Netgate RCC-DFF 2220 USB serial Monitor Problem



  • Hi:
    Starting with a new Netgate RCC-DFF 2220 firewall box, I downloaded the pfSense-memstick-ADI-2.2.4-RELEASE-amd64.img.gz file,  'burned' the image on a USB memstick, plugged the memstick into the 2220, hooked up the usb terminal monitor, connected via minicom at 15200, N81, handshaking off and booted the device and answered the prompts.  All went fine with the initial boot questions, but after pfSense loaded, my monitor screen started looking bad.  First, the initial screens where you can make font and keyboard selection did not look anywhere right, and I was unable to make any selections that had any impact on their appearance.  Ultimately, I made it through the selections and reboted.  Then, the ASCII art, and all the text for that matter became unreadable.  Somehow the carriage return linefeeds changed (could it be one of those terminfo/termcap issues?).  I tried changing the minicom settings from ANSI to VT102 and reloading, but got the same problem.  I also tried this with 'screen' and saw the same results.  As a last resort, I connected an old windows XP netbook and, once again, got the same results.  Of course, I've played with all the settings that turn on linewraps or add CRs to the end of lines, etc.

    Basically, the last output I get from the pfSense boot looks like:
            -                                                                     
            \                                                                     
            |                                                                     
            /                                                                     
            -                                                                     
            \                                                                     
            ]                                                                     
    B                                                                             
    o                                                                             
      o                                                                           
      t                                                                           
        i                                                                         
        n                                                                         
          g                                                                       
          .                                                                       
            .                                                                     
            .                                                                     
    |                                                                             
    /                                                                             
    -                                                                             
    \                                                                             
    |                                                                             
    /                                                                             
    -

    Then it stops (which is probably another problem…)

    Any ideas on how to get this display issue sorted would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Phil



  • Do you using the USB console cable from the netgate or pfSense store or another one?

    minicom at 15200, N81

    Also there is a false inside your config or a plain typo!
    It must be 115200 and not 15200! Please have a look to come closer to this.

    • connect to the DFF-2220 box and set the terminal settings inside of the BIOS to 115200 N/8/1
    • Set the config of your terminal program also to 115200 N/8/1
    • pfSense is comming by default with this settings and so all are set up in the same direction and config.


  • I'm using a 'standard' USB cable, but it worked fine with the original CentOS OS that was on the netgate, and it looks fine going through the pfSense boot process up to a point, then things go bad.  Maybe I can make my terminal buffer extra-large and then scroll back to see where the problem begins–that might be a good clue for someone who understands what is going on during the boot process.

    -Phil



  • I'm using a 'standard' USB cable, but it worked fine with the original CentOS OS that was on the netgate,

    That CentOS is able to use the USB Port as console Port would be great but the question was about pfSense
    and not about CentOS. Console Port is Console Port and USB Port is USB Port, so that one OS is able to use
    the USB Port as the console Port must not be running under all Operating Systems.

    Maybe I can make my terminal buffer extra-large and then scroll back to see where the problem begins–that might be a good clue for someone who understands what is going on during the boot process.

    A good clue or hint for all peoples would be, to buy a original console cable for ~$5 together with the
    SG-xxxx units.



  • Sure that was really the ADI memstick you have on there? What you're describing is what would happen the serial console isn't setup correctly, which would happen with the non-ADI memstick.



  • All:
    Thanks for the help and suggestions: let me try to answer some of the questions:

    @BlueKobold:

    Do you using the USB console cable from the netgate or pfSense store or another one?

    It's from a cell phone.

    @BlueKobold:

    minicom at 15200, N81

    Also there is a false inside your config or a plain typo!
    It must be 115200 and not 15200! Please have a look to come closer to this.

    Typo: Minicom is menu-driven, and I selected 115200.

    @BlueKobold:

    • connect to the DFF-2220 box and set the terminal settings inside of the BIOS to 115200 N/8/1
    • Set the config of your terminal program also to 115200 N/8/1
    • pfSense is comming by default with this settings and so all are set up in the same direction and config.

    I'll give this a try, but all seems OK during the boot process until after pfSense starts to load.

    @BlueKobold:

    I'm using a 'standard' USB cable, but it worked fine with the original CentOS OS that was on the netgate,

    That CentOS is able to use the USB Port as console Port would be great but the question was about pfSense
    and not about CentOS. Console Port is Console Port and USB Port is USB Port, so that one OS is able to use
    the USB Port as the console Port must not be running under all Operating Systems.

    Maybe I'm not using the correct terminology here…  I am connecting my Linux box to the router 'console' connector using a standard USB to mini USB cable.  The mini end of the cable is plugged into the socket labeled 'console' on the back of the Netgate decvice and the other end (standard USB) is connected to my linux box.  I'm not trying to use the standard sized USB socket on the back of the Netgate device for this.

    @BlueKobold:

    Maybe I can make my terminal buffer extra-large and then scroll back to see where the problem begins–that might be a good clue for someone who understands what is going on during the boot process.

    A good clue or hint for all peoples would be, to buy a original console cable for ~$5 together with the
    SG-xxxx units.

    It's certainly not about the $5…  I really didn't want one more USB cable getting tangled up in a drawer somewhere.  Is there anything special about this cable, or is it a standard USB to mini USB cable?

    @cmb:

    Sure that was really the ADI memstick you have on there? What you're describing is what would happen the serial console isn't setup correctly, which would happen with the non-ADI memstick.

    The file I used was: pfSense-memstick-ADI-2.2.4-RELEASE-amd64-20150725-1957.img  Maybe I should download a clean image and retry.

    Thanks,
    Phil



  • I re 'burned' my memstick and installed again.  Now the console display looks better, but I think I've got the same root problem–pfSense doesn't finish booting.  The screen now looks like this:

    
              __ ____                                                               
       _ __  / _/ ___|  ___ _ __  ___  ___                                          
      | '_ \| |_\___ \ / _ \ '_ \/ __|/ _ \                                         
      | |_) |  _|___) |  __/ | | \__ \  __/                                         
      | .__/|_| |____/ \___|_| |_|___/\___|                                         
      |_|                                                                           
    
     +------------Welcome to pfSense ----------+                                    
     |                                         |                 ______             
     |  1\. Boot Multi User [Enter]             |                /      \            
     |  2\. Boot [s]ingle User                  |          _____/    f   \           
     |  3\. [Esc]ape to loader prompt           |         /     \        /           
     |  4\. Reboot                              |        /   p   \______/  Sense     
     |                                         |        \       /      \            
     |  Options:                               |         \_____/        \           
     |  5\. [K]ernel: kernel (1 of 2)           |               \        /           
     |  6\. Configure Boot [O]ptions...         |                \______/            
     |                                         |                                    
     |                                         |                                    
     |                                         |                                    
     +-----------------------------------------+                                    
    
    -ooting... l/kernel text=0x1223df0 data=0x881ac0+0x3576a0 syms=[0x8+0x16f038+0x8
    [/code]
    
    And the system appears to be locked up.  Before entering '1 Boot Multi User' I had selected the 'verbose' option under configuration, but I didn't see much in the way of extra messages.  I think the screenshot in the OP was this same as the bottom line here, except, for some reason, I was getting the extra LF with each character update -\|/- etc...  So, I think I just now need to figure out what's going on with the boot process.  I'm guessing that my image and my console cable are OK.
    
    -Phil[/s]
    


  • That's where it stops if the serial console isn't set. Did you choose the embedded option for the kernel during install? If you choose the standard kernel option it sets VGA which would leave it in that state - working, but you can't see it.



  • Phil,  you are not alone, I had a similar problem.  My setup sounds identical: same hardware (brand new box, arrived yesterday), same memstick image,  a perfectly ordinary USB cable, running minicom 2.7 from ubuntu 14.04.

    The console worked fine booting from the memstick.  I did the WAN/LAN interface settings and the console menu looked like normal.  I could log in with the web interface no problem.  I ran "live" from the memstick before biting the bullet and installing on the harddisk.  Rather than rebooting and taking the (I) to install option I just chose option 99 from the console menu to install on harddisk.  Then things looked ugly and the console menus about fonts etc looked messy.  But I plugged along and it seemed to install okay.  Then it rebooted and the console went bad at the same point as it did for you.  For me it seemed to forget the line-feed before each new-line.  I had multiple lines all superimposed onto a single console line.  I never saw a workable menu.    I pulled the memstick and rebooted, but the console always broke at the same point.

    However … because I originally ran from the live memstick the install "remembered" the original LAN IP addresses that I had chosen and so I could get in via the web interface.  So I did that and enabled SSH.  Logging in with SSH gave me a normal console menu.

    So at this stage I had a working web interface, working SSH, but broken serial console.  I wanted to fix this before wasting too much time customising because the console is always going to be a "last resort" if something breaks.  Assuming it was something I had done wrong I went through the whole install process multiple times, changed every conceivable minicom setting, but always had the same problem.

    Eventually I  resorted to the forums  and saw your post.  At that stage I gave up for the day.  I left the ubuntu box and the netgate connected and went to sleep.  Came back this morning, rebooted the netgate box using the web dialog or SSH (I forget which), and it all worked perfectly.  Whoooa,  what happened??    The only thing I can think of is some weird impact on minicom or the driver when the ubuntu box suspended itself over night.  I promise you nothing else changed!  I have spent several hours today fiddling around with it and have had no further hint of a problem.  Bizzarre!!!

    The normal help-desk response to any problem is "power it off/on".  It is just conceivable that this might have worked.  Might be worth a try.



  • @cmb:

    That's where it stops if the serial console isn't set. Did you choose the embedded option for the kernel during install? If you choose the standard kernel option it sets VGA which would leave it in that state - working, but you can't see it.

    I definitely chose the embedded kernel option, but it is possible that my selection 'didn't take' (i.e. I selected it, but the installer ignored my selection).  For me, those configuration screens suffered from ugly font problems and did not instill confidence.

    -Phil



  • @geo99:

    Phil,  you are not alone, I had a similar problem.  My setup sounds identical: same hardware (brand new box, arrived yesterday), same memstick image,  a perfectly ordinary USB cable, running minicom 2.7 from ubuntu 14.04. 
    … stuff deleted...
    Eventually I  resorted to the forums  and saw your post.  At that stage I gave up for the day.  I left the ubuntu box and the netgate connected and went to sleep.  Came back this morning, rebooted the netgate box using the web dialog or SSH (I forget which), and it all worked perfectly.  Whoooa,  what happened??    The only thing I can think of is some weird impact on minicom or the driver when the ubuntu box suspended itself over night.  I promise you nothing else changed!  I have spent several hours today fiddling around with it and have had no further hint of a problem.  Bizzarre!!!

    I'll try a reinstall tonight so I can set the IP and try to get SSH access–right now I don't have that.

    @geo99:

    The normal help-desk response to any problem is "power it off/on".  It is just conceivable that this might have worked.  Might be worth a try.

    I've certainly powered on and off a bunch of times.

    Thanks for the ideas,
    -Phil



  • I spent some more time on this today, but haven't made any progress.  I even gave the pfSense development version (2.2.5) a quick try, but saw no difference with that, so I went back to the 2.2.4 ADI memstick version.  The bottom line is that the install process goes well when I boot onto the memstick, and I see the pfSense welcome screen from my console, as shown in the first attachment (how do I embed the image for easier viewing?).  That progresses with everything looking good and I get the opportunity to invoke the (I)nstaller, as shown in the second attachment, and then things start to get ugly as we enter the configuration menus.  The third attachment shows what happens there…  On the simple screens, it's not too difficult to read the choices and make selections, but the more complicated ones, like the disk format screen shown in the fourth attachment are inscrutable.  I also worry about the first line on all these screens "Waiting for backend..."  What does that mean?  Although I make selections, I have no way of telling if the selections I am making are being logged,  Maybe my selection to install the embedded OS, not the VGA/Kbd OS is ignored.

    So, my console monitor seems to work fine until I get to the configuration menus, then the problems start.  Any suggestions for how to get past this would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Phil

    ![Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:01:56.png](/public/imported_attachments/1/Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:01:56.png)
    ![Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:01:56.png_thumb](/public/imported_attachments/1/Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:01:56.png_thumb)
    ![Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:03:45.png](/public/imported_attachments/1/Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:03:45.png)
    ![Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:03:45.png_thumb](/public/imported_attachments/1/Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:03:45.png_thumb)
    ![Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:03:59.png](/public/imported_attachments/1/Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:03:59.png)
    ![Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:03:59.png_thumb](/public/imported_attachments/1/Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:03:59.png_thumb)
    ![Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:10:20.png](/public/imported_attachments/1/Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:10:20.png)
    ![Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:10:20.png_thumb](/public/imported_attachments/1/Screenshot from 2015-09-26 22:10:20.png_thumb)


  • Banned

    Your "whatever client you are using" encoding it set wrong. Try with UTF-8. Example for PuTTY:

    For minicom, it'd probably be something like -m -c on -8 -R utf-8



  • Thanks for the Putty recommendation, doktornotor.  I found an old XP laptop, installed Putty and the usb/serial device drive and embarked on another pfSense install.  This time, the configuration screens looked exactly as they do in the docs and I was able to confidently make all the desired selections, including reformatting the SSD and installing the embedded kernel.  Also, based on geo99's suggestions, I configured interfaces and enable the web interface.

    When I rebooted, I saw the exact same issue that I showed in the OP :(, but, everything else is working :) and I can now manage the system via the web interface or ssh.

    So, something still seems fishy about the serial monitor, but I'm not going to worry about it.

    -Phil



  • Make sure Windows is using 115200 baud for the USB port in device manager.
    Also you could try some of these hints. They should not e needed with the ADI image but it sounds like something is amiss.
    https://www.netgate.com/docs/rcc-dff-2220/freebsd.html



  • Just got mine tonight and can't get it to boot off of USB :(  The serial console is, however working perfectly so I guess that's a good thing.



  • @pwest:

    i]chose the embedded kernel option, but it is possible that my selection 'didn't take' (i.e. I selected it, but the installer ignored my selection).  For me, those configuration screens suffered from ugly font problems and did not instill confidence.

    It's not you.  The 2.2.4 ADI image is obviously broken.  I finally figured out on my Mac the terminal emulation for the Fkeys is broken (no matter what I pick) so I wasn't getting the BIOS boot manager - it would slip to GRUB which was annoying.  Talk about picking a dumb key for a bios boot menu - hey, the PXE boot config uses control-B - how about something more universal like, I dunno, ~~for a boot menu?!?  But I digress - I was able to get into the boot menu in PuTTY on Windows (annoying, but at least I got over that hump!)

    Like you, I clearly picked the NO VGA option, yet on the post install reboot it's clearly ignoring the serial port and loading the VGA driver.

    Which is beyond annoying.  I'll web in on the default 192.168.1.1 - but it's rediculous and I shouldn't have to.

    Has anyone from the pfSense build team actually wrote the current ADI image to a flash drive, installed it on a 2220 and seen for themselves that IT DOESN'T WORK?

    Also on the installer, it would be LOVELY if in addition to the faux GUI selection there were honest to goodness menu choices so that on a critical screen like the VGA or No VGA I could press 1 for VGA install or 2 for No VGA/Keyboard (Serial) install and KNOW that was the selection I really made to remove doubt like this.

    I can't believe I've blown half my night on something that shouldn't be anywhere near this ambiguous. ~~


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