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Preparing Your Own Installation Media


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Preparing Your Own Installation Media


A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Note: To prevent repetition, “FreeBSD disc” in this context means a FreeBSD CDROM or DVD that you have purchased or produced yourself.

There may be some situations in which you need to create your own FreeBSD installation media and/or source. This might be physical media, such as a tape, or a source that sysinstall can use to retrieve the files, such as a local FTP site, or an MS-DOS® partition.

For example:

  • You have many machines connected to your local network, and one FreeBSD disc. You want to create a local FTP site using the contents of the FreeBSD disc, and then have your machines use this local FTP site instead of needing to connect to the Internet.
  • You have a FreeBSD disc, and FreeBSD does not recognize your CD/DVD drive, but MS-DOS/Windows® does. You want to copy the FreeBSD installation files to a DOS partition on the same computer, and then install FreeBSD using those files.
  • The computer you want to install on does not have a CD/DVD drive or a network card, but you can connect a “Laplink-style” serial or parallel cable to a computer that does.
  • You want to create a tape that can be used to install FreeBSD.



2.13.1 Creating an Installation CDROM

As part of each release, the FreeBSD project makes available at least two CDROM images (“ISO images”) per supported architecture. These images can be written (“burned”) to CDs if you have a CD writer, and then used to install FreeBSD. If you have a CD writer, and bandwidth is cheap, then this is the easiest way to install FreeBSD.

  1. Download the Correct ISO Images

    The ISO images for each release can be downloaded from ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/ISO-IMAGES-arch/version or the closest mirror. Substitute arch and version as appropriate.

    That directory will normally contain the following images:

    Table 2-4. FreeBSD 6.X and 7.X ISO Image Names and Meanings
    Filename Contains
    version-RELEASE-arch-bootonly.iso Everything you need to boot into a FreeBSD kernel and start the installation interface. The installable files have to be pulled over FTP or some other supported source.
    version-RELEASE-arch-disc1.iso Everything you need to install FreeBSD and a “live filesystem”, which is used in conjunction with the “Repair” facility in sysinstall.
    version-RELEASE-arch-disc2.iso As many third-party packages as would fit on the disc.
    version-RELEASE-arch-docs.iso FreeBSD documentation.

    You must download one of either the bootonly ISO image (if available), or the image of disc one. Do not download both of them, since the disc one image contains everything that the bootonly ISO image contains.

    Use the bootonly ISO if Internet access is cheap for you. It will let you install FreeBSD, and you can then install third-party packages by downloading them using the ports/packages system as necessary.

    Use the image of disc one if you want to install a FreeBSD release and want a reasonable selection of third-party packages on the disc as well.

    The additional disc images are useful, but not essential, especially if you have high-speed access to the Internet.

  2. Write the CDs

    You must then write the CD images to disc. If you will be doing this on another FreeBSD system then see Section 18.6 for more information (in particular, Section 18.6.3 and Section 18.6.4).

    If you will be doing this on another platform then you will need to use whatever utilities exist to control your CD writer on that platform. The images provided are in the standard ISO format, which many CD writing applications support.

Note: If you are interested in building a customized release of FreeBSD, please see the Release Engineering Article.




2.13.2 Creating a Local FTP Site with a FreeBSD Disc

FreeBSD discs are laid out in the same way as the FTP site. This makes it very easy for you to create a local FTP site that can be used by other machines on your network when installing FreeBSD.

  1. On the FreeBSD computer that will host the FTP site, ensure that the CDROM is in the drive, and mounted on /cdrom.
    # mount /cdrom
    
  2. Create an account for anonymous FTP in /etc/passwd. Do this by editing /etc/passwd using vipw(8) and adding this line:
    ftp:*:99:99::0:0:FTP:/cdrom:/nonexistent
    
  3. Ensure that the FTP service is enabled in /etc/inetd.conf.

Anyone with network connectivity to your machine can now chose a media type of FTP and type in ftp://your machine after picking “Other” in the FTP sites menu during the install.

Note: If the boot media (floppy disks, usually) for your FTP clients is not precisely the same version as that provided by the local FTP site, then sysinstall will not let you complete the installation. If the versions are not similar and you want to override this, you must go into the Options menu and change distribution name to any.

Warning: This approach is OK for a machine that is on your local network, and that is protected by your firewall. Offering up FTP services to other machines over the Internet (and not your local network) exposes your computer to the attention of crackers and other undesirables. We strongly recommend that you follow good security practices if you do this.




2.13.3 Creating Installation Floppies

If you must install from floppy disk (which we suggest you do not do), either due to unsupported hardware or simply because you insist on doing things the hard way, you must first prepare some floppies for the installation.

At a minimum, you will need as many 1.44 MB floppies as it takes to hold all the files in the base (base distribution) directory. If you are preparing the floppies from DOS, then they must be formatted using the MS-DOS FORMAT command. If you are using Windows, use Explorer to format the disks (right-click on the A: drive, and select “Format”).

Do not trust factory pre-formatted floppies. Format them again yourself, just to be sure. Many problems reported by our users in the past have resulted from the use of improperly formatted media, which is why we are making a point of it now.

If you are creating the floppies on another FreeBSD machine, a format is still not a bad idea, though you do not need to put a DOS filesystem on each floppy. You can use the bsdlabel and newfs commands to put a UFS filesystem on them instead, as the following sequence of commands (for a 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy) illustrates:

# fdformat -f 1440 fd0.1440
# bsdlabel -w fd0.1440 floppy3
# newfs -t 2 -u 18 -l 1 -i 65536 /dev/fd0

Then you can mount and write to them like any other filesystem.

After you have formatted the floppies, you will need to copy the files to them. The distribution files are split into chunks conveniently sized so that five of them will fit on a conventional 1.44 MB floppy. Go through all your floppies, packing as many files as will fit on each one, until you have all of the distributions you want packed up in this fashion. Each distribution should go into a subdirectory on the floppy, e.g.: a:\base\base.aa, a:\base\base.ab, and so on.

Important: The base.inf file also needs to go on the first floppy of the base set since it is read by the installation program in order to figure out how many additional pieces to look for when fetching and concatenating the distribution.

Once you come to the Media screen during the install process, select Floppy and you will be prompted for the rest.




2.13.4 Installing from an MS-DOS® Partition

To prepare for an installation from an MS-DOS partition, copy the files from the distribution into a directory called freebsd in the root directory of the partition. For example, c:\freebsd. The directory structure of the CDROM or FTP site must be partially reproduced within this directory, so we suggest using the DOS xcopy command if you are copying it from a CD. For example, to prepare for a minimal installation of FreeBSD:

C:\> md c:\freebsd
C:\> xcopy e:\bin c:\freebsd\bin\ /s
C:\> xcopy e:\manpages c:\freebsd\manpages\ /s

Assuming that C: is where you have free space and E: is where your CDROM is mounted.

If you do not have a CDROM drive, you can download the distribution from ftp.FreeBSD.org. Each distribution is in its own directory; for example, the base distribution can be found in the 7.0/base/ directory.

For as many distributions you wish to install from an MS-DOS partition (and you have the free space for), install each one under c:\freebsd -- the BIN distribution is the only one required for a minimum installation.




2.13.5 Creating an Installation Tape

Installing from tape is probably the easiest method, short of an online FTP install or CDROM install. The installation program expects the files to be simply tarred onto the tape. After getting all of the distribution files you are interested in, simply tar them onto the tape:

# cd /freebsd/distdir
# tar cvf /dev/rwt0 dist1 ... dist2

When you perform the installation, you should make sure that you leave enough room in some temporary directory (which you will be allowed to choose) to accommodate the full contents of the tape you have created. Due to the non-random access nature of tapes, this method of installation requires quite a bit of temporary storage.

Note: When starting the installation, the tape must be in the drive before booting from the boot floppy. The installation probe may otherwise fail to find it.




2.13.6 Before Installing over a Network

There are three types of network installations available. Ethernet (a standard Ethernet controller), Serial port (SLIP or PPP), or Parallel port (PLIP (laplink cable)).

For the fastest possible network installation, an Ethernet adapter is always a good choice! FreeBSD supports most common PC Ethernet cards; a table of supported cards (and their required settings) is provided in the Hardware Notes for each release of FreeBSD. If you are using one of the supported PCMCIA Ethernet cards, also be sure that it is plugged in before the laptop is powered on! FreeBSD does not, unfortunately, currently support hot insertion of PCMCIA cards during installation.

You will also need to know your IP address on the network, the netmask value for your address class, and the name of your machine. If you are installing over a PPP connection and do not have a static IP, fear not, the IP address can be dynamically assigned by your ISP. Your system administrator can tell you which values to use for your particular network setup. If you will be referring to other hosts by name rather than IP address, you will also need a name server and possibly the address of a gateway (if you are using PPP, it is your provider's IP address) to use in talking to it. If you want to install by FTP via a HTTP proxy, you will also need the proxy's address. If you do not know the answers to all or most of these questions, then you should really probably talk to your system administrator or ISP before trying this type of installation.

The SLIP support is rather primitive, and limited primarily to hard-wired links, such as a serial cable running between a laptop computer and another computer. The link should be hard-wired as the SLIP installation does not currently offer a dialing capability; that facility is provided with the PPP utility, which should be used in preference to SLIP whenever possible.

If you are using a modem, then PPP is almost certainly your only choice. Make sure that you have your service provider's information handy as you will need to know it fairly early in the installation process.

If you use PAP or CHAP to connect your ISP (in other words, if you can connect to the ISP in Windows without using a script), then all you will need to do is type in dial at the ppp prompt. Otherwise, you will need to know how to dial your ISP using the “AT commands” specific to your modem, as the PPP dialer provides only a very simple terminal emulator. Please refer to the user-ppp handbook and FAQ entries for further information. If you have problems, logging can be directed to the screen using the command set log local ....

If a hard-wired connection to another FreeBSD (2.0-R or later) machine is available, you might also consider installing over a “laplink” parallel port cable. The data rate over the parallel port is much higher than what is typically possible over a serial line (up to 50 kbytes/sec), thus resulting in a quicker installation.

2.13.6.1 Before Installing via NFS

The NFS installation is fairly straight-forward. Simply copy the FreeBSD distribution files you want onto an NFS server and then point the NFS media selection at it.

If this server supports only “privileged port” (as is generally the default for Sun workstations), you will need to set the option NFS Secure in the Options menu before installation can proceed.

If you have a poor quality Ethernet card which suffers from very slow transfer rates, you may also wish to toggle the NFS Slow flag.

In order for NFS installation to work, the server must support subdir mounts, for example, if your FreeBSD 7.0 distribution directory lives on: ziggy:/usr/archive/stuff/FreeBSD, then ziggy will have to allow the direct mounting of /usr/archive/stuff/FreeBSD, not just /usr or /usr/archive/stuff.

In FreeBSD's /etc/exports file, this is controlled by the -alldirs options. Other NFS servers may have different conventions. If you are getting “permission denied” messages from the server, then it is likely that you do not have this enabled properly.



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