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


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.

Thoughts about Blackberry 10

The new BlackBerry 10 is less than 55 days away. Personally I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve clinged on to my BlackBerry Bold 9900 since it came out and have not “upgraded” to anything else as I’m patiently waiting for BB10. I must admit that I carry a Google Nexus phone for mobile browsing, I still do all my work (emails, scheduling, messaging) on the BlackBerry. I’ve had the Nexus for about 8 months, and I still hate typing on the screen with a passion. Auto-correct drives me nuts and typing on the screen is just too slow when composing a long email. There’s nothing better than the tactile feedback of a physical keyboard. Additionally, carrying two phones around isn’t exactly ideal, not to mention the added expense of having two plans.

I’ve seen a lot of people convinced that iPhone and Android phones are so much better for work than BlackBerry. This might be the case with the current generation, aside from the keyboard of course. But from all the previews I’ve seen of BB10, the new generation of phones from RIM looks to address all current shortcomings and is designed to take usability to the next level.

Some of the reasons why I’m exited about the upcoming BB10 BlackBerries.

BB10 Hub

One location for ALL messaging. I’m currently using BBM, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, Personal Email, Work Email, BBM, GTalk, MSN Live, Skype and WhatsUp. Having to switch between all the different apps when having multiple conversations is insane. BB10 Hub puts all these communication threads all in single location. All incoming messages are listed in a single place. This alone is a huge selling point for me.

One of the biggest gripes about BB OS 7 is lack of apps, and rightfully so. iOS and Android have TONS of apps available in the respective markets. Apple and Google fans like to gloat about the sheer number of apps that are available…Except they forget to mention that most apps have never been downloaded and a lot of them are either not working or are so buggy that they’re unusable. On my Nexus I have about 40 apps installed. I use about 10 of them regularly. Most of those are messaging apps. I occasionally watch Netflix or play games but for the most part the 40 apps do everything I need to do while on the go. RIM has already shown that most major players in the mobile app market are already developing apps for BB10. RIM promises to have over 150,000 at launch, I’m interested in 20.

Out of the current generation of phones, only BlackBerry phones have not been compromised. Both iOS and Android operating systems have been jailbroken or rooted. Android is considered one of the most malware infested mobile operating systems and iOS is close second. Now of course, it’s too early to tell whether the new BB10 phones will have some sort of vulnerability that will blow the phone wide open, but I’m betting that RIM spent a lot of time locking down the phone. And since BB10 has already been FIPS certified, I’m betting that BB10 is going to be a tough nut to crack.

Now, I have no doubt that both Apple and Google will not stop innovating, who knows what next generation of iOS or Android will bring. Though I’m more inclined to see Android as the leader in Mobile for a while since historically speaking, iOS has not had an original idea for a few years now. It absolutely boggles my mind that people still get excited about new Apple products since the phone hasn’t changed much in the last 3 generations. Though I must admit I was never a fan of iPhone to begin with, overpriced, overhyped junk. But I digress.

Point is, that RIM can not hope to ride BB10 without constantly innovating as the next big thing is just around the corner and as we’ve all seen, getting caught napping can cost you big quickly.

Even though I’m not a fan of all-touch phones I’ll be one of the first to pick up the new BB10 L-series when it launches just so I can get familiar with the interface, but in the end the N-series is what I’m really looking forward to.

The countdown continues….