Managing the Configuration of the Instance

Once the instance is launched, you can monitor its status on the Instances page of the EC2 Management Console. The EC2 Management Console will display whether the instance is up and reachable and will also display its current public IP address and the hostname that resolves to the public IP address. You can find the hostname and public IP address in the EC2 console by clicking on the Instances heading on the left, finding the instance and checking the checkbox next to it and looking at the details at the bottom of the page.


In the example above, the hostname of the instance is The public IP address is available by putting together the 4 numbers included in the hostname - You could also obtain the IP address by using a popular DNS lookup tool such as host, dig, or nslookup to resolve the hostname to its IP address.


The hostname and IP address used in this and other examples in this guide are associated at the time of writing with a test instance. This address/hostname will not be the same values that you use to access your instance and they will not even be associated with the same test instance by the time this guide is available to the public.

In order to manage the configuration of the instance, you can connect to it via https or ssh. To connect via ssh, you would use the key pair you chose while creating the instance to connect to the admin account. From the command line on a Unix/Linux host, you would use a command similar to ssh -i my_key_file admin@public_IP, where the appropriate private key file and public IP or hostname are substituted. In the example below, the key file my_ec2_key is used to connect to the IP address Note that the first time you log into your instance, the ssh key of the instance will not be cached on your computer and you will need to type yes when asked whether you want continue connecting. This should not be necessary on subsequent sessions.


A limited set of configurations is possible through the ssh interface. The preferred method for managing most of the configurations or viewing data on the status of the pfSense® instance is through the https web GUI. To connect via https, you would enter an https:// URL containing the public IP address or hostname of your instance into a web browser. For example,

It’s very likely that you will receive a browser warning indicating that the security certificate of the site is not trusted. This is because the instance uses a self-signed certificate for https communication. You should click on the option to proceed to the site anyway. A login screen with the Netgate logo should appear.

The username to log in with is admin. The password to use is either a value that you set in the User Data during the creation of the instance or a random password. If you did not set a specific password, you can find out that value that the random password was set to through one of 2 different means.

The first is to log in over ssh with the key pair that you selected when the instance was created and examine the contents of the file located at /etc/motd. You would do this by selecting option 8 (Shell) from the console menu that is presented when you log in and executing cat /etc/motd from the shell.

Alternatively, you can view the System Log for the instance in the EC2 Management Console. After the messages that are displayed that show the status of the boot process, a message should appear that indicates what the administrative password was changed to.

The message you should look for using either of the methods mentioned about will look like this:

*** Admin password changed to: abcdefg

In this example, the password was changed to abcdefg.


Be aware that the System Log output in the EC2 Management Console is not updated in real time and may take a few minutes to show up. It is preferable to explicitly set a password by passing a value in with the User Data field so the password will be known in advance. If you want to allow a random password to be set, you should be able to connect via ssh and find out what the password was changed to after the instance is up without any delay.

Once you’ve determined your password and entered it into the login form, the pfSense Web GUI should be available to you.