PfSense on a cobalt raq?

  • Hey everyone,

    I know it is theoretically possible to do, but how about loading pfsense onto an old raq4i? I have loaded ipcop on it, but it is nowhere near what I am used to with pfsense. What do you think?

  • I believe it's impossible.

    The RAQ hardware doesn't have a standard BIOS. Whilst there has been a port of NetBSD, this relies on some NetBSD support that was added to later releases of the RAQ's ROM - even then it doesn't boot without console intervention. Linux based setups such as IPcop are possible because the RAQ's own OS was Linux based.

    Google digs up some historic interest in porting FreeBSD to the RAQ hardware, but I can't find any information about any work being done. If anything was started at that time it would have been based around an old and now end of life version of FreeBSD, much older than the FreeBSD 6.x base of recent pfSense builds. I suspect that interest has faded by now, with the RAQ hardware still out there being somewhat elderly and rather behind the curve. Sun has now discontinued all support on the RAQ.

    Any port to slightly oddball hardware can suffer from bit rot; you are relying on continuing involvement of those who are producing the modified version of the software you're interested in - or the only way of getting security patches or upgrades is to take on that porting job yourself. To my mind, this is a strong argument for sticking with supported hardware.

    The simple rule is that if you can't get a version of FreeBSD that boots on the hardware you're interested in, you can't boot pfSense on that hardware.

    What has lived on from the RAQ is the software, which has been ported to more modern operating systems and enhanced by various groups following its release as open source by Sun. However, the software isn't what you're interested in!

    There are a lot of options if you want to buy or build a new 1U server for pfSense - these range from an ALIX board in a rack mount box (which is a similar sort of processor speed to a RAQ 4i) through Mini ITX based machines to some very high end stuff such as a Dell PowerEdge 1950 III (which can have up to 8 processor cores, redundant power supplies, hot swap SAS hard disks, hardware RAID and so on).

    However, I believe you were asking to see if there was any hope of using hardware you already have. As I said, I can't see the RAQ being any use. If you're interested in an inexpensive piece of hardware for pfSense by reusing a redundant server appliance or redundant firewall hardware, there are other options mentioned in the forums that work without too much effort. That said, if an ALIX will do the job (with a Microdrive if you want the full version of pfSense so that you can use packages), I would think very seriously about going that way.

  • i have a symantec raptor I love to do the same thing with.

  • Is there anything cool that I can use the Raq for now?

  • Ah, my brother!

    I asked a similar question a month or so ago and got a rather rude response from one of the "Hero's" on here.  Regardless, I think it will be very difficult to tweak PFSense to do this.  However, you can get Ubuntu 8.04 installed on it and then the skies the limit.  I'm working on setting one up as an Asterisk system for my house.  I made some notes about how to do this here:

    I might still try to do something with PFSense but I think it's going to be very challenging.

    Pretty decent small PC's for about $30 on ebay.  It's hard to resist finding something for them to do.

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