CF embedded 4GB image only gives 1.8GB space

  • Hi,

    Just downloaded and installed pfSense 2.1.5 embedded i386 nanoBSD serial (4GB version) from downloads section.

    Noticed that this image delivers three partitions, the first two have pfsense systems and during boot you can choose.  I think the third one is for backup by pfsense?

    So I end up with:
    Partition 1 = 1.8GB
    Partition 2 = 1.8 GB
    Partition 3 = 50 MB
    Unallocated = 83MB

    This looks very inefficient.  Is there any reason for this or just an error in how the image was compiled?



  • It's by design.  The system image is kept on the first two partitions and the config files on the 3rd.  When you run an update, the slice you're not currently using is updated and then you reboot into it. This method allows you to roll back in the event of a failed upgrade or switch slices in the event of a mildly-failing flash card.

  • Something I don't get - SSDs are getting cheap as dirt, especially the small ones.  And the hardware requirements for a full install are quite modest compared to current hardware designs.  Add to that at every upgrade its always the embedded designs that have 1001 issues.  So why not favor full installs now?

  • Jason,

    Thanks for the quick answer.

    I see, OK will stop panicking.  Luckily I made a backup before I started playing with the partitions  ;D


  • kejianshi

    Where you can get an SSD or Hard drive in, I agree with you and do.  But there are devices out there that will really only accept small flash cards and thankfully pfsense provide the nanoBSD for these.


  • I agree with what you are saying, of course.  I wouldn't suggest abandoning support to people who already have those devices.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Probably worth noting that PATA SSDs are neither plentiful nor cheap. In systems that don't support SATA, CF cards are good option though that's not many these days.  ;)


  • I'd look into PATA DOMs in that case.  What is cheap?  What is expensive?

  • I think we should face the fact that nano and its users are not really in the focus of future pfSense. I could prepare a fully documented version of this statement, starting from the reactions (or not) to the silly kindergarden questions we nano users ask in the forum to the problems with packages, apparently not addressed.

    No offense intended, but after about one year of pfSense I guess: for home and small business users its time to look for alternatives on the long run.

    I have put some hundred hours over the last year into this and don't have to time to install SSDs (which? how? problems with TRIM and so on?) on my boxes.

    I could afford the Gold service and have been thinking about it every week for the last year, but to be honest: I think I'm not in the intended user group of pfSense for the future.

    (sorry for my grammar and spelling, I'm not an English native speaker…)

  • Yeah - TRIM is nice.  But because of the lack of out-of-the-box TRIM function, I have installed SLC SSDs with built in wear leveling and no TRIM.  Those are quite durable.  I use new left-over samsung drives, but long term, TRIM that isn't a pain would be a better answer.

  • NanoBSD has many other advantages over full install, for example the whole system partition is kept read only during operation. Also you have a main and a backup image in parrallel, which gives extra safety. Most appliances have the CF card slot accessible from the front panel, you can simply swap the card with an updated system during a power cycling. You can have a system back up and running after a failure literally within a couple of minutes - something what you can't really do with full installs.

  • Netgate Administrator

    +1 on that, the backup system partition can be invaluable. I had to use it yesterday when my 2.1.5 upgrade went badly. Now you could argue that it only went badly because I was using Nano.  ;)
    The PATA SSD market is so small it seems none of the big players are making one and I'm not sure I'd have much faith in the those who do. I'd always assumed those DOMs were more like a repackaged CF card than an SSD but I could be completely wrong about that.
    There are many smaller or embedded boxes where running from flash just makes more sense in terms of space and ease of install.


  • Yep. I'm running a couple of installs as virtual machines in VmWare enterprise environment, and guess what? They are NanoBSD images converted to VMDKs.

  • haha - I will file this under "Whatever floats your boat".

  • Do you mean that all the other corporate stuff manufacturers like Cisco and Juniper are all stupid when many of their top lines of products use exactly the same approach?

  • Nope.  I don't mean anything.  Stick with it.  To each his own.

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