Installing in VirtualBox (or similar) to create config for actual hardware.
Let me start by emphasising I do not want to run pfSense in VirtualBox... well, I do but only in order to create a config file.
I've been using pfSense for a while now. I'm running the Community Edition of pfSense on my RCC VE-2440 (which has been rock solid from day dot) but as I've configured things as I went along / learnt about them, I feel that my current setup leaves a little to be desired. I'd like to start from scratch and set things up better. There's a but though...
As I'm a home user with limited knowledge, limited time and several family members who would give it me in the neck if I disrupted their Internet connections for an extended period of time. Rather than tearing everything down before starting the rebuild, I was wondering whether there's a way of creating a new config file in a VM (be it VirtualBox or something else) so that I can simply reformat the RCC VE-2440's boot SSD and then upload the newly create config file.
Can this be done by installing to VirtualBox or something similar?
Sure you can do that. I've done exactly that myself.
There would be a few things to consider when importing the config. The interface names will be different, em* in VB and igb* on the 2440. When you import the config in the GUI is should ask you to re-assign the interfaces at that point but you should be sure to have console access to the 2440 in case there is still an interface mismatch and it asks you there.
The VB install will almost certainly not have a serial console by default. That should be overridden when you import it to the 2440 but you might want to enable dual consoles in System > Advanced > Admin Access tab.
You should always enable PowerD on an SG-2440 config to get the full CPU speed in System > Advanced > Miscellaneous tab. That obviously doesn't do much in VB.
However restoring a config is pretty easy using the ECL:
If you manage to break the config sufficiently on the 2440 you can always restore a backup by simply rebooting with a USB stick containing it attached.