How to install pfSense on VirtualBox

In this tutorial, I will show you how to install pfSense on VirtualBox. VirtualBox is a free virtual machine software that allows you to install pfSense as a virtual instance. I’ll guide you through each step.

As always, let’s first have a look if something has changed in the installation routine. We are going to do a fresh install on VirtualBox.

For the latest pfSense tutorials make sure to check out the pfSense Category!

Table of Contents


So make sure you have the following prepared:

  • VirtualBox
  • Download the latest version of pfSense (Select AMD64 and ISO Image!)

Let’s first run through the installation and have a look at the new features afterward!

⚠️ If you would like to learn more about pfSense, I highly recommend you check out my pfSense Fundamentals Bootcamp over at Udemy. This is the most up-to-date as well as the highest-rated pfSense course on the internet.

Part 1: Creating a VM in VirtualBox

Start up VirtualBox and click on New.

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

We use the Guided Mode, not the Expert mode.

Choose a Name and choose Linux / Other Linux (64-bit) and click Next.

1024MB of RAM should be sufficient.

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

Choose to Create a Virtual  Hard Disk now and click on Create.

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

Choose VDI and click Next.

For Storage on a physical hard disk choose Dynamically allocated.

Choose a location where to store the .VDI file and give it around 10GB of Space.

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

Now your VM is created. Now we need to adjust the Network settings.

I will run this pfSense on a separate internal network and I want pfSense to have 3 Network Adapters to play around with.

So select your VM, click on Network and Enable 3 Network Adapters. Choose if you want to run them on an Internal Network for testing purposes.

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

Now go ahead and Unzip the pfSense-CE-2.4.0-RC-amd64-latest.iso.gz file you downloaded earlier. The .ISO file we need for the installation resides inside it. Use 7zip to unzip it.

Select your VM, click on Storage, select the empty CD Drive, select the CD Symbol, select Choose Virtual Optical Disk File and choose your pfSense 2.4 .ISO file.

Alternatively, just fire up the Virtual Machine, it will ask you for the location of your .iSO file on the first startup.

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

Now start the Virtual Machine.

Part 2: Install pfSense 2.4 on Virtual Box

After starting just wait until you end up on the Welcome Screen. Everything so far stays in default and continues automatically.

This Welcome screen is already the first new thing I see in 2.4

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

Choose Install pfSense, obviously.

Now choose a Keymap of your flavor and hit Enter.

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

Select Continue with <YourKeyMap> and hit Enter again.

And here is already another new thing. We can now choose the ZFS Filesystem. Some of you might be familiar with it if you used FreeNAS in the past.

For now, we choose Auto (UFS)

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

After confirming with Enter we choose Entire Disk.

Install pfSense on VirtualBox

The next step, Partition Scheme, is also new to me.

We choose GPT here.

Install pfSense

To install pfSense on VirtualBox, leave all on Default and click on Finish.

Install pfSense

Confirm again with Commit and wait until the installation is finished.

Another new feature after the Installation is finished. We can now still make modifications to the system before rebooting into pfSense.

We skip that for now.

Before you choose No, make sure you remove the .ISO file from your machine by clicking on Device and Unmount the Installation Media.

Install pfSense
Install pfSense

Finally, to install pfSense on VirtualBox, click No and confirm to Reboot.

pfSense will now boot into your fresh Installation. Take a Snapshot at this point if you plan to play around with it, so you can always revert back to a freshly installed state.

DHCP is enabled by default. pfSense has as a default IP Address.

Install pfSense

Part 3: Logging in via Web Interface

Now, with a VM or Computer residing on the same Subnet as your pfSense, open a Web Browser and enter the IP of your pfSense Firewall:

You can safely add an exception to your Browser and ignore the Security Warning. If you want to know how to get a Secure Connection to pfSense, read my Article on it!

Install pfSense

And look at that! We are greeted with a completely fresh Log In Screen, including the new pfSense Logo! Fancy!

Install pfSense

Log in with the Default Credentials: admin//pfsense

Run through the Wizard if you want, I went through and think I haven’t seen any significant changes in that, but it’s a good way to get your basic setup going.

One more thing we are going to do to finish the installation part is changing the Default Password. (If you haven’t done that already in the Wizard.)

Navigate to System / User Manager

Install pfSense

Click on Edit next to the Admin User and Change the Password.

Install pfSense

Scroll down all the way and click on Save.

And that’s it for the installation part. Check out the pfSense Tutorial Section to continue from here.

The most significant change in the Installation Routine was really the different Partitioning Options we have now, and that we can choose the ZFS Filesystem! Excited about that and looking into it for sure. ZFS is an amazing Filesystem.

Part 4: Significant Changes with pfSense 2.4

Of course, the thing you already noticed is the New Logo, New Login Mask, and the New pfSense Logo on our Dashboard. Makes all look neater than before.

There are a lot of Changes

But let’s just quickly run through the most significant.

New Login Page & Logo (Quite not relevant technically, but hey, it looks nice.)

WebGUI Improvements

pfSense 2.4 Highlights

You now have Breadcrumbs to ensure better Navigation and take steps back through the menus. I like that.

OpenVPN 2.4.3 and AES-NI Speed Improvements

More Language Support

No More x86 32-bit and NanoBSD Support!This is quite significant. Only 64-bit support! A logical step moving forward.

pfSense Supports ARThis is great. With the release of the SG-1000 microFirewall, pfSense now officially supports the ARM Architecture.

New pfSense Installer & ZFS Support

As mentioned before, pfSense now moved to the standard FreeBSD Installer and is now supporting the ZFS Filesystem.

I hope I was able to give you a short overview of some of the new features, we will be definitely cover more of the new features once it’s released and running in my live environment. Looking forward to playing around with ZFS already.

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