OpenBSD on Soekris Net5501 in 2023

Jurjen Bokma

Last modified: "2023-07-03 15:44:41 jurjen"


I have a Soekris Net5501 that was decommissioned > 10years ago but still works. It has eight independent wired 10/100Mbit/s NICs, but no WiFi. Before giving it away as a learning project, rather than a more ready-to-use pfSense, I'm putting OpenBSD on it, because OpenBSD is spartan, lightweight, very secure, and well-documented.

I'll do the following:

  • Boot from PXE.
  • Install some packages.
  • Enable network interfaces.
  • Filter network packets.

Table of Contents

Connecting the hardware.

The Net5501 has no connector for a monitor. It runs `headless` with a console over a serial cable.

My laptop doesn't have a serial port, so I bought a unofficial USB-to-Serial converter at Okaphone (direct link). This is a `cheap clone`, not the thrice-the-price officially sanctioned hardware. It works for me.

Procedure 1. Connecting the cables
  1. The USB end of the USB-to-Serial converter goes into a USB port on the laptop.

  2. One end of a female-to-female RS232 serial cable goes into the other end of the USB-to-Serial converter.

  3. The RS232 cable's other end goes into the Soekris' 'Console' port.

  4. The Soekris also power - duh.

  5. And for now, we connect one of its network sockets to our network.

That makes three sockets next to one another plugged on the Soekris: the power input, the serial console, and one RJ45 socket.