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My guide to installing pfSense on Watchguard x750e

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So finally got my Watchguard x750e up and running with pfSense 2.3.4 was mostly straight forward but thought would document what I did here in the hopes someone might find it useful as I ended up following a couple of guides to get it all working.

Things you will need

* 9 pin female to female null modem cable
* USB Serial adaptor
* 256Mb or smaller CF card to flash the BIOS
* CF Card Reader
* 1Gb or greater CF card to install pfSense
* Putty -
* WinDiskImager32 -
* BIOS Flash utility -
* Version 8.1 of Watchguard BIOS -
* pfSense -

Getting Started

1. Make sure the Watchguard boots first, turn it on, make sure it comes up to the booted screen on the LCD this just checks to make sure its working

2. Power it off and open her up, and have a look to see how big the compact flash card is, you want it to be less than 256Mb to be able to flash the BIOS, mine had a 128Mb one in so used that.

3. Assuming you have a CF card smaller than 256Mb we can begin.

Flashing the BIOS

1. With the above all downloaded, plug your small CF card into your PC and open up WinDiskImager.  Make sure the CF card is selected and open the FreeDOSBios2.img you might need to unpack the archive first.  Once your have put the disk image on the CF card, you will also need to copy the 8.1 BIOS into the BIOS folder on the CF card.

2. Once that is done, eject the CF card and pop it back into your Watchguard.

2. Connect the serial cable to your pc/laptop and to the serial port on the front of the watchguard.

4. Open Putty go to the options and set it for 9600 8N1 Flow Control = None then click Open

5. Power on the Watchguard, after a minute or so you should get 3 beeps and you will be presented with a c:\ prompt in your putty window

6. Change to the BIOS folder and run "biosid" you should get same as the image below, if not you will need to find out why as mine matched so can not help with what to do next on that.

7. I did not do this, but it is advised to backup the existing BIOS to the internal CF do this by running “awdflash /pn /sy backup1.bin /e” backup1.bin can be anything you like, once complete you should be returned to the C:\ prompt (It can take a few minutes depending on the speed of your CF card)

8. Once you have made your backup its time to flash the BIOS.  This is where I ran into my next problem, I had the 8.1 BIOS from the link above but when running the command to flash and despite leaving the command to run while doing a WoW raid it still was not done, so restarted the Watchguard even though this is not advised.

9. In the end I had to upgrade to the BIOS that came with the BIOS flash utility, reboot, then flash the 8.1 BIOS.

10. To flash to the BIOS run this command “awdflash x750eb7.bin /py /sn /cc /e" once complete you should be returned to the C:\ prompt (It can take a few minutes depending on the speed of your CF card)

11. I then restarted my Watchguard and it showed B7 on the LCD screen, then I ran the above command again but used the 8.1 BIOS and this worked and rebooted and showed B8 on the LCD screen.

So far so good :)

Booting pfSense

1. Power off the Watchguard

2. Back on your pc/laptop with the new bigger CF card, download pfSense I have put the link at the top and an image of the options to pick.  I have only done this on a Watchguard x750e but should be the same options for other Watchguards but do check.

3. Burn the pfSense image to the new CF card and put it into your Watchguard

4. Open Putty go to the options and set it for 115200 8N1 Flow Control = None then click Open

5. Power on the Watchguard and press "Tab" or "Del" to get into the BIOS of the Watchguard

If you have done it right you should get a familiar style BIOS screen to what you get on a PC before the heady days of UEFI

6. Go into "Standard CMOS Features"  Scroll down to the "IDE Master 0" press enter and change this to "Manual" and then change Access Mode to "CHS" escape back out to the main BIOS screen.

7. Go into "PC Health Status" and there is a section for fan speed should be the first option set this to "BB" this will make the fans quieter on boot up.

8. Escape back out then "Exit and Save"

9. You should see the memory check go through then the boot menu for pfSense.  You might need to revert to the 9600 8N1 settings in Putty.

10. You need to make one change to make pfSense boot off your CF card when you see the below text press Space or Escape and will drop you to the OK prompt

--- Code: ---Hit [Enter] to boot immediately, or any other key for command prompt.
Booting [/boot/kernel/kernel] in 4 seconds...

Type '?' for a list of commands, 'help' for more detailed help.
--- End code ---

11. Type in the following

--- Code: ---set hint.ata.0.mode=PIO4
--- End code ---

The watchguard will continue to boot and you should get the initial setup screen for pfSense, say no to setting up VLANs, set your WAN port to be sk0 (left most port) and LAN to sk1 (next one along)

12. Select 8 and drop to the shell.

13. We need to edit the boot file to add the line we type in before so pfSense will boot correctly each time.

"vi /boot/loader.conf"

You should then get a file displayed with the first line being "loader_color=NO" scroll down to the end of the line that says hw.usb.no_pf="1" and press A

This will let you append to the file, press enter to get a new line and type in "set hint.ata.0.mode=PIO4"

Once done press Esc and this will drop you to the command mode, type in :wq

This will drop you back to the shell to make sure the changes were save type "cat /boot/loader.conf" and you should see your line at the bottom.

Select option 5 and restart the Watchguard and watch as you should come back to the pfSense menu.

All Done for now

This is as far as I got last night at 2330, I still need to configure up the LAN port get connected, install the LCD packages, the fan control etc but will detail my journeys into them later once I know what I am doing.

I hope this helps someone else get up and running with a watchguard :)


Would like to credit a few sites that helped me:

for what are you change this hw.usb.no_pf="1"


--- Quote from: kobzar on May 11, 2017, 01:17:18 am ---for what are you change this hw.usb.no_pf="1"

--- End quote ---

You dont change it, i found I had to go to the end of that line, then append to insert a new line.

If you can do it another way in vi please share :)


In VI, when on a line, hitting the letter "O" will insert a new line below the line you are currently on.

I do it in another way:

Just insert what are you needed in /boot/loader.conf.local

--- Code: -----# cat /boot/loader.conf.local
--- End code ---


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