Installing pfSense on APU boards over serial

Posted by Pawel Suwala on 

This tutorial should work on Linux, OSX and Windows.

4 steps overview:

  1. Download memstick-serial release of the operating system you want to install.
  2. Burn the image on the USB drive
  3. Connect the USB drive and serial cable to APU board
  4. Start putty and connect

Now, more details:

Download pfSense image

Go to and select the "USB Memstick Installer" from the platform dropdown.

Burn the image on the USB drive

If you are using Linux/OSX, you should use dd to prepare the USB stick:

sudo dd if=pfSense-CE-memstick-2.4.0-RC-amd64.img of=/dev/sdg

Make sure that if= specifies the exact location of the downloaded file and of= specifies your USB device. If you make a mistake here, you might overwrite your hard drive!

If you are using Windows, use Rufus: 

Connect USB and Serial cable to APU board

If you have a USB-to-serial cable, it will look like on the picture. Regular null-modem cable also works, but looks slightly different. 

If you are using Linux/OSX, make sure that your tty device shows up in /dev/. If you have a USB cable, you should see /dev/ttyUSB0, if you have a regular cable you should see /dev/ttyS0

Verify with ls: 

root@homedesktop:# ls /dev/ttyUSB0 

If you are using Windows, your Serial port will simply be called COM1

All good. Ready to connect.


Make sure you have putty installed, and start it as root:

sudo putty

Enter the values as you see below: 


Click open and your session should start. It should look similar to this:


Wait for the USB to boot, and follow the instructions on the screen:


Good luck!