[SOLVED] Netgate Alix dual pfSense – how to flash to factory settings

  • Hello everyone,

    We recently bought NetGate's dual Alix pfSense:

    I have been playing with one of the partitions and some of the last changes have rendered web interface unreachable. I am uncertain which one.

    I decided to flash back to factory image. In order to do this, I used null-modem and serial->usb cables, which I connected to a linux laptop.

    I first had to knock down the baud rate of the appliance from 38400 to 9600 bauds. I was able to do this like so:

    1. connect all the cables between appliance and USB port on a laptop.
    2. type 'minicom -b 38400'
    3. power on the appliance
    4. hit 's' as it boots up to get into the boot menu.
    5. hit '9' to change baud rate to 9600. Verify while there that serial output is enabled on console. Save and quit.
    6. exit minicom and power off appliance.

    Then I had to configure minicom to work on default 9600 bauds. I started it up and changed serial connection to 9800 8N1 (will spare you the details).

    Now comes the fun part.

    I started up minicom (type 'minicom -c on') and powered on the console. The boot menu comes ok (which means that baud rate was set correctly, right?). I can select either option '1' or '2' and that's the last thing that I can do. What is going on?

    Screen output below:

    OPTIONS: I18n
    Compiled on Feb  8 2013, 07:03:03.
    Port /dev/ttyUSB0, 14:49:08

    Press CTRL-A Z for help on special keys

    PC Engines ALIX.2 v0.99h
    640 KB Base Memory
    261120 KB Extended Memory

    01F0 Master 044A CF 4GB                                 
    Phys C/H/S 7785/16/63 Log C/H/S 973/128/63

    BIOS setup:

    9 9600 baud (2) 19200 baud (3) 38400 baud (5) 57600 baud (1) 115200 baud
    C CHS mode (L) LBA mode (W) HDD wait (V) HDD slave (U) UDMA enable
    (M) MFGPT workaround
    (P) late PCI init
    R Serial console enable
    (E) PXE boot enable
    (X) Xmodem upload
    (Q) Quit

    Save changes Y/N ?
    Writing setup to flash… d    f�@    PC Engines ALIX.2 v0.99h
    640 KB Base Memory
    261120 KB Extended Memory

    01F0 Master 044A CF 4GB                                 
    Phys C/H/S 7785/16/63 Log C/H/S 973/128/63

    1  pfSense
    2  pfSense

    F6 PXE
    Boot:  2
    ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������              �

    That's all there is. I'd really like to solve this... but also, if you have any other suggestions on how to flash the valid image, I'm all ears.

    Thank you in advance ladies and gents.

  • More on this:

    As our appliance has two separate units, I went to work on the unit that was not foobared.

    There, I set the baud rate to 38400 initially, so that I could see setup. I hit 's' on boot to get into bios and  I then changed the setup to 9600 bauds and restarted minicom terminal and the appliance both. I could see the boot menu, I chose the default option (1) and hit enter – only to be greeted with more garbled output.

    At this point, it became apparent to me that somehow, baud rate at 9600 was valid for boot, but after netgate went into boot session, it changed the baud rate.

    It was at this point that I found this: http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=59868.0

    (Voultar, you rock!)

    Basically, what you have to do is set the baud rate to 115200 and not 9600. This is, as far as I can tell, not documented on dual pfSense by netgate (curiously enough, after I did some digging, I found a note about 115200 bauds on some other model that they used to sell... boo netgate).

    What happens when you change the rate to 115200 and restart the session and appliance is that you will at first see nothing (thats the boot part, thats visible only at 9600), but then after a few seconds, youll see that the bootloader started and youll eventually get to the pfSense main menu.

    Again, thanks Voultar!

  • Netgate Administrator

    Hmm, slightly odd. The default serial console speed for pfSense is 9600. In 2.0.x you can only change that by adding lines to loader.conf, 2.1 has a webgui option.
    It's possible that Netgate's image was customized for them to use 115200.

    As I said in Voultar's thread the Watchguard X-core is a special case.


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