Realtek driver update for pfSense


If you read into pfSense and hardware it supports, you will stumble over users reporting that Realtek ethernet hardware is not very well supported and can be buggy or slow. I had the same experience with my MiniPC I bought from China, read the review here. But I found a solution that was easy to setup and really works well.

This is the post I’m referring to:

https://forum.netgate.com/topic/135850/official-realtek-driver-binary-1-95-for-2-4-4-release

How to:

  1. download the driver here
  2. upload driver into pfSense. I use Cyberduck to SSH into pfSense. Unzip & Place “if_re.ko” file at “/boot/kernel”
  3. Change ownership and permissions on the if_re.ko file
    cd /boot/kernel
    chown root:wheel if_re.ko
    chmod 0555 if_re.ko
  4. Then edit “/boot/loader.conf”. You will need to use the vi editor, since the nano editor, which I think is much easier to use, is not installed.:
    vi /boot/loader.conf
    add the following line to the end:
    if_re_load=“YES”
  5. Reboot. Then go to diagnostics > command prompt in the WebGUI. Run the command:
    kldstat
    If you did everything properly you’ll see “if_re.ko” in the list that comes up. If not, the driver isn’t loaded.

Thats all!

I recently found an old Lenovo laptop lying around in my basement. It is equipped with some slow Celeron CPU, 2GB RAM and a Realtek ethernet port. Why not try to see if pfSense could be installed on the machine and add a second NIC using a USB-Gigabit dongle. After I installed pfSense on a USB stick and booted up, the machine came to a halt reporting that pfSense will not work without any NIC. Problem was, that the Realtek NIC was not supported. So I installed the driver from above and it works! I also added the USB dongle NIC. Everything just works fine. The laptop only draws about 8 Watts of power. The internal Realtek NIC is only 100Mbit, but would be fast enough for most DSL connections.

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