How To Install Pfsense 2.4.4 On VMware ESXi 6.0

PfSense is an open source network firewall/router software distribution which is based on the FreeBSD operating system. PFSENSE ships with similar features that are offered by pricey commercial firewall solutions and unlike many open source firewall software solutions PFSENSE is also available and can be deployed on many cloud computing platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. There are also prebuild machine images on the AZURE and AWS marketplaces that make the process of deploying PFSENSE in the cloud alot simpler and quicker.  If you are a fan of physical appliances, the Netgate SG and XG appliance are also available on the AMAZON ecommerce store as well as the official NETGATE website .  Follow this tutorial to learn how to install the pfsense firewall as a VMware ESXi 6.0 virtual machine. You will also learn how to complete the PFSENSE post installation wizard and also how to check for PFSENSE updates.

Requirements

In order to complete this tutorial successfully the following items are required. Please ensure to have these items available before taking implimentation action on this tutorial:
1) Desktop PC or Server with VMware ESXi 6.0 installed.
2) Desktop Or Laptop Computer With A Web browser that is supported by the ESXI web console and the PFSENSE web configurator (e.g FIREFOX, SAFARI, GOOGLE CHROME).
3) PFSENSE install disk image file (ISO).
4) Internet connection.

Overview.

1) Go to the official pfsense website, go to the downloads page and download the PFSENSE AMD64 disk image file (ISO)
2) Open a web browser tab and type in the IP address or domain name of the ESXi server in the address bar, then log into the ESXi web console and upload the PFSENSE ISO to the ESXi datastore
3) Create a new FREEBSD (64 bit) virtual machine, and ensure that you configure two network interfaces, atleast 1024MB of RAM and a 50GB virtual hard disk
4) Set the CD / DVD DRIVE to DISK IMAGE OR ISO, click the CONNECT AT POWER ON check box and select the PFSENSE ISO file.
5) Power on the virtual machine and install PFSENSE.
6) Once installation is complete, reboot the PFSENSE VM.
7) Open the PFSENSE web configurator, complete the PFSENSE post installation wizard then check for and install PFSENSE updates.

Network Diagram

1) This tutorial is all about setting up a pfSense virtual machine on an ESXi host and explains how to install any supported release of pfSense software version on VMware vSphere versions 6.x.

This tutorial does not include a guide on how to install VMware ESXi and assumes you already have an ESXi environment setup.

The diagram on the right depicts how the network will be setup. PFSENSE will act as the main gateway for the LAN network and will be filtering and routing traffic between the LAN and WAN networks.

Step One: Download The PFSENSE install disk image file (ISO)

2) To get started setting up PFSENSE as a VMware ESXi 6.0 virtual machine download the official pfsense installation ISO file HERE.

On the downlad page, choose AMD(64) on the ARCHITECTURE drop down and choose a mirror location closest to you on the MIRROR dropdown menu.

Once the download completes,extract the PFSENSE zip file using 7ZIP or WINRAR to any location on your computer (the desktop or documents folder would be ideal).

Step Two: Create And Install The PFSENSE Virtual Machine

3) Open your favourite web browser and and log into the VMware host client. Enter your username and password and click on “LOGIN”

3) Once logged in select the “HOST” option and click on the “CREATE / REGISTER VM” button. This will launch the “NEW VIRTUAL MACHINE WIZARD”
4) On the “SELECT CREATION TYPE” tab choose the “CREATE A NEW VIRTUAL MACHINE” option. With this option you will be able to customize hardware settings.

5) On the “SELECT A NAME AND GUEST OS” tab add a name for the PFSENSE virtual machine on the “NAME” input box. Choose “ESXi 6.0 VIRTUAL MACHINE on the “COMPATIBILITY” drop down. Choose “OTHER” on the “GUEST OS FAMILY” drop down and select “FREEBSD (64 BIT)” on the “GUEST OS VERSION” drop down.

6) Select a destination datastore for saving the PFSENSE virtual machine configuration files and virtual disks. Datastore1 has been selected in this case.

7) On the “CUSTOMIZE SETTINGS” tab select the number of processors for the PFSENSE virtual machine on the “CPU” drop down menu. Specify the amount of memory to allocate to PFSENSE on the “MEMORY” input box.

On “HARD DISK 1” specify the size of the virtual hard disk on the text input box provided. Click on the “BROWSE” button to select a location to save the virtual hard disk and select the “THIN PROVISIONED” radio button on disk provisioning.

8) Open a new web browser tab, and browse to the VMware host client. Go to “STORAGE > DATASTORE BROWSER >CREATE DIRECTORY”. Give the directory a name and click “CREATE DIRECTORY”. Select the newly created directory and click “UPLOAD”. Browse to where the PFSENSE iso file is saved on your computer and upload it to the datastore directory

9) If you intend to use PFSENSE as a firewall router, you’ll need two network adapters. However when the PFSENSE virtual machine was created only one network adapter is configured.

Start by adding a second virtual switch, go to “NETWORKING > VIRTUAL SWITCHES > ADD STANDARD VIRTUAL SWITCH”. Give the virtual switch a name i.e LAN SWITCH.

Select “PORT GROUPS” and click “ADD PORT GROUP”.Give the port group a name and on the “VIRTUAL SWITCH” drop down, choose the LAN SWITCH.

 

10) Open the “CUSTOMIZE SETTINGS” page and click on the “ADD NETWORK ADAPTER” option. Scroll down to the “NEW NETWORK ADAPTER” and select the name of the port group you added in the previous step.

11) On the “CD / DVD DRIVE 1” sub section ensure that the “CONNECT AT POWER ON” check box is checked. On the “CD / DVD MEDIA” sub section click on the “BROWSE” button and choose the PFSENSE iso file that you uploaded in the previous step and click on the “NEXT” button.

 

12) Once the PFSENSE virtual machine has been created, select the  it and click on “POWER ON”

13) Once powered ON ensure that you have the VMWARE REMOTE CONSOLE or VMWARE WORKSTATION installed so as to be able to view the PFSENSE VM console.

Right click on the PFSENSE virtual machine and click on “CONSOLE > LAUNCH REMOTE CONSOLE”

14) Press “ENTER” to accept the PFSENSE copyright and distribution notice and on the next page highlight the “INSTALL PFSENSE” option and press “ENTER”

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