pfSense Gold Subscription – Initial Impressions

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pfSense Gold Subscription
pfSense Gold Subscription

As many readers have likely seen, we have started to work with pfSense branded appliances. We have been using pfSense for years but there is certainly a few new things we have been learning as we are moving from the fringes of the unpaid ecosystem to the branded appliances. Today we had our first unique experience with the pfSense Gold subscription, the August Hangout. The topic of today’s pfSense Hangout was RADIUS and LDAP which was timely as it is a technology we will be deploying to the STH colocation test lab next week. The pfSense team heard about this and gave us a 1-year Gold subscription so we could check that out.

For those wondering, the pfSense Gold membership costs $99/ year. More information can be found here but for those that want a quick overview:

  • Access to our AutoConfigBackup secure online backup service for up to 10 hosts. Additional ACB host extensions can be purchased for up to 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, and 200 hosts.
  • A living digital copy of pfSense: The Definitive Guide book in PDF and other formats, available for immediate download after purchasing.
  • Monthly online Hangouts! A video conference hosted by a rotating selection of core developers with occasional special guests. Past topics include:
    • User Management and Privileges
    • Server Load Balancing and Failover
    • pfSense 2.2 Preview
    • ALIX to APU Conversion
    • Advanced OpenVPN Concepts
    • Network Address Translation
    • Firewalls and Virtualization
    • Intro to Packet Analysis
    • Squid, SquidGuard, and Lightsquid
    • VPN Overview and IPsec intro
    • Firewall and NAT Fundamentals
    • Port Forward Troubleshooting
  • Access to the pfSense® Virtual Security Gateway Appliance for VMware®
  • Plus many more features are being planned.

For the $99 you do not get support, so you still need to purchase support or use the forums.

After attending today’s hangout (and having a need to put what we learned into production immediately) this was awesome. The RADIUS and LDAP August 2015 hangout is already published on the site for Gold members. The overall setting was a very well planned and executed demo of using RADIUS alongside LDAP (OpenLDAP and Active Directory) and showing how they can be implemented and explaining why you would want to use those features. If you made the live demo, the pfSense team answered all of the questions from those who attended (very impressive.) Afterwards, the recording of the session was published along with the presentation used. If you did miss the session, the guides from the monthly hangouts alongside the pfSense book does provide significantly better documentation than is available searching Google.

One other great piece is that we learned about a new Intel Atom C2338 dual core “Rangeley” box they started shipping and an update on pfSense 2.3 during the beginning of the hangout.

pfSense SG-2220
pfSense SG-2220

The bottom line after today’s experience is that we will be getting a Gold subscription. The hangout was so useful the individual helping us setup infrastructure for the new lab who was watching over my shoulder commented that it was great. The subscription does cost $99/ year but it is a good way to support the project and if you are using pfSense for anything other than basic routing having the official guides is something that I wish I had seen the value in earlier. I do wish there was a bit more around the “Plus many more features being planned.”

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Patrick has been running STH since 2009 and covers a wide variety of SME, SMB, and SOHO IT topics. Patrick is a consultant in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about server, storage and networking, building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

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