pfSense on Watchguard Firebox – More Tweaks

There’s a known problem with pfSense 2.0.1 and Watchguard Firebox x750e and x1250e. Namely the additional 4 NIC interfaces have a tendency to drop out with a Watchdog error and the only remedy is to reboot the box. I came across a fix that seems to resolve the issue permanently. Been running for 2 weeks on the PCI-e interfaces without dropout. Previously I’d be luck to get 3 days on those.

The fix is to add these lines to /boot/loader.conf.local

hw.bce.tso_enable=0
hw.pci.enable_msix=0
hw.pci.enable_msi=0
net.inet.tcp.tso=0
hw.re.msi_disable=0
hw.re.msix_disable=0

Additionally I picked up a few Western Digital 4GB MicroDrives from eBay. The idea behind this was to replace the flash based CF card in the firewall. In theory the MicroDrive does not have the write limitation of a Flash card so it could potentially store a lot more information on the card like logs, graphs, a/v definitions etc.

I had some problems getting the card read on the computer. First I tried reading directly with my multi card reader but it just went bonkers, wouldn’t read the card at all. Another card reader I had simply shut itself down when I plugged the drive in. I then tried a CF-to-SATA converter and plugged it into a Drive Toaster but after a few seconds it’d drop out. Lastly I tried to connect the drive directly to the computer. I eventually got it working by switching the BIOS from AHCI to SATA. One I got the drive detected properly, the method for loading the pfSense image onto it is the same as with a regular Compact Flash card. The only issue I ran into was when running “clean” on diskpart, the drive seemed to take forever to clean the partition.

Getting the card working on the x750e was effortless. The machine booted up with no issues. The boot process did take slightly longer which is understandable as this is a mechanical device with the same random IOP limit as a regular disk drive.

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