pfSense Tutorial

pfSense Tutorial
pfSense Tutorial
BSDCan 2008
From zero to hero with pfSense
May 13, 2008
Chris Buechler <>
Scott Ullrich <>
History of pfSense
Started as a work project 13 years ago when we needed a
internal firewall
Originally Linux, switched to FreeBSD 2.2
Evolution of this path shrunk the firewall down to a Soekris
Moatware was started
Met Chris Buechler during this time
Sell a number of products
Sales guy moves to Florida
Moatware fails
Chris and myself debate starting over fresh
pfSense is forked from m0n0wall roughly 4 years ago
Still going strong today
pfSense Overview
Customized FreeBSD distribution tailored for use as a
firewall and router.
pfSense has many base features and can be extended with
the package system including one touch installations of
popular 3rd party packages such as SpamD (spam filter)
and Squid (web caching).
Includes many features found in commercial products such
as Cisco PIX, Sonicwall, Watchguard, etc.
Many support avenues available, mailing lists, forum and
commercial support.
Has the best price on the planet.... Free!
pfSense Platforms
Live CD
Full Install
pfSense Stable Versions
1.0 - October 4, 2006 *
1.0.1 - October 20, 2006 *
1.2 - RELENG_1_2 - February 25, 2008
Downloaded more than 500,000 times to date
* Not branched in CVS
pfSense Development Versions
Current Development Versions
Snapshots are built every two hours
available at
Bonus for attendees - 1.3 snapshots available
Minimum Hardware Requirements
CPU - 100 MHz (500+ MHz for best experience)
RAM - 128 MB (256 MB or more is encouraged)
Platform Specific
Live CD
CD-ROM drive (currently USB CD-ROM devices are not supported)
USB flash drive or floppy drive to store configuration
Full Installation
CD-ROM for initial installation
1 GB hard drive
128 MB CF
serial port for console
null modem cable
Popular hardware
NICs - Intel Pro/100 and Pro/1000
Embedded hardware
PC Engines WRAP and ALIX
Mini ITX
Most Dell servers work well
Many HP and Compaq servers work well
VMware - entire product line
Hardware Sizing Guidance
Throughput Considerations
Packets per second
Bandwidth required
10-20 Mbps - No less than 266 MHz CPU
21-50 Mbps - No less than 500 MHz CPU
51-200 Mbps - No less than 1.0 GHz CPU
201-500 Mbps - server class or newer desktop hardware
PCI-x or PCI-e network adapters
No less than 2.0 GHz CPU
501+ Mbps - server class hardware
PCI-x or PCI-e network adapters
No less than 3.0 GHz CPU
Hardware Sizing Guidance
Feature Considerations
Number of connections not much of a factor
Very CPU intensive
4 Mb - 266 MHz
10 Mb - 500 MHz
Hardware Sizing Guidance
Feature Considerations
Large and busy Captive Portal deployments
Increased CPU requirements
Large state tables
1 KB per state RAM requirement
100,000 states = ~97 MB RAM
500,000 states = ~488 MB RAM
1,000,000 states = ~976 MB RAM
One million states!
Hardware Sizing Guidance
Feature Considerations
RAM hungry
Disk I/O
Common Deployments
(that we're aware of)
Perimeter firewall
BGP router
LAN router
Multiple interfaces
WAN router
for Ethernet WAN services
Common Deployments
(that we're aware of)
Appliance deployments
DHCP server
VPN server
Packet capture appliance
Portable monitoring and incident response
Organizations Using pfSense
(that we're aware of)
Advertising Agencies
Application service providers
Credit unions
Coffee shops
Co-location facilities
Clothing/Apparel manufacturers
Cable TV networks
Small to mid sized ISPs
Movie studios
... and many more!
Classless InterDomain Routing (CIDR)
CIDR Summarization
Allows specification of IP ranges
Firewall rules
Must fall in subnet boundaries
Examples - = - =
Live Demo s
Running the LiveCD using a USB Keychain.
Full installation to hard disk.
Live Demo
Full installation using LiveCD.
Advanced Installation Techniques
Live Demo s
Installing to drive in VMware
Installing with drive in another machine
Initial Configuration
Assigning network interfaces
Setting the LAN IP address
Browsing into the pfSense webConfigurator
Walk through the initial setup wizard
Setup firewall rules for LAN and WAN interfaces
Setup any additional NAT port forwards or 1:1 entries
Ensure FTP helper is working as needed
Firewall aliases
Allows grouping of multiple IPs, subnets or ports.
Can vastly simplify and reduce your rule sets.
Red input boxes are alias friendly.
Firewall - VIPs
Additional public IPs for use with NAT
CARP deployments
Firewall - VIPs
Proxy ARP
Firewall Rules
Firewall rules are always evaluated on incoming traffic
(therefore rules have to go to the interface tha traffic is
initiated from)
If a connection was allowed (like a client at LAN requesting
a webpage from a server at WAN) it will create a state. The
reverse connection (the server at WAN sending the content
to the client at LAN) will then be allowed automatically (no
rule at interface WAN is needed).
Rules are always applied on a first match basis from top to
Firewall Rules - Troubleshooting
Enable logging on rules
Check firewall log in Status -> System logs -> Firewall
Click action icon (block, pass, reject)
Source port is not the same as destination port
Diagnostics -> States offers additional information for
passed traffic especially in multi-WAN environments
WAN rules - NAT applies first
Use private IPs as destination
in NAT rules
Internal network(s) to Internet
Internet to internal network(s)
Default Configuration
NAT to WAN IP (or to any OPT-Interface that has a
gateway set)
Nothing permitted
NAT - Inbound
Simple port forwarding
1:1 NAT
Does not forward connections from the LAN -> WAN -> LAN
without enabling NAT Reflection
NAT - 1:1
Slightly different process than with other commercial products:
Create a VIP (only CARP IPs can be used by the firewall itself,
other VIPs can only be forwarded)
Create a 1:1 NAT mapping between the VIP and an internal host
Create firewall rules allowing traffic the the internal host address
Troubleshooting - ICMP doesn't work with PARP; 1:1 NAT won't
work with NAT-reflection
NAT - Outbound
Default configuration
NAT all traffic out WAN to WAN IP
NAT all traffic out OPT WANs to OPT WAN IP
Advanced Outbound NAT
Manual NAT rule creation
Static Port
Live demo
FTP Considerations
When using the FTP Helper and VIPs, the type must be set
to CARP.
FTP only works on primary WAN
The helper can be disabled if you wish to port forward TCP
port 21 and the TCP data port ranges that are setup in the
FTP server (or use 1:1 NAT). Don't forget to permit the
traffic with firewall rules!
Ability to use multiple Internet connections
Most are dual WAN
Multiple installs with 6 or more WANs
Why use multi-WAN?
Provide Internet redundancy
Aggregate bandwidth
Interface configuration
Policy routing overview
Load balancing caveats
Some applications do not work with load balancing (like
https, ftp, sip ... use failoverpools for these)
Do not use sticky connections (apparently broken)
Caveats: Services running on pfSense (like squid, DNS,
IPsec) can't make use of load balancing or policy based
routing. They will use the system's default gateway (you'll
need to add some static routes for DNS servers or IPsecendpoints on OPT WANs)
Multi-WAN - Choosing Connectivity
Check and price available service
Metro Ethernet
Fixed wireless
Disparate ISP networks
Cable path
Multi-WAN - Choosing Connectivity
Cable seeking backhoe
Multi-WAN - Choosing Connectivity
Cable paths
Copper services
Cable services
Fiber services
Metro Ethernet
Fixed Wireless
Multi-WAN and Outbound NAT
Default outbound NAT config
Translates outbound traffic to IP of WAN used
Advanced Outbound NAT
Multi-WAN and Inbound NAT
Each port forward applies to one WAN
Multi-WAN and 1:1 NAT
Each 1:1 NAT entry tied to specific WAN
Host can have multiple 1:1 entries, one per WAN
Multi-WAN Failover
Enables a secondary WAN link to be used in the event the
primary WAN goes offline.
Create a Gateway Pool for failover
Ensure that monitor IPs are nearby and reliably respond
to ICMP (not the physical link determines if a WAN is
down but the failure of the monitoring ping)
Add interfaces to the pool
Modify the default LAN rule to use the failover pool as the
Create static routes for WAN2 DNS Servers
Multi-WAN Load Balancing
Round robin equal distribution among selected WAN
Not capable (yet) of unequal load distribution
Requires unique gateway IP for each WAN (adds static
routes behind the scenes for monitors to make the monitor
pings leave through the correct WAN)
Sticky connections not functional
Multi-WAN Load Balancing
Round robin equal distribution among selected WAN
Not capable (yet) of unequal load distribution
Requires unique gateway IP for each WAN
Create a Load Balancer Pool of type "Load Balancing"
Ensure monitor IPs are nearby and respond reliably to
Add interfaces to the pool
Modify the default LAN rule to use the load balancer pool as
the gateway
Create policy-based routes for WAN2 DNS Servers and nonbalanced applications
VPN Capabilities
IPsec (with filtering support)
PPTP (with filtering support)
OpenVPN (filtering available in 1.3)
L2TP might appear in 1.3
VPN Uses
Remote Access
Site to site connectivity
Site to site
Variable configuration options between vendor
implementations, sometimes a square is actually a circle
Always double and triple check configurations on both
sides of the tunnel
IPsec Site to Site Static IP
Static public IPs on both ends
At each endpoint, create a tunnel on the interface which
sees the traffic (typically WAN)
Do not duplicate remote subnets
Ensure that Phase 1 and Phase 2 options match on both
tunnels _exactly_
Create firewallrules to allow traffic in coming from the tunnel
(firewall -> rules, ipsec)
IPsec Site to Site Dynamic IP
Static IP on one end, dynamic on the other
Make the endpoint with the static IP to allow mobile clients
(vpn -> ipsec, mobile clients)
Add identifiers to be used by the dynamic remote system
(vpn>ipsec, preshared keys)
On the dynamic endpoint system setup a static tunnel (vpn > ipsec, tunnels). Use the same parameters as the static
end on the mobile clients tab. Use the preshared key that
you generated as identifier and secret.
Hint: tunnel to tunnel routing works if you use a subnetmask
with all remote subnets of dynamic endpoints at the static
Open source SSL VPN solution
less problematic behind NAT (other then PPTP or IPSEC)
Cross platform client support
Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008
Mac OS X
Windows Mobile (Pocket PC) - alpha
OpenVPN Certificate Generation
Keys must be generated on another system with 1.2
1.3 already includes all certificate management in the web
Organizations with existing PKI should use it
Quick and easy way - easyrsa included with OpenVPN
PPTP Considerations
Currently more than one client behind pfSense cannot
connect to the same PPTP server at the same time
GRE state is not kept by PF which can cause strange
behavior when PPTP server is enabled for clients behind
we'll hopefully have a fix for this in 1.3
PPPoE Server
Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet
Layer 2 protocol using PPP
Creates one to one network link with server
RADIUS authentication
Common usages
Internet Service Providers
Locked down wireless deployments
Anywhere layer 2 authentication is
Traffic Shaper - what it is and isn't
Current implementation in 1.2 is very limited
Only suitable for two interface deployments - LAN and WAN
No IPsec shaping
Shaping at layers 3 and 4
No deep packet inspection
No application layer shaping
Traffic Shaper
Always start with the EZ Shaper Wizard
Penalty Box may be IPs or an alias
Ensure all VOIP-participants and server IP addresses
belong to an alias
P2P Catch-all which puts any unclassified traffic into the
P2P queue.
Editing shaper rules
IP TOS and TCP Flags are used to determine match, not
Disabling NAT
Routing Protocols
BGP (available in packages)
RIP (v1 and v2)
Server Load Balancing
Load balance traffic across multiple servers
Configure a server pool
Assign a virtual server address
Create firewall rules allowing traffic to server pool
Support for multiple load balanced virtual servers - combine
load balanced HTTP, SMTP and DNS services all in one
Real F5 not included. Sorry guys.
Captive Portal
Commonly known as "hotspot". The user's web access will be
redirected to an authentication page. Unless he is
authenticated all traffic from his Client will be blocked.
CP pages/elements can be hosted on pfSense itself
CP pages can be PHP as well
Built-in User manager or RADIUS-Support
RADIUS-Accounting support
Passthrough IP-/MAC-adress support
Caveats: Can't be used with Multiwan or Schedules;
"Reauthenticate users every minute" option won't work for very
large installs (many concurrent logged in users)
Common Deployments
Access Point
Wireless WAN
Site to site connections
Caveats: A WLAN interface can only be bridged when in
access point mode. Site to site connections have to be routed
and multi-point bridges are not possible.
Configuring an Access Point
Wireless WAN
Site to site connections
Hardware Redundancy - Overview
CARP is used to provide high availability of service across multiple
CARP Misnomers - CARP does not provide configuration
synchronization of pf-state synchronization
pfSense CARP clusters require a minimum of 3 static addresses
per network segment within the same subnet until CARPdev
VRRP traffic conflicts - ensure unique VHIDs
Not all multicast is equal in the eyes of switch makers
Hardware Redundant Example Network
Must be within the same subnet range as the interface they
are attached to
Issues with the current FreeBSD implementation
pfSense webGUI defends against this
VHID groups must be unique for each CARP VIP or VRRP
Advertising frequency ( >0 for backup devices )
pfsync and XMLRPC
PFSync is used to synchronize firewall states between
multiple machines participating in a high-availability
configuration such as a CARP cluster (stateful failover or
"seamless" failover)
XMLRPC is used to mirror pfSense configurations across
multiple pfSense installations participating in a CARP
DHCP Server
Standard ISC DHCP daemon supports typical DHCP options
Deny unknown clients
Dynamic DNS configuration with dynamic DHCP client
DHCP Failover
PXE boot server options
DHCP Relay
Relay DHCP requests to DHCP server on another interface
Append circuit ID and agent ID to requests
Allows for the proxying of requests to a DHCP server used
on the WAN subnet
DNS Forwarder
Caching DNS service
Works with DHCP to register and provide DNS to dynamic
Option to add custom host or domain mappings
Can be sometimes abused to override name resolution for
unwanted domains
Content Filtering "Trick"
OpenDNS Setup
Sign up for free OpenDNS account
Add your network
Configure category restrictions
pfSense Setup
Permit outbound TCP/UDP port 53 only to:
Configure above two DNS servers on pfSense
Dynamic DNS
pfSense can act as a Dynamic DNS client for a number of Dynamic
DNS services including:
Zone edit
You must configure a DNS server in System: General setup or allow
the DNS server list to be overridden by DHCP/PPP on WAN for
dynamic DNS updates to work.
SNMP daemon for integrating with existing monitoring
systems. Useful for applications like:
monomon (Windows)
AirPort Flow Monitor (OSX)
pfSense includes a UPnP daemon for supporting applications
IM (MSN Messenger)
Some streaming audio/video applications
P2P clients
Xbox live
IRC Clients
Only uses one WAN at a time
Dynamically generated rules won't obey traffic shaper
Inherently risky and flawed protocol
Wake on LAN
pfSense allows the administrator to store MAC addresses of
WOL-supported computers and may wake up one or all
machines upon mouse click.
Easy way to become more "green" friendly
Backing up and restoring config.xml
All pfSense configuration data and pfSense 3rd party package
data is saved in config.xml. It is quite easy to backup this
configuration file and restore it (even configuration sections).
To backup pfSense visit Diagnostics -> Backup /
restore. Click download configuration.
To restore a pfSense config.xml backup visit Diagnostics ->
Backup / restore. Click browse, locate the config.xml
backup on your local hard disk / network and then click
Restore configuration.
Virtualization and pfSense
Known Working Hypervisors
Entire product line - ESX, Server, Player, Workstation,
Microsoft Virtual PC and Virtual Server
Sort of...
just like it "sort of..." works for everything
Virtualization and pfSense
Perimeter firewall
Not necessarily a good idea
Segregating virtual networks from physical
Routing between virtual networks
VMware and pfSense
Installer tweaks
Use VMware tools
Use e1000 or vmxnet network adapters
VMware support
Possibly limited
Packages extend the capabilities of a pfSense install by
allowing users to install relevant software. Many of these
packages are still under development and testing. Packages
Squid - HTTP Cache
TinyDNS - DNS server
SpamD - Spam deferral daemon
Siproxy - SIP proxy daemon
Snort - Network intrusion detection daemon
Zabbix Agent - Agent for system monitoring
DNS Server package (tinydns)
It works for Lycos. It works for It works for
It works for 1.85 million more .com's. It works for several of the
Internet's largest domain-hosting companies: directNIC,
MyDomain/NamesDirect, Interland, Dotster, Easyspace, Namezero,
Netfirms, and Rackspace Managed Hosting. It'll work for you too.
Fully authoritative domain name server
Does not allow zone transfers by default
Failover support (using ping) provided by pfSense
Helps allow for 5.9's when using multiple ISPs
spamd is a fake sendmail(8)-like daemon which rejects false
mail. It is designed to be very efficient so that it does not slow
down the receiving machine.
Greylisting - Temporarily fails a new connection. Well
behaved MTAs will wait and resend the message again.
Whitelists - Hosts that will bypass the greylist process.
Blacklists - Hosts that will be blocked out right.
RBL Support - be aware of RBL TOS and licenses, many
charge for commercial use
Stutter text - slows down the session to 300 baud like
Supports multiple SMTP servers behind pfSense
Editing config.xml
Config.xml is the main storage location for all of pfSense and it's
installed packages configuration settings.
Editing the file can be accomplished via three different ways:
Via the webConfigurator
Via the console
Via a remote console (SSH)
To enable SSH, visit System -> Advanced -> Enable Secure Shell
Good idea to rm /tmp/config.cache after changes to clear out the config
cache ... Diagnostics -> Edit file does this for you automatically.
Example config.xml
Editing config.xml example
Setting the LAN interface to 10 baseT/UTP
Editing config.xml example
Setting the LAN interface to 10 baseT/UTP
Introduction to pfSense 1.3
FreeBSD 7.x base (currently 7.0 - RELENG_7_0)
Dashboard in base (available as package in 1.2)
Improved routing and gateway support
User manager with integration for Active Directory, Novell
eDirectory and OpenLDAP
IPsec Dynamic DNS support
Includes latest verson of OpenBSD PF
FreeBSD IP alias VIP support
Introduction to pfSense 1.3
OpenVPN improvements
OpenVPN 2.1
Vista support
Integrated user and certificate management
Traffic filtering
User grouping for firewall rules
Client installer package generation
Introduction to pfSense 1.3
Traffic shaper rewritten
Multiple interface capable (multi-WAN and multiple
internal networks)
Multiple wizards for various configuration scenarios
IPsec shaping now possible
DiffServ support
Live Demo
pfSense Developer Summit
First three pfSense developers in attendance here. More than
10 years combined dedication to the project.
Chris and Scott - September 2004
pfSense name chosen, launched - November 2004
Bill Marquette - February 2005
Getting together all week to work on pfSense
Commercial Offerings
On an hourly basis
Network design
Configuration review
Vulnerability assessment
Hourly or project basis
Hourly or project basis
Nearly all new 1.3 features are the result of sponsored
Helps support the project!
Questions, additional demos, etc.
At this point we would like to open the floor for questions and or
give you additional demonstrations of your choosing.
Should be able to submit at post-conference
Can email us -
Thanks for attending!
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