09: Building a Router With pfSense

Comments (19)
July 16, 2008

Do you have extra computers lying around the house? In this episode, Matt shows us how to convert an old computer into a home network router. Here is all he needed:

  • Old computer
  • Network cards (at least 2)
  • Wireless network card (optional)
  • Simplified operating system distribution – pfSense
  • Tool Kit
  • Monitor
  • Keyboard

Also on this episode: This week’s predictions – the reincarnation of Anton van Leeuwenhoek

19 Comments, Comment or Ping


    Great episode! Animation was flippin’ tight. Good job with splicing the theme. Need to generate more music (more variety). Thanks Matt, I now understand all the jargon that was in the manual for my Airport router. Perhaps I will merge with ANTON someday and become the ultimate cyborg, and kick SKYNET’s rear.

  2. Nicely done!

    I linked here on our blog.

    one comment from me there on the alert you were seeing.

    Brief comment on VLANs for the newbs watching this – this requires interaction with your switch using 802.1q trunking. Any decent managed switch will support this, but the most common cheap unmanaged home switches do not. This is typically only used in larger networks with hundreds or thousands of devices, or by crazy geeks such as myself that run all corporate-grade managed switches and VLANs at home. :)

  3. Hey Chris…thanks for the tip on the VLANs and for the promotion on the pfSense website. I think the alert was caused by a bad network card in the computer we were using, so your software was doing the right thing!

  4. I like how this one turned out, especially how you have me going in high speed when putting the cards in. I wish I could always move that fast when working on computers.

  5. Jessi

    SWEET animation Leigh! I love the big-brained little guy – complete with legs and feet. Music overlay was good too (props to Anthony). Very informative and useful info. Except that you spelled “provider” wrong in the definition for router.

  6. john


    I really like your tutorial, but what would I need to do plugin multiple computers on 1 network card (internal LAN)?

    Or do I need to connect a router on one of the ports? But doing that, what’s the point of having a pfSense router/firewall PC?



  7. John, in order to plug in multiple computers to go through the router, you would plug the internal LAN card into a switch. Most consumer routers typically have a 4 or 5 port switch built-in, but switches can also be purchased as separate devices. You can get an 8-port Gigabit switch nowadays for less than $50 (for example, the LINKSYS EG008W at newegg) or 5-port switches for even less than that. Building your own router might cost a little more than a consumer router (unless you have all of the parts already lying around), but it will give you many more options for routing your internet traffic (and possibly better performance as well).

  8. George E.

    Hey guys, great little show. I’ve used pfSense before and I think it’s great. I’m glad to see people out there not only promoting it and FreeBSD, but also teaching others about it. Keep up the good work! You’ve got a new fan.

  9. Sarah

    I am such a fan of the intro–SWEET stuff! And while the computer stuff was over my head, it all sounded good–plus, I liked the little animations and such. You guys rock!

  10. Shell

    Awesome episode! The new graphics were clever and you did a great job of defining and explaining everything for networking laity such as myself. Now I know what to do with my husband’s old computers >:] Loved the outtakes, too!

  11. Danielle

    Fun tutorial but for your wifi part you forgot to mention the Firewall -> rules part. If you do not add rules for your OPT1 it will not be able to get out to the internet; default in pfsense’s firewall setup is to block everything without altering the settings.

  12. Phil

    It’s pronounced “rooter”. Blinking Yanks ruining our language :-) What happened to the song “Route (root) 66″?

    Otherwise, great vid.

  13. Rash

    Er, you know you can damage semiconductors of you handle them without taking anti-static precautions! Might not fail there and then, but can be the cause of an early death of the card, or even machine!

  14. Will computers connected to the wired nic be able to see the ones connected to the wifi nic? More importantly, will it still be possible to play LAN Games when connected to different nics?

    P.S. I can’t believe I’m still commenting on a 3 year old post. :D

  15. It depends on how you configure it. You should be able to completely isolate the traffic or add rules to allow the traffic to move between interfaces. This implies that yes you can play LAN games if one or more hosts are connected wired and the rest are connected wirelessly.

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