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What is pfSense?

pfSense is a free, open-source firewall and router that also features unified threat management, load balancing, multi-WAN, and more. It is based on FreeBSD and can be installed on nearly any x86-64 hardware platform as long as it can support two or more network interfaces. pfSense comes in two different versions: Community Edition and pfSense Plus. The Community Edition is free and open source, while pfSense Plus is free for home and lab use but requires a paid license for commercial use.

It can be configured and upgraded through a web-based interface, requiring no knowledge of the underlying FreeBSD system to manage. pfSense is commonly deployed as a perimeter firewall, router, wireless access point, DHCP server, DNS server, and VPN endpoint. pfSense can also be installed on a physical computer or a virtual machine. It can be deployed anywhere and configured to handle a wide range of networking and security tasks from home use to enterprise level.

What do I use pfSense for?

I use pfSense Plus, which has a few extra features like boot environments that allow easy rollback to an earlier version or configuration. I use HAProxy as a reverse proxy for my internal and external services. I also use both OpenVPN and WireGuard for remote access to my network, but I prefer WireGuard because it is faster and lighter than OpenVPN. I use ntopng for network monitoring and traffic analysis and Graylog for all the logs. Static DHCP is also an excellent feature for assigning static IPs to my devices. I also run a NUT server on it to monitor my UPS and use it to shut down my servers when the power goes out for a long time.

I started with a small mini pc ( ODYSSEY - X86J4105 ) from Seeed Studio with two 1Gbe network ports and a Celeron J4105 and 8GB of RAM.

ODYSSEY - X86J4105 ODYSSEY - X86J4105 dark Source: https://www.amazon.de/-/en/gp/product/B08FT4WHQN

It was good to start with, but I soon needed faster networking, so I bought a Topton J41225 /4x.25GbE with 4 Intel i226 2.5GbE ports. I used my own 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

Topton J41225 Topton J41225 Source: https://www.aliexpress.com/store/2546008

A small warning when ordering from Topton on AliExpress, the heatsink might not be the same as the one in the pictures when ordering. I got a bigger case than the small box case on the website.

Serve the Home has great reviews of these pfSense Mini PC’s: here.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.