Proxmox

pfSense Proxmox Install Process and Configuration

Many great open source solutions are available these days for many use cases, including security, networking, routing, etc. Two of those include pfSense and Proxmox server. Proxmox VE is an open-source solution that you can easily download for free and run a pfSense VM for routing, virtual network interfaces, firewall capabilities, etc. Let’s deep dive into the process of pfSense Proxmox install process and configuration and see what steps are involved.

What is Proxmox VE?

Proxmox VE is a open-source virtualization solution allowing you to run virtual machines, including pfSense VM solutions. This is great as it allows you to run a pfSense virtual machine that can perform routing, firewalling, VPN, and all the great features that pfSense includes as part of the solution. In addition, you can run other virtual machines along with pfSense in Proxmox.

You can also run a Proxmox cluster for the highest availability requirements and for failover purposes.

Running pfSense on Proxmox VE

Running pfSense on Proxmox server, pfSense Proxmox, is a great way to have powerful features for no cost, running on commodity bare metal hardware. Proxmox provides many enterprise hypervisor features, including backups that can be enabled for newly created virtual machine boxes running in Proxmox server.

Run on bare metal or virtual machine

Proxmox hosts can run on a bare metal server or run as a virtual machine itself. If you would like to see how to run Proxmox Server as a nested VMware virtual machine, check out my post here: Nested Proxmox VMware installation in ESXi – Virtualization Howto

What is pfSense?

First of all, what is pfSense? The pfSense solution is a secure and widely used firewall distribution that is available as a virtual machine appliance or running on hardware platforms from Netgate.

Either way, you can get network interfaces either in hardware or virtual machine network interfaces, allowing you to route, firewall, and connect traffic to your network as you would any other enterprise firewall solution.

Netgate hardware

Netgate hardware firewall appliances
Netgate hardware firewall appliances

Download pfSense ISO image

You can download the pfSense ISO image here for the Community edition:

Download pfSense Community Edition

Upload ISO image to Proxmox server

Before we can run our pfSense VM installation on Proxmox ve, we need to get the installation ISO image for pfSense VM uploaded to Proxmox VE. To do that, we log into Proxmox VE and browse to our local Proxmox storage, select ISO images and click the Upload button

Beginning process to upload pfSense ISO to Proxmox
Beginning process to upload pfSense ISO to Proxmox

Once you click the Upload button, you will have the ability to click the Select File button. Click the Select File button and browse to your downloaded pfSense ISO image. Then, click Upload.

Choose the pfSense ISO for upload to Proxmox VE
Choose the pfSense ISO for upload to Proxmox VE

After you click Upload, you will see the upload progress. Then, the screen below should display, noting the upload of the ISO image was successful for pfSense.

pfSense ISO image successfully uploaded to Proxmox VE server
pfSense ISO image successfully uploaded to Proxmox VE server

Creating the pfSense VM in Proxmox VE

We first need to create the pfSense VM in Proxmox VE that will be used to install pfSense.

After you access Proxmox through port 8006, right-click your Proxmox VE server in the Proxmox web GUI and select Create VM.

Create a new VM in Proxmox VE
Create a new VM in Proxmox VE

Configuring the new pfSense VM

Note the following tabs and how they are configured with the new pfSense VM.

General tab Settings

On the general tab, configure a name for the new pfSense VM.

Configure a name for the new pfSense VM
Configure a name for the new pfSense VM

OS settings

On the OS tab, here is where we select the ISO image that we uploaded earlier.

Select the pfSense ISO image
Select the pfSense ISO image

System tab

On the system tab, we can leave the default settings.

Accept the defaults on System
Accept the defaults on System

Disks

On the disk screen, you select where you want to install pfSense, the disk size, bus device information, etc.

Select the storage location for the pfSense VM in Proxmox
Select the storage location for the pfSense VM in Proxmox

CPU tab

On the CPU tab, you can configure the number of CPU sockets and cores.

Configure CPU settings
Configure CPU settings

Memory tab

On the memory tab, you configure how much memory you want to allocate to the pfSense VM.

Configure memory settings for pfSense
Configure memory settings for pfSense

Networking Tab

On the network tab, you configure the network interfaces you want to use for your pfSense VM running on your Proxmox host. There are differences to think about depending on whether you are running pfSense on physical hardware with physical interface ports or a virtual machine running pfSense.

Here, on the creation screen, we can just accept the defaults and then we will change a couple of settings once we have the VM created. Note on the screen the settings you can configure, including bridge ports, VLAN tag, firewall, model, MAC address, etc.

Configure the network settings for the pfSense VM
Configure the network settings for the pfSense VM

Confirm tab

On the confirm tab, we can confirm the settings used to create VM for pfSense.

Confirm the configuration settings for the new pfSense VM
Confirm the configuration settings for the new pfSense VM

After you click create VM of the pfSense VM, this essentially creates the pfSense virtual machine so we can install pfSense as a guest OS on in the Proxmox box VM.

Changing a few settings on the pfSense VM

If you noticed on the network device screen above, it only configured one network device. However, for the pfSense VM to route traffic as expected, we need both a LAN port, or LAN interface, and a WAN port, or WAN interface.

The WAN interface will house the WAN IP address that will provide connectivity from the outside inward for accessing internal resources and provide Internet connectivity. These WAN and LAN interface connections will allow successfully routing traffic as expected and benefiting from the pfSense firewall.

Add a new network adapter
Add a new network adapter

On the new interface, select the bridge ports, VLAN tag, and other settings for the second network adapter. By default, it will add virtIO interfaces when you add a new adapter. You may need to play around with this when adding. I had to go back and change my installation to Intel Pro 1000 adapters for it to work correctly in my nested lab.

I also added an additional network bridge where you can choose a new Linux bridge configuration.

Add a new network adapter after creating the pfSense VM
Add a new network adapter after creating the pfSense VM

After adding an additional network device, we now have two network devices configured with the pfSense VM.

Viewing the network adapters after adding to the pfSense VM
Viewing the network adapters after adding to the pfSense VM

As a note, depending on what type of hardware you are running on top of for your Proxmox host, some may need to instead not add a network adapter but instead add a PCI device that is passed through to physical NICs.

Adding a new PCI device in Proxmox VE
Adding a new PCI device in Proxmox VE

Install pfSense VM

Now we can actually install pfSense and configure the virtual machine appliance. Right-click the pfSense VM shown on your Proxmox host and select start.

Power on the new pfSense virtual machine
Power on the new pfSense virtual machine

After powering on and pfSense running as a VM, we can begin the process to run pfSense as an installed pfSense version.

Boot screen of the pfSense VM running in Proxmox VE
Boot screen of the pfSense VM running in Proxmox VE

This begins the “text” install pfsense VM process. Accept the EULA displayed.

Accept the EULA agreement
Accept the EULA agreement

Choose to install pfSense on the next screen.

Selecting the Install option on the text installer screen
Selecting the Install option on the text installer screen

Continue with the default keymap for the keyboard layout.

Configuring the default keymap
Configuring the default keymap

Choose to configure the partitioning unless you need a custom layout Automatically. Here I am choosing ZFS configuration.

Selecting how you would like to partition your disk in Proxmox VE
Selecting how you would like to partition your disk in Proxmox VE

Proceed with the install pfSense process.

Confirming to proceed with the installation
Confirming to proceed with the installation

Choose the virtual device type. Here I am selecting the Stripe no redundancy.

Select the virtual disk type
Select the virtual disk type

On the ZFS configuration screen, click OK.

Confirm your ZFS configuration
Confirm your ZFS configuration

Click Yes on the ZFS configuration screen.

Confirming you want to format the disk and destroy data
Confirming you want to format the disk and destroy data

The install pfSense process begins.

pfSense installation on Proxmox begins
pfSense installation on Proxmox begins

You will be asked if you have any manual configuration you want to perform. If not, select No.

Installation is finished and choosing no custom modifications
Installation is finished and choosing no custom modifications

The installation is complete. Reboot your pfSense VM.

Choosing to reboot after the installation
Choosing to reboot after the installation

After the pfSense VM boots for the first time, you should see your WAN and LAN interfaces come up and show IP addresses for the WAN and LAN ports. As you can see, these are not on the same network or same subnet.

Most configurations will see the WAN IP address configured from the ISP via DHCP server. You will want to have a static IP address configured on the LAN interface since this will be used as the gateway address for clients connected to the LAN port of the pfSense VM.

The pfSense LAN address is configurable and you will want to configure the address to match your clients. The LAN port also doubles as the management port for pfSense VM by default. You can’t manage pfSense from the WAN port by default, only the LAN port. This can be changed later, but is something to note as you run the pfSense virtual machine on your Proxmox box.

The pfSense firewall will also be the default gateway for the clients on the network. The pfSense WAN is the address used for incoming traffic that will be NAT’ed inward to internal IP addresses on the network. For management, specifically note the LAN ip address.

Below, you will note I have private IPs on both the WAN and LAN port. This is because I have this configured in a lab environment. In production, you will have a public IP address configured on the WAN port for true edge firewall capabilities.

Viewing the interface DHCP address and internal LAN
Viewing the interface DHCP address and internal LAN

Configure pfSense VM on Proxmox

Now, we need to browse out to the pfSense web GUI found on the IP address of the LAN port after installing in Proxmox. The default password will be needed as you log into the pfSense LAN and is:

admin/pfsense

Logging into pfSense VM for the first time
Logging into pfSense VM for the first time

After logging in with the default admin password, the configuration wizard will begin to run pfSense, including the pfSense firewall capabilities.

Beginning the pfSense web UI setup wizard
Beginning the pfSense web UI setup wizard

Click next past the Netgate support message.

Note the message on Netgate support
Note the message on Netgate support

Set the pfSense hostname and domain name.

Configure the pfSense hostname
Configure the pfSense hostname

Configure the NTP time server configuration.

Configure NTP settings in pfSense
Configure NTP settings in pfSense

Configure the WAN interface. Even though we have already configured this, the pfSense wizard gives you another opportunity to configure the WAN port.

Configure WAN interface in pfSense
Configure WAN interface in pfSense

Same with the LAN port. You can reconfigure if needed here.

Configure the LAN interface
Configure the LAN interface

Change the admin password on the next screen.

Change the default admin password
Change the default admin password

Ready to reload pfSense to finalize the configuration.

Reload pfSense with the new configuration
Reload pfSense with the new configuration

At this point after the reload, the install pfSense process is now complete.

Wizard completes after the reload of pfSense
Wizard completes after the reload of pfSense

Congratulations, the install pfSense process is now complete!

Wrapping Up

The pfSense Proxmox installation procedure is straightforward and consists of creating a new Proxmox virtual machine with the correct network adapter settings. Then you power on the VM, run through the initial text configuration setup to install pfSense and establish basic networking connectivity. Afterward, using the pfSense web GUI, you finalize the pfsense installation on Proxmox using the configuration wizard. Proxmox makes for a great platform to install pfSense as Proxmox provides many of the settings and configuration capabilities needed to customize your installation of pfSense Proxmox.

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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