Intallation onto Transcend IDE Flash

  • Hi,

    I'm fairly new to PFSense, having tried it over the last couple of weeks on a test platform.  I'm looking to use it to replace several FreeBSD firewalls I have here on campus.  The existing machines work well using IPFilter, but I want to replace them with something that has a strong web GUI for those who work here who may not know FreeBSD as well as I do.

    I have installed 1.0.1 onto a Dell Optiplex GX260 (P4 2.5GHz 512MB) with no issues using an IDE hard drive, and Intel network cards.  So far, I really like what I see.

    Here is the problem I am having:

    I want to replace the IDE hard drive with a Transcend 4GB IDE flash module.  (    This is because I have had hard drive failures in the past that I just don't want to deal with anymore.  I understand that flash drives still fail, but if I don't use swap space, I'll feel better about not having moving parts.

    I've booted off the CD, and been able to get the network cards configured with no problem.  When I go into the installation screens, I see the flash drive no problem, and I am able to partition and format the disk.  I can then install the bootblocks, and create the slices on the disk, and run newfs on them.  The problem comes when I go to install the system.  It gets about 41% of the way through the                                              cpdup process, and just hangs at "/usr/local/bin/cpdup -vvv -I -o /usr /mnt/usr".  Eventually after hanging for quite a while, the system reboots automatically with only part of the pfsense install.

    Am I having hardware support issues here, or is there something different that I have to do when using a flash disk?  If I have to, I'll stay with a regular hard drive, but I would love to get into this IDE Flash.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Try the latest snapshot. It runs a newer freebsd. maybe that version works better for you.

  • Well, so far I've disabled DMA, and ACPI, still get basically the same result.  I'm loading the snapshot from April 05 2007 and right now it's hanging even earlier (/mnt/etc).  I'll keep playing with this more tomorrow morning.

  • Quite a few people using flash memory instead of hard disks for the same reasons. However that is a very large memory.

    I have had success with old 128 and 256MB's CF memory using PCI to flash adapters. Had problems getting a high speed (it was 10x or maybe 14x ?) memory recognised but you seem to be past that stage.

  • Well, heres a little bit of an update, but I'm no closer to having an install done.

    I used the snapshot that says its from 3-27-2007.  I get to the boot menu and exit that to get to a prompt.  I type:

    unset acpi_load
    set hint.acpi.0.disabled=1
    set hw.ata.ata_dma=0
    set hw.ata.atapi_dma=0

    It then boots into the install, and I format the disk, etc….  It now gets to 62%, albeit very slowly.  I get hard drive activity, and the CDROM drive reads very slowly, but it is installing.  It takes several minutes to get to that point.  Once it hits 62%, it just reboots on its own.  That's better than 41%, but not 100%.

    I have also tried making smaller partitions to see if that matters, but it doesnt seem to.

    I'm stumped.

  • Did you try turning off DMA , unwanted floppies, SCSIs etc in the BIOS?

  • @sai:

    Did you try turning off DMA , unwanted floppies, SCSIs etc in the BIOS?

    As far as I could tell, everything in the BIOS was off.  At one point, I even turned off the IDE controller accidentally.  I'm kind of at a loss.  My next step is to try a different model motherboard to make sure it's not an inconsistency there.  Right now the machine is running 1.0.1 on the Quantum HDD, so at least I have something.

  • You only disabled these settings in the bios? Did you try to disable them from the kernel on bootup? See how to do this.

  • @hoba:

    You only disabled these settings in the bios? Did you try to disable them from the kernel on bootup? See how to do this.

    Do you mean something other than what the OP wrote in reply #4?  Looks like he covered that to me.

  • Oops, sorry, missed that post in between. Sometimes it's hard to follow threads if they have become a bit longer and you try to read/answer all of them  ;)

  • Thanks to those who have helped out so far.

    I don't know if what I just did is good news or not:

    I put the flash card in a Dell GX110 instead, and did an installation onto the flash card.  It took a little time, but it went through without a problem.

    I took that flash card, and put it back into the GX260 and it booted up.  I walked away from it for a little while, and I had the following message on the screen when I came back.

    ad0: timeout - write_DMA retrying (1 Retry Left) LBA=5665679

    I'm thinking the GX260 doesn't like something about the flash card, or something is still enabled in the BIOS that I don't see.

    I rebooted the GX260 with the flash card and disabled the DMA and ACPI again.  I'm gonna keep watching it and see if the error comes back.

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