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Installing pfSense firewall on an SSD

April 19Hits:6

I was looking at creating a home firewall running pfSense (as I could not get IPCop to boot properly on my hardware). Doing a little research, however, I have some concerns with installing it onto an SSD.

I would like to use an SSD as the drive for this home firewall machine for the reduced noise level and less mechanical/moving parts (it's also a fanless build, so essentially there are none!). With normal firewall logging enabled there will be too many writes to the SSD and it will reduce the life of the drive significantly, which is not something I wish to do.

I looked through some various other forums and read somewhere that the pfSense NanoBSD install is perfect for CF or SSD installs as it essentially removes disk writes (with the exception of needed writes) and has everything run from RAM.

Has anyone used pfSense NanoBSD on an SSD, and would it be a viable option? Would this build still reduce the life factor of my SSD greatly?

Also, if this is a viable option, is there a way I can get the .gz file to write to a USB drive and boot/install it from that to the SSD (I have no disk drive on this machine).

Finally, if this installation does work, is there a way to get logging to store to a separate drive if I wanted to (such as a USB attached 320GB WD MyPassport drive)?


Distros like nanoBSD, bowlfish and others use memory file systems for things like /etc, var, /tmp and others so they do not write to the flash storage. Obviousy /tmp an be safely lost without preventing reboot to a working system, and for the others the OS variant manages writing what's in the MFS mounts to the persistent storage. Bowlfish does this through storing /var & /etc as actual partitions and then copying to the MFS at boot-up, shutdown and regular intervals. FreeNAS (which uses NanoBSD) has a a /data partition on which it stores some sqlite databases from which it rebuilds /etc at boot and to which it saves any changes you make via the web UI.

However, CF and SD cards have come a long, long way in the last 10 years and while the write limit still exists, it is so high these days that it's no longer much of a factor, which is why SSD hard drives are now both popular and common.

Honestly, these days I'd worry more about the heads in your hard drisk drive crashing on the platters and it dying that way than the write limit making a flash drive eventually unusable.

Tags:firewall, ssd

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