When I set out to find a budget 1u rack mounted Firewall to install RouterOS on, I discovered the WatchGuard Firebox. I have zero experience using Watchguard products, but I discovered there is quite a following for this hardware platform and discussion on pfSense related websites, blogs and forums discussing various methods of modifying these Firebox units, including manipulating the bios, adding vga outputs, keyboard inputs, and hard disks, I figured this looks like fun, so what the heck. I ordered a Watchguard Firebox x1250e off ebay for around $100. The good news is that you wont need to haggle with any of that nonsense the pfSense crowd has to deal with, in order to get this working.
I googled around a bit to find out as much as I could about the procedures and if anybody else had any success at doing what I was about to attempt. I could find very little related to Mikrotik RouterOS being installed on WatchGuard Firebox units. Besides a few posts from a decade ago on Mikrotiks forums about a few guys who got it to work back in the day, there was nothing. Which is precisely why I am writing this article, so that the next person whos googling, will find this article and know, that the answer is YES, you can do it, and YES its very easy.
The unit arrived with a bad powersupply, which I had to ordered, once I had that taken care of, I quickly got the unit up and began testing it. I wasnt able to login to the web interface, even after resettig it following the procedures on Watchguards website for factory reset, the damn thing still had somebodies configuration loading.
I attempted to boot the unit over PXE but without vga or bios control I was unable to do so, I also attempted to pxe boot a laptop and install RouterOS via the network into the cf card, but my laptop couldnt see the cf card from a netinstall. So I simply loaded up Netinstall and installed directly to the stock 512mb CF Card that shipped with the unit.
After placing the CF Card back into the Firebox x1250, the unit seemed to not be doing anything, however, after careful observation the LED indicator was pegged solid, and would flicker occasionally. I decided to leave it alone, and Im glad that I did. After waiting about 10 minutes, and hearing a system beep at the end of each bootup I concluded that it took about 2-4 reboots for RouterOS to configure itself before it was finished.
After waiting patiently, RouterOS x86 finally finished installing on my unmodified, stock Firebox x1250e. I installed the optional LCD package which can be downloaded from RouterOS.com And after tinkering around a bit, I discovered there is a selection of different LCD types from within the LCD Package menu, the vitek-vc2025-2 was the option that worked for the x1250e unit that I had. It just worked, like a charm. Good job Mikrotik!
I have just purchased an x86 Level 4 RouterOS License from Roc-Noc and I am extremely happy with the outcome. Just a heads up, youll need to wait a while for RocNoc to email you your license, but dont worry, they will, if you are impatient just email them, a rep will send you your license relatively quickly.
Next, after publishing this blog entry, I will proceed to setup firewall rules and schedule the automatic DNS Ads and Malicious blacklist updates from Squidblacklist.org. I have also decided to order a replacedment OLED to upgrade the ugly yellow display and a cpu upgrade to max out the cpu, with a Pentium M 780 CPU. Which should arrive from China next week. I will update this article with the results of those modifications once they are performed.
To be continued….