Hardware purchase for amateur use

although I haven’t decided, I’m thinking about buying a machine for installing IpFire.
It only serves me for amateur use and for pure passion. List of needs:

  1. Free from operating system
  2. At least 4GB of RAM
  3. 4 built-in gigabit network cards
  4. Ability to connect a monitor
  5. At least one USB 3.0 port
  6. Hard Disk big enough to contain IpFire
  7. Automatic reboot in case of power failure/restore
  8. Lowest possible price but good product
  9. Very low energy consumption

What do you recommend?
Thanks in advance.

Hello @casabenedetti.

What you are looking for is this:

What fails is point 4. A monitor cannot be connected to it, but I have many installed on Clients and it is not necessary at all. Using Serial, you can do the same as with monitor.

They also sell a cheap USB to Serial on the same website.

But if you don’t want to mess around and play it safe (with great support), you can look here:




I thank you for the answer.
These machine fascinate me a lot. Perhaps the cheapest one for me is the one I saw in the PDF: “IPFire Mini Appliance” (which seems to me to be the apu4d4 machine to be assembled). But even if you assemble it yourself, I’ve seen that the costs for the “apu4d4” board alone are around 300€. Plus all the accessories, I think it’s a good expense, even if I think that’s the price for a good firewall.
For now I keep these products in mind. For the use that I need now (games and experiments) I shouldn’t spend so much on it. If (hopefully) one day my job will change, I will reevaluate buying a more serious “IpFire” than the current one.
Thanks again for the suggestions.

If you are not interested in building your own PC, then search online for “firewall appliance”. However, you will find that most won’t have the processing power to run VM well.


Yes you are right. I just searched for “firewall appliance”.
I found ready-made firewalls and with other distributions installed. For this I can always format them and install IpFire. But assembling a PC for me is also not a problem.
It’s the price that holds me back. I have the impression that, whatever procedure I use (manual construction or buying it ready), I still have to spend a few hundred euros for a good firewall.
I was given a mini PC running Windows 10. I turned this machine into an IpFire firewall, adding 3 USB gigabit network cards and installing the x64 distribution myself, downloaded from ipfire.org.
It’s not the best, but for my studies I can be satisfied for now, even if I confess that the desire to buy a good IpFire machine is great. It will be for the future.
For now, thanks for the replies.

Just to provide additional information.
I hope you can see a lot of helpful/interesting information on the following page


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Even if I don’t buy it for now, the desire to investigate is great.
Searching on Amazon I found this:

Referred to the “apu4d4” model that you suggested.
Is the price good (€298.49)? Is the machine good? Is it complete with all the pieces except the software?

if I buy the complete hardware (apu4d4) directly from you how does it work? How much would I spend (in euros)?

Just another link APU2E5 bundle - board, power supply, memory, housing, Intel i211 NIC | PC Engines | Varia-Store
or just look at PC Engines sales


Where are the Lightning Wire Labs appliances manufactured?
I note they don’t have HDMI port(s)

I think you don’t need this.
A serial connection for the console shell is sufficient. Serial ports are simple and there are enough USB<->Serial adapters available for PC hardware lacking a serial port.
A graphical interface always needs the drivers for the HW, serial drivers are ‘good old standard’.


I really think you are right.
I am more and more tempted to buy ‘APU4D4’, the one with 4 gigabit ports and 16Gb of ram emulated in SSD (I think I understand). So I put on all 4 IpFire networks.
I think I’ll get myself this New Year’s gift.
On my current IpFire machine, I recently did a test using the serial port instead of the vga port. It didn’t work for me, but I think my VGA card is to blame for preventing ‘serial graphics transmission’. I’m right?
In fact, I tried to attempt a clean installation of IpFire connected via serial. Graphics/serial communication worked until the PC’s integrated graphics card was detected.
I think with ‘APU4D4’ I won’t have this problem. In conclusion, the serial port is comparable to a ‘real vga port’. I used Putty for windows.

This is not relevant to IPFire, which does not itself have a graphical interface. The WUI works as well for the several ARM SBC, which don’t have any graphics chip/function. The text-mode video interface, for the console, does require fairly basic drivers, of which there are not many in the x86_64 world.

I find the serial interface on Friendlyarm boards a pain. “waking up” the serial link is unreliable and “hard” rebooting invariably corrupts the FAT32 /boot partition.

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The lack of HDMI was really just an observation.
My main interest is where they are manufactured and assembled.

There are two main strategies to realize the system console.

  • Standalone systems ( embedded control systems, … ) often offer just a simple serial port as console.
  • ‘PC like’ systems which include a graphical user interface in the OS use the keyboard-mouse-monitor approach. VGA is the basic standard.

Because IPFire doesn’t provide a GUI ( administration is done by a browser based interface ), it isn’t necessary to use the keyboard/monitor approach. A single simple serial connector is sufficient to access the console. The APU systems of PCEngines are those ‘minimal’ systems.

BTW: the SSD isn’t a RAM device, it is the hard disk of the system.


Usually the ‘waking up’ of the serial interface is just plugging in the connector.


In fact, I don’t understand how this machine works. I read that it has 4gb DDR3.
I saw that it comes with an SSD, which I thought was the hard drive as you told me. Instead I read that it needs an SD card to boot.
I’ve read that it comes with 16GB of memory.
So I figured it uses a SSD Hard Drive as emulated memory. But I understood very little.

I summarize the 3 points that are not clear to me:
Memory: 16 GB mSATA SSD module
Storage: Boot from SD card (internal sdhci controller)

The question is: If you have a 16Gb Hard Disk SSD to install IpFire, why do you need an SD card card to boot?

Or maybe it’s like this:
16gb hard drive for booting
Ram 4GB
SD slot for possible “additional boot”

you don’t, at least with the apu2 (but I believe it is the same for the apu 4), as you can boot from any storage device, including a regular sata hard disk, which you can have if you mod the case or buy an alternative case.

Edit: I forgot to mention that those machines have two alternative intel ethernet cards, either the i210 or i211. Contrary to what the name would imply, the 210 is superior with 4 queues instead of 2 for the 211. This means that in certain situations you might have a bottle-neck and a slower traffic with the latter. I can attest that the 210 is a near gigabit speed with IPFire, if I do not use the intrusion prevention system.


Thank you also for the valuable insights into building the system console. Now everything is much clearer to me and I realize that I have made a lot of confusion between “using the serial port as a console” and “graphical user interface”. :blush: