Full Install To CF?



  • I'd like to order a WRAP board from SiliconKit, and ideally would like to have the full version of pfSense on it.  I've read the instructions http://devwiki.pfsense.org/FullInstallOnWRAP , and it notes there that while you can do a full install to a drive that has moving parts, but doing it to a CF drive with no moving parts will kill the flash drive.

    Does anyone know the technical reason for this?  I was under the impression that normal CF cards and MicroDrive cards were interchangeable.



  • CF-Media has limited write cycles. Readcycles are no issue. So depending on the activity of your system (that also depends on the packages that you might want to install) it will wear out sooner or later. The original embedded install will run in readonly mode and only mount the cf for writing when needed (like on configchanges for example).



  • Right, but that doesn't address any technical limitation of being able to load the full version onto a CF drive.

    Most industrial CF devices have wear levelling algorithms built into them now, and as a result have a MTBF of much longer than normal magnetic drives.

    To make an example, why would I be unable to use something like this: http://www.logicsupply.com/products/fd25a_i8g  or this http://www.logicsupply.com/products/ts4gcf45i_d ?

    My point is, the MTBF for these devices doesn't actually have anything to do with the ability to install the full version of pfSense on them.  Even if it was true that they would die a horrible death much faster than if I were to install onto a magnetic drive, the statement in the wiki article tells me that I can't even install onto a normal CF card without killing the card.  That is what my question is pertaining to.



  • it's technically possible besides the limited write issue, if that is your original question.



  • Ok, so possible, but not recommended without proper hardware?  Thank you!



  • …and unsupported  ;)



  • Aside from the limited number of writes to a CF device (somewhere around 10,000 per cell now if I remember correctly) you can install a full install on a CF device - if not then please do not tell mine as it is working at the moment :).

    One thing that will definitely give a much longer lifespan to the CF device is to make sure you have at least 256-Meg of RAM.

    I have a developer's system installed on a Transcend 8-gig Compact Flash and setup a swap space of 512-megs on the card - the swap space has never has been touched even doing compiles.  The maximum amount of RAM in use at any given time has be up to 93% (in an ALIX board with 256-megs of ram onboard).

    Before anyone blows a gasket I use this setup so I can work directly with the actual hardware being used - I have found that working on different hardware to port over to embedded systems tends to "miss" some issues on the embedded side so this way I find them directly :)

    In a production system with heavy loading you may find things to be totally different - a large number of users will use up RAM for the different state buffers and what not…  YMMV

    gm...



  • You could also use a microdrive.
    –> Harddisk in CF-format.



  • I originally just asked this question because I was hoping to get a system with no moving parts, as well as the fact that none of my local retailers keep stock of microdrives.

    I have found an 8GB microdrive on ebay though, so hopefully that makes this debate moot anyway. ;)



  • Before you close that bid - search the forums.  There is at least one brand of microdrive that doesn't reliably work with pfSense/FreeBSD.



  • I just wanted to throw my $0.02 in here since I'm running pfSense from a CF card.  I know about the write issue too, however I decided that having a completely silent system with no moving parts was more important to me.  The CF card I used was never used before.  Also, keeping in mind that I want limited writes, I've set my pfSense box to send logs to a remote Syslog server and to disable writing log files to the local CF card.  Lastly, I'm just using a bit of common sense by making frequent backups of the config, plus I have a backup CF ready to go when the first one dies.

    It will be interesting to see how long this first card lasts!



  • @fcapizzo:

    I just wanted to throw my $0.02 in here since I'm running pfSense from a CF card.  I know about the write issue too, however I decided that having a completely silent system with no moving parts was more important to me.  The CF card I used was never used before.  Also, keeping in mind that I want limited writes, I've set my pfSense box to send logs to a remote Syslog server and to disable writing log files to the local CF card.  Lastly, I'm just using a bit of common sense by making frequent backups of the config, plus I have a backup CF ready to go when the first one dies.

    It will be interesting to see how long this first card lasts!

    I'd be very interested in how long the CF Card lasts.



  • My pfSense install, on a little Hacom Phoenix box has been running like a champ off a 1GB CF card since the beginning of July.  I'll update this thread whenever it dies out.



  • Hello

    Ive been running pfsense 1.1 in full install on a cf card, I converted the full install to embeded to it writes to the cf card as few times as possible. (effectiuvly like the cf install)

    The ONLY reason i did this was because i wanted to use VGA out and the mouse and keyboard. I did not want to use the console via serial. For a number of reason.

    1. have networked KVM so i can access bios/boot settings
    2. When i wanted to access the console i had to power off the router and power it back on. which is totaly not what you want in a business firewall


  • So has anyone's CF Card died yet?

    This question is for Falcon:

    After you converted your full install to embedded, did you lose the ability to install/run packages?

    I am contemplating converting my Pfsense cluster (2 boxes running CARP) to run on CF cards. I know I could run embedded but there are a few packages I really like and would like to use. Unless anyone has seen a way to install packages in the embedded versions?



  • The original 1GB CF I installed in a Hacom Light in July of '07 still running flawlessly off a full install.  I even updated to 1.2 Final a couple of days ago.


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