Before installing FreeBSD you should attempt to inventory the components
in your computer. The FreeBSD installation routines will show you the
components (hard disks, network cards, CDROM drives, and so forth) with
their model number and manufacturer.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
FreeBSD will also attempt to determine
the correct configuration for these devices, which includes information
about IRQ and IO port usage. Due to the vagaries of PC hardware this process
is not always completely successful, and you may need to correct FreeBSD's
determination of your configuration.
If you already have another operating system installed, such as
Windows® or Linux, it is a good idea to use
the facilities provided by those operating systems to see how your hardware
is already configured. If you are not sure what settings an expansion card
is using, you may find it printed on the card itself. Popular IRQ numbers
are 3, 5, and 7, and IO port addresses are normally written as hexadecimal
numbers, such as 0x330.
We recommend you print or write down this information before installing
FreeBSD. It may help to use a table, like this:
Table 2-1. Sample Device Inventory
First hard disk
40 GB, made by Seagate, first IDE master
First IDE slave
Second hard disk
20 GB, made by IBM, second IDE master
First IDE controller
3Com® 56K faxmodem, on COM1
Once the inventory of the components in your computer is done, you have
to check if they match the hardware requirements of the FreeBSD release you
want to install.
2.3.2 Backup Your Data
If the computer you will be installing FreeBSD on contains valuable data,
then ensure you have it backed up, and that you have tested the backups
before installing FreeBSD. The FreeBSD installation routine will prompt you
before writing any data to your disk, but once that process has started it
cannot be undone.
Where to Install FreeBSD
If you want FreeBSD to use your entire hard disk, then there is nothing
more to concern yourself with at this point -- you can skip this section.
However, if you need FreeBSD to co-exist with other operating systems
then you need to have a rough understanding of how data is laid out on the
disk, and how this affects you.
18.104.22.168 Disk Layouts for FreeBSD/i386
A PC disk can be divided into discrete chunks. These chunks are
called partitions. Since FreeBSD internally
also has partitions, the naming can become confusing very quickly,
therefore these disk chunks are referred to as disk slices or simply
slices in FreeBSD itself. For example, the FreeBSD utility
fdisk which operates on the PC disk partitions,
refers to slices instead of partitions. By design, the PC only supports
four partitions per disk. These partitions are called
primary partitions. To work around this
limitation and allow more than four partitions, a new partition type was
created, the extended partition. A disk may
contain only one extended partition. Special partitions, called
logical partitions, can be created inside this
Each partition has a partition ID, which is
a number used to identify the type of data on the partition. FreeBSD
partitions have the partition ID of 165.
In general, each operating system that you use will identify
partitions in a particular way. For example, DOS, and its descendants,
like Windows, assign each primary and
logical partition a drive letter, starting with
FreeBSD must be installed into a primary partition. FreeBSD can keep
all its data, including any files that you create, on this one
partition. However, if you have multiple disks, then you can create a
FreeBSD partition on all, or some, of them. When you install FreeBSD,
you must have one partition available. This might be a blank partition
that you have prepared, or it might be an existing partition that
contains data that you no longer care about.
If you are already using all the partitions on all your disks, then
you will have to free one of them for FreeBSD using the tools provided
by the other operating systems you use (e.g., fdisk
on DOS or Windows).
If you have a spare partition then you can use that. However, you may
need to shrink one or more of your existing partitions first.
A minimal installation of FreeBSD takes as little as 100 MB of disk
space. However, that is a
very minimal install, leaving almost no space for your own
files. A more realistic minimum is 250 MB without a graphical
environment, and 350 MB or more if you want a graphical user interface.
If you intend to install a lot of third-party software as well, then you
will need more space.
You can use a commercial tool such as PartitionMagic®, or a free tool such
as GParted, to resize your partitions and
make space for FreeBSD. The tools directory on
the CDROM contains two free software tools which can carry out this
task, namely FIPS and
PResizer. Documentation for both of these is available in the same
PartitionMagic can resize FAT16
and FAT32 partitions -- used in
Windows ME. Both
PartitionMagic and GParted are
known to work on NTFS.
GParted is available on a number of Live CD
Linux distributions, such as
Problems have been reported resizing
Microsoft® Vista partitions. Having a Vista installation CDROM
handy when attempting such an operation is recommended. As with all such
disk maintenance tasks, a current set of backups is also strongly
Warning: Incorrect use of these tools can delete the
data on your disk. Be sure that you have recent, working backups
before using them.
Example 2-1. Using an Existing
Suppose that you have a computer with a
single 4 GB disk that already has a version of
Windows installed, and you have split
the disk into two drive letters, C: and
D:, each of which is 2 GB in size. You
have 1 GB of data on C:, and 0.5 GB of
data on D:.
This means that your disk has two partitions on it, one per drive
letter. You can copy all your existing data from
D: to C:,
which will free up the second partition, ready for FreeBSD.
Example 2-2. Shrinking an
Suppose that you have a computer with a
single 4 GB disk that already has a version of
Windows installed. When you installed
Windows you created one large
partition, giving you a C: drive that is
4 GB in size. You are currently using 1.5 GB of space, and want
FreeBSD to have 2 GB of space.
In order to install FreeBSD you will need to either:
Backup your Windows data, and
then reinstall Windows, asking
for a 2 GB partition at install time.
Use one of the tools such as PartitionMagic, described
above, to shrink your Windows
22.214.171.124 Disk Layouts
for the Alpha
You will need a dedicated disk for FreeBSD on the Alpha. It is not
possible to share a disk with another operating system at this time.
Depending on the specific Alpha machine you have, this disk can either
be a SCSI disk or an IDE disk, as long as your machine is capable of
booting from it.
Following the conventions of the Digital / Compaq manuals all SRM
input is shown in uppercase. SRM is case insensitive.
To find the names and types of disks in your machine, use the
SHOW DEVICE command from the SRM console
This example is from a Digital Personal Workstation 433au and shows
three disks attached to the machine. The first is a CDROM drive called
DKA0 and the other two are disks and are
called DKC0 and
Disks with names of the form DKx are SCSI
disks. For example DKA100 refers to a SCSI
disk with SCSI target ID 1 on the first SCSI bus (A), whereas
DKC300 refers to a SCSI disk with SCSI ID 3
on the third SCSI bus (C). Devicename PKx
refers to the SCSI host bus adapter. As seen in the
SHOW DEVICE output SCSI CDROM drives are treated as any other SCSI
hard disk drive.
IDE disks have names similar to DQx,
while PQx is the associated IDE controller.
2.3.4 Collect Your Network
If you intend to connect to a network as part of your FreeBSD
installation (for example, if you will be installing from an FTP site or an
NFS server), then you need to know your network configuration. You will be
prompted for this information during the installation so that FreeBSD can
connect to the network to complete the install.
126.96.36.199 Connecting to
an Ethernet Network or Cable/DSL Modem
If you connect to an Ethernet network, or you have an Internet
connection using an Ethernet adapter via cable or DSL, then you will
need the following information:
IP address of the default gateway
DNS server IP addresses
If you do not know this information, then ask your system
administrator or service provider. They may say that this information is
assigned automatically, using DHCP. If so, make
a note of this.
Using a Modem
If you dial up to an ISP using a regular modem then you can still
install FreeBSD over the Internet, it will just take a very long time.
You will need to know:
The phone number to dial for your ISP
The COM: port your modem is connected to
The username and password for your ISP account
2.3.5 Check for FreeBSD
Although the FreeBSD project strives to ensure that each release of
FreeBSD is as stable as possible, bugs do occasionally creep into the
process. On very rare occasions those bugs affect the installation process.
As these problems are discovered and fixed, they are noted in the
FreeBSD Errata, which is found on the FreeBSD web site. You should check
the errata before installing to make sure that there are no late-breaking
problems which you should be aware of.
Information about all the releases, including the errata for each
release, can be found on the
information section of the
FreeBSD web site.
2.3.6 Obtain the FreeBSD
The FreeBSD installation process can install FreeBSD from files located
in any of the following places:
A CDROM or DVD
A DOS partition on the same computer
A SCSI or QIC tape
An FTP site, going through a firewall, or using an HTTP proxy, as
An NFS server
A dedicated parallel or serial connection
If you have purchased FreeBSD on CD or DVD then you already have
everything you need, and should proceed to the next section (Section
If you have not obtained the FreeBSD installation files you should skip
Section 2.13 which explains how to prepare to install FreeBSD from any
of the above. After reading that section, you should come back here, and
read on to
Prepare the Boot Media
The FreeBSD installation process is started by booting your computer into
the FreeBSD installer--it is not a program you run within another operating
system. Your computer normally boots using the operating system installed on
your hard disk, but it can also be configured to use a “bootable” floppy
disk. Most modern computers can also boot from a CDROM in the CDROM drive.
Tip: If you have FreeBSD on CDROM or DVD (either one you
purchased or you prepared yourself), and your computer allows you to
boot from the CDROM or DVD (typically a BIOS option called “Boot
Order” or similar), then you can skip this section. The FreeBSD
CDROM and DVD images are bootable and can be used to install FreeBSD
without any other special preparation.
To create boot floppy images, follow these steps:
Acquire the Boot Floppy Images
disks are available on your installation media in the
floppies/ directory, and can also be
downloaded from the floppies directory,
with the architecture
and the version number which you want to install, respectively. For
example, the boot floppy images for FreeBSD/i386 7.0-RELEASE are
The floppy images have a .flp
extension. The floppies/ directory
contains a number of different images, and the ones you will need to
use depends on the version of FreeBSD you are installing, and in
some cases, the hardware you are installing to. In most cases you
will need four floppies, boot.flp,
and kern3.flp. Check
README.TXT in the same directory for the most up to date
information about these floppy images.
Important: Your FTP program must use
to download these disk images. Some web browsers have been
known to use text
mode, which will be apparent if you cannot boot from the
Prepare the Floppy Disks
You must prepare
one floppy disk per image file you had to download. It is imperative
that these disks are free from defects. The easiest way to test this
is to format the disks for yourself. Do not trust pre-formatted
floppies. The format utility in Windows
will not tell about the presence of bad blocks, it simply marks them
as “bad” and ignores them. It is advised that you use brand new
floppies if choosing this installation route.
Important: If you try to install FreeBSD and the
installation program crashes, freezes, or otherwise
misbehaves, one of the first things to suspect is the
floppies. Try writing the floppy image files to new disks
and try again.
Write the Image Files to the Floppy Disks
The .flp files are not regular files you copy to the
disk. They are images of the complete contents of the disk. This
means that you cannot
simply copy files from one disk to another. Instead, you must use
specific tools to write the images directly to the disk.
If you are creating the floppies on a computer running
then we provide a tool to do this called fdimage.
If you are using the floppies from the CDROM, and your CDROM is
the E: drive, then you would run this:
E:\>tools\fdimage floppies\boot.flp A:
Repeat this command for each .flp file,
replacing the floppy disk each time, being sure to label the disks
with the name of the file that you copied to them. Adjust the
command line as necessary, depending on where you have placed the
.flp files. If you do not have the CDROM,
then fdimage can be downloaded from the
tools directory on the FreeBSD FTP
If you are writing the floppies on a UNIX®
system (such as another FreeBSD system) you can use the
command to write the image files directly to disk. On FreeBSD, you
#dd if=boot.flp of=/dev/fd0
On FreeBSD, /dev/fd0 refers to the
first floppy disk (the A: drive).
/dev/fd1 would be the
B: drive, and so on. Other
UNIX variants might have different
names for the floppy disk devices, and you will need to check the
documentation for the system as necessary.