New router: pfSense

pfSense apu1c4A couple years ago, we upgraded to the horrifically expensive Netgear D6200, which served us admirably while we’ve had our ADSL in Horsham. Unfortunately, though it claims to be “NBN ready”, when the NBN rolls out in Horsham next month (allegedly), it will be presented as a VDSL socket in the wall, and our modem/router doesn’t do VDSL!

So I went to Harvey Norman and picked up the only VDSL-capable modem they had (a Netgear DM200), but I still didn’t much care for our router’s software anyway. I’d bemoaned this on IRC, and mentioned that I’d probably use the opportunity to replace it with something FreeBSD-powered, and Andys on IRC took pity on me and decided to mail me an old PC Engines APU1 board he wasn’t using - extremely generous!

It arrived today, so once I found a suitable PSU and some media to use as a boot device, I set about trying it out. I used Rufus to write the pfSense image to a USB stick, and it booted and displayed the serial console. In very short order I was up and running, so I started updating it and configuring things the way I want them. I was originally going to drop FreeBSD-proper on it, but I might just stick with PFSense as it seems pretty reasonable.

It’s the apu1c4 model - 4GB RAM, 1GHz dual-core CPU, three gigabit ethernet interfaces. Good stuff. It came in the blue anodized case. Rather than leave a USB stick hanging out the back of it I used an 8GB SD card in it, and I found an appropriate - if way overspec - power supply for it: the PSU for an old AOC monitor (12vdc @ 3.5amps, no concern with lack of available power there).

So far there’s only been a few hiccups - Exetel’s PPPoE server doesn’t seem to want to work over the new modem - whether on the modem itself or on pfSense’s client. PPPoA works on the modem, but this stupid modem has no way to hand off the WAN IP to the router, so double-NAT is the only supported configuration. With any luck our NBN order will go through late next week, so I haven’t fussed about with it too much, but for now it’s preventing things like Multiplayer on the Playstation 4 from working correctly (can’t host games, etc). I’m hoping when we get hooked up to VDSL, that PPPoE on pfSense “just works” and that problem goes away on its own.

The only other concern is that this thing runs really toasty - idle temps are typically around the 55C mark, and it’s quite cool in the house. I attached some feet to the bottom of it, because the heat spreader mates the CPU and bridge to the bottom of the alloy case, and so I thought getting it off the surface it’s sitting on might improve things, but it doesn’t appear to have made any meaningful difference.

Now we just have to wait for the new connection to get lit up!

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle



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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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