Diskless pfSense-Box via NFS and TFTP

  • Hi pfSense-Gurus

    i managed to setup my Atom-Based Computer to boot pfSense Live-Media (ISO and IMG) via PXE and NFS.

    First i copied the content of the IMG/ISO rootfs to an export on my NFS-Server (
    NFS-Locations are:

    ISO: /pfsense/rootfs_cd/
    IMG: /pfsense/rootfs_usb/

    after that i modified /pfsense/rootfs_X/etc/fstab and commented out the entries of the ISO/IMG Media.

    Then i copied the contents of the /boot directory's of the different Medias (IMG and ISO) to my tftp-server (

    ISO: <tftproot>/bootfiles/pfsense/2.1.3_cd/boot/
    IMG: <tftproot>/bootfiles/pfsense/2.1.3_usb/boot/</tftproot></tftproot> 

    after this i added the following to my isc-dhcp's static lease configuration:

    host wall.net.home {
    hardware ethernet       XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX;
    fixed-address ;
    ddns-hostname           wall;
    next-server   ;
    #option root-path       "";
    option root-path        "";
    filename                "pfsense/2.1.3_usb/boot/pxeboot";
    #filename               "pfsense/2.1.3_cd/boot/pxeboot";

    Depending on the active option-root-pats and filename line in my dhcp-config (#) i can boot the pfSense-System ISO or IMG Release.
    This Setup working properly with NFS-hosted root-filesystem :))

    I configured my System via web interface, exported config.xml via Import/Export-Feature and placed the File at the /conf.default folder.
    Now i can Boot diskless pfSense System with my individual Configuration, with some Limitations (e.g. no Packet Installation –> Proxy)

    Unhappy with these Limitations i tried to install pfSense to the systems internal HDD - in mind to move the HDD-hosted rootfs to NFS later on.
    Setup was done without an issue.
    I managed to move the HDDs rootfs to my NFS-Server:

    HDD: /pfsense/rootfs_hdd/

    and modified DHCP option root-path to:

    option root-path       "";

    Now i don't know which boot file option (DHCP option "filename") to set.
    If i choose the /boot/pxeboot -File system Startup fails.. and System states Kernel not found.
    Is pxeboot-File of IMG/ISO Distribution unable to handle HDD-Installed Kernels?

    Any Ideas to get this solved?


  • Banned

    May I ask why??

  • @Supermule:

    May I ask why??

    The geek factor? It does sound like a fun project, though I wouldn't want to run it myself that way myself. I would want it installed locally so I don't have to worry about the NFS server going down and bringing down the whole network since the firewall/router would go down as well.

    In terms of actually getting it to work, try getting a regular FreeBSD machine booting via PXE first. I forget exactly how to do that, I'd have to check how I did it at work. Then just apply that to pfSense and it should work, unless the code that allows it has been removed.

    Once again, on a firewall, I don't think I would want to rely on another server working in order for it to work.