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Preparing a pfSense image and running it on a cloud server

pfSense is an open source firewall/router computer software distribution based on FreeBSD. It is installed on a physical computer or a virtual machine to make a dedicated firewall/router for a network. It can be configured and upgraded through a web-based interface, and requires no knowledge of the underlying FreeBSD system to manage.

This article will guide you through steps required for installation of pfSense on a cloud server in Servers.com infrastructure.

Preparing a VM using VirtualBox

Before you start, you need to download and install free VirtualBox software from its official website.

You also need to download the pfSense.iso image form the pfSense's website.

Create a new VM in VirtualBox:

1. VirtualBox → Machine → New.

A screenshot showing step 1 of preparing a VM using VirtualBox.

2. Set the type of a virtual machine to "Linux", set the version to "Oracle (64-bit)". Press "Next".

A screenshot showing step 2 of preparing a VM using VirtualBox.

3. Set the "Memory size" to 1024MB.

A screenshot showing step 3 of preparing a VM using VirtualBox.

4. Create and attach a virtual hard disk. To do that, choose the "Create a virtual hard disk now" option and press "Next".

A screenshot showing step 4 of preparing a VM using VirtualBox.

5. Set the hard disk file type to "VDI". "Next".

A screenshot showing step 5 of preparing a VM using VirtualBox.

6. Set the hard disk site to be "Dynamically allocated". "Next".

A screenshot showing step 6 of preparing a VM using VirtualBox.

7. Set the size upper limit for the hard disk to 12 GB and press "Create". This amount is enough for pfSense installation.

The smallest VM type in Servers.com has 30GB of storage, so 12 GB fits even to the smallest VM.
A screenshot showing step 7 of preparing a VM using VirtualBox.

Installing pfSense on VirtualBox VM

You need to attach pfSense ISO image to your VirtualBox VM before you can proceed with pfSense installation.

1. Open your VM settings in VirtualBox:

A screenshot showing step 1 of installing pfSence on VirtualBox VM.

2. In "Settings" → "Storage" → "Storage Devices" → "Controller: IDE" press the blue sphere with a green cross. Press the "Choose disk" button and select the pfSense.iso file you downloaded earlier.

A screenshot showing step 2 of installing pfSence on VirtualBox VM.

3. Attached ISO image will apper as an optical drive. Press "OK" to confirm new settings.

A screenshot showing step 3 of installing pfSence on VirtualBox VM.

Now you need to turn your VirtualBox VM on by pressing "Start". pfSense installer will appear after boot.

1. Accept the distribution agreement:

A screenshot showing step 1 of turning your VM on.

2. Select the "Auto (UFS)" method for disk partitioning:

A screenshot showing step 2 of turning your VM on.

3. Select "Install" and press OK.

A screenshot showing step 3 of turning your VM on.

4. Select "Continue with default keymap" option:

A screenshot showing step 4 of turning your VM on.

5. Press "No" to not start the Shell:

A screenshot showing step 5 of turning your VM on.

6. Press "Reboot" to reboot the VM, then shut down the VM.

A screenshot showing step 6 of turning your VM on.

Importing VirtualBox VM into your Customer Portal account with Servers.com

1. On your local machine, create a RAW image of your VirtualBox VM:

On Linux:

sudo VBoxManage clonehd ~/VirtualBox VMs/pfsense/pfsense.vdi ~/VirtualBox VMs/pfsense/pfsense-raw.img --format raw

On Windows:

cd "C:Program FilesOracleVirtualBox" VBoxManage clonehd “%USERPROFILE%VirtualBox VMspfsensepfsense.vdi” “%USERPROFILE%VirtualBox VMspfsensepfsense-raw.img” —format raw

2. Open "Clous Servers → Images" and press "Upload image". The image needs to be uploaded into the cloud region in which you will be running a cloud server from this image. If you would like to run cloud servers with pfSense in different regions, the image has to be uploaded into each of them.

Screenshot showing step 2 how to import VirtualBox VM into your Customer Portal account on Windows.

3. The uploaded image will become available in the list of operating systems. You will be able to use it to create new cloud servers (don't forget about availability only in the same region, as an uploaded image). Create a new server using "Cloud Servers → Create & Manage → Create server".

Screenshot showing step 3 how to import VirtualBox VM into your Customer Portal account on Windows.

Accessing the web interface of pfSense

The web interface of newly created pfSense cloud server is available on a public IP address of that cloud server. Default credentials are: admin:pfsense.