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Troubleshooting Installation Issues

There are more troubleshooting techniques listed at Boot_Troubleshooting


  • If the target hardware does not have a CD-ROM drive and cannot boot from USB, a different machine may be used to install on the target hard drive.

  • If a USB 3.0 port (usually colored blue internally) does not work to boot the memstick, try a USB 2.0 port.

  • Use a boot delay (See Boot Troubleshooting)

  • Disable PnP OS in the BIOS

Boot from Memstick or CD Fails

Due to the wide array of hardware combinations in use, it is not uncommon for a CD to boot incorrectly (or not at all). The most common problems and solutions are:

  • Dirty CD-ROM Drive: Clean the drive with a cleaning disc or a can of compressed air, or try another drive.

  • Bad CD-R Media: Burn another disc and/or burn the disc at a lower speed. Perhaps try another brand of media.

  • BIOS Issues: Update to the most recent BIOS, and disable any unneeded peripherals such as Firewire, Floppy Drives, and Audio.

  • IDE/SATA Cable Issues: Try a different IDE/SATA cable between the CD-ROM drive and the Controller or Motherboard

  • Boot Loader Issues: There have been cases where specific versions of FreeBSD’s CD boot loader will not work on some systems. In this case, perform the hard drive installation on a separate PC and then move it to the target system.

Boot from hard drive after CD installation fails

After the CD installation completes and the system restarts, there are some conditions which may prevent pfSense® software from fully booting. The most common reasons are typically BIOS or hard drive controller related. Some of these may be worked around by choosing different options for the boot loader during the installation process, enabling/disabling Packet Mode, or by installing a third party boot loader such as GRUB. Upgrading the BIOS to the latest version available may also help in this case.

Altering the SATA options in the BIOS has improved booting in some situations as well. If a SATA hard drive is being used, experiment with changing the SATA options in the BIOS for settings such as AHCI, Legacy, or IDE.

Manual Interface Assignment

If the auto-detection feature didn’t work, there is still hope of telling the difference between network cards prior to installation. One way is by MAC address, which should be shown next to the interface names on the assignment screen:

em0    00:0c:29:00:df:84   (up) Intel(R) PRO/1000 Legacy Network Connection 1.0.6
em1    00:0c:29:00:df:8e   (up) Intel(R) PRO/1000 Legacy Network Connection 1.0.6
em2    00:0c:29:00:df:98 (down) Intel(R) PRO/1000 Legacy Network Connection 1.0.6

The MAC address is sometimes printed on a sticker somewhere physically on the network card. MAC addresses also are assigned by manufacturer, and there are several online databases which will do a reverse lookup on a MAC address in order to find the company which made the card.

Network cards of different makes, models, or sometimes chipsets may be detected with different drivers. It may be possible to tell an Intel-based card using the driver apart from a Realtek card using the driver by looking at the cards themselves and comparing the names printed upon the circuitry.

Once it is determined which network card will be used for a given role, type it in at the interface assignment screen when prompted. In the above example, em0 will be WAN and em1 will be LAN. When prompted first for the WAN address, one would type em0 and press Enter. Then when prompted for LAN, type em1, and press Enter. Since there are no optional interfaces, one more press of Enter, then y will complete the assignment.