which would have been ideal).

  • as i mentioned above, i use vmware workstation first.
    now i shifted to virtualbox coz it would not eat much on my host pc ram…^^

    windows xp sp3 32bit
    virtualbox 4.0.8
    pfsense 2.0 RC3 + lusca cache

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