Crash of the Firewall

So, back to the end of 2016, Netgate announced a small (think pack of playing cards size) ARM based firewall. I was in need of a new firewall, so I picked one up. This little guy runs pfSense which is a FreeBSD based firewall solution, and it ran very well for me with no issues for over 4 years.

Until the Winter Storm of 2021, that is. Now, I am not sure if something happened to it during the storm, or if the internal storage passed its write endurance. Either way, I knew it was not long for the world, so I started prepping for the replacement.

Since pfsens had worked well for me, I was planning on keeping it, but upgrade to some better hardware. I found a Qotom Q515G6-S05 Mini PC which has 6 Gigabit Ethernet Intel NICs powered by Intel Celeron 3865U. The extra ports meant I could easily carve out some networks for specific things like IoT things. But, it does not seem to be yet…

And then it failed this morning. Hard. No problem, I thought as I had already bought the new box, and even had loaded pfSense. What could go wrong?

pfSense would not boot once I had restored my config from the old box. Staring to get worried as I had kids trying to to do school work with no network, I grabbed an old box I had laying around with two NICS in it. This time, I could not even boot pfSense on it. I tried many different USB keys, and burning styles, but nothing work.

I ended up grabbing a Linux based firewall distro to use on the second box. So far, it is working pretty well. It has some nice features which are missing from pfSense, but one or two missing features which pfSense has. Over the next week or so, I will try to install it onto the Qotom box to see if I can get it going.