USB install with CD boot disk

  • Hi,

    I would like to install pfSense onto a USB stick, and boot from a CD. Possibly also remove the swap and put the logs in a RAM-drive. Is it possible? Has someone done this already?

    Before I start dig into all details in building a bootable CD disk, that mounts the USB, … I would likt to ask if someone has done this before? And if then possibly give me some hints on how to proceed.

    The reason is that I have an old computer that can't boot from an USB. For some years I run pfSense using the LiveCD. But now I would like to try if the sip-proxy package can resolve my VoIP problems. (Which perhaps is a thread of its own)


  • Netgate Administrator

    There is already an image for usb drive call 'memstick', look for it in the downloads.
    If you can't boot from that directly you can boot into a bootloader on CD or floppy (if you still have one!) and from there boot the USB.
    Use something like the GAG bootloader:
    There are others but I can't think of them right now.  ::)


    Edit: The memstick image is just a USB equivalent of the livecd so you still can't install packages. Use the nanoBSD image and write it to your usb stick. You may have to alter the boot parameters though.
    Other people are running a similar setup, search the forum.

    Edit: Plop bootmanger was what I couldn't remember:

  • Thanks for the info on bootmanagers. This solved my problem right away.

    I took the 1.2.3 pfSense install disk. The kernel found my USB-stick as da0. I then did an ordinary install onto that stick. Including the boot stuff. Yes, I removed the swap according to the SSD, since I have sufficient RAM.

    Using the plop boot manager I created a CD that boot onto my USB, since the BIOS can't do that. And everything is running like a charm. I now can install packages as with an ordinary hard disk install.

    Thanks again for the tip. I was starting to read all about the boot process used in FreeBSD. The plop BM is much simpler. Just click and play:)

    Now I can  go back and work on my VoIP proplem.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Nice one.  :)
    You should be aware, however, that even after disabling swap you will still be waring out your usb stick pretty quickly. You should really be using either embedded or Nano, that would restrict which packages you can use though.


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