Question Server/switch troubles

Sep 21, 2020
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Heloo friends,
I came in possesion of one Phion switch. Switch ( at least sold as switch ) have Intel E5300 and 2 GB of RAM. 2 USB inputs, one PCI port, one PCIe X16 in which is some custom NIC with 4 ports, and 4 sata ports + console. Overall they have 10 x1Gb ports. When plug them in router, router or PC directly cant see anything but LEDs from motherboard signals that it is in 1Gbps speed. Also on switch only blinking leds and nothing anymore. Inside is 128MB Secudos CF card. I try to reset it via CMOS but nothing happenings. Can anyone offer help or tip? Is it possible to install any linux distro on it or anything? Thanx in advance


 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Heloo friends,
I came in possesion of one Phion switch. Switch ( at least sold as switch ) have Intel E5300 and 2 GB of RAM. 2 USB inputs, one PCI port, one PCIe X16 in which is some custom NIC with 4 ports, and 4 sata ports + console. Overall they have 10 x1Gb ports. When plug them in router, router or PC directly cant see anything but LEDs from motherboard signals that it is in 1Gbps speed. Also on switch only blinking leds and nothing anymore. Inside is 128MB Secudos CF card. I try to reset it via CMOS but nothing happenings. Can anyone offer help or tip? Is it possible to install any linux distro on it or anything? Thanx in advance


That is probably a firewall -- see this PDF https://www.infopoint-security.de/open_downloads/2008/phion_netfence_ProductGuide_english_1208.pdf
 
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Sep 21, 2020
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Thank you very much on replay, but still need more infos. Since there is x64/x86 architecture completely present is it possible to install any linux on it instead of stock firmware? It is not problem to buy larger CF card if ubuntu server is possible to install. I only found once that it is capable of proxmox but dont know how or what to do since they dont have video output. i was considering to plug GPU in PCIe port but i dont think it will result in anything usefoul. Also noticed VGA out on board but very strange connector. 8 pin VGA?
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Thank you very much on replay, but still need more infos. Since there is x64/x86 architecture completely present is it possible to install any linux on it instead of stock firmware? It is not problem to buy larger CF card if ubuntu server is possible to install. I only found once that it is capable of proxmox but dont know how or what to do since they dont have video output. i was considering to plug GPU in PCIe port but i dont think it will result in anything usefoul. Also noticed VGA out on board but very strange connector. 8 pin VGA?
I have no idea. I have never seen one of those. Most of the time firewalls are specifically hardened to prevent tampering. That would include an alternate OS.
 
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Sep 21, 2020
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I have no idea. I have never seen one of those. Most of the time firewalls are specifically hardened to prevent tampering. That would include an alternate OS.
Is it realistic that USBs on front panell suport booting? To be honest when pluged laptop in it, DHCP obtianed adress in subnet 255.255.0.0... Any more sugestions?
 
Sep 21, 2020
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I would make a bootable image on that cf card and then boot it up that way and log in to it. Probably would make a decent pfsense firewall.
So you think it is possible to boot from CF card but no from USB? OK if boot pass, how to log in into device to finish install - via console? Switch dont have any video output except header pins onboard... Inside is also one connector for USB header. Is it possible then to install OS on HDD/SSD since they have 4 Sata 2 ports? Hmmm 128 MB is not enough for pfSense install or boot... and it is too LOUD to be used in home as home switch. Also I have MikroTik doing NAT and Routing so I dont need router, just switch. Great option is DD-WRT/OPN-WRT if possible.
 
So you think it is possible to boot from CF card but no from USB? OK if boot pass, how to log in into device to finish install - via console? Switch dont have any video output except header pins onboard... Inside is also one connector for USB header. Is it possible then to install OS on HDD/SSD since they have 4 Sata 2 ports? Hmmm 128 MB is not enough for pfSense install or boot... and it is too LOUD to be used in home as home switch. Also I have MikroTik doing NAT and Routing so I dont need router, just switch. Great option is DD-WRT/OPN-WRT if possible.
Yep since CF is basically an IDE, which is native boot. You install it with the CF card in something else like a computer with a card reader. Once it works there, you reinstall it in the device and let it boot. You log into the device once it is online like any other router or device.

A software switch will be a real cpu hog so it wouldn't be very good. Still if you can just restore it to factory condition and software, it probably will still be useful for something. I bet it was only gotten rid of because the CF software was wiped/stopped working.
 
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Sep 21, 2020
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I was considering to replace E5300 with E8500 CPU and put 2X2GB of RAM but cannot find anything about board. CPU hog? Mikrotik etc and WRT run on much much weaker CPUs.

Restoring to factory defaults is not possible because company states that it is not their device. Contacted Secudos few days ago and still no replay, so technically impossible to restore it.

I think Ubuntu, pfSense or WRT can do very nice switching with upgraded CPU and RAM if possible.

So your idea is to make bootabile CF card and boot from it and then to install on SATA drive, or just install on CF
card?

Is it possible to get any video output from it, via 11 pin VGA ( I never seen something simmilar ) or console cable ssh terminal to complete install?

It seems as good solution to boot ESXi or ProxMox if possible, but then in question came drivers for nics.
 
So I wouldn't mess with the cpu upgrade until you know what you're dealing with--this is a very proprietary box with probably a custom bios and chipset. I wouldn't mess with the cpu at all. Memory would be a good upgrade.

I'd install pfsense on the cf card and get it running in a desktop--then I would just transfer it over to the box and boot off of it there and see if you can log in. You're basically flying blind, but if you have something known that you're booting that you can log into, that will get you started. You could even load xp on the cf card and then see if you can boot that and rdp into it.
 
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So I wouldn't mess with the cpu upgrade until you know what you're dealing with--this is a very proprietary box with probably a custom bios and chipset. I wouldn't mess with the cpu at all. Memory would be a good upgrade.

I'd install pfsense on the cf card and get it running in a desktop--then I would just transfer it over to the box and boot off of it there and see if you can log in. You're basically flying blind, but if you have something known that you're booting that you can log into, that will get you started. You could even load xp on the cf card and then see if you can boot that and rdp into it.
Hmm. Inside came only 128 MB CF. pfSense and XP cant fit in 128MB. And I dont think any linux will be happy from moving one configuration to another after install. I know for process of learning hardware during install. I can give a try with Raspbian OS ( Debian customised for raspberry pi ) flashed on USB and enable ssh via placing empty ssh file in /boot.

Also onboard is header for another USB panell, what do you think is possible to boot via them?
You said CF is basicly IDE which is native boot. I agree. If manage to boot via them is there any way to access screen or console via serial port, or to transfer install files via serial, since I dont have CF card reader?

I try to google every single mark and code and came with nothing. Googled even expansion card and still nothing. Only idea came to my mind to stick it in X16 port on my motherboard and see what happens. But 0 relevant google searches... it must be something custom.
 
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Get a bigger CF card. A 2GB one shouldn't trigger any type of issue, but larger might.

Without video, you're never going to be able to boot on that usb unless it is set up to boot on usb is the CF doesn't boot, but I doubt it.

Get a multi card reader--they can read cf no problem. And they're cheap.
 
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Get a bigger CF card. A 2GB one shouldn't trigger any type of issue, but larger might.

Without video, you're never going to be able to boot on that usb unless it is set up to boot on usb is the CF doesn't boot, but I doubt it.

Get a multi card reader--they can read cf no problem. And they're cheap.

Larger card might trigger issue? They have 11/12 pin VGA out marked as VGA on 1st,2nd and 4th photo, but I never seen such VGA connector. I see some pfSense and debian install via serial cable :)
 
Partitions and drives above 2gb also had an issue booting back in the day before fat32. Who knows what the bios is looking for.

So looking at the board that is definitely a strange connector. But I think there's another way around all this--it's got a pcie slot and a pci slot--put in a video card and then you can work with it like a normal system. There's also a 3-pin fan header next to the cpu for a fan there.

What I would do is remove the network card from the pcie and install a video card, taking the motherboard and everything out of the case if need be. Then I would boot it up and see what I've got. If you can access the bios then you can really understand the design and what can boot and what can't, all the network interfaces and more. The box looks ideal for an older version of pfsense that didn't need so much cpu power, but if not, then it might be useful for some other purpose that a system with multiple nics might be good for.
 
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Partitions and drives above 2gb also had an issue booting back in the day before fat32. Who knows what the bios is looking for.

So looking at the board that is definitely a strange connector. But I think there's another way around all this--it's got a pcie slot and a pci slot--put in a video card and then you can work with it like a normal system. There's also a 3-pin fan header next to the cpu for a fan there.

What I would do is remove the network card from the pcie and install a video card, taking the motherboard and everything out of the case if need be. Then I would boot it up and see what I've got. If you can access the bios then you can really understand the design and what can boot and what can't, all the network interfaces and more. The box looks ideal for an older version of pfsense that didn't need so much cpu power, but if not, then it might be useful for some other purpose that a system with multiple nics might be good for.
I talked with server engeneer at one large ISP and they told me that there is 0% chance to get any output by inserting GPU in PCIe. I have AMD Radeon RX 550/560 which under full load use 28W. GPU bios is moded for mining but i dont think there will be any problems. Now it is huge question at all which software to try put in.
pfSense minimal disk size is 4GB and more.
IPFire also 4 GB.

But dont know how do you think to boot from CF Card installer and install on same CF card. it would be great if it is possible to install on one of Sata disks.

I dont know purpose of CPU fan because under pice of metal with sticker is 3 high speed fans and one at left side of it. All four connected at right side of PSU. All fans together sounds like engine of supersonic aircraft.
 
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I talked with server engeneer at one large ISP and they told me that there is 0% chance to get any output by inserting GPU in PCIe. I have AMD Radeon RX 550/560 which under full load use 28W. GPU bios is moded for mining but i dont think there will be any problems. Now it is huge question at all which software to try put in.
pfSense minimal disk size is 4GB and more.
IPFire also 4 GB.

But dont know how do you think to boot from CF Card installer and install on same CF card. it would be great if it is possible to install on one of Sata disks.

I dont know purpose of CPU fan because under pice of metal with sticker is 3 high speed fans and one at left side of it. All four connected at right side of PSU. All fans together sounds like engine of supersonic aircraft.
The engineer doesn't know what they're talking about. Any pcie bus connected to a standard x86 architecture will get a video signal, but you may need an older card that isn't uefi.

As I've said before, you will probably need to load the software on another system and then just move the install to this one. CF cards come in 4GB and larger, so it's not as big a deal as you're making it out to be.

The fan header might be for another purpose of the board, like qa testing. It also allows you to replace the supersonic fans with a standard one or a dynatron, but personally I love that jet engine sound of power.
 
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Sep 21, 2020
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Hey @SamirD sorry i been bussy in last time. I get CF card reader and put CF in in, download dd-wrt and make bootabile CF-card. Before I tell anything I need to tell you that Im accessed video output via console. Im able to open bios and etc... I make bootabile CF with DD Wrt and put in, power on switch, open console and everything was fine until Linux came to
Loading /boot/vmlinuz.......
Loading /boot/core.gz............

and stop. Nothings happening anymore. Do you have any idea?

same is with Tiny Core linux.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Looks like that version of linux just doesn't work--try something older or a different build. Check any of the stock stickers on the box for a year and load something from that era.
Sorry, but at some point you have to say "He's dead Jim" ... It was a security appliance. They are PURPOSEFULLY built to not be used in other ways. I said that in post #4 and I will say it again. Recycle it and move on.
 
Sorry, but at some point you have to say "He's dead Jim" ... It was a security appliance. They are PURPOSEFULLY built to not be used in other ways. I said that in post #4 and I will say it again.
I don't think this is correct. Generally, most x86 based routers are more than capable of running something else as long as the hardware is working. Most of the time, the software is locked to running on certain hardware, but not the other way around.
 
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kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
I don't think this is correct. Generally, most x86 based routers are more than capable of running something else as long as the hardware is working. Most of the time, the software is locked to running on certain hardware, but not the other way around.
This wasn't just a router, it was a security appliance. Those are very different beasts from my experience. But I will shut up.
 
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Sorry, but at some point you have to say "He's dead Jim" ... It was a security appliance. They are PURPOSEFULLY built to not be used in other ways. I said that in post #4 and I will say it again. Recycle it and move on.
Hi, Security or not guy from ISP and I tweakeed it. Stucking in "Loading /boot/core.gz............ " was because BIOS use one speed/baud for BIOS and another for OS. They booted this linux but we did not see it because we did not know me must change speed/baud. We used another machine to install Centos and enable SSH. We put drive in device logged in via serial, and when console stop showing everything I waited few minutes and ping device. I got replay :D and hurry up to SSH into it. It acted as normal linux server. Great. I checked network adapters and recognised all 10 :). Now I installed Mikrotik RouterOS and registered for L1 licencee. Greal switch/router. I would like to use it as my primary router/NAT but it is too loud. It sounds like jet fighter is in my room. There is even one more additional PCI port. Maybe I install wireless card in it. All in all great device for RouterOS ( since they run from 400 MHz and less ). @SamirD told to put GPU in it, impossible because X16 port is male, not female like in normal PC, and PCI card is female PCI connector. Really custom device but with great appliance.
 
SUPER!! So glad you were able to put it to use. :) I'd see how fast it will route and how fast the switch ports are too. And if you can put pfsense on it, I'm sure someone with a rack that doesn't mind the noise will take it from you. :) Good job saving something working from the landfill!
 
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