How To Install Pfsense From A USB
Introduction of Pfsense
Pfsense is a free and open-source firewall and router to protect your systems’ network connections. You can use pfsense in enterprise or home networks for routing your traffic, creating a secure environment, allocating bandwidth to perform intensive tasks such as torrents, and much more. It has a modern interface with tons of features included. Since it’s open source, you can access the code on Github and even contribute yourself if you have advanced knowledge of coding! In short, Pfsense is an improvement from using simple firewalls like IPCop or Smoothwall , because you get loads of extra features that are integrated into one improvement software-wise. You’ll find out what they are later in this article!
Route your traffic
Pfsense is a router first, and a firewall second. This means that firstly it will route your traffic from one side of the network to another. For example, if you have two networks running on 192.168.1.0/24 and 10.0.0.0/24 , then Pfsense will ensure they can’t talk to each other by blocking any incoming or outgoing packets between those networks (for security purposes, this is good). It also has the bonus feature of allowing you to port forward connections which we’ll get into later! Second, Pfsense will allow HTTP traffic and ICMP ping requests through so you can still maintain control over your network but not break any services provided by others.
Advanced Feature of Pfsense
Pfsense has many features built in, but they are most commonly associated with firewalls. These include IP blocking, port forwarding, captive portal so you can create a landing page for users without internet access (so you can give them the password when they ask) and more! It also supports 802.1q VLANs which is great if you’re not using physical switches to divide your networks.
An example of the admin interface on Pfsense : As you can see, it’s very modern looking and easy to use. You’ll also notice that there are tabs across the top that provide enhanced functionality such as traffic graphs (which show how much bandwidth different services are using), logs (showing system usage and when certain rules were applied) and more!
Install Pfsense from USB
Will show you how to install pfsense from a USB drive. The process requires you to build your own image through Win32DiskImager, so hold on tight! It’s not hard though! There are just a few steps involved.
Hardware Requirements: 1x USB Drive (4GB at least) 1x PC that Windows can be installed on Software Requirements: Bootable PcLinuxOS Live Disk or BartPE based windows disk to format the USB Drive with Win32DiskImager .
We first need to download all the necessary things we need for this task. To do this, visit http://www.pc-linux.org/download and download their Pre-made image. We recommend using pclinuxos64-full .
Click on the download button to start downloading your disk Image. Then, visit http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/ and download win32diskimager.
Once you’ve downloaded PcLinuxOS , extract the contents of the file into a folder (eg C:\pclinuxos). You should have 2 folders now – vmlinuz and initrd.img ! We need these later to install onto our USB! Also, make sure you install Win 32 Disk Imager if you haven’t already by running its installer!
Now, plug in your USB drive and format it with FAT32. To do this, open up the Win32DiskImager and select the pclinuxos image file you’ve downloaded from Step 1.
Select your USB drive in the Device dropdown menu (make sure it’s empty or has nothing important on it!)
Next, we need to make a new partition on our USB drive. So once you have selected your USB disk, click on the small blue arrow next to ‘Create a bootable disk using’. You should see a pop-up saying Unallocated Space . Select that option and click ok!
Now right click on the whitespace of your usb drive and select New Partition Table . It will then reformat your usb drive! This will take a few minutes. It is now formatting your usb drive with a new table to allow it to have multiple partitions!
Once this has finished, click the blue folder next to ‘Partition 1’. Then select FAT32 from the dropdown menu. Make sure that it’s set as bootable and then hit Write . This will format your USB drive so you can install PcLinuxOs onto it using linux .
Now, we need to extract the files from our PcLinuxOS disk image into our USB Drive! To do this, go back up top and right click on the pclinuxos file in the white space area and select Extract here . Once it’s done extracting, all you should be left with is the vmlinuz and initrd.img files we downloaded earlier at steps 1 and 2!
Now, if you open up your extracted pclinuxos disk image, you’ll notice it has a .cfg file in it. We need to make changes to this file for our new USB Drive/pendrive (more specifically the Bootloader). Open up notepad++ or another text editor and open the included .cfg file which should be called syslinux.cfg , syslinux64.cfg or something like that depending on what version of PcLinuxOS you’re using. Scroll down until find the line append initrd=initrd.img (or type linux ks=cdrom:/KS.CFG if you are using a DVD/CD drive), change ks=cdrom:/KS.CFG to type=usb flash !
Now, all we need to do is copy the vmlinuz and initrd.img files into the USB Drive! Do this by right clicking on them in my computer or in your extracted .tgz file and selecting copy , then select your usb drive in the white space area of win32diskimager , right click in the window and paste them there. Make sure they both go into their own folders called boot and – Copy OS Files (so you get /boot/boot and /-Copy OS Files-/- at least).
That’s it! You should now have a bootable PCLinuxOS USB! Put it in your computer and map the drive letter to Z:. Then reboot your pc with F12 or F10 for the bios boot menu, select usb flash drive, press enter / return , change bios options to boot from usb flash drive or similar, then choose PCLinuxOS Live at the top.
PcLinuxOS is a linux distro that works out of the box with UEFI systems! It doesn’t get much easier than this! The downside of adding it to your drive means you cannot write files on your usb drive, but all you need to do is just copy the files into your USB Drive, then right click on them in Win32DiskImager and select extract here.
That way you still have the .cfg file for syslinux which will redirect bootloader installation to our new usb flash drive. You can also try using Unetbootin , which requires more work on some machines since it only installs the iso file onto your USB flash drive giving an error when it’s done saying there were no changes made. For some models, you need to follow steps 8 and 9 with Unetbootin. However, I find Win32DiskImager easier with no chance of errors like Unetbootin can cause.