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pfSense 1.2.2 Success

I have been looking at open source firewall/router solutions for a while, and my list of requirements has been pretty steep.  In particular, any solution I give a recommendation to would need to support WAN load balancing and SIP (for VOIP phones).  I also recently added dynamic DNS to that list.

Today I am pleased to say that I have a working solution using pfSense 1.2.2 (http://www.pfsense.com/).  I had done a comparison between pfsense and vyatta a while back, and found issues with both that prevented it from being a solution I can recommend.<more/>pfSense requires a PC (any pentium 4 older desktop will do, maybe even a Pentium 3), a few network cards (add as many as you have network zones), and either a hard drive or a flash drive (i am using a USB flash drive).

Download the live CD, go through the wizard and configure each of your ethernet cards, and then install it to your drive.  Reboot and now you have a web-based config utility to do most of what you need.

Everything went very smoothly, save the configuration for SIP.  Per documentation on pfSense's site, I installed siproxd (a proxy package designed to overcome an issue where only one VOIP device can live behind the firewall due to how packets are written).  This is a relatively new package (in terms of stability and exposure), and so there were some hickups.

First of all, pfSense configures NAT (network address translation) automatically, and part of that for some reason handles port 5060 (SIP) different than other ports.  I found a post where a user manually added a NAT rule for SIP which involved manually logging in and editing the configuration file for the router.  Not for the weak-of-heart at all, but an easy change.  Reference: http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,12830.0.html

When the router was rebooted, everything came online and all our SIP phones work great behind the firewall.

Overall I am pleased with the relative short timeframe required to get pfSense up and running.  It performs great, supports what I need, and is open source making it hard to beat.

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