Backup/Restores and Saved Configs. on USB Media

  • Hi, folks.

    First, let me say thanks to the developers and to this fine community for providing a nice product and all sorts of help.

    I have, what I believe, some heavy difficulty with what should be some very easy procedures:

    (1) Using the LiveCD and saving configs to my USB key drive
    (2)  Restoring a backup Configuration from the GUI


    • First time using pfsense, but plenty of firewall experience with commercial products
    • using lastest rev (1.2-RC3)
    • using the LiveCD version
    • using a USB key drive to (hopefully) save configs (USB key drive is formatted to FAT/MS DOS)

    Issue (1) - Saving Configs to USB Key

    • From the pfsense console, I notice that a particular option is available only initially - and that is option "98) Move configuration file to removable device"
    • I can save my initial config (which I believe is stored in /conf/config.xml) to the USB key, but any subsequent attempts to save my config (modified or not) from the pfsense console are not possible because option 98) seems to disappear.   (I suppose I could enter the shell, mount the USB drive, and then copy the modified config.xml file to the USB drive, but it seems that this functionality is supposed to be in the pfsense console, so I am concentrating my efforts there).
    • I can force option 98) to re-appear by...  rebooting the system
    • If I reboot, and then use option 98) for a second time, I am presented with an error as follows:

    Enter an option: 98

    Devices capable of config.xml storage:
    da0s1 ** this is my USB drive ***

    Enter the device that you wish the
    pfSense configuration file to reside on: da0s1

    Processing: moving...removing old... nullfs... umount: /cf/conf: not a file sy
    em root directory
    mount_nullfs: Resource deadlock avoided

    Your configuration has been moved to da0s1

    Warning: filesize(): Stat failed for /conf/config.xml (errno=2 - No such file
    directory) in /etc/inc/ on line 211
    cd: can't cd to /cf/conf/backup
    Config.xml is corrupted and is 0 bytes.  Could not restore a previous backup.

    • Yikes!  There goes my saved config...  and I had such a nice rule set, OpenVPN config. running nicely.   Rats.
    • This brings me to issue (2)

    Issue (2) - Restoring a backup Configuration from the GUI

    • as for Issue (1), I thought I was so smart because I backed up my configs (to my local Windows machine, not just to the USB Drive)!
    • Turns out I was only "Smaht" - as in Fredo Corleone
    • I calmly rebooted, and set up a very basic config - enough to get me GUI access
    • I then performed the Configuration Restore by browsing to the backed up config on my Windows machine, and then selected "Restore"
    • pfsense then rebooted
    • However, when pfsense came back up. instead of reverting to my backup, I was presented with the initial configuration utitlity on the console
    • NOW The Hulk was getting ready to smash!

    So, here I am, having somehow blown away my saved configs. on the USB drive by simply attempting to save them more than once... and unable to apply my backed up config. from my windows machine via the GUI.  I even tried manually taking the USB key to my Windows machine and copying the file that way - no dice.

    Wha' hoppen?? ???

    Thanks, in advance,


  • Rats.

    Not even a guffaw at the 'Fredo' comment?    I was hoping that others had experienced similar issues… but I guess nobody has anything to say about this. :-\

  • I experienced exactly the same issue on an IBM x335 with pfsense 1.2 LiveCD!  :(

    a - I used two different usb flash keys, because I thought the first key was broken, same problem…
    b - I used Floppy diskettes in place of usb flash keys, because I though the USB controller had problem, same problem...
    c - I tested in a VMWare Workstation LAB, because I thought it was an HW problem... same story!

    I definetly think it's a pfsense distribution issue.
    Anyone else got the same problem?

    Regards - Gabriele.

  • I think there is some basic misunderstanding how this feature works:

    Correct procedure:

    • format your USB-Stick with filesystem FAT/MSDOS
    • plug in your USB-Stick BEFORE you boot up with the livecd
    • the livecd will search on bootup on all available media for /conf/config.xml and use it if it finds one
    • as it doesn't find one on the empty stick it will bootup with a default config and offer option 98 (which only is there if a suitable media was found that could hold the config.xml)
    • run option 98 and assign your floppy or usbstick or cf-card in usb-reader or whatever you want to use
    • option 98 will disappear and you will never need it again! don't touch either the usb stick or that option again! all changes that you do in the webgui will be written to the config media instantly without the need to perform tasks from the console or whatever!
    • on next bootup the livecd will search on available media for /conf/config.xml and as it now finds one will use it. option 98 will remain hidden as you are already running from an external config media and changes will be written to it directly.

    Hope that helps how to use that feature.

  • I also missed how to save the configuration (I was trying to go to floppy) - no other feedback or options I saw on the webgui for saving (other than backup/restore - which I did).  Only after googling did I find this thread and was able to select the "option 98" to get the save made to the floppy disk (then used the restore option to save prior work to the floppy).

    Could help usability a bit by keeping the save option "98" active later (maybe I want to save to floppy now but a week from now want a USB configuration) and having something clearly on the Webgui too (a big "save configuration" button).  After the basic console setup of the NICs enough to get a client machine connected I'm looking up the webgui to finish configuring.