pfSense : a software alternative to your old router/firewall

My old D-Link router, like pretty much every other router I’ve ever owned, wasn’t very reliable in some way and so I was looking for open-source alternative firmwares like Tomato to flash it with. With the clear lack of effort put into the official firmwares, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try. Unfortunately, my router wasn’t supported by any third party firmware.

During my search, I however stumbled upon pfSense, a Free-BSD based router/firewall distro. It’s small (<100mb), runs on a 100MHz PC and includes all the features you would get on a very expensive commercial router (Firewall, NAT, VPN server, usage graphs, dynamic DNS support, per-ip bandwidth usage, QoS, etc).

Throughput on WAN interface

I already had a dedicated fileserver so I installed pfSense as a VM on it using VMWare (I could also have done it with VirtualBox, a free alternative to VMWare). All you need are two NICs. I now only use my old router as a wireless access point because pfSense naturally has a DHCP server. I could even completely let go of my D-Link router if I added a wireless NIC in my server.

If you have an old PC lying around or one that could be a host to a pfSense VM, all you might need is an extra NIC to get an enterprise-grade router that will cooperate a lot more than any cheap 50$ D-Link/Linksys/Netgear/etc router.

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