pc engine – pfsense as router / firewall

download (1)Just built a pfsense router on  a pc engine to replace my aging 7390 fritzbox…. Very very awesome and fast!

Perfect for UFB (ultra fast broadband) here in New Zealand – FTTH has arrived :)

I’m currently running these services on it (2 x 1GHZ cpu, 4GB RAM, 16GB msata SSD);

  • dhcpd – DHCP server
  • miniupnpd – UPnP server
  • ntpd – NTP server
  • squid – Transparent Proxy & Reverse Proxy
  • snort – IDS (Intrusion Detection System) / IPS (Intrusion Prevention System)
  • ssd – SSH server
  • unbound – DNS Server
  • ipsec – IPsec VPN (site to site VPN)
  • openvpn – Open VPN (client VPN)

Check these links for some great advise…




Grab hardware here – http://www.pcengines.ch/apu.htm


ERROR: No forward-proxy ports configured

I had the above issue after a squid upgrade and after changing from http_port 3128 transparent to http_port 3128 intercept.

Add “http_port 8080” line to squid.config to avoid this message, if you are not already using that port.

The changes in security require that a separate port be setup for forwarding proxy requests

nginx – setup as reverse proxy

Previously to take down this wordpress site all you needed to do was hold down F5 for about 20 seconds then the site would take about 5 mins to recover.

There were a few factors causing this and quite a few different methods to solving the problem. WordPress itself is run on php / apache, apache has an evasive mod which can block certain IPs depending on the defined abusive behavior (typical DDOS attack). Since i like to run a few websites behind a single IP i looked at fixing the issue closer to the perimeter….

Enter nginx (engine x) as a reverse proxy, the site now typically caches all content and serves it straight out of memory. No longer does mysql / apache kill itself under high load on the backend…


You will need to create the nginx directories if they dont already exist. Check /var/log/nginx/error.log (default ubuntu) if any issues starting the service.

sudo aptitude install nginx
sudo service nginx start

The following added to http {}
(located in /etc/nginx/nginx.conf)

log_format cache '***$time_local '
'$remote_addr '
'$upstream_cache_status '
'Cache-Control: $upstream_http_cache_control '
'Expires: $upstream_http_expires '
'"$request" ($status) ';
access_log /var/log/nginx/access.log cache;
error_log /var/log/nginx/error.log;
server_names_hash_bucket_size 64;
proxy_cache_path /var/www/nginx_cache levels=1:2
max_size=1g inactive=30m;
proxy_temp_path /var/www/nginx_temp;

the following added to location / {}
(located in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default)

proxy_pass http://sigtar;
proxy_next_upstream error timeout invalid_header http_500 http_502 http_503 http_504;
proxy_redirect off;
proxy_buffering on;
proxy_buffer_size 16k;
proxy_buffers 32 16k;
proxy_cache one;
proxy_cache_valid 200 302 304 10m;
proxy_cache_valid 301 1h;
proxy_cache_valid any 1m;
client_body_buffer_size 128k;
proxy_busy_buffers_size 64k;
proxy_set_header Host $host;
proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
proxy_pass_header Set-Cookie;

Note if you have problems with wordpress redirect issues… check this post;


Also confirm you have this line in http {}

server_names_hash_bucket_size 64;

Very basic load test, user load time is reasonably consistent as user count increases.

load test

squid – reverse proxy

Great guide here – http://www.classhelper.org/articles/reverse-proxy-server-squid-debian/installing-squid-proxy-server.shtml

I’ve modified slightly for Ubuntu, but almost identical.

apt-get install squid
cp /etc/squid3/squid.conf /etc/squid3/squid.bak
rm /etc/squid3/squid.conf
nano /etc/squid/squid.conf

http_port 80 defaultsite=www.yoursite.com vhost
forwarded_for on
refresh_pattern ^ftp: 1440 20% 10080
refresh_pattern ^gopher: 1440 0% 1440
refresh_pattern . 0 20% 4320
cache_peer parent 80 0 no-query no-digest originserver name=web1
acl sites_web1 dstdomain www.yoursite.com yoursite.com
cache_peer_access web1 allow sites_web1
cache_peer parent 80 0 no-query no-digest originserver name=web2
acl sites_web2 dstdomain www.anothersite.com anothersite.com
cache_peer_access web2 allow sites_web2
acl all src
acl manager proto cache_object
acl localhost src
acl to_localhost dst
acl SSL_ports port 443
acl Safe_ports port 80 # http
acl Safe_ports port 443 # https
acl Safe_ports port 1025-65535 # unregistered ports
http_access allow sites_web1
http_access allow sites_web2
http_access allow manager all
http_access allow manager
http_access deny !Safe_ports
http_access deny CONNECT !SSL_ports
#http_access deny all
access_log /var/log/squid3/access.log
cache_mgr support@yoursite.com


Modify your hosts file to include web1 and web2

nano /etc/hosts web1 web2

Another good article about benefits of reverse proxy