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Author Topic: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?  (Read 3181 times)

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Offline openletter

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Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« on: April 13, 2016, 11:54:08 am »
Although I am generally very pleased with pfSense as a project, enough to even buy some stickers and if you keep it up maybe even a coffee mug or T-shirt or something. (However, as an enthusiast, it is unlikely I would ever purchase the more expensive services offered.)

I am a little disappointed that the pfSense project has decided to send old hardware to the scrap heap. With 2.3, it is most computers that can't boot via USB. With (likely) 2.4, it will be most computers that don't have a SATA port, assuming most enthusiasts are like me and completely do not trust HDDs for 24/7 service and EIDE SSDs are typically more expensive than a used computer with SATA ports.

The result of this is a negative contribution to the environment. The production of most technology devices involves a lot of polluting from every stage in the supply chain, including reclamation. I'm certainly not an environmental expert, but working in the scrap industry I have given this a lot of thought and I have concluded it is much better to put into use old equipment, most especially when there is little to no gain from upgraded equipment.

I don't pretend to think that the development is trivial or resources unlimited, but it would be nice if there were some compromise offered for keeping this old stuff in use. And, I mean, really, what am I supposed to do with 137 blank DVD-Rs? Or my 32 MB CF card? (o;
pfSense 2.4.3-RELEASE (amd64) installed to PC on Samsung 860 EVO mSATA 256 GB SSD with Supermicro X11SBA-LN4F, Intel Pentium N3700, 4 GB RAM, 4 mobo 10/100/1000, 1 PCIe 10/100/1000 x4 NIC (HP NC364T), and APC Smart-UPS SMT1500.

Offline heper

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2016, 12:17:38 pm »
i'm in no way involved with development decisions but for me its pretty simple:

- hardware that doesn't boot from USB (older or equal to intel P3 era) is unlikely to provide me with enough performance/throughput to be of any use for me.
- DVDs are going down the same path as the dodo. mediums change every couple of years (punch cards / early tapes / floppy disks are no longer used, because there was no longer a point in keeping them around)
- <2GB flash media is harder to find & more expensive then their bigger counter parts.

about the environment: keeping ancient tech in operation, is generally worse for the environment (read power-usage).


Offline openletter

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 12:42:56 pm »
Perhaps the developers are more considerate of some things you may not be:

-My Atom 330 is never taxed at all, except when loading the dashboard (~50% CPU for a few seconds). Note that my old Pentium Pro 200 could not boot from USB due to BIOS limitations. It also didn't need any fans.
-My whole point is that making use of DVDs prevents more environmental waste, as there are tons of us who can get by just fine with only pfSense and no packages. Your reference to the dodo bird suggests a purely emotion-based path to hardware decisions.
-The cost to me of my 32 MB and even 512 MB CF cards is zero because I already own them, as is the case for probably a whole lot of people who purchased such media in the early 2000s and still have a few hanging around in the bottom of a storage tub.

About the environment: I used to have an old AMD board that only consumed about 30-35w, and, besides, electricity isn't the only thing that contributes to pollution. Actual calculations on net benefit are far more complicated and a surprising amount of the time will come out in favor of not replacing, assuming no increase in realized utility. Not to mention that only upgrading the PSU can result in a large increase in efficiency without having to purchase any additional hardware (I run picoPSU for efficiency and reliability, YMMV).
pfSense 2.4.3-RELEASE (amd64) installed to PC on Samsung 860 EVO mSATA 256 GB SSD with Supermicro X11SBA-LN4F, Intel Pentium N3700, 4 GB RAM, 4 mobo 10/100/1000, 1 PCIe 10/100/1000 x4 NIC (HP NC364T), and APC Smart-UPS SMT1500.

Offline jwt

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2016, 01:05:38 pm »

I am a little disappointed that the pfSense project has decided to send old hardware to the scrap heap. With 2.3, it is most computers that can't boot via USB. With (likely) 2.4, it will be most computers that don't have a SATA port, assuming most enthusiasts are like me and completely do not trust HDDs for 24/7 service and EIDE SSDs are typically more expensive than a used computer with SATA ports.

The only thing we took out of 2.3 was support for the LiveCD image.   It was just ... too 90s for my taste.  You can still boot
and install via CD (that's what the ISO image is for), and you can install to your EIDE device. 

pfSense 2.4 will remove 32-bit Intel (i386) images.   There are a couple reasons for this.  The primary one is to reduce the size of the
test matrix.  Unless you've not been following, we're seriously contemplating ARM (and, in fact, have a dual port ARM board
in design).   Also, with 2.4, we will be on FreeBSD 11, and will be bringing the standard FreeBSD boot loader to pfSense, rather than
the one that has been used since the early days of the project.   This will, among other things, bring the possibility of ZFS support,
and I don't want to deal with people attempting ZFS on low-memory 32-bit machines.

Support for 2.3 will not end when 2.4 is released.  Chris and I just haven't made the announcement yet.

Quote
And, I mean, really, what am I supposed to do with 137 blank DVD-Rs? Or my 32 MB CF card? (o;

I dunno, art project?




Offline openletter

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 01:40:44 pm »
Well, I can understand the move away from 32-bit. It seems like everything is going that way and development resources is obviously an important issue.

The problem with EIDE is that it really just isn't economical. I've had too many HDDs fail in relatively short order after putting them on server duty, and network gateways never fail at a convenient time. That said, my old Jetway does have SATA ports, but I moved back to LiveCD after an SSD failure (it was a very low quality and old SSD - I knew I was pushing it).

I believe we are both referring to this statement from the documentation wiki:

Quote
Planning for the Future
NanoBSD will be phased out in a future major version, likely pfSense 2.4. We recommend investigating alternate installation methods now rather than waiting and being surprised later. In most cases, a full installation may be used in its place. Activating the option to keep /var and /tmp in RAM can typically yield the same net benefits for older/slower CF and SD media. Firewalls with modern SSDs should have no concerns with writes.

I wasn't sure if I could take this to mean that the 8GB microSD I've targeted for running pfSense on will work reliably by keeping /var and /tmp in RAM, but if you plan to keep supporting 2.3, that would do me just fine.

As for ARM, I haven't messed around with or looked at various ARM hardware options, but I'm definitely hip to the ginormous power savings the platform offers.

From the sounds of it, I'd almost say a FreeNAS/OMV style fork is coming lol.
pfSense 2.4.3-RELEASE (amd64) installed to PC on Samsung 860 EVO mSATA 256 GB SSD with Supermicro X11SBA-LN4F, Intel Pentium N3700, 4 GB RAM, 4 mobo 10/100/1000, 1 PCIe 10/100/1000 x4 NIC (HP NC364T), and APC Smart-UPS SMT1500.

Offline LFCavalcanti

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2016, 02:18:06 pm »
Unless you've not been following, we're seriously contemplating ARM (and, in fact, have a dual port ARM board
in design). 

Well, great news... the big question is, will this version, for the ARM architecture, be Open Source and avaiable like the current one?

Support for 2.3 will not end when 2.4 is released.  Chris and I just haven't made the announcement yet.

I asked the previous question and this phrase also made me think... we have a "Community Edition" under the logo now, does this mean we will have two versions? One paid and one free?
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Offline jimp

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2016, 02:20:28 pm »
LFCavalcanti, Those questions have already been asked and answered in other threads. Don't start that nonsense FUD on unrelated threads again. Start your own thread if you want to discuss it and can't find any of the existing threads (on the retired 2.3 board).
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Offline LFCavalcanti

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2016, 03:05:04 pm »
LFCavalcanti, Those questions have already been asked and answered in other threads. Don't start that nonsense FUD on unrelated threads again. Start your own thread if you want to discuss it and can't find any of the existing threads (on the retired 2.3 board).

Right here is the problem with you guys... If I'm asking it's because I don't know of any previous statements anyone from ESF made about the questions I posted.

Point me to the threads, discussions on Github or Redmine ticket this was addressed. Otherwise, calling everything people raise about the project as "nonsense FUD" will not grant you any win on the argument.

EDIT:
As you might answer in the same manner here, I'll create two threads to address the questions.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 03:13:37 pm by LFCavalcanti »
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Offline jimp

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2016, 03:26:31 pm »
2 seconds of clicking later:

https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=108822.0

You can't expect us to repeat ourselves constantly for nonsense like that. You have to accept some burden to locate the answers. Just because you haven't seen the answers doesn't mean they don't exist, only that you haven't looked enough. And even then, new subject, new thread, don't hijack threads.
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Offline vbentley

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2016, 04:04:23 pm »
I made the jump to 'old' 64-bit hardware around the time of 2.1.5 and I am pleased that I did. I still have one 32-bit pfSense machine in service but that's simply because it is practically silent and is used in a noise sensitive area. I reluctantly scrapped most of my 32-bit hosts at the recyclers and bought thirteen old 64-bit server class machines to replace them for less than the cost of a budget spec new Windows10 laptop.

I think amd64/x64 hardware will be common for a long time yet but ARM kit will flash by as quick as mobile phone hardware does. I am surprised about pfSense considering ARM it must be a 'factory' requirement. For the Community Edition ARM has the added complexity of processor variety that is almost proprietory with bits and bobs of some ARM versions being used in others E.g. RaspberryPi ARM6+7 as well as 32-bit and 64-bit versions needing some GPL violating binary blob for some functionality.
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Offline Harvy66

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2016, 10:36:00 am »
Please stop using hardware more than 8 years old. Supporting old hardware holds everyone back. Either you're moving forward or backward.

Offline openletter

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2016, 10:57:51 am »
Please stop using hardware more than 8 years old.

No, thank you.
pfSense 2.4.3-RELEASE (amd64) installed to PC on Samsung 860 EVO mSATA 256 GB SSD with Supermicro X11SBA-LN4F, Intel Pentium N3700, 4 GB RAM, 4 mobo 10/100/1000, 1 PCIe 10/100/1000 x4 NIC (HP NC364T), and APC Smart-UPS SMT1500.

Offline LFCavalcanti

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2016, 12:55:52 pm »
Please stop using hardware more than 8 years old. Supporting old hardware holds everyone back. Either you're moving forward or backward.

I don't think what matters here is the age of a piece of hardware, but the technology standards it conforms to.

There's a huge difference between an Intel Pentium 4 an a Core i7 for sure, but not much difference between a Core 2 Duo and a Core i7 when it comes to hardware compatibility.

Performance in the other hands has to be scaled, but that's another conversation entirely...

In any case, the SG-2440 on the pfSense store does better with a cheap price than most old Hardware you can buy.
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Offline NOYB

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2016, 08:10:19 pm »
 
Please stop using hardware more than 8 years old. Supporting old hardware holds everyone back. Either you're moving forward or backward.

Free hardware trumps holding you back every time.
 

Offline jwt

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Re: Hey, pfSense team: no love for old hardware?
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2016, 02:52:53 am »
Some things that have no initial cost are still not free.