Crazy Cisco thought

  • Has anyone ever tried putting pfSense on compact flash and trying to boot on a Cisco router kinda like Alix? I know this must sound crazy considering its all proprietary hardware, but just thought it was an interesting concept.

  • I have had this thought since i have a cisco router sitting at home that i cant use cause i dont know crap about cisco stuff lol.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Is it X86?


  • Not possible, Cisco usually uses a ROM based bootloader called ROMMON which then looks for a configured IOS binary file to boot.  The only Cisco devices I am aware of that run on x86 are the Cisco ASA platform.  I have often wondered if it would be possible to run an ASA image on regular x86 hardware.

  • @bdwyer:

    I have often wondered if it would be possible to run an ASA image on regular x86 hardware.

    It used to be with certain Intel hardware back in the PIX OS days, I had a "FrankenPIX" as they were called something like 10-12 years ago for learning purposes. I'm not sure if Cisco's added more restrictions more recently.

    You definitely can't run any non-IOS images on Cisco router hardware, but the PIX and ASA are basically x86 PC hardware. I suspect Cisco has added more proprietary components and sanity checking more recently though to prevent "FrankenASA" from being possible. It's one thing to do it for your lab for learning purposes, but people started selling them on ebay as the real thing and I'm sure Cisco was not too happy.

  • In a similar vein, a lot of Juniper equipment used to be x86 hardware, connected to a board board with custom ASICs and the ports via a regular Cat5 cable.  The board would handle all of the simple routing, but would pass anything else back to the x86 hardware for more complicated processing.

    I don't know if anyone ever ran any FrankenJuniper equipment, and they've advanced pretty far beyond that so I don't know what the CPUs are now, but it's a pretty interesting thought nonetheless.

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