OS Install Experiences - Part 3: PC-BSD [Update]

Note: This article is part of my OS Install Experiences series.

I'll continue with the recently released operating system PC-BSD 1.1, which is based on FreeBSD 6.1.

This is actually the first time I installed a BSD-like OS, so I thought it would be a bit of a hassle. But I was surprised to find that the install was really pretty easy (which is a major goal of PC-BSD, as I understand it). I didn't even read a manual or installation instructions or anything...


  1. First, I downloaded a PC-BSD 1.1 CD #1 image, burned it on a CD, and booted from that.
  2. The first installer screen is text-based (later it's graphical), and allows you to choose between a normal install ("boot FreeBSD"), install "with ACPI", "safe mode", "single user mode", and "with verbose logging". You can also "escape to loader prompt", or "reboot".
  3. While the installer runs, it merely shows a nice desktop background, pressing any key shows you the boot messages.
  4. After a while you can select a screen resolution for the graphical installer, run fdisk, escape into an "emergency shell", chroot into the root partition, or reboot. Default is to start the installation at a pre-selected screen resolution.
  5. You can choose the language and keyboard layout. Although you can click "back" to return to previous steps in the installer, you can not go back to the language/keyboard selection later!
  6. Partitioning. First, you can choose on which disk to install, then choose the partition to use. The list only shows the primary partitions and an "extended DOS" partition. Device names for disks are a bit different in BSD world. /dev/ad0 (counting starts at 0) is the first disk, /dev/ad0s1 (counting starts at 1) the first "partition" (called "slice" in BSD). It doesn't seem to be possible to install PC-BSD on an extended partition (please correct me if I'm wrong), so I installed it on /dev/hda2 (/dev/ad0s2 in BSD-speak), which is a primary partition. To make things more complex and confusing, a BSD slice can contain multiple "partitions" (not the same as Linux partitions!). I now have /dev/ad0s2a, which is the boot partition, and /dev/ad0s2b, the swap partition. Confused? Me too.
  7. Note that changes made to the partition table seem to be effective immediately, there's no way to go back without losing data! Debian's installer is better at this. The default PC-BSD file system is UFS, btw.
  8. The hardware will be automatically detected (worked quite well for me).
  9. You can now choose to either install the BSD bootloader in the MBR, or install no bootloader at all. Not sure what the best thing for me is here, but I decided to install the BSD bootloader (overwriting GRUB). I might have to re-install GRUB (and tell it about PC-BSD) if the BSD bootloader cannot boot the other (Linux) OSes.
  10. Now I must enter the root password, and I can also create another user. I noticed that passwords can only contain alpha-numeric characters (no %$§,.#+!? and so on). WTF? They can't be serious... Also, you must enter a real name for the normal user, it won't let you continue until you type something... Pretty annoying. There's a checkbox called "Auto-Login User?" which is enabled by default, but I didn't find out what exactly that does...
  11. The network is successfully auto-configured via DHCP. I was not asked for a hostname, but typed hostname after the install and I got PCBSD.localhost.
  12. Reboot. The CD is not ejected automatically, you have to remove it manually before booting up.
  13. I'm asked to insert CD 2 (language packs), which I don't have (or want), as I only burned CD 1. Clicking "abort" does the trick, and I can continue with English as the default language.
  14. Finally, I'm dropped into a KDE session, and that's it.


Continue reading here...

Update 2006-06-02: Added IPv6 netstat/sockstat output.
Update 2006-06-02: Shortened the length of the article on my main webpage as well as the RSS feed. But you can always read the whole article here, of course.

Syndicate content