Wireless Configuration in pfSense

wireless configurationIn the previous article, I covered checking to make sure your wireless card is compatible with FreeBSD (and pfSense). In this article, I will cover wireless configuration. You can assign your wireless card as your WAN interface, or as an OPT WAN in a multi-WAN deployment.

Wireless Configuration

In this article, let’s assume our wireless configuration scenario is setting up the wireless card as the WAN interface. The first step is to navigate to Interfaces -> (assign) and assign the wireless interface to the WAN (or whatever interface to which you want to assign the wireless interface). Click “Add” to add an OPT interface if you want an OPT interface to be your wireless interface. Otherwise, make sure your WAN interface is the wireless one. For example, if you have an Atheros card named ath0, set ath0 with the drop down box as the WAN interface.

Next, browse to Status -> Interfaces for the WAN interface. At “IPv4 Configuration Type“, select the type of configuration (e.g. DHCP, static IP, etc.), and scroll down to the “Wireless configuration section“. Choose Infrastructure (BSS) mode, fill in the SSID, and configure encryption, such as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) or WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). Most wireless networks will not need any further configuration, but if your network does, make sure it is configured appropriately for the access point you will be using. Then click on the “Save” button to save the settings. Wireless configuration is now complete.

If you want to check the status of the wireless interface just configured, navigate to Status -> Interfaces. There you can tell whether the interface has successfully associated with the choses access point by looking at the status of the interface. “Status associated” means it is connected successfully. If it shows “No carrier“, however, it was unable to associate. Finally, by navigating to Status -> Wireless, you can see the wireless networks visible in your firewall. Your wireless interface(s) must be configured before this menu item will appear.

Bridging a Wireless Interface

You can bridge a wireless interface, but only wireless interfaces in access point (hostap) mode will function in a bridged configuration. You can bridge a wireless interface in hostap to any other interface to combine the two interfaces on the same broadcast domain. You may want to do this if you have devices or applications that must reside on the same broadcast domain.

Finally, because of the way wireless works in Basic Service Set (BSS) and Independent Basic Service Set (IBSS) modes, you cannot bridge a wireless interface in BSS or IBBS mode, because every device connected to a wireless card in those modes must present the same MAC address. With bridging, the MAC address passed is the actual MAC of the connected device, and in wireless, the only way this can function is if all the devices behind that wireless card present the same MAC address on the wireless network.

External Links:

Wireless Interfaces at doc.pfsense.org

Mailing list posting explaining why you cannot bridge a network interface in BSS or IBBS mode.

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