Trouble installing PFSense on Soekris 6501-70



  • Trying to get PFSense installed on a Soekris 6501-70.

    I've tried using pfSense-memstick-serial-2.2.2-RELEASE-i386.img and pfSense-memstick-serial-2.1.5-RELEASE-i386.img.

    For 2.2.2, the install goes ok, and I pick the no VGA/keyboard kernel.  Using an Intel 80GB mSATA SSD.  When the system reboots, it loads and I get:

    <trim>10:00:0 8086 10D3 02000000 0107 0010 08 00 00 A3000000 00000000 10
    11:00:0 8086 10D3 02000000 0107 0010 08 00 00 A4000000 00000000 11

    1 Seconds to automatic boot.  Press Ctrl-P for entering Monitor.

    F1  pfSense

    F6 PXE
    Boot:  F1

    And then the system reboots.  It will not boot into the OS.  I've tried using the 2.1.5 image.  The system won't boot at all with that image.

    I've tried a manual install.  Making the partition 4GB.  Same symptoms.  I have two Soekris 6501-70's and they're both having this issue.

    What gives?</trim>


  • Netgate Administrator

    Wrong console speed?
    2.1.5 uses 9600 by default.
    https://doc.pfsense.org/index.php/Soekris_6501_USB_Flash_installation

    Steve



  • I have set the console speed to 115200.  Using any other speed results in an un-viewable experience.

    The install actually completes just fine*.  After the install completes and the system reboots is when it goes into the reboot loop and will not boot from the installed drive.

    *With v2.2.2.  2.1.5 I see "/" and it halts and won't even boot from the install media (SanDisk Fit 32GB).

    –UPdate - set the conspeed=9600, 2.1.5 installed.  System is currently booting!!

    Something about 2.2.2 does not like the 6501.  I'll try an upgrade and see what happens.


  • Netgate Administrator

    Hmm, well I'm pretty sure 2.1.5 should boot from that hardware with no problem. I've never tried 2.2 directly but I know there are people who have upgraded to it.
    Are you running the latest BIOS?
    Have you tried using a different USB drive? Some hardware is really fussy about USB flash drives.

    Steve



  • Yeah, 2.1.5 is up and running now.  Trying to get it into a position where I can upgrade it.

    I tried another SanDisk Fit 32GB USB drive.  I don't think that was the issue.  There just seems to be something funkey with trying to do a fresh install of 2.2.2.



  • I noticed the 2.1.5 build was built on FreeBSD 8.3.  Let the system upgrade itself to 2.2.2 and that build was being reported as 8.3.  Thought that was weird.  Checked my install on VMWare and it was FreeBSD 10.1.

    So I grabbed the PFSense 2.2.2 upgrade tarball and manually upgraded and the system is now on FreeBSD 10.1.

    Crazy upgrade process but everything is working.  Here's how it went:

    PFSense 2.1.5 on a USB key -> System self upgrades to 2.2.2.  Then manually upgrade with the 2.2.2 tarball and BAM.  2.2.2 on FreeBSD 10.1.

    Off to configure!


  • Netgate Administrator

    There is an issue currently with some systems not rebooting correctly after an upgrade from 2.1.X to 2.2.X. Likely if you had just rebooted it it would have come back up running the correct kernel.
    Anyway glad you got to 2.2.2 in the end.  :)

    Steve



  • My problem wasn't with an upgrade.

    It was with a fresh, clean install of 2.2.2.  It refused to reboot after the install had finished.


  • Netgate Administrator

    Oh, OK. Nevermind then.
    I was just reffering to this:
    @tom-28:

    Let the system upgrade itself to 2.2.2 and that build was being reported as 8.3.

    Failing to reboot is usually the cause when you see that.

    Steve



  • I have the same problem on Soekris

     1 Seconds to automatic boot.   Press Ctrl-P for entering Monitor.
    
    F1  pfSense
    
    F6 PXE
    Boot:  F1 
    
    

    Then it reboots. Release 2.2.2 too.

    Additionally at installation I see a crippled boot menu.

    First I see this

     nsSeconds to automatic boot.   Press Ctrl-P for entering Monitor.
     onboooott//ccoonnffiigg::  --SS111155220000  --DD
    
    

    Then the cursor jumps around untill it finally draws something like a boot menu but it's unreadable

       +                             e           +                                                                                                                                                  W
       |                                         |                                                                                                                                                  |
       |   .                       ]             |                                                                                                                                                  B
       |   .                  r                  |                                                                                                                                                  B
       |   .                         t           |                                                                                                                                                  [
       |   .      t                              |                                                                                                                                                  R
       |                                         |                                                                                                                                                  |
       |         :                               |                                                                                                                                                  O
       |   .                         )           |                                                                                                                                                  [
       |   .                           .         |                                                                                                                                                  C
       |                                         |                                                                                                                                                  |
       |                                         |                                                                                                                                                  |
       |                                         |                                                                                                                                                  |
       +                                         +                                                                                                                                                  +
    
      \                      H-
    \ey24:0 8086 8185 06040000 0107 0010 08 00 01 3FFF2000 A2FFA100 11
     ke25:0 8086 8180 06040000 0107 0010 08 00 01 5FFF4000 A4FFA300 05
     /k26:0 8086 8181 06040000 0107 0010 08 00 01 0FFF1000 00FFA000 09
    [/code]
    
    The numbers are remains of the soekris bios output the rest has been drawn by the boot menu
    
    I set the soekris console speed to 115200 and after boot from install USB I see normal output, just the menu is totally crippled and I have to use trial and error to select the right option. Once on harddisk however it does not boot anymore, I tried easy and advanced install and standard or modified kernel, nothing works.
    
    This is not my first pfsense I installed on soekris but the first one that does not boot after install on harddisk.
    


  • I'm having the same difficulty on a 6501-30.

    I installed just fine, but can't boot afterward.



  • So, I was able to install 2.1.5, and then upgrade to 2.2.2.
    That's strange.  Anyone able to venture a guess as to why?


  • Netgate Administrator

    Hmm, the boot loader in 2.2 somehow incompatible? Seems odd though.

    Steve



  • Hope it helps: I am running a net6501-70 with pfSense 2.2.2 i386 nanoBSD on a compact flash card.

    I marched the whole upgrade path: 2.1.5 -> 2.2 -> 2.2.1 -> 2.2.2, no experience so far with a fresh installation. Luckily I never had a reboot issue.

    Peter


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    Adding another data point, I see the same issue only with a fresh 2.2 install on my net6501. I installed 2.1.x and then upgraded and it runs fine that way, probably not worth the effort tracking it down further at the moment. There are some installer changes happening for 2.3 that might make for an interesting test once they materialize in full.



  • May want to add an installation note somewhere in the official documentation at doc.pfsense.org for the Soekris installs out there.

    We know it affects the 6501-30 and 70 whatever jimp has.


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    Has anyone tried a NanoBSD install to see if that works? Or if it's just a full install?



  • I've got a net6501-50 running 2.2.2-nano-i386 off USB.
    As far as I remember, I just wrote nano to the stick and popped it in. The x64 build did not work.

    edit-the issue with x64 is the missing mptable support in the kernel (see http://wiki.soekris.info/Net6501_freebsd)
    Should work with these additions-
    device      atpic          # Optional legacy pic support
    device      mptable        # Optional MPSPEC mptable support



  • I just started having the same issue with a clean install on a Soerkis6501 using pfSense-CE-memstick-serial-2.3.1-RELEASE-i386.img from a USB to install pfSense 2.3.1 on a CF….
    Any ideas?  ???



  • I've loaded 2.3-i386 nano on a usb stick and just popped it in, works fine. Haven't tried 2.3.1, or an msata yet. (Hardware is 6501-50)



  • @dotdash:

    I've loaded 2.3-i386 nano on a usb stick and just popped it in, works fine. Haven't tried 2.3.1, or an msata yet. (Hardware is 6501-50)

    Yes, mine works too with USB stick however I want to use my CF since it I have it and it was working fine before…



  • I had a net6501 back in for a little polishing up, so I did a few tests-
    2.3.1-nano-i386 on a USB works fine.
    Installing 2.3.1 to msata is still broken and won't boot.
    2.1.5 appears to be the last version that would boot properly from msata on a net6501. You may be able to load 2.1.5 and upgrade- untested.
    Others have reported success by installing the msata in a laptop, installing, then changing fstab and installing in the net6501- untested.
    As this appears to be a quirk will Soekris hardware, I don't see this getting fixed unless someone figures it out and submits a reasonable patch.
    I'm just going to run nano on mine.



  • What I actually did and solved the problem was to install 2.1.5 from memstick to my CF, then use the web UI to upgrade directly to 2.3.1 and restored my config! :)



  • Solution/Workaround:
    I had the exact same continuous reset problem described in this thread.  I found a solution/workaround allowing me to do a brand new install on my Soekris 6501 of pfSense version 2.3.1 using an mSATA drive as the storage.

    The workaround is to download the 4GB embedded version, and use Physdiskwrite to push the disk image to the mSATA drive (using PhysDiskWrite and an inexpensive USB mSATA adapter), just like the mSATA disk were a CF card.  I'd have preferred to run the 'full' version, on this ample mSATA drive, but at least I'll keep this Rackmount Soekris employed for a few more years.

    I would not hold your breath for a 'real' fix since this the 6501 doesn't appear to have been very popular.  Also, don't bother buying an mSATA drive larger than 4GB.  My 30GB Intel 525 runs a 4GB image just fine.

    I hope this helps someone.



  • I am running a 6501-70 still with version 2.2.6 nanoBSD (i386) on a 32 GB Transcend mSATA.

    I did this installation after booting the pfSense-memstick-serial-2.2.6-RELEASE-i386.img.gz from a USB stick and fetching the nanoBSD image and gunzip it to mSATA on the fly. I had no reboot issues.

    I am interested in the current state of pfSense 2.3.x with this hardware, because I am planing to make a full install on the same mSATA as soon as NUT package is ported to 2.3.x.

    When scanning this thread, it's hard to see what is not working as expected. Have I got it right that full installations of versions 2..2.x and 2.3.x are affected only?



  • I am just failing to boot a 2.2.6 or a 2.3.2 full installation (i386) on mSATA of my Soekris 6501-70. Though installation just goes fine my machine is caught in a boot cycle where right after the loader selecting

    F1 pfSense
    

    the machine straightly reboots.

    I would like to install from the 2.1.5 memstick serial to subsequently upgrade to 2.3.2  but I am unable to find it. Could anybody please help me with the old version?

    Update:
    May be I should make a full installation to an 8 GB Sandisk Cruzer Fit. Will the USB stick be more sensitive to write operations than the mSATA or vice versa?

    Update2:
    I am no longer looking for the 2.1.5 image und would like to give feedback: I have used the memstick-serial installer (version 2.3.2, i386) to install to an USB stick placed inside the Soekris case. This full installation starts just fine.



  • Hi guys, did anybody report this to FreeBSD (hxxps://bugs.freebsd.org/bugzilla/)? They might be able to resolve it.
    I have the same issue on 6501-50 and it seems if affects 6501 in general.



  • Did you try it with a vanilla FreeBSD install? It was my impression the issue was pfSense specific and not a FreeBSD problem.



  • I have exactly the same issue - stuck rebooting if trying to run from mSATA, OK from external USB stick. :(



  • It seems there are hardware compatibility issues with net6501 that the pfSense team is not willing to resolve since they don't support hardware other than what they sell at store.pfsense.org …  :( :-\

    This is the main reason so far to make me start looking for alternatives, distros not hardware.


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    @/CS:

    It seems there are hardware compatibility issues with net6501 that the pfSense team is not willing to resolve since they don't support hardware other than what they sell at store.pfsense.org …  :( :-\

    This is the main reason so far to make me start looking for alternatives, distros not hardware.

    It's not that we are not willing, we don't have any of the hardware that still works. We didn't go out of our way to break it, but if we don't have the hardware, there isn't much we can do in the way of testing/troubleshooting.

    We used to have two net6501's but they have both died after a few years of (ab)use for testing.



  • @jimp:

    It's not that we are not willing, we don't have any of the hardware that still works. We didn't go out of our way to break it, but if we don't have the hardware, there isn't much we can do in the way of testing/troubleshooting.

    We used to have two net6501's but they have both died after a few years of (ab)use for testing.

    Hi Jim! I asked the guys from the soekris mailing list if they are willing to donate a net6501 to your team and I got a few positive responses back.
    One of the guys told me that he already sent you a PM. Let me know how it goes and I'll be more than happy to assist on this! :)


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    As tempting as that may be, I'm not sure it's an offer we'd be able to accept right now. When the old units died we didn't go out of our way to seek out replacements. Given that we don't sell that hardware I'm not sure it would be something we'd be willing to dedicate any time toward, and if we can't dedicate any time toward it, then we wouldn't want to accept a donation of that nature.

    Though ultimately that is not up to me since I am not working on the hardware side of things. It would have to be brought up higher. They should contact coreteam@pfsense.org instead.



  • Thanks for your feedback Jim.
    Honestly, your last two posts seems to be a little bit contradictory to me because in the first one you said "it's not that we are not willing, we don't have any of the hardware that still works" and then "not sure it would be something we'd be willing to dedicate any time toward".
    Anyway, I pointed them to coreteam@pfsense.org and we'll see what happens. I'm just trying to help here, both sides. :)


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    I was quoting the post before mine which misrepresented the situation. :-)



  • @dotdash:

    2.1.5 appears to be the last version that would boot properly from msata on a net6501. You may be able to load 2.1.5 and upgrade- untested.

    I took this route and have upgraded successfully to 2.3.2. For anyone else looking, the filename of the 2.1.5 image is pfSense-memstick-serial-2.1.5-RELEASE-i386.img.gz

    May I suggest adding a note to the Soekris 6501 installation howto on the wiki, as it currently says the following which is not quite true for the current pfSense version:

    If an internal disk such as SATA or mSATA is used, a full install may also be performed using the serial memstick images.



  • Thank you so much for this thread!!

    This procedure just worked for me as well on a net6501-70 to install pfSense 2.3.3p1.

    Steps I followed:

    • Download 2.1.5 image from here: https://atxfiles.pfsense.org/mirror/downloads/old/  The image to download is pfSense-memstick-serial-2.1.5-RELEASE-i386.img.gz

    • Flash uncompressed image to USB stick - I used Etcher on Win10

    • Boot Soekris from USB stick (console@115200) by interrupting boot with Ctrl-P. Life will be much easier if you ensure your console is sized to 80x25 before proceeding.  Now enter the Soekris console boot command for your USB device (shown in the boot log).  In my case this was "boot 81".

    • Change your terminal settings to 9600 baud and follow the regular pfSense installation procedure.

    • At the system reboot prompt hit enter for the reboot.

    • QUICKLY reconfigure the terminal settings to 115200 baud if you want to see the Soekris boot process.

    • Don't forget to remove the USB stick from the Soekris!!  ;)

    • If all is well the pfSense boot will proceed automatically from the Soekris boot.  Change the terminal settings back to 9600 baud to see the remainder of the pfSense 2.1.5 boot process.  The installation should be at the point of configuring the WAN interface (em0 in my case).  This is all needs to be done for now so complete the setup without configuring anything else and get back to the command options display.

    • Shutdown the Soekris (option 6).

    • Connect the Soekris WAN port to an available ethernet port on the internal network that will be served a DHCP address.

    • Boot the Soekris, leaving the terminal settings at 9600 baud (we'll trust the Soekris to boot to pfSense now).

    • pfSense 2.1.5 should now boot to the command options menu and show that the WAN has been assigned an IP address.

    • Try a ping to an address outside of the internal network using command 7 "Ping host" just to make sure the Soekris can see the world.

    • If that worked, use command 13 "Update from Console" and then select the "Update from URL" option followed by the "auto" option.

    • The update should now be downloaded and applied to the pfSense 2.1.5 installation.

    • Once the update is complete, follow the instructions to reboot the Soekris.  Change the terminal settings to 115200 baud as this is the default baud rate for the pfSense 2.3.3 console and you won't have to do the switch back to 9600 baud any more.

    • The Soekris should now complete the installation tasks and boot to the pfSense 2.3.3 console (displayed at the top) and show that the WAN still has an IP address.

    • Now do the update process again.  This will perform the update from pfSense 2.3.3 to 2.3.3p1.  In my case, the upgrade warned me about a required reboot at update completion but did not enforce it.  DO THE REBOOT.  There are required installation procedures that complete on the reboot.

    • Hold your breath!!  :o

    • Enjoy looking a nice shiny pfSense 2.3.3p1 console.  Congratulations!!

    • Configure your LAN (em1 in my case) using command 1 "Assign Interfaces".

    • Disconnect the WAN cable and complete the pfSense configuration from the LAN port using the webConfigurator.

    I am somewhat concerned about how long this update process will continue to work.  It seems to me that any significant update to pfSense (say version 3) or an update to the major version of FreeBSD has the potential to break this update process.  My reasoning for this is that the process relies completely on an UPDATE being successful from 2.1.5 to whatever the current version of pfSense is.  At some point in time the updater is more than likely going to be incapable of making this big a step in versions and the Soekris hardware is going to be left behind by pfSense as they seem to have no interest in maintaining the Soekris platform.

    There are a couple of things I am going to do to try and mitigate this:

    • Put my pfSense 2.1.5 image under lock and key as the download may disappear.

    • Image the mSata drive in my Soekris once I have completed the rest of my pfSense setup.  I will do this by booting the Soekris from USB stick and rather than performing the install, select the repair option which will show the command options console, then select command 8 "Shell" and "dd" from the configured mSata drive to another mSata drive installed in the second mSata slot (the second mSata must be equal size or larger than the configured drive).  This must be performed from the USB stick boot as the image copy will not work reliably on a live filesystem.  This will give a baseline backup drive that boots directly  to 2.3.3p1 and at least removes some of the "backreach" required for the update process should the original drive fail.  This new "bare metal++" install drive will be stored away with other backups.

    • Depending on my level of paranoia, I may go out and get a third mSata drive and regularly image the configured drive to the new spare.  This will give me a near live backup as pfSense continues to update that will function as a supplement to the "bare metal++" drive created in the step above. This will require taking the firewall down completely during the image process so it is not suitable for 24/7 operations.  In my case, with 120GB mSata drives it should require a downtime of no more than an hour.  If there is a FreeBSD guru who knows how to accomplish the same thing on a live filesystem with a bootable drive as the end result, I would appreciate the additional knowledge!!

    Hope the detailed instructions help others out.  I have spent the last four days trying to get around this (and a precession of other problems) and for some reason this thread never showed up in my web searches until I got extremely specific.

    Cheers,
    Kris


  • Netgate Administrator

    If this works OK in 2.3.3 it will probably work OK for any further 32bit releases which will probably also be based on 10.3.

    Steve