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 LATEST TOPICS |  FORUMS » PC BUILDER WORKSHOP » PFSENSE MITX BUILD - ULTIMATE ROUTER?...
Subject: pfSense mITX Build - Ultimate Router?
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Zer0 Jul 16, 2011 11:23 AM Reply | Bookmark
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With the new Broadband plans from Shaw, I've decided to retire my old WRT54GL in favor of a custom pfSense build which I've never done before. Should be a fun little project. Here are the parts I've picked, what do you think?

pfSense will be installed onto a flash drive and I already have an existing gigabit switch.

It's hard finding a good board with dual gigabit Intel NICs. Anybody know if this Supermicro one has been discontinued or going to be soon?


*** UPDATE  ***: Build progress pictures:
https://www.dropbox.com/gallery/9284282/1/pfSense?h=a2a260



This messa

This message was modified by the poster at 07 30, 2011 03:33 PM

Topic URL: http://forums.ncix.com/forums/topic.php?id=2383125

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TSSumm Jul 16, 2011 12:43 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Shame there is no expansion slot. Until that board's ETA can be confirmed I would simply opt for a chassis with an expansion slot. A half-height PCI-e LAN card isn't cheap, but available.

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DaleF Jul 16, 2011 01:04 PM Reply | Bookmark
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That one is expensive because AFAIK, the PT has been discontinued for the CT.

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Zer0 Jul 16, 2011 01:27 PM Reply | Bookmark
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I've already bought the case this morning (on sale for $35). It's the perfect size, didn't want a larger one because I'd like to keep it as small as possible, roughly the same size as the WRT54GL. It's going to sit underneath my desk on top of my sub. Hopefully that board hasn't been discontinued. I'm in no rush though so I can wait.

This message was modified by the poster at 07 16, 2011 01:28 PM

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TSSumm Jul 16, 2011 01:39 PM Reply | Bookmark
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If you don't mind an older gen atom, there are a couple jetaway and the ASUS hummingbird are other dual-lan m-itx boards that might be found elsewhere.

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Zer0 Jul 16, 2011 06:54 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Seems like the older ones are even harder to find lol. I believe the Jetway's use Realtek nics no?

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Entz Jul 17, 2011 12:42 AM Reply | Bookmark
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Another one to consider.

Slightly slower processor (but more than fine for pfSense), but you gain IPMI which is almost a must have feature imo. Price matched they should be the same price.

Your right though, there really isnt much left in the ITX form factor.

Oh and to answer your question, they are not discontinued. However it can take a week or so to get them as they often have to come from the states (or other suppliers).

This message was modified by the poster at 07 17, 2011 12:43 AM

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Rison Jul 17, 2011 04:52 AM Reply | Bookmark
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I have the 5015A-PHF, which uses the Super X7SPA-HF motherboard. I threw 2x2GB ram in it - you only need 1x2GB though.
I don't have 100Mbit internet (only 40MB eastlink) - and have used pfsense on it, and currently use untangle as my router (with IPSec VPN to work)
I don't think i've seen the processor go past 15% usage on the user/system.. thats with pulling the full 40Mbit off the net + playing a few games. VPN takes a bit more out of it, but the router handles it fine.
After a one month uptime, the untangle box is sitting at 1.8GB ram utilized.. but once again, i've run a lot of VPN tunnels (which most people don't really do)

That motherboard is kind of overkill for a router - it's a great choice!  
I would assume even at 100Mbit speeds, it wouldn't be taxed that much either.

edit: Checking my 7-day logs, my "CPU User" field hit 52% mid-day. I'm guessing it would be because of the VPN tunnel, moving some crazy data file from work to home, etc. We have a 70Mbit symmetric fiber (aliant) at work, so i'm able to go full tilt on the VPN tunnel.

This message was modified by the poster at 07 17, 2011 05:00 AM

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Zer0 Jul 17, 2011 09:50 AM Reply | Bookmark
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I actually found a place that sells the X7SPA-HF-D525 (they don't have it here at NCIX). I might go for that one instead.

at Rison: I'm getting the 50Mbit from Shaw so yea, overkill but that's always better than underkill right?    I'm playing DOS games on my 4GHz C2D with 5850.   :fup:

This message was modified by the poster at 07 17, 2011 09:54 AM

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Rison Jul 17, 2011 11:32 AM Reply | Bookmark
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NCIX does sell the D525, as noted before.. it takes a few weeks to get supermicro stuff in.
I would be very surprised if a retailer had a D525 model in stock. Most likely, they would be ordering it from supermicro too (double check w/ them)

I like how you think. Dual 1.6Ghz is overkill.. so why not go to 1.8Ghz.

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Dispenser GUM Jul 17, 2011 11:34 AM Reply | Bookmark
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Im actually building a rig to be a second desktop and a router for dual-wan with PFSense in VMWARE.


I don't know how much electricity costs for you, but I dont see the point of putting the big $$$ on an atom board when you could build a cheap mid-tower PC.

28$ - Cheap PSU
25$ - cheap case (Or recylce an old one)
87$ - 35W dual-core Sandy-bridge
50$ - Basic mobo
19$ - 4GB ram
------
210$

You save 120$, get better performance, lots of expansion for multiple Gigabit network cards.

You can even swap your G620T for a i3 2100 at the cost of 30w TPD and get a sweet HTPC rig capable of running PFSense in VMWARE.

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Zer0 Jul 17, 2011 11:54 AM Reply | Bookmark
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NCIX has the "H" version of the D525 but not the "HF". The IPMI feature is nice to have. (Edit: oh wait, just checked again and I guess they do have the "HF" one after all)

At Dispenser GUM: I could do that but that's not what I want. I need it to be fanless/quiet, low power consumption, and has a small footprint. After PM's the total will be around $290. This build is already overkill for a router, I don't need the extra performance of an i3. The last thing I need is another tower in my room.

This message was modified by the poster at 07 17, 2011 02:56 PM

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Rison Jul 17, 2011 03:50 PM Reply | Bookmark
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see showcase.

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Zer0 Jul 17, 2011 04:20 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Yup, I found it after I posted above. Thanks.

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Zer0 Jul 18, 2011 08:02 AM Reply | Bookmark
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Okay, I've purchased all the parts. Just have to wait a couple weeks for the mobo. I'm assuming it's okay to plug a 20pin pico psu into the 24pin socket? The extra 4 pins aren't really needed am I right?

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Frecky Jul 18, 2011 03:23 PM Reply | Bookmark
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But doesn't M350 come already with a pico PSU ?

Give us feedback on that when it's running. I would love to ditch my wrt54gl for pfSense.

Is there any antenna already build in ? Else i'll just plug my wrt54gl as Wireless access point.

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Greg * NCIX.com Jul 18, 2011 03:41 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Yeah, they're for providing additional power, but low power chips & onboard video won't miss it if it's gone.

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Greg * NCIX.com Jul 18, 2011 03:43 PM Reply | Bookmark
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No. It's compatible, but not included.

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Zer0 Jul 18, 2011 03:46 PM Reply | Bookmark
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No, it doesn't come with a PSU unless you buy the "bundle" which costs more because the case by itself was on sale.

Sure, was going to update  this thread when It's done. The board is backordered, might be a while until it's up and running. Plus I'm a complete pfSense noob so it might take me a bit learn it.

No, there is no antenna. I was planning on using the WRT54GL for wireless too. Might replace it with a 802.11n AP though.

At Greg: Thanks.

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Justin_C Jul 18, 2011 05:56 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Get a half size pizza box Supermicro server.

http://www.supermicro.com/products/system/1U/5015/SYS-5015A-EHF-D525.cfm

I've been using this for almost a year now. No problems. Put a quad port NIC on the back. Handles pfSense and a bunch of plugins.

Does not seem to limit the 100mbps Shaw plan.

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Zer0 Jul 18, 2011 06:09 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Like I said, I need something "small" lol. As in less than 10" x 10". Besides, there's no fun in buying a prebuilt system.

This message was modified by the poster at 07 18, 2011 06:33 PM

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Todd™ Jul 19, 2011 08:01 AM Reply | Bookmark
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Is this CPU powerful enough for pfsense?

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Zer0 Jul 19, 2011 08:06 AM Reply | Bookmark
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It's a dual core Atom 1.8Ghz cpu, yes it can handle it. In fact it's overkill for any consumer internet service.

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Entz Jul 19, 2011 08:24 AM Reply | Bookmark
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Yes its more than enough, those charts are a guideline. You generally want the breathing room because you can run a whole bunch of services such as IDS/Proxy/OpenVPN/QOS/Statistics on it as well (and those tend to eat up a lot of CPU).

i.e. If you look on the pfSense forums, people are actually hitting a NIC wall at ~380mbit ( 760 mbit up/down) on the slower D510. With low CPU usage (<40%). This is due to some issues in FreeBSD, mainly with the NICs, and may be fixed in 2.0. CPU could easily support 500+ mbit.

Now if you were running a full IDS/Proxy/OpenVPN with a 1/2 dozen connections then it might start to have some issues at > 200mbit.

This message was modified by the poster at 07 19, 2011 08:28 AM

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Todd™ Jul 19, 2011 09:18 AM Reply | Bookmark
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From the pfSense website:

Quote: (Zer0 @ Jul 16 2011, 11:23 AM)

Platforms

Three platforms are available.
Live CD with Installer

The Live CD platform allows you to run directly from the CD without installing to a hard drive or Compact Flash card. The configuration can be saved on a floppy disk or USB flash drive. Some features are not compatible with the live CD platform. In most circumstances, this should only be used as an evaluation of the software with your particular hardware.
Hard drive installation

The live CD includes an installer option to install pfSense to the hard drive on your system. This is the preferred means of running pfSense. The entire hard drive must be overwritten, dual booting with another OS is not supported.
Embedded

The embedded version is specifically tailored for use with any hardware using Compact Flash rather than a hard drive. CF cards can only handle a limited number of writes, so the embedded version runs read only from CF, with read/write file systems as RAM disks.


pfSense states that you lose some features if you use flash rather than a hard drive. Do you know what features you would lose?

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Zer0 Jul 19, 2011 09:28 AM Reply | Bookmark
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It doesn't say anything about losing features if you do the embedded version. It only says "Some features are not compatible with the live CD platform".

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Entz Jul 19, 2011 10:37 AM Reply | Bookmark
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They are referring to smaller Compact flash drives (128mb range), not high capacity USB flash drives.

Just use the liveCD and install it to your hard drive (or USB flash drive). No reason to use embedded. In fact its more annoying if you want a feature later.

My 2.0 setup is currently using ~1.5GB and that is with several packages installed and 1GB of Squid cache. Currently using no swap file space, but that could eat up as much as 4GB. A 8GB flash drive would be more than enough space with extra room to grow.

Based on that a standard CD install is around 512mb, likely less. Its a very lightweight system. The only downside to using USB flash is IO, but this is not a problem unless you are running squid IMO (which most people wont, its a bit of a PITA anyways).

The only reason I went with a hard drive in mine, is for some dumb reason my motherboard refused to boot from USB. Thats what I get for buying a 50$ AR Zotac D510 board

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Zer0 Jul 19, 2011 10:58 AM Reply | Bookmark
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Hmm, I have a 4GB OCZ Rally so I might just install it rather than use embedded. I was just afraid of wearing it out too quickly.

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Rison Jul 19, 2011 05:46 PM Reply | Bookmark
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Most usb drives aren't meant to be read/written to as an OS drive. I've gone through a lot of usb boot drives for ESXi when I tried to use 'off the shelf' standard usb keys. Couple that with slow performance on boot.. I find it easier to just install a cheap 2.5" laptop hard drive.
I'd just buy a cheap 160gig drive for $40 and be done with it.

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Todd™ Jul 26, 2011 06:39 AM Reply | Bookmark
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Any update  Zer0? Did you get the parts in and together?

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