Home > Support, Technology > Updating Realtek Drivers for PFSense on a ZOTAC ZBox

Updating Realtek Drivers for PFSense on a ZOTAC ZBox

A long while back I built a ZOTAC Zbox (ZBOX-CI323NANO-U) to run PFSense and act as my router. For the most part, it has worked pretty well.  The features are great, without any of the gimmicky stuff you’d find on a consumer router. It’s also a lot more upgradable than a consumer router.

One problem though, on occasion I’d have to restart the ZBOX when the internet would stop working. The display I had connected to the PFSense machine said this during a failure:

re1: watchdog timeout

Each time the error occurred, I would hunt around the internet for a few minutes to find a solution, but I was never able to find one. I gave up for a while. But recently I took a deeper dive.

I found some pages blaming the default network adapter drivers and how they don’t work well with realtek adapters. I also found this page announcing new realtek drivers. I’ve dabbled with Linux a bit, but I’d still consider myself pretty novice. It was pretty difficult for me to get the drivers copied over to the machine, and then installed.

Here’s the process I followed to get them installed:

  1. Download drivers
  2. Extract ZIP file
    1. I put mine on my desktop.
  3. Identify the IP address of your PFSense Router
  4. Open terminal
  5. Change directory to the desktop of your local machine
    1. Command “cd” will change directory
    2. Opening the terminal on a Mac should put you into your user’s home director. So “cd desktop” should bring you to the desktop as your working directory, and where the file is located
      cd desktop
  6. Copy the file with the SCP command.
    1. Make sure to use the “root” username, not “admin”, for the target.
    2. When entering a directory structure “..” will go up, or back, one level.
    3. Default directory on target is “root” so that has to be changed to the kernel folder.
    4. My full command was:
      scp if_re.ko root@
  7. You should get prompted for a password and then a progress indicator will show that the system is copying the file
  8. Now, SSH into the PFSense machine; enter your password when prompted
    ssh admin@
  9. Enter “8” to get to the shell
  10. Change directory to the kernel folder

    cd ../boot/kernel

  11.  Modify the file
    chown root:wheel if_re.ko
    chmod 0555 if_re.ko
  12. Open your PFSense admin page ( in your browser
  13. Go to Diagnostics -> Edit File
  14. Location: /boot/loader.conf.local
  15. Edit the file to look like this (if copy/pasting, replace smart-quotes with standard quotes):
  16. Save

During the process, I ended up replacing my loader.conf file with a blank new one. So if that happens, here is the correct details I got from a fresh install file (if copy/pasting, replace smart-quotes with standard quotes):


So far, I’ve had no problems! Wahoo for stable internet!

  1. Charlie Hayes
    February 15, 2019 at 2:50 AM

    I think I might be having the same problem. Thanks for the instructions!

    I went through them, restarted, but continued having freezing over and over.

    I went back into the loader.conf and that’s when I realized: The double quotes were smart-quoted! I fixed them, restarted, and it’s been working fine since.

    • February 15, 2019 at 6:18 PM

      Sorry about the smart quotes. WordPress.com replaces standard quotes with smart quotes, against my will. The content in the backend does not have smart quotes. They are replaced on the fly apparently. I added added to instructions to watch for that. Thanks!

    • February 19, 2019 at 2:55 PM

      Fixed the code formatting.

  2. SC
    June 24, 2019 at 2:25 PM

    Is there a way of confirming that the drivers were indeed updated?

  3. JJ FEI
    May 5, 2020 at 5:21 AM

    This worked for me. thanks so much! i’m running pfsense 2.4.5. Downloaded the package from https://forum.netgate.com/assets/uploads/files/1585583884639-if_re_ko_v195_freebsd-11.3_64bit.zip and followed the steps above. The NIC now works like a charm.

    use the command following command to check if the newly added driver can be loaded without a reboot

    kldload if_re.ko

  4. Lars
    June 10, 2020 at 1:41 PM

    Fabulous! Finally a easy to follow solution to this menace. Why don’t PfSense put this info out there for everyone to find easily? I used BitWise SSH client for easy console and file upload.

    • June 10, 2020 at 2:08 PM

      Better question, why doesn’t PfSense include the better driver?

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