Setup pfSense as WAP



  • First of all, I don't really know if I'm in the right section or even right forum for that matter but I hope someone can help.

    I have an ESXi server running at home and want to virtualize pfSense but I also want pfSense to be my WAP.

    My current ESXi server (a Dell XPS8300) doesnt allow passthrough (no VT-d support on my i5 CPU) so I can't figure out how to get pfSense to see the wifi PCIe card. Am I screwed with this setup and need to build a new server that allows passthrough via VT-d or IOMMU? Or is there a way around this?

    Thank you for you help and advice in advance.


  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    You are asking a VMware question on a pfSense forum.  You'll maybe get more responses over at VMware.

    That said, I don't see anything you can do if VMware doesn't pass the PCI adapter through.

    You could just get an AP and plug it into the right VLAN.



  • I plan on a similar project with pfSense running Xen 6.5 server where i noticed that Atheros AR5BXB72 is on the hardware passthru list. I have not tried it yet but would like to hear about similar projects. I need a week off!!! No but i really always hit a road block with administering Xen with their .Net requirement for Xen Center. I loath that stinkhole .Net. I tried Alpine Linux to admin, but did'nt really like it. I guess I am going to bite the bullet and do .Net and windows. Any other alternatives I have missed?


  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    Yeah. A real, purpose-built AP plugged into your Ethernet. What is the fascination with wifi adapters?



  • Yea SDN/SDR is all the rave. Ain't you heard?
    I actually find myself using my pfMiFi at work. I have to do CAD drawings on the boat sometimes, so its nice to bring my own network.. Fact is I like just wifi card in my tablet. With pfMiFi -One SIM-. Many computers.

    I would like to virtualize it with Xen and add a side helping of Nas4Free



  • Use any linux and kvm instead of esxi. Then you can use the wifi adapter natively on the linux host with hostap.


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    There is one thing to bring your own hotspot with your phone or device from your cell provider, etc.  There is another to use a card in your computer to connect wifi to you wired network..  Why anyone would actually want to do this is beyond me..

    Any old wifi router can be used as AP..  You can buy tiny small AP, you can buy AP with shit load of features and coverage.. You can place this AP anywhere your wired network is for best coverage.  Why you want to use some client card in your computer/esxi/host/router distro box as AP is beyond stupid if you ask me.

    Get the number of AP to properly cover the area you want to support wifi on and there you go.  Very low budget if has to be..  More than likely you have some older model wifi router you could use, or again they can be had for $20 anywhere.  Or you could do it right with say  $70 unifi AP, or whatever else suites your fancy.

    That being said - if you can not do passthru on esxi, then use some other visualization, or pick up some usb stick – you should be able to pass that through.. Sure your wifi will rock with that and cost you more than actual AP most likely ;)



  • @Derelict:

    You are asking a VMware question on a pfSense forum.  You'll maybe get more responses over at VMware.
    Yes, I know but I thought someone might have already run into this and either had a solution or knew that it was useless
    That said, I don't see anything you can do if VMware doesn't pass the PCI adapter through.
    Thank you.
    You could just get an AP and plug it into the right VLAN.
    Im doing this right now but would like to get rid of the AP since it is old and slow

    @Derelict:

    Yeah. A real, purpose-built AP plugged into your Ethernet. What is the fascination with wifi adapters?
    My WAP is old and slow. I have a a/b/g/n/ac adapter sitting doing nothing.

    @thermo:

    Use any linux and kvm instead of esxi. Then you can use the wifi adapter natively on the linux host with hostap.
    My work uses ESXi host and I want to learn more about it. I learn better by doing than just reading

    @johnpoz:

    There is one thing to bring your own hotspot with your phone or device from your cell provider, etc.  There is another to use a card in your computer to connect wifi to you wired network..  Why anyone would actually want to do this is beyond me..

    Any old wifi router can be used as AP..  You can buy tiny small AP, you can buy AP with shit load of features and coverage.. You can place this AP anywhere your wired network is for best coverage. Why you want to use some client card in your computer/esxi/host/router distro box as AP is beyond stupid if you ask me.
    How nice. This is pretty much a toy that I want to experiment with and see if I like it. I have a PC that is always running for my media server so why not virtualize that and use more of the PC resources with other functions like pfSense and other OSes to test on and learn ESXi in the process
    Get the number of AP to properly cover the area you want to support wifi on and there you go.  Very low budget if has to be..  More than likely you have some older model wifi router you could use, or again they can be had for $20 anywhere.  Or you could do it right with say  $70 unifi AP, or whatever else suites your fancy.
    What is lower budget that free? My current router is a slow aging N router and I have an a/b/g/n/ac card sitting doing nothing right now. Plus my house is not large and my home office is centrally located on the second floor so even an old WRT54 router covered the entire house

    That being said - if you can not do passthru on esxi, then use some other visualization, or pick up some usb stick – you should be able to pass that through.. Sure your wifi will rock with that and cost you more than actual AP most likely ;)


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    And what card to you have exactly?  And what is your N router?  Most cards are 2x2 streams at best.  Do you have AC clients?  If not that card having AC gets you nothing.  Where did you get the card, someone gave it to you for free?  Because AC pc cards are not all that cheap.  Never in my life seen a dual band card that would allow you to have both 2.4 and 5ghz up a the same time, etc.

    You do understand 5ghz N and AC is only 5 is lot less coverage than a 2.4..  So sticking some little card in a box you have in the corner is not going to give you much coverage.

    I am all for experimenting..  Please do fire up pfsense its a great product, and I love running mine on esxi.. But wanting to use it as an AP is just not something you should be toying with to be honest, not when you could pick up a dual band N access point for pennies.

    If your going to want to play on improving your network - trying to stick some pc card into your host and use it a AP is just not the right road to go down..  That is my personal and professional opinion, take it or leave it.



  • @johnpoz:

    And what card to you have exactly? http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EKQN2KK/?tag=pcpapi-20 And what is your N router? http://www.linksys.com/en-eu/products/routers/WRT160NL Most cards are 2x2 streams at best.  Do you have AC clients?  If not that card having AC gets you nothing.  Where did you get the card, someone gave it to you for free? My Dad's office motherboard died. Because AC pc cards are not all that cheap.  Never in my life seen a dual band card that would allow you to have both 2.4 and 5ghz up a the same time, etc. This is exactly why Im doing this. To Learn. I did not know this

    You do understand 5ghz N and AC is only 5 is lot less coverage than a 2.4..  So sticking some little card in a box you have in the corner is not going to give you much coverage.
    I told you. My house is not large and my home office is centrally located on the second floor.

    I am all for experimenting..  Please do fire up pfsense its a great product, and I love running mine on esxi.. But wanting to use it as an AP is just not something you should be toying with to be honest, not when you could pick up a dual band N access point for pennies.
    Why exactly should I not toy with it? What will it hurt? Im going to be honest with you here. After have my idea being called "beyond stupid" and this post here, I feel Im being attacked for asking a question and wanting to try something. I know I can't read tone and body language through text so I could be taking this wrong but I dont think so.

    If your going to want to play on improving your network - trying to stick some pc card into your host and use it a AP is just not the right road to go down..  That is my personal and professional opinion, take it or leave it.


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