Upgrading pfsense to 2.2.3

We’ve got a old Watchguard 700 that has been recycled to run the open source firewall pfsense – a very good idea in theory – as the Watchguard has 6 Ethernet ports, and can be bought at eBay very cheaply.

It’s been running version 2.1 for a while now, and today I took the plunge to run the upgrade to 2.2.3 – with predictable results.

The box refused to start up.

So I found the serial<->USB cable, fired up my laptop and started debugging. The boot sequence was stuck in a endless loop complaining about not finding a ATA hard drive (the box does not contain any disks). The message was ‘ata0: DMA limited to UDMA33, controller found non-ATA66 cable’.

This lead to much trawling of various forums dedicated to pfsense and watch guards, and led to a explanation, where it’s clear that the ATA interfaces need to be disabled before it can continue. This turns out to be a 2 stage process, where you have to stop the early boot sequence to get to the BIOS monitor, and set (temporarily) the command :

SET hint.ata.0.mode=PIO4

SET hint.ata.1.mode=PIO4


in my case I had to disable both ATA channels, and then boot pfsense – btw. SET had to be written in uppercase.. But this is only half of the procedure, as this is lost during the next reboot. So the same commands (missing off the “SET” part) in the fileecho ‘hint.ata.0.mode=PIO4′ >> /boot/loader.conf.local.

My first Soylent lunch

As I’ve just been to the dentist it seemed like to ideal time to have my first Soylent lunch

IMG 1532

I purchased this through eBay – and yes it’s genuine Soylent 1.4, not one of the many products that advertise using the name Soylent.

This is what my lunch looked like

IMG 1531

and just before I chugged it down

IMG 1533

The last was very….Anonymous…it didn’t taste bad, nor good, it just went down, with little hint of any unpleasant taste to texture. 

I’m certainly going to try more of this. 

How to find your DHCP server

Occasionally I’ve found it useful to find out which server address issues DHCP addresses – and here it is for OsX :


ipconfig getpacket en0

this will only work when issued from a computer that itself uses DHCP, and the last “en0” is the interface name for the network interface that is being used, so could be substituted with “en1”, or any other id for the network interface you can find from “ifconfig -a”.