Realtek RTL8111 ExpressCard works well with FreeBSD / pfSense

Posted: May 4th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Expresscard NIC, FreeBSD, pfSense, Realtek 8111 | No Comments »

With the price of older Intel Core iseries laptops plummeting to ~$100 levels. I have decided to abandon OpenWRT and move to pfSense. I am not too comfortable with OpenWRT’s update mechanism, which requires a wholesale reflash every time for major updates. Not to mention due to different SoCs’ inconsistencies when a new model comes out there are weird tweaks you need to make. I think pfSense is more flexible in the software sense (built in FreeRADIUS, Cert management and Captive Portal are handy for guest wifi), of course it requires more robust hardware. Downside is Thinkpad’s Centrino network adaptor card does not support HostAP mode due to power requirements, so I guess the old router is still good for something 😉

The obvious problem with laptops is most of them only come with a single Ethernet NIC. I am using a Thinkpad T420 as a test bed, so I found a Realtek RTL8111 ExpressCARD to be the second NIC. It wasn’t listed on any FreeBSD compatibility lists, but I would like to report that a generic one works just fine. I find the Thinkpad’s card slot not seating the card properly, it slip the card in and out few times to get seated, once that’s done it works great.