Install pfsense from ISO on harddisk.



  • Has anybody installed pfsense from an ISO file on a harddisk, i.e. not using a CDROM or USB drive? Theoretically, it should be possible using something like unetbootin, but I am having no luck. I have Ubuntu 10.4 and have a copy of the pfsense ISO on disk.
    I should be able to manipulate grub (or something) and after a reboot, should see a boot screen with the options of Ubuntu or pfsense.

    Searching the web and the forums do not show a solution to this specific scenario.

    I have a dedicated Intel Ubuntu server in the cloud with no CDROM or USB and would like to install pfsense on this server. Any other possible options to install?

    Thanks.



  • One option is to run pfsense in a VM. It can be installed that way from the iso or you can just import a prebuilt VM image.



  • Thanks for the suggestion gderf.
    I guess I can check out the VM option.

    Would there be any performance/security tradeoffs when running pfsense as the production Firewall in a VM on Ubuntu?

    The ideal solution would be to run it as a stand alone install.



  • Woah, in the cloud?  You need a router to run in the cloud?  And you want it to run natively?

    I mean, the only reason I can imagine to have a singular cloud server as a router is to proxy/vpn/tunnel through the server for various reasons.  That's all well and good, I'm not judging your reasons, nor asking, but there are other proxy-ing services that can do this for you, rolling your own in a cloud can be quite expensive after you calculate the bandwidth expenses.  Unless, I mean, I could see this if you have a farm of cloud machines and running other cloud servers on a private network and this is the front facing interface, at which point ignore this whole paragraph.  Or, ignore it either way, I ain't your momma ;)

    Anyway, you should probably check with your cloud provider about running alternate OS's on your cloud hosted server.  Remember, cloud servers are almost always a VM, and not always a fully virtualized discrete OS (they may be virtualizing your instance, but not exactly the whole OS agnostic "server hardware".)  If they allow you to run alternate OS's, you should be able to mount a CD to your server instance to install, they should be able to help you with this.

    Considering what it seems like you're doing, running it as a VM inside your VM may still work, just be prepared for issues stemming from running a VM inside a VM.  There is some performance penalty, although as long as the throughput is higher than your external throughput (I'd usually say "WAN" here, but your case may be different) then it shouldn't be a problem.  There is usually also a bit of latency hit, but, again, probably doesn't apply to your situation.

    If you need to install from an ISO on a hard drive, you are probably going to enter in to the catch-22 of installing to the same drive that you're installing from, in as much as the installer would need to over-write the "ISO" with the pfSense OS it's installing.  If you're really good with BSD and can pre-create the partitions and have the unpacked ISO on a particular partition and boot from it, changing the boot loader later, etc… maybe, but, ouch.

    If you can have 2 hard drives you might be in business, unpacking the ISO on drive 2, pointing the BIOS to drive 2, installing, pointing the BIOS back to drive 1 after the install.



  • Thanks matguy. I agree with what you are saying.
    Let me further explain our setup. Pfsense will be on a dedicated server in a shared hosting environment. We have a few 'cloud' servers too which are on Xen (the VM you mentioned). I had the same doubts about the catch 22 you mentioned, about the iso being on the same disk as the OS, but apparently Ubuntu is able to install ISO's that are on the same drive. Hence I thought of trying the same with the pfsense ISO.
    Hopefully there is a solution out there.
    ;D



  • I may have found a solution to this. I installed EasyBCD on an windows XP machine. I configured EasyBCD to use an ISO pointed to a location on the hard disk, saved the settings and rebooted. On reboot I got a boot option to go to windows XP or PFSense. On selecting PFSense I was able to load the ISO file and go the menu options to install PFSense.



  • @stantor:

    I may have found a solution to this. I installed EasyBCD on an windows XP machine. I configured EasyBCD to use an ISO pointed to a location on the hard disk, saved the settings and rebooted. On reboot I got a boot option to go to windows XP or PFSense. On selecting PFSense I was able to load the ISO file and go the menu options to install PFSense.

    Did it fully install?  Because, if I remember correctly, EasyBCD just alters the boot loader / ini, which pfSense should also try to do on install, either before or after it creates partitions, probably erasing the ISO in the process since it's on the drive it's installing to.  If it even got that far before declaring failure (assuming it detects that it can't mess with a partition that it's in use.)

    But, let us know if it works.


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