IPFire on Azure

This project is on GitHub.

IPFire is a nimble, Linux based firewall that is widely used by enthusiasts and organizations alike. IPFire doesn’t style itself as an enterprise class solution, being primarily geared at SOHO and medium-sized organizations. Its compact size however makes it ideal for running edge protection as a virtual appliance on a cloud-based virtual data center as well as a way to control access to resources in the VDC.

This little project started grew out of a desire to get IPFire on Azure after having successfully got Untangle (another excellent firewall distro) to run on Azure. IPFire on Azure enables networks to have more fine grained control over network policy than that which is offered with standard network components on Azure like NSG’s. The typical network topology on Azure is to carve up a Virtual Network into subnets and use a firewall or sort to control access between the subnets. The configurration in this template is a fairly standard set up for networks of all types with a public subnet with an edge device that controls access to a private subnet.


Pound-for-pound, IPFire offers a many of the same features commercial firewalls offer at no cost because everything in on IPFire is open source including content filtering, road-warrior VPN (OpenVPN or IPSec), site-to-site VPN (OpenVPN or IPSec), intrusion detection, DHCP services, DNS services, integrated dynamic DNS, firewall, geoblocking, reverse proxying (w/ HAProxy), spam filtering, antivirus, file services, QoS, NTP and much more…


To setup IPFire on Azure, you’ll need:

Setting up IPFire on Azure

  1. In Powershell, login to Azure. This will launch a dialog to prompt for your Azure credentials
  2. Create a new resource group. The Name parameter is the name of the resource group to create, and the Location is the Azure Regions you want to host IPFire in.
     New-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name "ipfire" -Location "East US"
  3. Create a storage account. The ResourceGroupName and Location should match the resource group you just created. Select Standard_LRS for SkuName and set Kind to Storage. If you plan on running a very busy IPFire firewall, you may want to change the SkuName to Premium_LRS as it is much faster. The Name of the storage account will have to be unique.
     New-AzureRmStorageAccount -ResourceGroupName ipfire -Name youripfire -Location "East US" -SkuName "Standard_LRS" -Kind "Storage"
  4. Upload the VHD. Azure will create a hash of the the image then upload it. This may take some time depending on your connection speed and CPU speed of your local machine. Change the name of the after the https:// in Destination to match your storage account name. (i.e. https://youripfire.blob….) Make sure the ResourceGroupName matches the name give to the resource group created in Step 2. The LocalFilePath is simply the path to the .vhd file for the IPFire image.
     Add-AzureRmVhd -ResourceGroupName ipfire6 -Destination "https://ipfire.blob.core.windows.net/vhds/ipfire.vhd" -LocalFilePath "path\to\ipFire.vhd"

    When the upload completes, note the DestinationUri for the VHD. This will be needed in the next step.

  5. Edit the ipfire.parameters.json file. Set the value of osDiskVhdUri to the DestinationUri for the VHD from Step 4. Set the vmName to something unique. This will be part of a URL that is used to connect to IPFire. The vmSize is set to Standard_A1, which is a single core VM with 1.75 GB of RAM, which is sufficient for more modest loads. Azure has a number of options available for more powerful VM’s should the Standard_A1 not be sufficient. Save the file.
  6. Run the ARM Template. Ensure that the path to the TemplateFile and the TemplateParameterFile are set to the path on your computer and the the ResourceGroupName matches the name given in Step 2. This will provision the VM and Azure resources needed to run the VM.
     New-AzureRmResourceGroupDeployment -Name "ipfire" -ResourceGroupName "ipfire"  -Mode Incremental  -TemplateFile path\to\ipfire.json  -TemplateParameterFile \path\to\ipfire.parameters.json  -Force -Verbose

    Pay attention to the output – it will display an output called sshCommand. You can use this command to connect to the VM on Azure if you have an SSH client like on Mac and Linux.

  7. For Mac or Linux: Once the VM starts, you can connect to it with your favorite SSH client. Copy the sshCommand output from Step 6 and paste it into the terminal. Add -L 444: flag between the ssh and the root@. Your command should look something like the following command:
     ssh -L 444: root@ipfire-vm.eastus.cloudapp.azure.com
  8. For Windows, Open Putty. On the menu on the left, select Session and paste in the DNS name for the host portion (ie. ipfire-vm.eastus.cloudapp.azure.com) into Host Name (or IP Address).

  9.  On the left, scroll down and select Connection -> SSH -> Tunnels. In Source port, type in 444. For Destination, type in Make sure Local is selected, then click Add. Click Open. Putty will prompt you with login as. Enter root. Next, enter the password. If you downloaded the image, enter in password1 for the password.

  10. Once logged in, run setup to change the ‘root’ password and ‘admin’ password. Do not change any other settings. Quit when finished.

    Setup IPFire
    Setup IPFire
  11. Open a browser and point it https://localhost:444. You may receive a message that the site is not secure. This is OK. Simply click past this. Logon with admin and the new password set in Step 9. You may want to change the SSH ports or make other changes to the firewall. Be careful though that you do not cut off access to the firewall by creating a rule that blocks SSH traffic or removing the existing rule that lets it in from the outside.

That’s it – Once you’re able to logon, your instance of IPFire is ready to go.

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