Console Types

There are two console types available with pfSense® software, VGA and Serial. The active default console depends on the image/installer used and configuration settings. The difference between the two console types is explained in more detail below.

VGA Console

The VGA (video) console is a console with a monitor and keyboard. The video console requires hardware with a connection for a monitor (e.g. HDMI, VGA) and keyboard (USB, PS/2). In some cases a serial BIOS that does VGA redirection may work.

The VGA console is active by default using the normal memstick installer or ISO.

Serial Console

The serial console uses a serial/COM port to communicate with a serial client. It is primarily intended for systems without a monitor or keyboard. The serial console can also be used on systems where those are either not available or not wanted, so long as the hardware has at attached (non-USB) serial port.

The serial console is active by default when installing using the serial memstick and may be enabled under System > Advanced on VGA images.

Accessing the serial console requires a null modem serial cable attached between the COM1 port on the firewall and a serial client. A hardware serial port is required on the firewall, but the client may use a USB serial adapter if needed.

Serial clients are quite common, often pre-installed on an operating system or easily available. The free PuTTY client is the most popular choice. Other choices include tip/cu on BSD/Linux, minicom, and Hyperterminal.

The serial port is set for 115200/8/N/1 by default. The serial port speed may be changed under System > Advanced.

If the device has a BIOS accessible over serial console, it is also possible that it will not be using the same serial speed that the OS is using.

The most common serial speeds to try would be: 115200, 38400, and 9600.

If the BIOS serial speed does not match the OS serial speed, the best practice is to adjust one or the other to match, so that POST messages may be viewed as well as the OS messages without having to adjust the client