Last modified at 11/2/2013 11:47 AM by Koen Zomers
It is possible to install pfSense on a virtual server. Doing this on the free VMware ESXi Hypervisor server is described below. Check out this article on how to install VMware ESXi Hypervisor.

Using the E1000 emulated network cards in VMware allows maximum throughput to the virtualized pfSense installation. Where Microsoft Hyper-V doesn't get much more than 22 mbit/sec through its legacy emulatec network cards, VMware easily pulls 150 mbit/sec through them. I didn't test it with higher speeds, but I'm convinced it is capable of much more than that.
  1. Install the vSphere Client if you haven't done so already
  2. Start the vSphere Client and connect to your VMware server
  3. Upload the ISO with the pfSense image you want to use for installation to your VMware server using either the Datastore Browser or SCP method. I'm using the IPv6 ready pfSense 2.1RC snapshots.
  4. Right click on your VMware server at the left and choose New Virtual Machine

  5. In the Create New Virtual Machine wizard, choose a typical configuration and click Next

  6. Provide a name for your pfSense virtual server. This may be anything you want. One entered, click Next.

  7. On the next screen, select the disk on which you want to place the pfSense virtual server and click Next

  8. On the next screen, select Other followed by selecting the FreeBSD (32-bit) version. Needless to say if you're going to install the 64 bit version of pfSense, you need to select FreeBSD (64-bit) here. Click Next to continue.

  9. On the next screen, change the virtual disk size to be 2 GB as this is more than enough for pfSense to run on. Click Next to continue.

  10. On the next screen, put a checkmark in front of the Edit the virtual machine settings before completion option and click Continue.

  11. In the Virtual Machine Properties window, change the following settings:
    • Change the assigned memory to 1 GB
    • Change the assigned virtual processors to the maximum amount you have available
    • In the New CD/DVD section, choose the Datastore ISO File option, click on Browse, click the disk and browse to the location where you have placed the pfSense ISO at step 3. Also make sure you put a checkmark in front of the Connect at power on box under Device Status.
    • Remove the New Floppy
    • Add extra NICs to suit your desired pfSense setup. Choose the E1000 adapter type.
    Click Finish to complete.
  12. Your newly created virtual machine is now added to the tree at the left. Right click it and go via Power to Power On


  13. Right click on the virtual server again and click on Open Console

  14. You should see it boot nicely from the ISO and display the pfSense boot menu. Just let it time out or press Enter to continue.

  15. After booting, the installation menu will be shown. Make sure to press I before the timer runs out and it will continue booting from CD instead of installing it onto your harddrive.

  16. You will now see that it actually detects being a VMware virtual client and will optimize itself for that. How neat is that.

  17. Once the installer has started, choose to accept the default settings and continue.

  18. On the next screen, choose the Quick/Easy Install and continue.

  19. The installer will warn you that an easy install might do stuff you rather want to be asked about. Press Enter to continue.

  20. The installation will now occur. Wait for it to finish.

  21. After a minute or so it will ask you to choose the kernel to install. Always choose the first option: Symmetric multiprocessing kernel here even if you only assigned one virtual CPU. This allows you to add extra virtual CPUs later, if needed, without having to reinstall pfSense.

  22. When the installation is done, it will tell you its ready to reboot. Don't that yet.

  23. In the console window, open the VM menu and click Edit Settings. In the Virtual Machine Properties window, select the CD/DVD Drive 1 at the left and click the radio button for Client Device at the right followed by a click on OK to save these settings.

  24. If you receive a warning stating that the virtual machine has locked the CD drive, you can click Yes to dismount it anyway and continue.
  25. Now go back into the console window and press Enter to reboot the virtual machine.

  26. Once done booting, it will ask you about configuring VLANs and assigning network interfaces. Follow these easy steps and you'll have a pfSense installation up and running which can be accessed from your internet browser by surfing to and logging in using the default username admin with password pfsense. You can change the IP address it is listening from through the console menu option 2.