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Unofficial QOTOM Hardware Topic

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Hello Everyone,

As some of you might have noticed, an administrator removed a few topics on QOTOM hardware. This isn't because pfSense forum administrators dislike them, but it's because the manufacturer has not been responding to pfSense developers or been clear on what it is they are offering when they list pfSense.

While some people might disagree with deleting or hiding topics because some upstream vendor is acting strange, this is how it is and instead of arguing about it, it's better to just move on and make sure we all know what's what.

Important stuff so everyone knows what it means:
Information on the relation between using software and selling free software:
Information on the trademarks relating to pfSense:

This isn't because pfSense hates people! It's because pfSense equals a lot of hard work, because there are laws regarding having trademarks and defending them to be allowed to keep them, and because it's really hard to create a product that caters to everyone without degrading very quickly. We as a community can appreciate all of this, but sometimes there are commercial parties that try to find a way to abuse this, and the only way to prevent that is by setting up a few rules that apply to everyone, even to parties that have not (yet) (intentionally) cut any corners on this.

QOTOM is a Chinese manufacturer of generic PC hardware in small form factors (and somewhat industrial factors). They sell their stuff on a number of online webshops (aliexpress, Amazon), and most deliveries are of good quality. Components are name-brand and usually not fakes or rebadges of asian ripoffs. Sometimes they name their devices as 'pfSense firewalls', without asking pfSense/Negate or referring to pfSense CE in the correct way. While this by itself isn't inherently bad, it's simply not what the pfSense and Netgate people would like commercial distributors to do, as they have outlined in the past. It's not too much to ask of hardware vendors to simply follow a few guidelines to be able to deliver 'pfSense CE' boxes, as they practically get the software, and therefore the firewall as a product sales for free, without the authors getting any compensation whatsoever. While it is of course fine to just use pfSense CE on whatever you like as a user, it's different when a 'competitor' practically undercuts the income for pfSense and basically dumps support on them.

Now, with that out of the way, the QOTOM hardware itself isn't bad, and maybe the manufacturer has no malevolence in mind when selling the stuff. Most boxes you buy from them come with empty storage disks, and most of them don't sell with pfSense in the name, advertisement or documentation, so it's not exactly like they are intentionally trying to undercut Netgate. They just don't communicate at all.

More on topic

I have a few boxes running in the field as an experiment. Mostly the i3 and i5 versions with the Intel NIC's, and they work fine. All of them are fanless and using them in BIOS/CSM mode makes it possible to install the current stable pfSense CE version (based on FreeBSD 10). The betas for pfSense CE 2.4 (based on FreeBSD 11) work with the UEFI mode as well, which has a slight boot time advantage and possibly allows for more flexible booting (as you can change EFI settings from the OS, which isn't possible with CSM/BIOS most of the time).

When you buy one of the boxes, keep in mind that any version without Intel NICs or without AES-NI will probably not perform very well and will not be supported in future pfSense versions when AES-NI starts to be a requirement (there is a complete blogpost about that). I wouldn't recommend getting anything without AES-NI like the J1900 for this reason. If you are not sure what CPU it has: don't buy it. If you are sure what CPU it is, but not sure if it has AES-NI: plug the CPU in the search box at and check somewhere in one of the last tables if it says it has AES.

When I ordered mine, it was delivered in about 8 days, from aliexpress, via DHL, so that's good. The RAM was verifiable name-brand, as well as the mSATA SSD. The chassis seems like a somewhat standard model with replaceable face plates, and the side with the cooling fins has direct contact with the mobile Intel package. The thermal paste works, but cleaning it up and applying some high quality thermal paste in the right dosage shaves off a few degrees compared to the factory stuff. There is a small CR2023 battery for the RTC and possibly some BIOS memory, but I'm not sure that's still CMOS memory these days, it seems to me that Flash SPI chips retain their settings just fine. It's the kind of battery wil soldered on wires to a small micro JST connector connecting to the main board. The battery itself is then stuck on a chip using a double sided foam tape pad. If you use the thing in a high-vibration environment you might want to glue it on in a somewhat more sturdy fashion.

The firmware is mostly standard, it's an UEFI type with CSM module you can turn on if you like. Some settings for the ethernet ports can be made, as well as the standard ACPI, integrated devices and SATA settings. It's not one of those crappy mobile firmwares where you can't configure anything, it's pretty open, which is nice. At the time of the hardware release, there was no newer firmware available, but the vendor does seem to update the firmware when needed as seen with their older devices.

Thank you for taking initiative. Our users are free to use whatever hardware they like, it's important everyone knows that.

Rather than having many separate threads, please post all QOTOM related posts on this topic.

Thank you!


--- Quote from: johnkeates on June 21, 2017, 10:13:02 am ---Introduction
As some of you might have noticed, an administrator removed a few topics on QOTOM hardware.

--- End quote ---
Ahh ... So that's where my two posts went.  (/dev/null)
Thanx John for making a QOTOM thread that might survive  ;)


I just received my 2'nd QOTOM-Q355G4 , and thought i would start a hardware thread for this excellent box.
I bought mine on the QOTOM store on AliExpress.

My first box was ordered w. 8GB Ram , and a 64GB mSATA module.

Specs: (The datasheet is attached)

QOTOM-Q355G4 Quad Lan.
CPU  : Core i5 5250U
Ram : 8GB Kingston DDR3LV 1600
LAN  : 4 x Intel 211
Disk  : 240G Toshiba Sata SSD

The ram installed from factory was Kingston KVR16LS11/8
I removed the 64GB mSATA , and installed a Toshiba A100 240GB SATA SSD , the SATA & Power  cable is already inside the box.

The 2'nd box was a barebone , i'll get a Kingston KVR16LS11/8 , and use the 64GB mSATA for that one.

Connecting the Q355G4 to the TV via HDMI , and a USB keyboard. And i was up and running in no time.

Press <DEL> to enter the bios.

Change the Powerfailure setting to : Automatic power on after powerfailure.
Use the Lan LED test along with the mac addresses , to find out witch mac address  matches witch physical port.
That will come in handy when configuring the interfaces later in the install.

I tried to set the Boot method to Legacy , but then pfsense 2.40 Beta crashed on install.
Changed back to UEFI+Legacy , and pfsense was installed around 4 minutes later.

The Q355G4 have a real db9 comport on the front (use null-modem cable) , that can be a real lifesaver.
Remember to enable serial console in the web gui.

NOTE I received a note in my "Barebone unit" : Do NOT use Corsair or Crucial Ram , they will make the system unstable.



--- Quote from: bingo600 on June 21, 2017, 12:29:13 pm ---I just received my 2'nd QOTOM-Q355G4 , and thought i would start a hardware thread for this excellent box.
I bought mine on the QOTOM store on AliExpress.

--- End quote ---

Did they ship it with a blank SSD or some Windows preinstall? Or did they actually put pfSense on the SSD (which anyone would wipe and reinstall anyway - nobody trusts Chinese pfSense  ;D )


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