My First pfSense Box



  • Hello guys!

    I'm new here. I've been a PC hobbyist for over 15 years although I have never gotten into any depths of knowledge before. Just found out about you guys while learning about FreeNAS. I plan on building a home NAS of 16.4TB of storage in Raid-Z2. The entire home is connected by dual-gigabit with Verizon FiOS 150Mbps down and 65Mbps up (good chance that in the next 6 months an upgrade to 300Mbps down will occur). So finding out about pfSense was incredible, to say the least!
    At first, I had thought of running FreeNAS and pfSense VM's using ESXi, but I was told by the FreeNAS community to stay away from the Freenas VM… So instead, I decided that a separate box would be needed to host pfSense. The following are the hardware specifications I have chosen. Please let me know if any changes are needed.

    I would like the pfSense box to run OpenVPN (with data encryption), Snort, Squid, (maybe HVAP), and the IP-Blocklist. In addition, it seems there might be other things that I would like to have running on the box such as a Ventrilo server and a simple VoIP telephony service to replace the separate house phone. There might be other things as well, but I cannot think of any because of my lack of knowledge. Would this system be able to do all the above? What would you change or recommend instead? Would I be able to connect 2 of the NIC's ports to network switch for a dual-gigabit LAN connection and pass the entire network through the switch without any noticeable delay in network/internet traffic? Should I connect the other 2 ports to the Verizon modem? Could the server's total power usage be lowered with slower components while still achieving the desired results?

    I deeply appreciate any feedback and help I receive. Looks like an active and knowledgeable community here and I am happy to have joined it, if only so recently!

    Thank you,

    Ghendi


  • Netgate Administrator

    Hi. Welcome.  :)
    Looks like a good selection of hardware. With that board you have many CPU options for a future upgrade if you need it.
    The on-board Realtek NIC and the newer Intel NICs will require you to run 2.1beta. That shouldn't be a problem.

    Not quite sure what you are asking regarding the switch/ports. There is no advantage to running two gigabit cables to your modem other than redundancy, though I doubt the modem supports that.

    Steve



  • You just might be better off with an i3 processor, though the Celeron should be fine. pfSense has PowerD function in its advanced settings that can help lower down power usage to some extent. I have an i5 system on VM ESXi 5.1 and its not hogging that much of power.. (at least my electricity bill is not shooting thru the roof since I installed it.. in fact I can't even make out a difference in the power usage).

    Single gigabit connection is ample enough for that bandwidth.



  • Thanks for the quick replies!

    Ok, so you would recommend to swap out the aforementioned CPU with one like http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116775 ?

    Other than that, the hardware would be fine enough to run those programs?

    Thanks again!



  • Unless you're going to virtualize pfSense on the box you can't run Vent or a VOIP server on it.  You can, however, run those on separate hardware or virtualized and they will work with pfSense.

    If you really want to reduce power, this i3 is pretty nice:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115094


  • Netgate Administrator

    In my opinion (since in reality there are probably too many variables to be precise) the G1610 should be sufficient, certainly for the 150Mbps WAN. It will take you a long time to recover the extra $100 you spent on a low power CPU. It's hard to say what you would actually save anyway since the Celeron is newer fabrication and you won't be running it at 100% most of the time. You would be better spending it on a more efficient PSU or choosing to use the Intel DQ77KB which has a built in DC-DC PSU.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121622

    Maybe look at this for compromise between price and power: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116407

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    …choosing to use the Intel DQ77KB which has a built in DC-DC PSU.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121622

    I am a big fan of the Q77 chipset.  Great chipset to virtualize on or run anything else.



  • Ditto.

    By the way we need to keep in check the progress we have made in pfSense and the packages it has to offer over the years. Though packages are being fine tuned to meet performance goals (what ever those goals may be  ;) ), the processor plays a key role as its the central processing hub for everything that goes around. Given Snort uses more RAM but it still uses CPU cycles, so does Dansguardian, clamd, Squid, pfblocker..etc.

    If I am investing in a good build then I tend to keep in mind any future upgrades that might require some additional horse power. Extra free CPU cycles are better than less CPU cycles in my opinion  :D

    EDIT- Forgot to mention the OP is planning to upgrade from 150Mbps to 300Mbps.. that's double the WAN bandwidth. Things do change quickly at times.  ;D



  • Wow, recommendations are greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    Only one thing bothers me with the Intel DQ77KB and that is upgradability/expandability. I'm guessing that over time, you have found more things to load onto your box, giving it more tasks to perform. I'm worried that this lower powered system along with its 120w DC-DC power supply won't hold up with future changes, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    On another note, I'm new to virtualization and plan to try it on an old pc i have in the garage. Does virtualization (instead of single OS install) limit the capability or performance of pfSense in any way? Could pfSense be installed as non-virtualized and the other services run on a virtualized OS? Would 4GB ram be sufficient, or should it go up to 8GB?

    Edit: How does the SeaSonic SSR-360GP 360W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151117 look in terms of efficiency?



  • @ghendi:

    Wow, recommendations are greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    Only one thing bothers me with the Intel DQ77KB and that is upgradability/expandability. I'm guessing that over time, you have found more things to load onto your box, giving it more tasks to perform. I'm worried that this lower powered system along with its 120w DC-DC power supply won't hold up with future changes, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    When you do a custom build, its a investment and if you expect 5 to 10 years service out of the unit, don't cut corners on the motherboard just to save a few bucks.
    If you invest in a board that supports i3 and i5 Intel CPU you will have a far greater scope for what the system can be used for in the future if the need arises.

    Favored Manufactures

    • Intel

    • Supermico

    If you don't give a hoot and just want the cheapest board …... well nothing wrong with that I guess ..... just don't expect a lot.

    And stay away from Atom systems .... there are many reasons for staying away, the two main reasons being they are overpriced based on performance per watt and limited in scope for what they can be used for.

    @ghendi:

    On another note, I'm new to virtualization and plan to try it on an old pc i have in the garage. Does virtualization (instead of single OS install) limit the capability or performance of pfSense in any way? Could pfSense be installed as non-virtualized and the other services run on a virtualized OS? Would 4GB ram be sufficient, or should it go up to 8GB?

    It would be best you have a CPU which has speed enhancements for Virtualization.

    4GB will work just don't expect much.

    Virtualization loves RAM ….. Think of it this way, if you Virtualize 3 operating systems you effectively have 3 computers. Build the Virtualization machine with as much ram as you would building 3 computers suited to the task at hand.

    Personally if I where doing a custom build for pfsense I would want to future proof my build so if I decided to use the computer for Virtualization 16GB to 24GB supported motherboard would be a must .....

    @ghendi:

    Edit: How does the SeaSonic SSR-360GP 360W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151117 look in terms of efficiency?

    You want your power supply somewhere around 2 to 3 times your actual estimated power consumption. To big of a power supply will lower the efficiency of the power-supply. The problem I have had in the past is finding quality 100w to 200w power supplies.

    But I have to say with the lower power consumption for some of the Intel low voltage CPU's a 50w to 100w power brick would be nice. I have seen a board or two that come with a AC plug for power bricks.



  • Ok, so taking the previous comments into consideration, these are the following changes that I have looked in to:

    Based on http://extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine, I will only need 102w under full 100% load, so it is safe to take a bit extra room and get a 150w, right?
    Also, with this thin mini-itx case, I'm not sure if the Intel NIC can fit… not even the low-profile ones... please correct me if I'm wrong. If you have a solution, that would be great! Maybe a different thin case? I'll keep looking around. If there isn't a solution, I'll go back to a regular mini-itx case. The only problem is that there is a big hole in the back for the regular sized PSU's...


  • Netgate Administrator

    There are a number of cases designed specially for that board due to it's great combination of features, they are expensive though I seem to recall. It is only half height so you have more space above the board to fit expansion cards than normal. The only restriction is the cpu heatsink/fan.
    That Silverstone case looks great but you don't need an optical drive in a firewall.

    There is plenty of upgrade potential with that board, have a look at the compatible CPUs:
    http://processormatch.intel.com/CompDB/SearchResult.aspx?BoardName=dq77kb

    The power brick you have linked to won't fit, it has the wrong connector. You need something like this:
    http://www.mini-box.com/19v-8-4A-160-Watt-AC-DC-Power-Adapter

    Steve



  • If price/size is of no concern and you want to get the most out of virtualization, I matched this motherboard/CPU pair to do the job:

    Motherboard
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121623

    CPU
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116503

    NICs
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833106033

    I am, however, known for overspecing systems out, so this might be way out of your ballpark.  I did use the same motherboard in my pfSense build but with an i3.  I have an i7-2600K on the shelf if the i3 starts getting overtaxes.  I doubt I'll ever use it.



  • The PSU model I got from Intel's compatibility chart on their pdf's (i attached to this post the jpg showing the chart). Interesting enough, you're right about that connection.

    A 130w-150w would be all that is needed. Anymore would just be wasted, no?

    Also, from my understanding of your replies, there is no way to get a pci(e) NIC to work with a thin mini-itx case?

    Thanks again!

    Edit: This looks like a nice case and there is room for the NIC by using a riser: http://www.g-alantic.com.tw/wp-content/uploads/Download-GA6503.pdf
    The only thing is that its a regular mini-itx, although made specifically for DC boards, and not internal power supplies.

    ![Intel DQ77KB Compatible PSU's.jpg](/public/imported_attachments/1/Intel DQ77KB Compatible PSU's.jpg)
    ![Intel DQ77KB Compatible PSU's.jpg_thumb](/public/imported_attachments/1/Intel DQ77KB Compatible PSU's.jpg_thumb)


  • Netgate Administrator

    Hmm, I see the chart but never the less it won't fit.  ::)

    @http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/cs-012037.htm:

    Desktop boards with a 19 VDC power connector

    These boards can use the following power supplies:

    External Power Supply – the board can be powered with a 19 VDC external power supply through the 19 VDC connector (A in the image below) on the back panel. The back panel connector accepts plugs with an inner diameter (ID) of 5.1 mm and an outer diameter (OD) of 7.4 mm, where the inner contact is 19 (±5%) VDC and the shell is GND.

    If you ever decide to fit a more powerful CPU you might need a larger power brick. That i3 will be fine though.

    Steve



  • Notes

    Power Bricks - If there's no ferrite choke on the cord, that would be a sign the manufacture is cutting corners!

    Motherboard - There might be problems with the Intel board you selected .. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121622 .. investigate the Newegg Customer Review complaints left by users, they may be valid concerns.

    I like most of Intel's hardware, but they can screw things up to…. after all they are human to.



  • Ok great, thanks Stephen!

    Looks like I have a final build:

    Seems like that should be everything then!

    Everyone, thank you very much!! :D I would like to start it in the next few weeks… would be a nice summer project!

    Edit: @Clear-Pixel: You seem to have posted while I was writing mine up too. It seems there are some problems with the board, but it seems there are just as many good reviews too... so like a 50/50 shot huh? If everything on the hard drive is backed up and the mobo fails, could I RMA it and have it all up and running as soon as it's installed? Do you have any recommendations for a power adapter?  Thanks.__



  • The concerns about the MB seem to be valid ghendi ….. You must investigate for yourself .... don't take anyone's word that everything's ok!
    From a IT perspective when your running server based software you can run into serious issues with some boards.

    Like I said a power supply such as this http://www.mini-box.com/19v-8-4A-160-Watt-AC-DC-Power-Adapter with no ferrite choke tells me they are cutting corners.

    My choice for a quality power supply would be HP TouchSmart 310 520 135W 19V AC Adapter Power Supply they do make higher powered bricks if needed.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/GENUINE-HP-TouchSmart-310-520-135W-19V-AC-Adapter-Power-Supply-Cord-Charger-/400343813708?pt=Laptop_Adapters_Chargers&hash=item5d3659ce4c

    _You're the one which will have to live with it, not them … always verify information!  _


  • Netgate Administrator

    Interesting. Surprised it doesn't have a choke. I guess it could have sufficient internal filtering.

    There are quite a few people using that board here on the forum, have a search around. I don't remember hearing about any problems with the NICs. It could be a Linux only driver issue.

    I'm not running that board myself though so I can only pass on what I've read.  ;)

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    Interesting. Surprised it doesn't have a choke. I guess it could have sufficient internal filtering.

    There are quite a few people using that board here on the forum, have a search around. I don't remember hearing about any problems with the NICs. It could be a Linux only driver issue.

    I'm not running that board myself though so I can only pass on what I've read.  ;)

    Steve

    I don't have a need to investigate the issue, but there seems to be a problem with Linux and the 82579LM and 82574L Intel chip combination.

    Speculation
    1. Its a direction Intel is headed in and the problem may have to be solved by the Linux community.
    2. Nic combination was never designed for Linux compatibility. If that's the case, from a IT perspective the board is unsuitable for IT use unless your running Windows based software.


  • Netgate Administrator

    FreeBSD doesn't seem to have an issue though.
    The 82574 is almost ubiquitous. It was the chip that had the 'packet of death' issue that turned out to be a badly programmed eeprom. Not Intel's fault and not a problem on their boards.
    I'm open to be corrected on that.

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    FreeBSD doesn't seem to have an issue though.
    The 82574 is almost ubiquitous. It was the chip that had the 'packet of death' issue that turned out to be a badly programmed eeprom. Not Intel's fault and not a problem on their boards.
    I'm open to be corrected on that.

    Steve

    What about the Intel BOXDQ77KB board and Linux?


  • Netgate Administrator

    I don't know what you're asking. I haven't seen any confirmed reports of the 'packet of death' on any board other than the one described (but not named) here: http://www.kriskinc.com/intel-pod. I personally tried it on a few NICs without incident.

    I was just pointing out that the reports of bad behavior on the review page are mostly concerning the Linux driver not FreeBSD.

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    I don't know what you're asking. I haven't seen any confirmed reports of the 'packet of death' on any board other than the one described (but not named) here: http://www.kriskinc.com/intel-pod. I personally tried it on a few NICs without incident.

    I was just pointing out that the reports of bad behavior on the review page are mostly concerning the Linux driver not FreeBSD.

    Steve

    The reason I am making a issue of this, is because it is a issue. If you spend $600 to $800 on a powerful custom build for IT related uses, and you can't even run VMware ESXi or Linux it would be foolish.

    A custom build will in most cases in its life span be used for a variety of IT purposes not just for Pfsense/FreeBSD.

    They say nothing about Linux Compatibility
    http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/cs-008326.htm
    Older discontinued boards did, but not new production boards as listed in the link above.

    Only conclusion that can be made, is they did not design this board to be used for Linux or FreeBSD it is a generic windows desktop board.

    Notes:
    Its been a couple of years since I've been in the market for a motherboard… so just out of curiosity I went to Newegg to have a gander at Customer Reviews statistics which I have found to be very useful in the past and more accurate than not. There seems to be some problems with the Intel and SuperMicro boards ..... The Mini ITX may not be the best choice as your choices will be limited. I don't like big packages but a Mico or full ATX might be the best path to find quality.

    Browsing through some of the Intel Desktop motherboard it seem as though they just might have removed all support for Linux ..... Just a hunch ..... would have to dig into it more to confirm. But if you look at there out of production boards they are supporting Linux Fully or to a limited extent ..... New production boards they mention nothing of Linux ...... If this is true you may have to go to a Server classified board to get full Linux support.

    This is not Good at all people, if this wild hunch is true and other manufacture follow suit ..... It might cost you more for a fully compatible Linux motherboard.



  • oh wow…. so this is something to really be cautious about...

    so hold of on this build and look for a micro atx setup?



  • I would hold off ….. going on Vacation starting tomorrow so I wont have time to research all motherboard options for you.

    There are many knowledgeable helpful people on the forum that can hook you up with a quality board that will be flexible and have minimum issues.

    Keep in mind I'm very picky and don't like having to deal with poorly engineered hardware. Its enough of a headache having to deal with buggy open source software ..... add in incompatible/buggy hardware just complicates things even more and could prevent you from doing what needs to be accomplished.

    Again, as I was snooping around Intel documents today I found out Intel has dropped all support for Linux on there current desktop motherboards. Some will tell you O that's no big deal, Linux/FreeBSD runs fine on mine…. I assure you Intel has a very good reason for not listing support for Linux on there current production boards.

    I just don't know enough about what all has changed on these new production boards for Intel to behave like this. So I cant truly judge the risk, so all I can say at the moment is advise you to avoid them all together.

    No motherboard manufactures wants to claim Linux support anymore >:(



  • Searching for support documents on other brands such as Asus, ASRock, MSI, GIGABYTE …. no one wants to comment to support for Linux any more it seems. Guess thing have changed a bit over the years for the motherboard manufactures.

    Still doesn't change the possible Linux problems at hand with the dual nic issue with the (82579LM and 82574L) Worst case scenario most likely would be deactivating the on-board nics and use a PCI-E dual nic card, which would be a wasteful F'd up way to go.....

    To make sure you have full compatibility with FreeBSD, VMware ESXi and Linux is to hunt down post in the forums over the web looking for issues.

    Brands with Best odds for 99.5% Linux Compatibility
    Intel
    SuperMicro
    Tyan

    Good luck ghendi

    Why in the heck are these board manufactures putting two different Ethernet chipsets onboard ???



  • Thanks Clear-Pixel for all your help and research. This was going to be my summer project but it seems like its going to be delayed a bit until more info can be found out. But all this means that it will affect the NAS I was about to start to build since I will be running FreeNAS… I have to find out what's going on. Going to be anxiously waiting for those Intel updates.

    Although, maybe a server mobo mini-itx like: Intel DBS1200KPR Mini ITX Server Motherboard LGA 1155 Intel C206 (or Intel's website) and drop the Intel NIC and just use the dual gigabit on the board. That should save also about $150.

    Edit: It seems after opening up the product's specifications pdf, it has two separate ethernet controllers (82574L and 82579LM) so that would be an issue as well. Instead, it may seem like it's time to move up to the micro-atx boards and go with the SUPERMICRO MBD-X9SCL+-F, which has the same ethernet controllers for both ports. That should be alright with Linux systems, right?

    Edit 2: How about using the X9SCL+-F mobo with the Cooler Master Elite 100 Case for ~$70? That should power everything, keep a nice small footprint, and comes with (FSP150-50LE relabeled as RS-150-FSGA-J3) FSP 150w PSU.  Know anything about this?

    Edit 3: Searched everywhere for the Coolermaster Elite 100, but none left in stock. Anyone know of a similar case, or knows somewhere that is selling it?


  • Netgate Administrator

    Whilst I agree that research is a good idea and knowing all you can before spending hundreds of dollars is certainly a good idea I think you might be making more of this than is necessary.

    First of all, for anyone who didn't realise yet, FreeBSD is not Linux. I have not seen any reports of issues with FreeBSD and either of those NICs, other than 'packet of death' which is OS independent but doesn't apply here. So in the short to medium term you can be fairly confident of not having problems running either pfSense or FreeNAS.

    Intel write their own drivers for FreeBSD and are considered the most compatible NICs to have.

    The reason the NICs are different on the DQ77BK is that one supports Intel AMT, not a bad thing.

    Steve



  • About the ALN chipsets:

    82574L - is supported by pfSense and ESXi.

    82579LM - is supported by pfSense and NOT by ESXi.

    I can confirm the above first hand, I am using an Intel BOXDQ77MK for both a bare metal pfSense install and ESXi.  The reason the 82579LM isn't supported in any *NIX is 100% due to the lack of a driver.  There is an ESXi user patch to enable it, but I prefer to run very clean systems.  I solved it with the addition of a $30 Intel NIC that was supported.



  • I think I'm going to go with the Supermicro X9SCL+-F mobo with the onoard dual Intel 82574L gigabit controllers, in the COOLER MASTER Elite 120, and the picoPSU-150-XT + 150W Adapter Power Kit. To cover up the gaping hole in the back of the case for the regular atx ps2 psu, I found a guy who does backplates with 4 pin din connector, a fan hole, and grill: http://outsidethestb.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-about-backplates-covers-for.html. This seems to be the right way to go, especially because this motherboard and case will be good for future expandability. What do you think?


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