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Chapter 2. Installing FreeBSD

Table of Contents
2.1. Supported Configurations
2.2. Preparing for the Installation
2.3. Installing FreeBSD
2.4. MS-DOS User's Questions and Answers

So, you would like to try out FreeBSD on your system? This section is a quick-start guide for what you need to do. FreeBSD can be installed from a variety of media including CD-ROM, floppy disk, magnetic tape, an MS-DOS partition and, if you have a network connection, via anonymous ftp or NFS.

Regardless of the installation media you choose, you can get started by creating the installation disks as described below. Booting your computer into the FreeBSD installer, even if you are not planning on installing FreeBSD right away, will provide important information about compatibility between FreeBSD and your hardware which may, in turn, dictate which installation options are even possible. It can also provide early clues to any compatibility problems which could prevent FreeBSD running on your system at all.

If you plan on installing via anonymous FTP then the installation floppies are all you need to download and create---the installation program itself will handle any further required downloading directly (using an ethernet connection, a modem and ppp dialip #, etc).

For more information on obtaining the latest FreeBSD distributions, please see Obtaining FreeBSD in the Appendix.

So, to get the show on the road, follow these steps:

  1. Review the supported configurations section of this installation guide to be sure that your hardware is supported by FreeBSD. It may be helpful to make a list of any special cards you have installed, such as SCSI controllers, Ethernet adapters or sound cards. This list should include relevant configuration parameters such as interrupts (IRQ) and IO port addresses.

  2. If you are installing FreeBSD from CDROM media then you have several different installation options:

    • If the CD has been mastered with El Torrito boot support and your system supports direct booting from CDROM (and many older systems do not), simply insert the CD into the drive and boot directly from it.

    • If you are running DOS and have the proper drivers to access your CD, run the install.bat script provided on the CD. This will attempt to boot into the FreeBSD installation straight from DOS.

      Note: You must do this from actual DOS and not a Windows DOS box.

      If you also want to install FreeBSD from your DOS partition (perhaps because your CDROM drive is completely unsupported by FreeBSD) then run the setup program first to copy the appropriate files from the CD to your DOS partition, afterwards running install.

    • If either of the two proceeding methods work then you can simply skip the rest of this section, otherwise your final option is to create a set of boot floppies from the floppies\kern.flp and floppies\mfsroot.flp images---proceed to step 4 for instructions on how to do this.

  3. If you do not have a CDROM distribution then simply read the installation boot image information to find out what files you need to download first.

  4. Make the installation boot disks from the image files:

    • If you are using MS-DOS then download fdimage.exe or get it from tools\fdimage.exe on the CDROM and then run it like so:

          E:\> tools\fdimage floppies\kern.flp a:

      The fdimage program will format the A: drive and then copy the kern.flp image onto it (assuming that you are at the top level of a FreeBSD distribution and the floppy images live in the floppies subdirectory, as is typically the case).

    • If you are using a UNIX system to create the floppy images:

          # dd if=kern.flp of=disk_device

      disk_device is the /dev entry for the floppy drive. On FreeBSD systems, this is /dev/rfd0 for the A: drive and /dev/rfd1 for the B: drive.

  5. With the kern.flp in the A: drive, reboot your computer. The next request you should get is for the mfsroot.flp floppy, after which the installation will proceed normally.

    If you do not type anything at the boot prompt which appears during this process, FreeBSD will automatically boot with its default configuration after a delay of about five seconds. As FreeBSD boots, it probes your computer to determine what hardware is installed. The results of this probing is displayed on the screen.

  6. When the booting process is finished, The main FreeBSD installation menu will be displayed.

If something goes wrong...

Due to limitations of the PC architecture, it is impossible for probing to be 100 percent reliable. In the event that your hardware is incorrectly identified, or that the probing causes your computer to lock up, first check the supported configurations section of this installation guide to be sure that your hardware is indeed supported by FreeBSD.

If your hardware is supported, reset the computer and when the visual kernel configuration choice is presented, take it. This puts FreeBSD into a configuration mode where you can supply hints about your hardware. The FreeBSD kernel on the installation disk is configured assuming that most hardware devices are in their factory default configuration in terms of IRQs, IO addresses and DMA channels. If your hardware has been reconfigured, you will most likely need to use the configuration editor to tell FreeBSD where things are.

It is also possible that a probe for a device not present will cause a later probe for another device that is present to fail. In that case, the probes for the conflicting driver(s) should be disabled.

Warning: Do not disable any device you will need during installation, such as your screen (sc0). If the installation wedges or fails mysteriously after leaving the configuration editor, you have probably removed or changed something that you should not have. Simply reboot and try again.

In the configuration mode, you can:

After adjusting the kernel to match how you have your hardware configured, type Q to continue booting with the new settings.

After FreeBSD has been installed, changes made in the configuration mode will be permanent so you do not have to reconfigure every time you boot. Even so, it is likely that you will want to build a custom kernel to optimize the performance of your system. See Kernel configuration for more information on creating custom kernels.

2.1. Supported Configurations

FreeBSD currently runs on a wide variety of ISA, VLB, EISA and PCI bus based PC's, ranging from 386sx to Pentium class machines (though the 386sx is not recommended). Support for generic IDE or ESDI drive configurations, various SCSI controller, network and serial cards is also provided.

A minimum of four megabytes of RAM is required to run FreeBSD. To run the X Window System, eight megabytes of RAM is the recommended minimum.

Following is a list of all disk controllers and Ethernet cards currently known to work with FreeBSD. Other configurations may very well work, and we have simply not received any indication of this.

2.1.1. Disk Controllers

  • WD1003 (any generic MFM/RLL)

  • WD1007 (any generic IDE/ESDI)

  • IDE

  • ATA

  • Adaptec 1535 ISA SCSI controllers

  • Adaptec 154x series ISA SCSI controllers

  • Adaptec 174x series EISA SCSI controller in standard and enhanced mode.

  • Adaptec 274X/284X/2920C/2930U2/294x/2950/3940/3950 (Narrow/Wide/Twin) series EISA/VLB/PCI SCSI controllers.

  • Adaptec AIC7850, AIC7860, AIC7880, AIC789x, on-board SCSI controllers.

  • AdvanSys SCSI controllers (all models).

  • BusLogic MultiMaster controllers:

    Note: BusLogic/Mylex "Flashpoint" adapters are NOT yet supported.

    • BusLogic MultiMaster "W" Series Host Adapters:

      • BT-948

      • BT-958

      • BT-958D

    • BusLogic MultiMaster "C" Series Host Adapters:

      • BT-946C

      • BT-956C

      • BT-956CD

      • BT-445C

      • BT-747C

      • BT-757C

      • BT-757CD

      • BT-545C

      • BT-540CF

    • BusLogic MultiMaster "S" Series Host Adapters:

      • BT-445S

      • BT-747S

      • BT-747D

      • BT-757S

      • BT-757D

      • BT-545S

      • BT-542D

      • BT-742A

      • BT-542B

    • BusLogic MultiMaster "A" Series Host Adapters:

      • BT-742A

      • BT-542B

    • AMI FastDisk controllers that are true BusLogic MultiMaster clones are also supported.

  • DPT SmartCACHE Plus, SmartCACHE III, SmartRAID III, SmartCACHE IV and SmartRAID IV SCSI/RAID controllers are supported. The DPT SmartRAID/CACHE V is not yet supported.

  • Compaq Intelligent Disk Array Controllers: IDA, IDA-2, IAES, SMART, SMART-2/E, Smart-2/P, SMART-2SL, Smart Array 3200, Smart Array 3100ES and Smart Array 221.

  • SymBios (formerly NCR) 53C810, 53C810a, 53C815, 53C820, 53C825a, 53C860, 53C875, 53C875j, 53C885, 53C895 and 53C896 PCI SCSI controllers:

    • ASUS SC-200

    • Data Technology DTC3130 (all variants)

    • Diamond FirePort (all)

    • NCR cards (all)

    • Symbios cards (all)

    • Tekram DC390W, 390U and 390F

    • Tyan S1365

  • QLogic 1020, 1040, 1040B, 1080, 1240 and 2100 SCSI and Fibre Channel Adapters

  • DTC 3290 EISA SCSI controller in 1542 emulation mode.

With all supported SCSI controllers, full support is provided for SCSI-I & SCSI-II peripherals, including hard disks, optical disks, tape drives (including DAT and 8mm Exabyte), medium changers, processor target devices and CDROM drives. WORM devices that support CDROM commands are supported for read-only access by the CDROM driver. WORM/CD-R/CD-RW writing support is provided by cdrecord, which is in the ports tree.

The following CD-ROM type systems are supported at this time:

  • SoundBlaster SCSI and ProAudio Spectrum SCSI (cd)

  • Mitsumi (all models) proprietary interface (mcd)

  • Matsushita/Panasonic (Creative) CR-562/CR-563 proprietary interface (matcd)

  • Sony proprietary interface (scd)

  • ATAPI IDE interface (wcd)

The following drivers were supported under the old SCSI subsystem, but are NOT YET supported under the new CAM SCSI subsystem:

  • Tekram DC390 and DC390T controllers (maybe other cards based on the AMD 53c974 as well).

  • NCR5380/NCR53400 ("ProAudio Spectrum") SCSI controller.

  • UltraStor 14F, 24F and 34F SCSI controllers.

  • Seagate ST01/02 SCSI controllers.

  • Future Domain 8xx/950 series SCSI controllers.

  • WD7000 SCSI controller.

  • Adaptec 1510 series ISA SCSI controllers (not for bootable devices)

  • Adaptec 152x series ISA SCSI controllers

  • Adaptec AIC-6260 and AIC-6360 based boards, which includes the AHA-152x and SoundBlaster SCSI cards.

2.1.2. Ethernet cards

  • Allied-Telesis AT1700 and RE2000 cards

  • SMC Elite 16 WD8013 Ethernet interface, and most other WD8003E, WD8003EBT, WD8003W, WD8013W, WD8003S, WD8003SBT and WD8013EBT based clones. SMC Elite Ultra and 9432TX based cards are also supported.

  • DEC EtherWORKS III NICs (DE203, DE204, and DE205)

  • DEC EtherWORKS II NICs (DE200, DE201, DE202, and DE422)

  • DEC DC21040/DC21041/DC21140 based NICs:

    • ASUS PCI-L101-TB

    • Accton ENI1203

    • Cogent EM960PCI

    • Compex CPXPCI/32C

    • D-Link DE-530

    • DEC DE435

    • DEC DE450

    • Danpex EN-9400P3

    • JCIS Condor JC1260

    • Kingston KNE100TX

    • Linksys EtherPCI

    • Mylex LNP101

    • SMC EtherPower 10/100 (Model 9332)

    • SMC EtherPower (Model 8432)

    • SMC EtherPower (2)

    • Znyx ZX314

    • Znyx ZX342


  • Fujitsu FMV-181 and FMV-182

  • Fujitsu MB86960A/MB86965A

  • Intel EtherExpress

  • Intel EtherExpress Pro/100B 100Mbit.

  • Isolan AT 4141-0 (16 bit)

  • Isolink 4110 (8 bit)

  • Lucent WaveLAN wireless networking interface.

  • Novell NE1000, NE2000, and NE2100 ethernet interface.

  • 3Com 3C501 cards

  • 3Com 3C503 Etherlink II

  • 3Com 3c505 Etherlink/+

  • 3Com 3C507 Etherlink 16/TP

  • 3Com 3C509, 3C579, 3C589 (PCMCIA) Etherlink III

  • 3Com 3C590, 3C595 Etherlink III

  • 3Com 3C90x cards.

  • HP PC Lan Plus (27247B and 27252A)

  • Toshiba ethernet cards

  • PCMCIA ethernet cards from IBM and National Semiconductor are also supported.

Note: FreeBSD does not currently support PnP (plug-n-play) features present on some ethernet cards. If your card has PnP and is giving you problems, try disabling its PnP features.

2.1.3. Miscellaneous devices

  • AST 4 port serial card using shared IRQ.

  • ARNET 8 port serial card using shared IRQ.

  • BOCA IOAT66 6 port serial card using shared IRQ.

  • BOCA 2016 16 port serial card using shared IRQ.

  • Cyclades Cyclom-y Serial Board.

  • STB 4 port card using shared IRQ.

  • SDL Communications Riscom/8 Serial Board.

  • SDL Communications RISCom/N2 and N2pci sync serial cards.

  • Digiboard Sync/570i high-speed sync serial card.

  • Decision-Computer Intl. ``Eight-Serial'' 8 port serial cards using shared IRQ.

  • Adlib, SoundBlaster, SoundBlaster Pro, ProAudioSpectrum, Gravis UltraSound, Gravis UltraSound MAX and Roland MPU-401 sound cards.

  • Matrox Meteor video frame grabber.

  • Creative Labs Video spigot frame grabber.

  • Omnimedia Talisman frame grabber.

  • Brooktree BT848 chip based frame grabbers.

  • X-10 power controllers.

  • PC joystick and speaker.

FreeBSD does not currently support IBM's microchannel (MCA) bus.