A lesson learned on Watchguard 750e CF cards

  • Thought it worth while adding this note, I have read many posts about changing old 750e Watchguard to use PF Sense and wanted to add my experience so that someone else does not have to suffer!

    I had one 750e firewall without a CF card, so I ordered a Transcend 256MB CF card to experiment with.  After it arrived I installed the FreeDOSBios2.img onto the CF card and installed it into the 750e and started up.  However, the unit just sat there at the 'Booting OS' screen.  I tried and tried, loaded different images.

    After a long time I gave up as I read somewhere that size of CF might be an important factor.

    Today, I got one of my other 750e units back and I stripped off the lid and there was a SanDisk 256MB fitted.  Curious I decided to get the Transcend 256MB out.  These are the steps I took and the results I had:

    1-Tried Transcend in 2nd Firewall - FAILED to load FreeDOSBios2 image
    2-Copied SanDisk CF  - restored to Transcend CF
    3-Tried Transcend in 1st Firewall - SUCCESS load Watchguard OS
    4-Tried Transcend in 2nd Firewall - SUCCESS loading Watchguard OS
    5-Copied FreeDOSBios2 image onto Trancend CF again
    6-Tried Transcend in 1st Firewall - FAILED to load FreeDOSBios2 image
    7-Copied FreeDOSBios2 image onto SanDisk CF
    8-Tried SanDisk CF in 1st Firewall -  SUCCESS  loading FreeDOSBios2 image  (got to three beeps with COM output)
    9-Tried SanDisk CF in 2nd Firewall -  SUCCESS  loading FreeDOSBios2 image  (got to three beeps with COM output)

    Now, I can honestly say that the two CF's were identical in size, they reported the same sectors (etc) and same partitions in all situations.

    The only difference I detected was that the image transfer to the Sandisk was notably slower.  The Sandisk must be a slower speed card than the Transcend

    I can therefore conclude IMO the only reason that the Transcend CF did not load the FreeDOSBios2 image was because the CF card was faster (too fast), and perhaps there is something in the loading sequence on the firewall or timer that was thrown out of place and hung the system.  Remember that in step-4 the Transcend DID boot with the Watchguard image!

    Hope this helps someone else get there box working as well!


    ![Partitions on WatchguardCF.jpg](/public/imported_attachments/1/Partitions on WatchguardCF.jpg)
    ![Partitions on WatchguardCF.jpg_thumb](/public/imported_attachments/1/Partitions on WatchguardCF.jpg_thumb)
    ![CF structure the same.jpg](/public/imported_attachments/1/CF structure the same.jpg)
    ![CF structure the same.jpg_thumb](/public/imported_attachments/1/CF structure the same.jpg_thumb)

  • Netgate Administrator

    Hmm, odd. The fact that the Transcend card would boot with the Watchguard OS seems weird. Some thoughts.
    The CF card slot in the firebox doesn't support DMA so if your card reports that it is DMA capable and something tries to use it then it will fail.
    The Linux bootloader is generally more forgiving than the FreeBSD bootloader and almost certainly whatever FreeDOS uses so that might explain it.
    Although the cards might report the same geometry in reality neither has cyclinders, heads or sectors at all. It's all just something interpreted by the card so that computers can treat it as a real HD.

    Thanks for reporting back anyway.  :) Reading what I put in the docs it seems you should have expected that card to work. Really the smaller the card the better. I'll change the wording.


    Edit: It does look like those cards are UDMA capable though I'm not sure that's across the range. I can't imagine FreeDOS uses DMA though.  :-\

  • Found this on Transcend website.  Seems to suggest Transcend CF is UDMA.  Posting spec in case you see anything important in there?

    •Support Global Wear-Leveling, Static Data Refresh, Early Retirement, and Erase Count Monitor functions to extend product life
    •Operation Modes: PC Card Memory, PC Card IO, True IDE
    •True IDE Mode supports: UDMA0-5, MDMA0-4, PIO0-6 (UDMA5 as default)
    •True IDE Mode: Fixed Disk (Default)
    •PC Card Mode: Fixed Disk (Default)
    •Advanced Power Shield prevents data loss in the event of a sudden power outage


Log in to reply