How to configure a pfsense router with split VLANs

Updated November 23, 2023 15 minutes

This example installation will use the ODroid H3 as the core pfsense router for a home installation.

ODroid H3+ with 6 NICs
ODroid H3+ with 6 NICs

This configuration includes an addon card for a total of six 2.5Gbps Ethernet network controllers (NICs).

ODroid H3+ parts list
ODroid H3+ parts list

Network design

The six NICs on the odroid will be used like this:

  • port 1: WAN - wide area network, ie. the internet. Connect this to your ISP.
  • port 2: MGMT - management interface (This will be initially called LAN during setup)
  • port 3: TRUNK -___ TRUNK aggregates 5Gb bandwidth from ports 3+4
  • port 4: TRUNK -/
  • port 5: OPT3 - available for future expansion
  • port 6: OPT4 - available for future expansion

All of the home networks are defined as VLANs accessible from the TRUNK aggregate link:

  • vlan 132: LAN (Home network)
  • vlan 133: IOT (Internet of Things)
  • vlan 134: APPS (Proxmox and Docker)
  • vlan 135: WORK (Office)

Each network is in charge of a /24 address space, and a location-aware sub-domain name :

  • MGMT
  • LAN
  • IOT
  • APPS
  • WORK

pfsense will act as the DNS, DHCP, and firewall services for each of these networks.

Why use VLANs?

You might be wondering, why use VLANs at all? The ODroid H3 has six physical NICs! Why not just use a separate physical port per network? Well, that totally works as long as you will only use it inside of a server rack, or if each room in your house only needs to access one network. When I bought the odroid I hadn’t planned on doing any VLANs with it at all. Name one other device at this price point that has six NICs!

The limitation though is the wiring in the home. You’re lucky if you even have wired ethernet, but how much rarer is it still to have two or more network cables going to a single room? If you want to access more than one network (wired) in a room that only has one wire coming to it, you’re going to need to implement VLANs, and managed switches in each room.

A managed network switch is required

The ODroid is just a computer with six NICs. With pfsense installed, it becomes a router, but it is not a network switch. Pfsense can expose several VLANs per port, configured as a trunk port. This just means that there is no access control over which VLANs you can access from it, all of the ones that have been configured for that port are always available to the client. This lack of control is not what you want for an environment where you might plug random untrusted devices in. You need a managed switch to connect the trunk port, and to configure the other ports to use exactly which vlans you need per port on the switch on a case-by-case basis. The switch therefore becomes an integral part of your layered security, and cannot be separated from your pfsense router.

So, in addition to the H3, you will need a switch too. The one we will be testing is the Sodola 9 Port 2.5G Smart Web Ethernet Switch, and the same underlying hardware is also available as many vendored variants.

Among the many favorable features of the Sodola, most notable for our application is the support for:

  • Eight 2.5Gb ethernet ports
  • VLAN support
  • Dual-port link aggregation, for 5Gb toal bandwidth back to pfsense

VLANs will allow to host several virtual networks through the home, while going over the same copper wire. Link aggregation will allow us to combine two 2.5Gb links into one bigger 5Gb link, giving us extra speed to route things on the lan side (but the WAN is still limited by its single 2.5Gb interface).

Install pfsense

Download the .iso, dd it to a flash drive, plug a keyboard and mouse into the router, boot it, and install pfsense.

ODroid H3 specfic needs

The ODroid needs a specific realtek driver that is not included on the installation media. This driver can be installed from the package repository.

PFsense will boot and then immediately shutdown if it doesn’t find any network cards. That will be the case until you install the realtek driver for the card. To get it to boot and not shutdown, I temporarily plugged in a USB ethernet adapter which is supported by FreeBSD. After the network link to the internet is up, you can install the package you need:

pkg add

The name of this package may change as newer versions are released. Check here for updated releases

Create the boot loader config:

cat <<EOF > /boot/loader.conf.local

Type exit and then choose 5) Reboot system from the menu. When the router reboots, it should find all the interfaces.

Reset to factory defaults

In case you already have an existing pfsense system, and you want to start from scratch, you don’t need to reinstall, you can simply reset it to factory defaults, and then you’ll have a fresh start with which to follow the rest of this guide. You can choose option 4) Reset to factory defaults in the console menu to do this.

Initial console setup

In the console, choose 1) Assign interfaces:

It will print out a list of all your network interfaces. In the case of the ODroid H3 there are six interfaces named re0,re1,re2,re3,re4, and re5.

Do VLANs need to be setup first?

This first question asks you whether to setup VLANs. For now, you need to choose No (press n and press Enter.) as you will set it up later using the web dashboard.

Enter the WAN interface name or 'a' for auto-detection

Enter re0 for the WAN device (this may be a different name depending on your hardware)

Enter the LAN interface name or 'a' for auto-detection

Enter re1 for the LAN device.

Enter the Optional 1 interface name or 'a' for auto-detection

Press Enter for none, you do not need to any of the other interfaces at this time.

Set the LAN address

In the console, choose 2) Set interface(s) IP address:

It will print out a list of the interfaces you just created. Choose 2 - LAN (re1 - static).

Configure IPv4 address LAN interface via DHCP? (y/n)

The LAN interface should use a static IP address, so you should choose n to disable the LAN interface DHCP setting (ie. pfsense should be the LAN DHCP server, and not get its IP from any other DHCP server).

Enter the new LAN IPv4 address:

Enter the address:

Enter the new LAN IPv4 subnet bit count (1 to 32):

Enter the bit count: 24

For a WAN, enter the new LAN IPv4 upstream gateway address. For a LAN, press <ENTER> for none:

Press Enter for none (there is no upstream LAN gateway)

Configure IPv6 address LAN interface via DHCP6? (y/n)

Choose n to disable the LAN interface IPv6 DHCP setting (again, pfesense has a static ip and will be the DHCP server)

Enter the new LAN IPv6 address. Press <ENTER> for none:

Press Enter for none (IPv6 will not be necessary for this installation.)

Do you want to enable the DHCP server on LAN (y/n)

Choose y (pfsense will be the DHCP server)

Enter the start address of the IPv4 client address range:

Enter the start address for DHCP range:

This reserves some room at the start from the 1->49 range for static ip address assignments.

Enter the end address of the IPv4 client address range:

Enter the end address for the DHCP range:

This too reserves some room at the end for static assignments.

Do you want to revert to HTTP as the webConfiguration protocol? (y/n)

Say y for now, to use unencrypted HTTP. But you may want to get a real certificate from ACME Let’s Encrypt, and then you can turn on HTTPS later on.

Finally the setup should conclude, and print the web configurator url, which in the demo case is:

You can now unplug the keyboard and monitor from the router as they won’t be needed again during normal usage.

Login to the web console

Connect a client machine into the LAN port of the router, and you should easily acquire a IPv4 address via DHCP. Assuming you’re the first one to connect, the address you receive should be

On the client, open a web browser to

Login with the default credentials:

  • username: admin
  • password: pfsense

Go through the initial setup wizard:

  • Enter the hostname: router
  • Enter the domain:
  • Enter the primary DNS server: (or whatever you prefer)
  • Enter the secondary DNS server: (or whatever you prefer)
  • Make sure that your browser does not automatically fill any saved passwords into any of the fields (eg. PPTP password), your browser does not understand the context it is in, and it likes to fill in the incorrect value here (which likely should remain empty instead).
  • Important set a secure admin passphrase
  • Click the Check for updates button and then Finish the wizard.

Reboot the router

It is recommended to reboot after the initial config, this will help to get the services started correctly, including the DNS resolver for the LAN. Under Diagnostics choose Reboot and wait for the router to reboot.

Enable the SSH server

It can be handy to be able to SSH into the router, but you need to be careful to configure it to require keys (no passwords!) and you need to keep your SSH key safe (password protected and/or use a hardware token).

Enable SSH:

  • Click on System
  • Click on Advancded
  • Click on Enable Secure Shell
  • Select from the SSHd key only option and choose Public Key Only.
  • Click Save

Add your SSH keys:

  • On your workstation, copy the contents of your SSH public key file (~/.ssh/ or grab it from your agent (ssh-add -L). If you haven’t got a key, use ssh-keygen.
  • Click on System
  • Click on User Manager
  • Click the edit button on the admin user.
  • Paste your ssh pub key into the field Authorized SSH Keys.
  • Click Save.

Rename LAN interface to MGMT

The second NIC (re1) was assigned to the LAN interface during initial setup, which is just the default name that pfsense uses. This NIC will actually be used only as a management interface, so let’s rename it to MGMT:

  • Click on Interfaces
  • Click on LAN
  • Edit the description and change it to MGMT
  • Click Save
  • Click Apply Changes

Create the LAGG0 and TRUNK interfaces

(Note: These instructions do work on an older 1Gb unifi switch, but I could not get the link aggregation to work on the Sodola switch. So you may want to skip creating the LAGG device, and simply create the TRUNK interface using a single physical NIC instead.)

To increase the LAN side bandwidth, Link Aggregation can be used to double the native link speed. The ODroid H3 has several 2.5Gbps links, so we will take re2 and re3 and create a bonded LAGG interface between them for an aggregate speed of 5Gbps. The network switch also must support LACP Link Aggregation and configure the ports you connect to be linked.

  • Click Interfaces
  • Click Assignments
  • You should only see two interfaces: WAN and MGMT. If you see any interfaces named OPTx (maybe you accidentally created these during the setup), you must delete them now with the Delete button.

Create the new aggregate link:

  • Click on the LAGGs tab
  • Click Add to create a new LAGG interface
  • Select both parent devices: re2 and re3
  • Choose the LAGG protocol: LACP
  • Enter the description: VLAN LAGG
  • Click Save
  • This will create the LAGG0 interface

Assign the interface:

  • Go back to the Interface Assignments tab
  • Select the LAGG0 interface under Available network ports.
  • Click the Add button next to the interface selection.
  • This will recreate the OPT1 interface, but assigned to the LAGG0 port.

Configure and rename the interface:

  • Click on OPT1
  • Click on Enable interface
  • Enter the description: TRUNK
  • Click Save
  • Click Apply Changes

Create the LAN VLAN

  • Click Interfaces
  • Click Assignments
  • Click on the VLANs tab
  • Click Add

Enter the new VLAN configuration:

  • Parent Interface: lagg0
  • VLAN tag: 132
  • VLAN priority: 0 (its the default, you can leave it empty)
  • Description: LAN
  • Click Save

Click on the Interface Assignments tab

  • Find the line at the bottom Available network ports
  • Choose from the list: VLAN 132 on lagg0 - opt1 (LAN)
  • Click on the Add button on the right

This will create a new interface named OPT2. Rename the interface to LAN now:

  • Click on OPT2.
  • Click on Enable interface
  • Enter the description: LAN
  • Enter the IPv4 Configuration Type: Static IPv4
  • Enter the IPv4 Address:
  • Make sure to change the subnet size to /24 (not /32).
  • Click Save
  • Click Apply Changes
  • Notice that the Interface is automatically renamed LAN (lagg0.132) on its configuration page to denote the physical interface(s) and the vlan id.

Turn on the DHCP server for the LAN VLAN:

  • Click on Services
  • Click on DHCP Server
  • Click on the LAN tab
  • Click Enable DHCP server on LAN interface
  • Enter the IP address pool range:
    • Start:
    • End:
  • Enter the domain name:
  • Click Save

Configure your switch

You need to read the manual for your switch to connect to the switch management interface. The manual for the Sodola 9-port switch is here

Note: I could not get link aggregation working on the Sodola switch, so the TRUNK interface is only using a single port.

The Sodola switch is configured with these ports configured from left to right:

  • Port 1: TRUNK (all tagged VLANs)
  • Port 2: LAN (untagged)
  • Port 3: LAN (untagged; secondary)
  • Port 4: IOT (untagged)
  • Port 5: APPS (untagged)
  • Port 6: TRUNK2 (all tagged VLANs, and goes to another switch)
  • Port 7: unused
  • Port 8: reserved for switch management
  • Port 9 (SFP+): unused

Connect a laptop to port 8, and configure the IP address: and connect to the management interface in your browser at Enter the default username and password: admin / admin

Create all the VLANs and PVID settings on the sodola switch via the management interface:

Sodola Switch 802.1Q VLANs
Sodola Switch 802.1Q VLANs
Sodola Switch VLAN port settings
Sodola Switch VLAN port settings

Create DNS resolver Access Lists

  • Click Services
  • Click DNS Resolver
  • Click on the Access Lists tab
  • Click Add to create a new access list
  • Enter the Access List name: allow from local networks
  • Enter the networks:
  • Click Save
  • Click Apply Changes

Set the default gateway

  • Click System
  • Click Routing
  • Select the Default gateway IPv4: WAN_DHCP

(There’s only the one gateway, so I would have thought the setting Automatic should have worked, but it did not. Without setting it to WAN_DHCP the DHCP client receives no default gateway.)

Reboot pfsense

After configuring all the interfaces etc., it is important to reboot pfsense to ensure everything is reconfigured properly. I have encountered a situation several times where the config looked right, but was not actually applied, and a reboot corrected it. When in doubt, reboot.

Test the LAN

Connect a client to the port on the switch that you tagged with the LAN (132) vlan. You should be able to get an IP address with DHCP, and assuming you are the first client to connect, it will be

Create the rest of the VLANs

Now repeat all of the same steps as in the Create the LAN VLAN section, but do it for the other VLANs, customizing the details for these particular networks:

  • IOT:
    • vlan tag: 133
    • ipv4 address:
    • DHCP range: ->
    • DHCP domain name:
  • APPS:
    • vlan tag: 134
    • ipv4 address:
    • DHCP range: ->
    • DHCP domain name:
  • WORK:
    • vlan tag: 135
    • ipv4 address:
    • DHCP range: ->
    • DHCP domain name:

Create firewall rules per VLAN

Newly created VLANs have no firewall rules by default, and so the DENY catch-all rule applies to everything. In order to get any traffic at all going in or out of the vlan, you need to create some ALLOW rules.

Create a firewall alias for private networks

To simplify the firewall rules, create an alias to match all private networks:

  • Click Firewall
  • Click Aliases
  • On the IP tab, Click Add
  • Enter the name: private_networks
  • Enter the description: Private Networks
  • Select the type: Network(s)
  • Enter the networks:
    • etc.
  • Click Save
  • Click Apply Changes

This assumes that the pfsense WAN is not itself behind a private network, if it is, you will need to carve out any private ranges that live on the WAN side to not be included in this alias.

Create default firewall rules for the LAN

  • Click Firewall
  • Click Rules
  • Click on the LAN tab
  • Click the Add button (the one with the down arrow) to create a rule at the bottom of the list:
    • Select the action: Pass
    • Select the interface: LAN
    • Select the address family: IPv4
    • Select the protocol: Any
    • Select the source: LAN net
    • Select the destination:
      • Choose This firewall (self)
    • Enter the description: Allow access to the router
    • Click Save
    • Click Apply Changes
  • Click the Add button (the one with the down arrow) to create a rule at the bottom of the list:
    • Select the action: Block
    • Select the interface: LAN
    • Select the address family: IPv4+IPv6
    • Select the protocol: Any
    • Select the source: any
    • Select the destination:
      • Choose Single host or alias
      • Enter the destination alias: private_networks (this should auto-complete, using the alias you created above)
    • Enter the description: Default block private networks
    • Click Save
    • Click Apply Changes
  • Click the Add button (the one with the down arrow) to create a rule at the bottom of the list:
    • Select the action: Pass
    • Select the interface: LAN
    • Select the protocol: Any
    • Select the source: LAN net
    • Enter the description: Default allow egress
    • Click Save
    • Click Apply Changes
Pfsense default firewall rules
Pfsense default firewall rules

You can copy these default rule to each of the other VLANs:

  • Select all of the new rules by clicking on the checkboxes.
  • Click the Copy button.
  • Select the destination interface: (do this once for IOT, APPS, and WORK)
  • Click Enable Interface Address/Net conversion.
  • Click Paste

You can now add any other custom rules per network that you need, these should go above the default rules, and below the Allow access to the router rule.

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