Pfsense on Fortinet / Fortigate-50

  • Hi, Recently I aquired two Fortigate-50 devices.

    I would like to convert them to pfsense boxes.

    I searched the web and could not find any meaningful hardware specifications.
    I pulled the lid off the device to have a look.

    Of note:

    • It has a CF card
    • It has a PCI slot
    • 2 * Realtek Ethhernet chips/controllers (RTL8139C) {one External and one Internal port}
    • 8 * "vc36641641dt" memory chips but I have no idea how much RAM this is in total..?
    • Board is marked with "EM542B v1.2"

    I realise that this is not much info really, but i'm not much of a hardware type person so I have no idea if this is an x86 based device or something proprietary..?

    Is there something i should be looking at to provide this information?

    Comments appreciated..


  • flash a cfcard with the embedded image and plug it in. Check the serial console and try to boot it up. Worst thing that will habben is that it won't boot  ;)

  • couldn't nail down what architecture these boxes run on, but this:


    133MHz processor, 64MB of RAM…

    not enough for pfsense imo ? maybe m0n0wall if it is x86
    not sure they are talking about the cpu or some accelerator chip but here's this:

    All FortiGate hardware platforms feature FortiASIC™ processors

  • Cheers for the replies.

    I guess I was/am hesitant to flash the device if there is no chance of it working, however suppose that I can image the fortinet and revert should m0n0wall and/or pfsense prove incompatible.

    All i need to grab now is a CF card reader.

    .. will keep the forum posted.

    Cheers  ;D

  • Just take another CF card.
    An old 128 MB card is enough for pfSense and for monowall even a 16 MB card is enough :)

  • pfSense will run on 64 mb but it's not supported and you will encounter random killing of services if you hit the box too hard (like when tunring on too many features). FortiASIC processors sounds like they have some kind of encryption accelerator added. Guess those most likely won't be supported but who knows, maybe it's something standard and that FortiASIC is just a marketing term. I also would just use annother flash card so it's easier to revert back if pfSense or m0n0wall doesn't work with the device.

  • "Fortinet offers a variety of Firewall and Antivirus Products (the
         FortiGate and FortiWiFi product series), on which Fortinet claims to
         run the "FortiOS" operating system. However, as the
         project uncovered, "FortiOS" is using the Linux operating system
         kernel and numerous other free software products that are licensed
         exclusively under the GNU GPL. This information was not disclosed
         by Fortinet."

    guess they lost a lawsuit in Germany.  sounds like these Forti guys suck, hope you're successful putting something else on there

  • The Fortigate 50A has 128MB Ram and 50B has 256M.

    You can put another operating system on it, but you have to reprogramme the bios for it to work, because Fortinet is using their own bios so it only boots with FortiOS image.

    They´re using a regular MicroStar Motherboard for the small appliances, along with these they have different ASIC chipsets for VPN acceleration etc, but I don´t know if they´re using them in the small appliances.

  • Hi Gorken,

    How would I reprogram the BIOS? Is there a BIOS/firmware that I could flash it with or must this be done manually?


  • @c.lakey:

    Hi Gorken,

    How would I reprogram the BIOS? Is there a BIOS/firmware that I could flash it with or must this be done manually?


    does the motherboard have keyboard or usb inputs ?  might have to pull the board from enclosure to hook one up, along with a pci vga card
    should be able to access the bios that way, I guess you'd need to identify the motherboard and locate a standard bios for it and flash it via booting fron a floppy or cd

  • @Valhalla1:

    does the motherboard have keyboard or usb inputs ?

    No keyboard or usb inputs.
      2* RJ45
      1* serial/console

    There is a 4 pin connector on the board - it looks like a FDD power cable connector, and is marked on the board PS1.

    Is PS1 the predecessor to PS2?
    I read this link (and sublinks) but were confusing and probably not that relevant..

    Is it possible to flash bios from a serial connection..? (I suppose I should just hook it up and see what output I get  :))


  • It's possible from serial console. soekris and pcengines boards can be flashed that way as well so why should it be impossible for that device. For alix you can use a cfcard with freedos but there is an other option as well where you break into the biossettings at bootup and transfer the biosimage via the serial console (zmodem file transfer iirc).

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