PFSense on a HP Microserver

  • Hi:

    I'm trying to install pfsense on my HP Microserver but no disks are detected, may be a driver problem from the sata raid controller ??.

    Anyone has detected this problem ??, Anyone knows how to resolve this problem ??

    Thanks you in advanced

  • Try disabling AHCI in bios, if there's such a setting.

  • @jmaracil:

    Anyone has detected this problem ??, Anyone knows how to resolve this problem ??

    Thanks you in advanced

    Hi! I'm planning to buy an Hp Proliant G7 Microserver do you resolved your issues?

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    So your have what specific model?  the N40L?

    I have this exact model, are you trying to run pfsense on it bare metal?  Not the direction I would go to be honest - pfsense has little need of the drive bays, etc.

    I have esxi 5.1 running on the N40L that I bumped up to 8GB of ram, and added 2nd nic.  Then run pfsense 2.1 as VM - works GREAT!!!  Then run few other VMs I want on the same hardware - added some disk and also use another VM as my NAS with raw access to the extra disks.

    Great budget box that allows you to kill multiple birds with 1 stone and also very power friendly - mine only draws about 55watts with 4 drives currently being used.

  • Yes i'm planning to by the N40L and install pfSense without virtualization. I know that way the HP is not fully exploited but for now this is a valid and cheap alternative to an appliance.

    Googling i read that someone had hardware compatibility problem installing pfSense (or FreeNAS that is bsd-base too) i would know if, with latest stable pfsense 2.0.1 version, it's fully supported? In particular the integrated NIC and the additional i would buy HP NC112T.

    Can some one confirm that configuration works flawless?


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    To be honest its a waste of the design of that box to use pfsense native on it.  There are much smaller setups that could be used that come with dual nics or more, etc.

    A N40L is not a good design for a router/firewall box - firewall boxes don't have just 1 nic with 4 HDD bays with ability to add 2 more in the optical bay area with 7 USB interfaces, etc..  Yes you can add a nic, but its low profile and this limits selection.

    I went with it because my goal was more a cheap esxi box with room for storage - that I could then run my pfsense on virtual.  In that scenario I am very happy with it and would highly recommend it.  As to support of pfsense native on it - have no idea, sorry.

  • Similar to what johnpoz is saying, sure, you -could- buy a new Mercedes, even an entry level one to deliver Pizza, but it's probably not the most cost effective decision.

    For pfSense, and many routers in general, it's common to forgo physical hard drives all together since mass storage and fast concurrent access of that mass storage isn't needed.  That HP Microserver, on the other hand, is built to take 4 drives, specifically for fast mass storage.  With those drives, for a router, you gain nothing, and reduce reliability.  Well, you gain power consumption.

    The default configuration is 2x 500GB drives and they advertise it as 1TB of storage, which negates the reliability idea all together, in fact, makes it very not reliable.  To have redundancy in the drives you'd have to run RAID1, which gives you 500GB; although still much higher than you'd need for a pfSense box.  You could put in an SSD to replace one or both drives, but you're now paid for 2x 500GB drives you're not using and paying more for an SSD.  And that HP Microserver is not cheap to begin with.

    One main reason people may go for a "server" class machine for pfSense would be for the warranty coverage, as some companies mandate that any hardware they rely on be under some kind of maintenance contract.  This server fails on that as well, as it only has a 1 year parts warranty from HP, which is less of a warranty than you might get with some business class desktop machines.  Another reason may be for the reliability factor, having dual power supplies, etc.  Which this HP Microserver doesn't have.

    Really, they're more for file storage and other minor compute operations for a small business.  I would not recommend to anyone to buy one of these with the intent of using it as a native pfSense box; it's just not what it's for.  There are -lots- of more economical Atom based solutions much more suited for use as a native pfSense box.

    Using this as a VM host and running pfSense as a VM makes sense if you have the need to run some lightweight File server type VM's too.

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    Mine only came with 1x250GB drive though ;)

    Now in the UK I think they are getting these things for like 100 quid after rebate.  I got mine on sale for under $300, then even counting up the extra ram and 2TB drive I added to it plus a couple of old ones I re-purposed.  So a bit over $400 total.  Which for a ESXi box it was cheap, I would never in a million years spend that amount of money on a box for pfsense only.  It can be done way cheaper!

    But maybe he is in the UK and getting it for 100 quid??  Has to add a second low profile nic, maybe he has one.  Then I guess its a really cheap option for a router box.  But not really optimal design for it.

    What are you spending?  And we can see if we can suggest better suited hardware for that price range.

  • Ok i know it is not a optimal configuration for pfSense but:

    • it is for a small company where an internet stop for two days isn't a problem
    • it can get it with 1x250HDD, 2TB RAM, 2 NIC (1 integrated+1one added) for 225 € (euro) that is the price of the smallest appliance i can get from
    • maybe now or in the future i'll virtualize the installation and have extra value.

    Every case i'd like to know:

    • if there are hardware incompatibility installing pfSense without virtualization
    • if you have different suggestions for cheaper solution with same espansion possibilities.


  • Netgate Administrator


    2TB RAM

    I think I can conclusively say that no matter what situation you have your pfSense box in you don't need that much ram!  :D

    But seriously, which specific expansion possibilities are you referring to?


  • Sorry i mean 2GB  ;D.
    In essence how can i get this CPU, RAM and HD for 225 €?
    With this configuration i can add Squid Proxing, VPN for clients or site2site, antivirus or other without problems.

  • I think what we're getting at is:

    There are reported issues with getting this hardware to run pfSense, ones that may have been resolved, but no certain reports.

    This hardware isn't exactly suited for pfSense, mostly from a cost standpoint, which, while you can get a good deal on it, it doesn't change that the hardware is more suited to other uses.

    This hardware, from a performance and reliability standpoint with pfSense, isn't much better than a desktop, which you can get them for similar or less cost; ones that are confirmed to work well and don't have some of the limitations that this hardware does have (low profile PCI-Express, mainly.)

    It doesn't seem that you're worried about power usage, so just about any desktop would work for you.

    Certainly, you can do what you want, but not much of any of us are saying it's a preferred solution.  If it works out well for you, though, I'm sure we'd like to hear about it, we kind of like to be proven wrong in situations like this (I think most of us here are more in it for the knowledge sharing than ego.)

  • Netgate Administrator

    Something that nobody seems to be mentioning here is that the CPU in these is nothing special. It's not very fast. Fine for a file server but it's not going to push much vpn traffic for example.
    Even the cheapest current desktop machine will be far more powerful.


  • @stephenw10:

    Something that nobody seems to be mentioning here is that the CPU in these is nothing special. It's not very fast. Fine for a file server but it's not going to push much vpn traffic for example.
    Even the cheapest current desktop machine will be far more powerful.


    Even the cheapest desktop machine from the last 5 years should be far more powerful.

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    "but it's not going to push much vpn traffic for example."

    Agreed I wouldn't use it as for lots of concurrent vpn users - but for me that is no more than 1 ;)  And it handles that just fine.  It sure has more umph then the old P3 800mhz I use to run it on.. hehehe

  • Ok i agree with you about some limitations. Can you suggest, for a similiar cost, a different (more pfsense suitable) solution? A small form factor desktop  for esample or other. From the point of view of power usage  the microserver seems to have lower demand to a desktop. I considered different solution like various recommended appliance ATOM-based with HDD but they cost 400-500+ euro…they don't have a good price-performance ratio compared to microserver?

    I'd appreciate models or links to different solutions.

    Thanks again Alessandro

  • Netgate Administrator

    There doesn't appear to be much by way of of the shelf systems in this power/price range. Are you willing to build it yourself?
    If so consider using a low end Sandybridge such as in this build:,44269.0.html

    If you don't mind having a less well known brand you can get such a system complete for very little. You would have to add a NIC to this for example:


  • FYI

    Bought and configured:

    • pfSENSE 2.0.1

    all hardware components are recognized without problems and it runs smoothly.

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