Help needed with Alix 2C3



  • Hello,

    I'm a m0n0wall refugee, left when I finally figured out that m0n0wall won't work
    with Alix 2C3 since the ethernet driver in m0n0wall is broken.  Loses connectivity
    after a few hours, needs reboot to fix.  Feh!

    I'm trying to get pfSense up and running, but cannot connect to it at all via ethernet.

    I've downloaded pfSense-1.2.1-Embedded.img and dd'd it onto a 256M CF card.
    Booted up with a 9600 baud terminal attached, told pfSense to configure vf0 as LAN,
    vf1 as WAN, vr2 as OPT1.  There was nothing attached to the ethernet ports at the
    time.  Once the post setup sequence finished, I powered the Alix off, and moved it
    to the room with the computers.

    I hooked a laptop to the ethernet connector nearest the power jack, and ran "dhclient eth0"
    (as root, ubuntu 8.04 box, i386) and the laptop cannot get an IP address from the dhcp
    server allegedly running on the pfSense box.  I tried the other two ethernet jacks just
    for fun, but no different result.

    What am I doing wrong?  I see from other posts that people are using Alix 2C3 successfully,
    so I must just have done something wrong, but I haven't a clue what.

    Thanks in advance,
    Bill Dudley



  • I think it would be best that you moved the terminal where you have the router and try to install with it hooked up. I would also verify that the ports are working some how even if you have to statically assign them.



  • Are you using the latest BIOS? I've been using m0n0 (v1.3b13) on a 2C3 for many months just fine.



  • @smiggy:

    Are you using the latest BIOS? I've been using m0n0 (v1.3b13) on a 2C3 for many months just fine.

    Ah yes, the famous "latest BIOS" suggestion.

    How would the BIOS have anything to do with the performance of the Ethernet ports?
    Unless I mis-understand, FreeBSD boots, and uses it's own drivers for the ports, and
    the BIOS is not involved at all after boot-up.  Further, if you read the BIOS change list,
    there is no mention of the ethernet ports, at least since my board was made, about
    a year ago.

    I realize that some people on the m0n0wall list claim to have success with the 2C3,
    but others besides myself are haunted by the port failure problem.  Finally somebody
    on the list admitted that this would never work reliably, since m0n0wall was based
    on FreeBSD 6.3, older than the 7.x upon which pfSense is based, and the ethernet
    driver in that older version was broken.

    See the email from Jukka Salmi on Jan 29th that I have pasted below.

    My only explanation for your success is that perhaps there are subtle hardware
    differences in the Alix 2C3 boards, and that some are "faster" or "pinker"
    or something, and the m0n0wall driver works with those, and mine's too "slow"
    or "blue" or whatever, and the driver is sensitive to these differences.

    Thanks,
    Bill

    Jukka Salmi to m0n0wall  Jan 29 (7 days ago)

    Jukka Salmi –> m0n0wall (2009-01-27 14:02:16 +0100):
    […]

    I tried FreeBSD (m0n0wall) on WRAP (sis(4)) boards and could not
    reproduce the problem.  I also could not reproduce it when running Linux
    on the ALIX board.  However, NetBSD (which seems to use the same driver
    as FreeBSD) on ALIX showed the same problems; executing `ifconfig vr0
    up' printed "vr0: using force reset command." and made the connection
    work again.  Seems to be a driver problem…

    ...which seems to have been fixed by some major [1]changes to vr(4)
    almost a year ago.  Or at least the driver notices the problem and
    resets:

    vr0: vr_link_task: Tx/Rx shutdown error – resetting
      vr0: restarting
      vr0: vr_stop: Rx shutdown error
      vr0: Using force reset command.

    IIUC this change has been MFC to 7.1.  Actually I tested it with pfSense
    1.2.2 which (according to dmesg) is 7.0 but nevertheless they seem to
    have the fixed driver.  I wonder whether they back-ported it themselves
    or if there's a patch available.  Of course I'd be interested in seeing
    such a patch for 6.3 and thus for m0n0wall... ;-)

    BTW, is it still possible to build a custom m0n0wall image and upload it
    using the firmware upload mechanism?  Or will it be rejected because
    it's not signed?

    Cheers, Jukka

    [1] http://svn.freebsd.org/viewvc/base?view=revision&revision=177050



  • @g4m3c4ck:

    I think it would be best that you moved the terminal where you have the router and try to install with it hooked up. I would also verify that the ports are working some how even if you have to statically assign them.

    Once pfSense has had it's initial startup, is there anything else the terminal can do?

    Is the port nearest the power supply jack "vr0" ?
    ftp://reflection.ncsa.uiuc.edu/pub/pfSense//tutorials/wrap_install/wrap_install.htm seems to tell me that's true
    for the WRAP board.

    Is the WRAP board firmware the same as for the Alix board?

    Even if I statically assign my laptop to an address in 192.168.1.0/24, I cannot ping 192.168.1.1.  Does pfSense
    respond to ICMP packets?

    Can I telnet or ssh to it?  Is there any password?

    Is the default address of the LAN port 192.168.1.1 ?

    Sorry to be so dense, it's hard finding this stuff in the documentation.

    Bill Dudley



  • @wfdudley:

    Once pfSense has had it's initial startup, is there anything else the terminal can do?

    Is the port nearest the power supply jack "vr0" ?

    Is the WRAP board firmware the same as for the Alix board?

    Even if I statically assign my laptop to an address in 192.168.1.0/24, I cannot ping 192.168.1.1.  Does pfSense
    respond to ICMP packets?

    Can I telnet or ssh to it?  Is there any password?

    Is the default address of the LAN port 192.168.1.1 ?

    1. You can reboot, re-assign interfaces, drop to a shell, etc. from the terminal.
    2. The port nearest the power jack/usb is vr0
    3. Both m0n0wall (1.3b15) and pfSense use the embedded image for Alix/Wraps.
    4. pfSense responds to ICMP on the LAN by default.
    5. You can ssh. admin/pfsense is the default.
    6. The default address of the LAN port is 192.168.1.1

    I haven't run m0n0wall much on the Alix- it should be supported under the 1.3beta branch, but I have around two dozen 2c3's in the field and most are running 1.2 release. 1.2 is based on FreeBSD 6.2, so the 1.3 branch of m0n0 should have the same vr driver and I haven't seen any issues. But maybe I'm just lucky. So far, the only problems I have had have been a couple of bad cf cards and a bad a/c adapter.
    And don't be so harsh to the suggestion that you check the BIOS version- versions prior to .99 are know to not run pfSense stably. The BIOS controls the interrupts and such, which have an effect on how the OS handles the hardware.



  • @dotdash:

    @wfdudley:

    Once pfSense has had it's initial startup, is there anything else the terminal can do?

    Is the port nearest the power supply jack "vr0" ?

    Is the WRAP board firmware the same as for the Alix board?

    Even if I statically assign my laptop to an address in 192.168.1.0/24, I cannot ping 192.168.1.1.  Does pfSense
    respond to ICMP packets?

    Can I telnet or ssh to it?  Is there any password?

    Is the default address of the LAN port 192.168.1.1 ?

    1. You can reboot, re-assign interfaces, drop to a shell, etc. from the terminal.
    2. The port nearest the power jack/usb is vr0
    3. Both m0n0wall (1.3b15) and pfSense use the embedded image for Alix/Wraps.
    4. pfSense responds to ICMP on the LAN by default.
    5. You can ssh. admin/pfsense is the default.
    6. The default address of the LAN port is 192.168.1.1

    I haven't run m0n0wall much on the Alix- it should be supported under the 1.3beta branch, but I have around two dozen 2c3's in the field and most are running 1.2 release. 1.2 is based on FreeBSD 6.2, so the 1.3 branch of m0n0 should have the same vr driver and I haven't seen any issues. But maybe I'm just lucky. So far, the only problems I have had have been a couple of bad cf cards and a bad a/c adapter.
    And don't be so harsh to the suggestion that you check the BIOS version- versions prior to .99 are know to not run pfSense stably. The BIOS controls the interrupts and such, which have an effect on how the OS handles the hardware.

    Well, my Alix 2C3 with 0.98 Bios is definately not happy with pfSense.  We're apparently not finishing the boot
    since the console interface never comes up with a menu or prompt of any kind.

    I guess I'll bit the bullet and try to upgrade the bios, and see what that does for me.

    Thanks for your time,
    Bill



  • @wfdudley:

    @dotdash:

    @wfdudley:

    Once pfSense has had it's initial startup, is there anything else the terminal can do?

    Is the port nearest the power supply jack "vr0" ?

    Is the WRAP board firmware the same as for the Alix board?

    Even if I statically assign my laptop to an address in 192.168.1.0/24, I cannot ping 192.168.1.1.  Does pfSense
    respond to ICMP packets?

    Can I telnet or ssh to it?  Is there any password?

    Is the default address of the LAN port 192.168.1.1 ?

    1. You can reboot, re-assign interfaces, drop to a shell, etc. from the terminal.
    2. The port nearest the power jack/usb is vr0
    3. Both m0n0wall (1.3b15) and pfSense use the embedded image for Alix/Wraps.
    4. pfSense responds to ICMP on the LAN by default.
    5. You can ssh. admin/pfsense is the default.
    6. The default address of the LAN port is 192.168.1.1

    I haven't run m0n0wall much on the Alix- it should be supported under the 1.3beta branch, but I have around two dozen 2c3's in the field and most are running 1.2 release. 1.2 is based on FreeBSD 6.2, so the 1.3 branch of m0n0 should have the same vr driver and I haven't seen any issues. But maybe I'm just lucky. So far, the only problems I have had have been a couple of bad cf cards and a bad a/c adapter.
    And don't be so harsh to the suggestion that you check the BIOS version- versions prior to .99 are know to not run pfSense stably. The BIOS controls the interrupts and such, which have an effect on how the OS handles the hardware.

    Well, my Alix 2C3 with 0.98 Bios is definately not happy with pfSense.  We're apparently not finishing the boot
    since the console interface never comes up with a menu or prompt of any kind.

    I guess I'll bit the bullet and try to upgrade the bios, and see what that does for me.

    Thanks for your time,
    Bill

    Well, this isn't going at all well.

    I upgraded the bios to 0.99h.  A bit tricky, since I do not run Windoze, and most of the techniques on the pcengines site
    want you to run windoze.  But the Alix isn't bricked, it says it's running 0.99 now.

    But pfSense won't boot.

    This is what I get:

    PC Engines ALIX.2 v0.99h
    640 KB Base Memory
    261120 KB Extended Memory

    01F0 Master 848A KODAK ATA_FLASH                       
    Phys C/H/S 984/16/32 Log C/H/S 249/32/63
    //bboooott..ccoonnffiigg::  –DD

    FFrreeeeBBSSDD//ii338866  bboooott

    DDeeffaauulltt::  00::aadd((00,,aa))//bboooott//llooaaddeerr

    bboooott::  ��  ���������xx�
    -----------------------------------------------end of screen capture----------------------------------

    questions:

    1. Why the hell is every character doubled?  I've got local echo turned off in minicom,
    I've got the baud rate at 9600 in minicom and in the Alix bios setting, and I understand
    that pfSense assumes 9600 baud also.

    2. What the hell is pfSense waiting for?  Hitting "enter" just gives more of the same
    garbage with another "bboooott::  ��  ���������xx�" prompt.

    3. I'm trying to boot a fresh copy of pfSense-1.2.2-Embedded.img that I've dd'd onto
    a 256Meg CF card.  I don't have a 128Meg CF card.  I doubt you can even buy them
    anymore.  Is pfSense-1.2.2-Embedded.img the correct image to try to boot in an Alix 2C3?

    Thanks for any help given,
    Bill


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