Testing / Install
I had a 2GB CompactFlash card kicking around so I decided to use it in the x500. All it took was downloading the 2GB embedded image from the pfSense web site, downloading the
physdiskwrite software for Windows. Deleting the partitions from the CF card and then running the physdiskwrite software to write the image out to the CF. The image itself takes up the entire 2GB of the compact flash card so it took a few minutes to write out.
Once writing was done it was simply just a matter of removing the original 64MB CompactFlash card from the firewall and inserting the new card in.
The firewall turned on started booting the pfSense image immediately. However, there seems to be a bug with the embedded copy of pfSense because once it ends up on “Bootup Complete” it does not continue on to the shell menu that basic configuration can be done.
The fact that the console freezes seems to have no effect on the operation of the firewall. The LAN interface comes up and automatically starts handing out DHCP addresses. The web interface is also fully functional.
After standard wizard configuration the pfSense firewall is ready to be used. I’ve ran some quick throughput benchmarks and with just basical FW and NAT enabled I was able to saturate the 100Mbit ports as I was copying a file between WAN/LAN at 11MB/s. During the transfer CPU on the firewall hovered around 36%.
The last thing I wanted to get working was to enable the LCD Display on the firewall. This is again quite trivial because pfSense already provides a package for this. The LCDproc-dev package is the one that contains the necessary driver to enable screen and button functionality.
The entire process of converting this Firebox x500 to pfSense took about 20 minutes, most of which was spent waiting for the physdiskwrite to write the 2GB image to the rather slow CF card. Took me another 30 minutes to add all the extra functionality. I’ll most likely toss this firewall into one of the datacenters as some of my racks are only on 100Mbit uplinks so the x500 will not be a bottleneck.
I have ordered a few more higher end Fireboxes to play with. Those come with Gigabit interfaces and faster processors. Can’t wait to tear into those.