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2.4. MS-DOS User's Questions and Answers

Many FreeBSD users wish to install FreeBSD on PCs inhabited by MS-DOS. Here are some commonly asked questions about installing FreeBSD on such systems.

Help! I have no space! Do I need to delete everything first?

If your machine is already running MS-DOS and has little or no free space available for FreeBSD's installation, all is not lost! You may find the FIPS utility, provided in the tools directory on the FreeBSD CDROM or on the various FreeBSD ftp sites, to be quite useful.

FIPS allows you to split an existing MS-DOS partition into two pieces, preserving the original partition and allowing you to install onto the second free piece. You first defragment your MS-DOS partition, using the DOS 6.xx DEFRAG utility or the Norton Disk tools, then run FIPS. It will prompt you for the rest of the information it needs. Afterwards, you can reboot and install FreeBSD on the new free slice. See the Distributions menu for an estimation of how much free space you will need for the kind of installation you want.

Can I use compressed MS-DOS filesystems from FreeBSD?

No. If you are using a utility such as Stacker(tm) or DoubleSpace(tm), FreeBSD will only be able to use whatever portion of the filesystem you leave uncompressed. The rest of the filesystem will show up as one large file (the stacked/dblspaced file!). Do not remove that file! You will probably regret it greatly!

It is probably better to create another uncompressed MS-DOS primary partition and use this for communications between MS-DOS and FreeBSD.

Can I mount my MS-DOS extended partitions?

Yes. DOS extended partitions are mapped in at the end of the other ``slices'' in FreeBSD, e.g. your D: drive might be /dev/da0s5, your E: drive /dev/da0s6, and so on. This example assumes, of course, that your extended partition is on SCSI drive 0. For IDE drives, substitute wd for da appropriately. You otherwise mount extended partitions exactly like you would mount any other DOS drive, e.g.:

    # mount -t msdos /dev/da0s5 /dos_d