Will a Dell inspiron 700m work as pfSense box?



  • Ok, so I'm extremely new to all of this pfSense and networking in general, but I really like the idea of having a firewall that actually means something. I'm also trying to teach myself some VPN. That said, i'd like to experiment with this on what i have lying around to start, and maybe upgrade later when i really get a hang of things.

    I'm hoping to have it run a firewall and act as a VPN server. It only has one LAN port, but it does have a PC card slot on the side for possible expansion. It has 2gb ddr ram and a 765 Dothan chip.

    am I dreaming? Thanks for all your help!


  • Banned

    Put an additional NIC card in the box and go for it. For SOHO use with some "normal" ISP this will do the trick and you can learn a lot at nearly no costs… ;-)



  • There are a couple of options re: second NIC.

    1. Instead of adding a second NIC, use a VLAN.  Requires a VLAN capable switch (smart/managed switch).

    2. Add a PC card NIC.

    My DELL Inspiron 5100 has PCMCIA slot.  When first starting out I just threw in an old 10 mbit card I had laying around.  Then once I had a smart switch, changed to VLAN and never looked back.  Works very well.



  • You guys are awesome. Thanks for the fast replies! A couple more questions if you don't mind…

    You said it should be fine with a NIC express card. I'm planning on trying to make this a "man in the middle" between the modem and router, would that pose a complication, or throttle back the internet if i do that? i'm only getting 20m down, so it doesn't have to be amazing, but i value what speed i can get.

    It should also be said that the NIC i'd get would probably be one of the cheapest available. Not exactly, but along these lines: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16839328041

    Since the cheaper NIC's only have one port, my setup would have the modem going into the NIC and then the laptop's own ethernet port will go to the router.

    I can't wait to try all this!



  • Be sure to verify the PC card NIC chip set against the supported hardware list.  No sure where the list resides but it is around somewhere.  Maybe someone can post a link or you can search for it.



  • OK, I had already been looking at the list, but on the pfSense homepage, they also state that intel NIC chipsets have always been the best. I've found a few old used intel pc cards, but I don't think that any of them are using the X3201 chipset, which looks like the only one officially supported on the freebsd site.

    Does it matter that much for me to have an Intel? Or will any supported NIC be good enough?

    (for your reference, he list is here: https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=25.msg58#msg58)



  • Does it matter that much for me to have an Intel? Or will any supported NIC be good enough?

    The intel and Chelsio cards are at this moment the best supported cards with accommodated drivers in pfSense.



  • OK. Thank you for clarification. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any intel or Chelsio cards in the cardbus format, so I just bought a DFE-690TXD o
    For $15, because  it's supported by freebsd. Now I just have to wait for it to come in the mail. Here's to hoping it works well!

    Thank you all so much for your help so far! It's very encouraging.



  • I'm hoping to have it run a firewall and act as a VPN server. It only has one LAN port, but it does have a PC card slot…

    I was thinking of a normal PCIe slot by reading this line above.

    If this might be a PCMCIA slot please perform the following steps;

    • Find out what kind of PCMCIA slot this is (I,II or III)
    • Find out which voltage is supported (3V or 5V)
    • Find out what kind of PCMCIA card is supported by the PCMCIA slot on your Laptop (34mm or 54mm)
    • Find a PCMCIA NIC that is matching this criteria and what kind of network chip is soldered on it (Intel, Realtek)
    • Now have a look of what chip is supported under or from pfSense 2.2.x latest version and buy the right card.

    K. Thank you for clarification. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any intel or Chelsio cards in the cardbus format, so I just bought a DFE-690TXD o

    The named above Chelsio or Intel cards were more PCIe slot related, because I was miss understanding
    your statement you made in your opening post. (please read above)

    For $15, because  it's supported by freebsd. Now I just have to wait for it to come in the mail. Here's to hoping it works well!

    Hoping is not really helping in computers and networking, so if this will matching your PCMCIA slot numbers
    you will be happy about this cheap shot. if not please go the following way named above by me.

    Thank you all so much for your help so far! It's very encouraging.



  • I am sorry that I wasn't clearer in my description, and since this laptop is so old, it's hard to get a lot of documentation on it, however, I did happen upon one site that said it is a type II PC Card Slot Supporting CardBus only.

    That said, I searched though the supported cards on freebsd for cardbus NIC's and came across the one I mentioned.

    The website i finally found the info at was here:

    http://tech.madcatsden.com/Resources/DCSE/Portables/Inspiron/700m/Basicfeatures.htm


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