HDD install via serial console

  • Hi

    I am looking to purchase a TEAK 3035 appliance (http://linitx.com/product/13003 ) to install pfSense 2.1.
    I would like to do an installation to hard disk rather than CF to make use of the various packages.
    I would just like to know if it is possible to do the HDD install via a serial console as there is no VGA on this device.


  • Yup see no reason why not?

  • Its some years since I did a pfSense install though I've done lots of upgrades.

    I think a problem you will have with the default "full" install is that it assumes a video console. I have no idea what the BIOS on the box of interest will do - maybe it will redirect "standard console" to serial port.

    I'd be inclined to have a discussion with the vendor about installation of pfSense. At that price (especially if it was my money) I'd want to be sure they would take it back for a full refund if I couldn't get pfSense running on it.

    Some of the Nokia firewall boxes I worked on used "PC standard" hardware but not a PC standard BIOS and consequently it was non-trivial to get "standard PC" operating systems like FreeBSD and Linux working on them.

    A more detailed look at the product page shows it claims Award BIOS and Console Redirection.

    You could try a standard install (say from a USB CD ROM) and if that doesn't get you far enough do a standard "full" install on a standard PC, apply the tweaks for serial console, then move the hard drive to your new box.

    Hope it goes well. It will probably be an interesting learning experience.

  • Also TBH at that price I'd be more inclined to get a system with video console. Remember an Atom isn't particularly fast and if you start wanting any encryption it will slow down. For that price you could get a small 1u short depth Supermicro running a Core i3 which will be Much faster than an Atom and also give you a video/keyboard ports:

    Something like:

    • SC512-200B
    • X9SCL socket 1155 Motherboard
    • 1u socket 1156 Supermicro (yes 1156) Heatsink
    • Intel Core i3-2100
    • 4 GB DDR3 ECC 1333 RAM
    • 1u riser card
    • dual port PCI-E Intel NIC
    • Your choice of SSD or HDD

    If you want front access Supermicro cater for that too:

    If you need more speed or ports in the future you can always upgrade the RAM, HDD, CPU or get a quad port PCI-E card (might be cheaper to get a VLAN capable switch though). If there are no major distributors in your country try superbiiz.com - they ship worldwide within 2-3 days and provide full assembly and testing services.

  • Thanks a lot for your comments.
    I need to fly from the UK to New York on Tuesday with a preconfigured unit in my case, which is why I was looking at the atom based device. My other 36 pfSense devices all run on full sized server hardware with Xeon chips so I have never had any performance issues. This one will have 4 ipsec tunnels so i am a little wary.

    I will check availability of the supermicro kit in the UK. Or if its standard hardware I could possibly ship on straight to NY as I would feel confident on doing the install onsite.


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    If someone has the hardware handy to test, I can try to make a serial-console enabled USB image. It may not be that hard to pull off.

  • I will have the hardware on my desk tomorrow. will see how far I get.

  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    It's worth a try…


    (Completely untested, but contains /boot.config and /boot/loader.conf changes to activate serial console)

  • Thanks Jim.
    I'll give that a try as soon as it turns up.

  • The TEAK 3035 box turned up today with a VGA port on the back. There was no mention of that port in the specs!
    I popped in a 2.5" HDD and a memory upgrade and then installed the full LIVE version and installed it to the HDD without any problems at all.
    All is looking good so far.

    Thanks for your efforts Jim, although not required.