pfSense on Watchguard Firebox x550e

[UPDATED – 2014-11-24]: I noticed that I had gotten the model wrong in the title of the article.  Fixed that.

One of the odd things as I have moved up the food chain into (product) management is that I don’t have the opportunity to work directly on the products that teams build. Keeping a software roadmap cohesive across devices, apps, web and back end services is the challenge, maintaining a proper pipeline of requirements and ensuring proper sequencing is basically my job.

One consequence is that I find my hobbies veering into many varied build projects. HDTV over-the-air systems, networking projects involving pfsense and obscure hardware, xbmc front ends, esxi virtualization, just so I can build something.

The pfsense routers has been really interesting of late. Having just gotten it running smoothly using a thin client, I am now working on getting pfsense installed on an old Watchguard x550e firebox. The amazing community of pfsense enthusiasts have really come together to get these devices up and running, with even the latest beta of 2.1.1 addressing minor issues with the LEDs.

The incredible thing with these boxes is that you can swap out the processor of with an ancient Pentium-M (circa 2004) and replace the ATX PSU with a DC-DC  picoPSU and get the power down to <25 W.  That’s the same as the thin client but with performance that rivals if not exceeds most Intel Atom powered systems!