How to install pfSense

pfSense is a free and open-source network firewall distribution based on the FreeBSD operating system. It’s feature-rich, widely adopted, and can be installed on a dedicated physical machine, a virtual machine, or even a bootable USB stick.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install pfSense:

Preparation:

  1. System Requirements: Make sure your system meets the minimum requirements. As of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021, pfSense requires a system with at least 500 MHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM, and a minimum of 4 GB of disk space. Check the official website for the most updated system requirements.
  2. Download pfSense: Visit the pfSense website and download the appropriate version of pfSense. The version you choose depends on your system’s architecture (AMD64 or ARM), and how you want to install it (ISO, Memstick, etc.).
  3. Prepare Installation Media: Burn the downloaded ISO file to a CD if you are going to install pfSense on a physical machine. If you are going to install it on a virtual machine, you just need the ISO file. If you are planning to use a USB stick for installation, write the downloaded file to a USB drive.

Installation:

  1. Boot from Media: Insert the CD/USB drive into the system where you want to install pfSense. Power on the system and make sure it is set to boot from the correct drive.
  2. Start the Installation: Once the system boots from the correct media, you’ll be presented with the pfSense welcome screen. Press ‘Enter’ to start the installation.
  3. Accept the Copyright Notice and EULA: Review and accept the End User License Agreement to proceed.
  4. Select Install Type: You’ll be asked what type of installation you want to proceed with. Choose ‘Quick/Easy Install’ for a basic setup. The installer will warn you that the selected hard drive will be erased. Make sure you don’t have any important data on it before you proceed.
  5. Select File System: You’ll be asked to choose the type of file system. You can choose UFS for a typical installation.
  6. Choose Partitioning: For most installations, you can select the ‘Auto (UFS)’ option, which will automatically partition your drive for pfSense.
  7. Wait for Installation to Complete: The installer will now install pfSense on your system. This process may take a few minutes.
  8. Reboot System: Once the installation is finished, remove your installation media (CD/USB), and reboot the system.
  9. Configuration Wizard: After rebooting, you can access the web-based interface using any system on the same network. Enter the pfSense machine’s LAN IP address into a web browser. The default address is http://192.168.1.1. You should be greeted with the configuration wizard where you can set your time zone, configure your WAN interface, set up DHCP, etc.

Remember to update your pfSense to the latest version once you finish your installation to ensure that you have the latest features and security patches. The updating process can be done directly from the web interface. Also, remember to backup your configuration regularly especially before you do any major changes to the system.

These steps should guide you through a basic installation of pfSense. Depending on your specific needs, you might need to configure other settings such as firewall rules, VPN setup, etc.