Pfsense on HP h5730 thin client - partial success.



  • Hello, I have the unit mentioned in the title with the optional PCI expansion bracket. In the expansion bracket, I have a 10/100 Ethernet card. I am setting this up for a friend, so no huge hury on the completion date. I've run into some obstacles. One is the issue that has plagued several users here on the pfSense forums. It affects users that have updated the flash storage in the units, such as myself. After extensive google'ing, I came to an article that mentions that this model of Thin Client. I don't recall where I read it, unfortunately.

    Short version, is that the BIOS doesn't support booting from a partition larger than 1 GB. The disk can be whatever size, but the BIOS needs to see a primary MBR boot partition within the first 1024 MB of that disk. My thoughts were to partition the drive via pfSense installer, setup a Linux of MS-DOS partition as the first partition and install pfSense into a secondary partition, and then install grub or grub4dos afterward. This appears to work fine during the pfSense install, afterward, however, I realized that pf again in Sense installer installed both the first partition and the pfSense partition inside of a single extended partition. This won't work, as the BIOS requires a primary partition first. I'm going to try partitioning first with another USB boot tool, and then skipping the format disk step in pfSense installer. This will prove to b an interesting challenge. I like intellectual challenges!!



  • Forgot to mention:
    1. I am mostly just looking for alternate ideas to try.
    2. I am using 2.3 beta. If it's a no-go, I'll try 2.2 also.
    3. I should note that I was having problems writing to my CF card initially. After researching the issue, I fixed it by selecting option 3 during the install menu, (interrupting the countdown), and typing "set hints.ata.0.mode=PIO4" followed by "boot".



  • Success!!

    Oddly enough, I forgot to install grub4dos bootloader, but it looks like the BIOS doesn't need the first partition to be active or even to be used, it only needs to be present. On bootup, pfSense bootloader shows

    F1 Win
    F2 pfSense

    and F2 is already selected, and autoboots.

    The only issue I'm having at the moment, is that the installer failed to create the Swap partition - err, sorry - Swap "slice". I'm more accustomed to Linux way of doing things - they don't use slices.

    Back on topic, How do I manually create the swap slice? I only have 1 GB of RAM.