[nycbug-talk] Soekris/PCEngines-ALIX USB Bug

Chris Buechler nycbug at chrisbuechler.com
Sun Aug 10 16:39:41 EDT 2008

Miles Nordin wrote:
> AIUI, disabling ehci just makes it usb 1.x speed.
That's the end result, but the reason for doing it with ALIX boards is 
so they don't panic at boot. They used to not boot FreeBSD without 
disabling ehci because of the panic. It's been about a year so my memory 
of the issue is a bit foggy.

This has been fixed though, myself and a couple other pfSense developers 
worked with Pascal at PC Engines to get these issues resolved and make 
sure the boards run FreeBSD/pfSense reliably, back before they were 
available for purchase. Though I can't say I've actually used the USB 
ports for anything to date. All the cases I have don't even have an 
opening for the USB ports, though my test boards aren't in a case anyway.

Ike - the fix is to make sure you have the latest BIOS on them, I'm not 
aware of any issues with boards that have the v0.99 BIOS and FreeBSD 6.x 
and 7.x. You can grab it here. http://pcengines.ch/alix2.htm  There is 
one remaining quirk I'm aware of, they won't boot from a disk > 4 GB due 
to another BIOS issue.

The vr(4) driver in FreeBSD 6.x and 7.x can be less than stellar at 
times, if you check the commit log on RELENG_7 you'll see a *long* list 
of vr(4) fixes, so that should get better in the future. There's only 
one line diff in if_vr.c between RELENG_6_3 and RELENG_7_0 so the issues 
aren't any better in 7.0 than in 6.3. The issues don't seem to affect 
the vast majority of people, and I have not had any problems with the 
ones I have in production, but CARP on them seems to be problematic. If 
I were building a stock FreeBSD for one, I'd go with RELENG_7 if it 
proved reliable for the intended usage.

Aside from the BIOS issues, which have largely been resolved, they're 
great little boards. Thankfully to date they haven't had the same issues 
seen in the Soekris 5501, there have been a few hardware problems with 
those that require shipping the boards back for repair. BIOS issues are 
easier to cope with. 

Can't say I've tried OpenBSD on them though, so I can't offer any 
suggestions there.


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