Today, we are announcing that the Home+Lab version of pfSense Plus, the commercial fork of the popular open-source firewall pfSense, is no longer available for free download. The decision to stop offering the Home+Lab version of pfSense Plus was made in order to align Netgate’s business model to better serve our worldwide customer base and partners while continuing to invest in the development and support of the product.
Further, unauthorized redistribution of pfSense Plus Home+Lab software is a growing challenge. Multiple appliance vendors are downloading the pfSense Plus Home+Lab commercial version of the software and installing it on their own appliances, which they then sell on multiple online marketplaces and their own websites. In addition to copyright violations and other legal issues, this illicit activity puts our valued relationships with all of our stakeholders in peril. Not only is this bad behavior - it puts our customers and community at risk from software supply chain attacks - it also dilutes the value and tarnishes the reputation of the pfSense brand when the software does not work as expected.
At the time of the pfSense Plus software launch in early 2021, we announced intentions to expand deployment options beyond our own appliances and cloud partners so that users who elect to use non-Netgate hardware in a home/lab environment, either in bare metal or a virtual machine for non-commercial use, would have the opportunity to take advantage of the enhanced security features, regular updates, and additional benefits pfSense Plus provides as compared to pfSense CE.
On February 14, 2022, we announced the availability of a no-cost Home+Lab upgrade path for users of pfSense CE to pfSense Plus, our flagship secure networking product targeted at businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies. Since announcing the availability of the Home+Lab download, pfSense Plus Home+Lab has been installed thousands of times in 2023 alone.
At this time, we’ve taken down the free pfSense Plus Home+Lab option to clear up any confusion remaining between the pfSense Community Edition open-source code and the commercial fork of pfSense called pfSense Plus.
Moving Forward with pfSense Plus
pfSense CE users who wish to upgrade to pfSense Plus on a non-Netgate appliance or virtual environment will need a TAC subscription. With this change, our “Zero-to-Ping” support option (also referred to as TAC-Lite) is only available on Netgate appliances, pfSense Plus instances in AWS and Azure procured via their respective marketplaces, and on commodity hardware appliances with a TAC PRO or TAC ENTERPRISE subscription.
Current pfSense CE Users
For those of you currently using pfSense CE, you will not be affected by this change. You can continue to use pfSense CE at no cost, and you will continue to receive updates and security patches as they are made available. This is the ideal solution for home labs that do not require a TAC subscription or frequent updates while experiencing a similar feature set and peace of mind that your network is protected. pfSense CE is a fantastic solution for your home lab or proof of concept (POC) project to see if pfSense Plus might be the right solution for your network security needs.
Upgrading from pfSense CE to pfSense Plus
If you wish to upgrade your pfSense CE installation to pfSense Plus, you can visit our subscription page to select a TAC PRO or TAC ENTERPRISE option, based on your individual or business needs. You can find the difference between TAC PRO and TAC ENTERPRISE here.
Once you have selected an option and successfully checked out of our online store, you will receive an email with an upgrade token to be copied and pasted into pfSense CE. This will provide the entitlement to upgrade.
Further benefits of a TAC subscription include:
- Regular software updates: Security updates, bug fixes, improved features, release packaging, distribution, and more.
- TAC Assistance: pfSense Plus users have access to commercial support options from Netgate TAC, which includes 24/7 phone and/or email, depending on your individual or business requirements.
- Hardware compatibility: pfSense Plus is designed to run on a wide range of hardware, including Netgate appliances, Amazon Web Services (AWS) instances, Microsoft Azure instances, and other off-the-shelf commodity hardware. Keep in mind that pfSense Plus on Netgate appliances and in the cloud marketplace is tested to ensure compatibility, functionality, and reliability.
- Additional features: Cryptographic Accelerator Support (such as QAT and IIMB), driver support for a wide range of commodity hardware, Firewall Ethernet Filtering, OpenVPN DCO, as well as many upcoming enhancements, which will not be made available in pfSense CE.
- Volume discounts available: For volume sales, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with one of our sales professionals.
What Happens to my Current Install of pfSense Home and Lab?
If you currently have pfSense Plus Home+Lab installed, you can continue to use it. As we continue the transition away from the free version of Home+Lab, the ability to get timely updates with bug fixes and improved features may be limited and would require a TAC subscription. If you need to reinstall your Home+Lab version, we will be unable to provide a no-cost upgrade path from pfSense CE.
What Happens to my TAC Lite Subscription on my Netgate Appliance?
Netgate appliances are not impacted by the transition away from Home+Lab in any way. If you purchased a Netgate appliance without a TAC PRO or TAC ENTERPRISE subscription, you automatically have TAC Lite (Zero-to-Ping) that will remain active for the life of the appliance.
What if I Need Technical Assistance with my Home+Lab Installation?
If you have a Netgate appliance, you automatically have a TAC Lite subscription and can reach out anytime to our TAC support group.
If you do not have a Netgate appliance and need assistance with your current Home+Lab installation, you can obtain a TAC PRO or TAC ENTERPRISE subscription. Visit our subscription page for more information.