15 April 2016

pfSense upgrade - "can't find kernel" error

I had pfSense 2.2.4 running as a virtual machine and noticed that version 2.3 was finally released. Broadly, pfSense 2.3 has a complete redo of the webGUI using bootstrap, and the backend system is completed based on FreeBSD. The new web interface is clean, modern and "easier" on the eyes to say the least. Being based on FreeBSD, future upgrades will be much easier as individual packages can be upgraded. For more details about the new release: see the introductory video, or read the links in the release announcement.

In my virtual instance of pfSense, I have just 1 GB of disk space and was using 512MB RAM. On trying to do the upgrade via GUI, it ended up with an error:

Can't find 'kernel'
Error while including /boot/menu.rc. in the line:
Can't load 'kernel'

This happened primarily because of my choice of disk space. During the upgrade, the download of the new version was about 200 MB. After the downloaded ended the system was using close to 90% disk space and after reboot there seems to have been some data loss.

So, be careful, do a backup or a snapshot of the VM before attempting the upgrade (good practice for any upgrade). If your disk space is not enough, add some more before upgrading.

Happy firewalling.