pfSense 2.0.1 on alix

copy nanobsd image to cf card, ensure correct /dev/sd[x] is specified!:
markp@server:~/Desktop$ sudo zcat pfSense-2.0.1-RELEASE-1g-i386-nanobsd.img.gz | dd of=/dev/sde obs=64k
1947456+0 records in
15214+1 records out
997097472 bytes (997 MB) copied, 331.56 s, 3.0 MB/s

If you get permission denied to /dev/sdX chmod to 777 for the card. Takes a while, keep cool!

next setup an ubuntu machine to be a serial terminal (console) client. I’m using minicom:
sudo apt-get intall minicom
the usb to serial adaptor that came with the RR Diag Tool seems to be seen OK on an 11.10 machine:
markp@markp-samsung-lt:~$ dmesg | grep tty
[ 0.000000] console [tty0] enabled
[ 1119.022531] usb 2-2: pl2303 converter now attached to ttyUSB0

so ttyUSB0 is the name of my terminal. (normally ttyS0 for a 1st serial port)
In minicom Cntl-A, then choose a letter to navigate the program. O = setup options.

Serial port settings should be thus:
Baud rate: 38,400
Data: 8 bit
Parity: None
Stop: 1 bit
Flow control: None
Terminal: ANSI

Despite the above being the recommended settings, I found that I had to set both the client and the alix baud rate to 9600 to prevent ASCII gibberish showing on the terminal(?) (in minicom there are flow control settings for both hardware and software (?) I set both to none.

At this stage pfsense is booting in the terminal shell just as it would in a normal vga output. Assign the nics etc.

Everything looking perfect until I came to activate the mini-pci card that came with my ‘Full N’ alix bundle. The card in the bundle is an N card and after failing to get it to activate after saving settings for it (BIOS did detect it initially ok as an ath0), I learn that freeBSD 8.1 (which pfsense 2.x is based on) has no support for N wifi devices, and only provisional drivers in the newer freeBSD 9. SO WHY BUNDLE THAT CARD in my ebay package which describes the board as ‘great for pfSense’?! Ho hum, got a b/g card coming instead, but looks like pfSense’s ability to have a wifi AP built into the box will be fine.

Even more exciting, my USB2.0 wifi nic is spotted fine on the alix’s usb socket and acts as a gateway/WAN getting adsl from my phone fine. I plan to use this as a backup WAN for when adsl goes down. pfSense’s multi-wan features put it way above domestic routers.