Need to replace CFcard-nano on CF will not boot but installed from memstick will



  • Hi pfsense forum - I need urgent help getting the nano-bsd-serial-4g image to boot with a replacement CF card.

    I have a Netgate-FW-7535 PfSense Firewall. This is a Lanner FW-7535 / FW-7535H. The unit has a failing CF card (4GB Kingston Elite Pro CF/4GB-S2 133x  3.3V/5V). The card is setup in nano mode and is currently working but cannot be upgraded and shows from fsck output on every boot. It needs to be replaced asap.

    S1 - Background on the hardware :

    Netgate posts firmware for pfsense here:
    https://firmware.netgate.com/firmware/FW-7535-7541/

    However the 7535 is not VGA and there is no VGA header and the BIOS is setup to display itself over the serial console.

    The Lanner FW-7535 page is here - Lanner FW-7535H version 1.0. Motherboard is an MB-7535. AMI is the BIOS manufacturer.

    The BIOS string on boot indicates "MB-7535 Ver.G 10/06/2010"

    http://www.lannerinc.com/products/x86-network-appliances/desktop/fw-7535
    http://www.lannerinc.com/download-center/Datasheets/x86-Network-Appliances/FW-7535_DM

    The CPU is a D510 and works in 64-bit mode. This has been confirmed.  2GB RAM is onboard.
    The BIOS is dated 10/06/10

    You can see pictures of the unit in this thread
    https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?action=profile;area=showposts;sa=topics;u=324
    Also within this thread a user indicated he could not get it to boot from the CF cards he has as well which seems similar to my problem.

    S2 - This unit had an upgrade issue which was never resolved. A lot of that was captured here. I'm no longer attempting to fix the CF card I want to replace it.

    https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=75069.45

    S3 - What tools I have currently.

    1. Transcend TS-RDF8K multicard reader / writer
    2. 8GB Monster Digital 500X 8GB CF card UDMA 6
    3. SanDisk Extreme PRO 160MB/sec UDMA 7 32GB CF card
    4. A SDXC/SDHC 6th generation CF to SD adapter
    5. A tiny USB Thumb drive - 16GB Sandisk about 5MB/sec
    6. A superfast 32GB thumb drive which can be used to transfer images and files.

    S4 - WHAT WORKS - There is a combination of things that I have done that actually worked but it leaves the firewall in read/write regular disk mode and not the dual slice nano mode.

    If I take the pfSense-memstick-serial-2.2.4-RELEASE-amd64.img and dd this to the USB thumb drive (16GB mini) bs=16k it will boot and it will run in both installer mode or live mode.

    I can also put in the 32GB CF Sandisk which shows up as ad0 and I can install from the memstick imaged 16GB drive to that card and that will boot. However it is setup for read/write mode and not for nano / embedded mode. So this shows me that the BIOS can boot a 64-bit image, and it can boot both the USB version (memstick) and the installed version on the CF card with the USB removed. So the motherboard / BIOS seems to have no issues with that.

    S5 - What is not working - I need to get the nano / dual slice / read only at runtime serial-nano version working. No matter what I do if I dd the pfSense-2.2.4-RELEASE-4g-amd64-nanobsd.img (verified checksum, partition table looks correct) to the CF card it does not boot. I also tried the i386 version for good measure - no boot.

    I have used Windows, OS X, Linux and pfSense itself to dd the images to the CF card with the same result. When the unit tries to boot it just sits with a blinking cursor.

    The method I thought was the most "careful" was to do this:

    1. On the unit boot the FW-7535 with the thumb drive. Also have the ad0/CF SanDisk card present but boot from the thumb drive.
    2. Run it in live mode
    3. mount another USB thumb/stick drive and dd from there pfSense-2.2.4-RELEASE-4g-amd64-nanobsd.img onto /dev/ad0.
    4. Take out the the two thumb drives and reboot
    5. Not booting : (

    So if anyone can please help me figure out any way to get any CF card to be bootable in the FW-7535 please do so. I will leave the unit with the old failing CF card and try again to put a new one in on a new maintenance window when I figure out a better way of creating these CF cards OR if someone can tell me how to take the "regular" pfsense install and make it CF-card friendly as a read/write (non-nano).

    I will also consider putting an SSD in there (no power, no brackets so it is a project) or just running the USB thumb drive instead of CF in nano mode, but the nano images wont boot off of the USB drive either. If I could get either the CF card or the USB thumb drive in nano mode I would be happy.

    Thanks

    Note - Is the Netgate FW-7535 a hamakua? Do I need to do this? Can anyone confirm that 2.2.4's IMG file can be fixed by using this boot0cfg -v -B and then dd the CF device and it will work?

    https://doc.pfsense.org/index.php/Embedded_install_on_Netgate_Hamakua

    Plug the CF into a working pfSense or FreeBSD system and then run:
    boot0cfg -v -B da0
    Where da0 is the CF device. Check the boot log to confirm that the device is correct.

    Alternatively, use mdconfig( 8 ) to mount a .img file to /dev/md* so it can be modified as above (except using md* rather than da0) before writing to boot media.

    After making that modification, place the CF back in the unit and boot as usual.



  • I found out that a lot of the older pfsense appliances including the FW-7535 / Netgate 7535 have an issue with the BIOS that makes the "dd-ed" nano images unbootable.

    The instructions to dd then fixup per: _https://doc.pfsense.org/index.php/Embedded_install_on_Netgate_Hamakua

    Plug the CF into a working pfSense or FreeBSD system and then run:
    boot0cfg -v -B da0
    Where da0 is the CF device. Check the boot log to confirm that the device is correct.

    Alternatively, use mdconfig( 8 ) to mount a .img file to /dev/md* so it can be modified as above (except using md* rather than da0) before writing to boot media.

    After making that modification, place the CF back in the unit and boot as usual._

    Are correct for the FW-7535.

    Only one more question - will future updates blow up ?

    Will 2.2.4->2.2.x have issues?

    Will 2.2.x-> 2.3.x have issues?

    If anyone knows for the pfsense / netgate appliances that have a BIOS with issues that require manual boot0cfg fixups what the upgrade path is can you let me know here?


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