Read only installation via USB
We've installed Pfsense on 2 USB thumb drives. This has worked really well, and has allowed us to quickly get a backup up and running if we have a hardware failure.
Unfortunately we've getting some problems with the drives dieing as we're writing to them far too much. I generally create these USB drives by booting to the 1.2.3 ISO and then installing to the USB media in vmware. Is it possible to set the installation to only mount the disk and perform writes for configuration changes and package installations? We use a syslog server, so we don't need logs.
You would probably be better off by using the NanoBSD based variant of pfSense. It is better optimised for use on devices with limited write cycles but it does have some other characteristics that may make it unsuitable (e.g. serial console rather than video console).
Another option might be to use solid state disks in the form of DOMs which are intended for environments with a lot more disk writes than a USB stick would typically see. I've been using the full version of pfSense with a 1 GB Transcend DOM for more than 2 years now. It cost me under the equivalent of US$25.
Thanks, unfortunately we're stuck with this HW at the moment. Hot swappable is a big factor for us. We have a duplicate machine that we just plug the drive into without dismantling it. I've also tried just writing to a cheap external 3.5" HD. Unfortunately the BSD kernel seems to crap out when it's loading files from these external drives. If you write to a DOM, do you use the live CD or the embedded version? We're running on 2 old 2 ghz boxes with IDE cables in them so the ability to swap them out quickly is important for us.
If you write to a DOM, do you use the live CD or the embedded version?
Either, depending on what version you want to run.