FreeBSD Stable Release 7.1 Installer  Guide


FBSD is distributed on CDROM. BSD Mall and FreeBSDmall sell a 4 CD set for $40.00 plus shipping. I bought this one time before I knew better. You only need the first CD, it contains the FBSD install, the rest of the other 3 remaining CD’s contain selected applications ports that you can install on FBSD. These application ports can be outdated almost as soon as they are cut to the release CD, so one finds themselves using the online ports collection to install these applications anyway. The revenue from these sales is what supports the acquisition of server equipment and internet access for the services that the web sites use to administer the FBSD project. If you want to do your part to support the FBSD project, then by all means purchase the 4 CD sets every time a new version is released, about four times a year.

An alternative is just to purchase the FBSD 2 CD install set. Linux Central sells the 2 CD set for $5.00 plus shipping. Cheap Bytes sells their FBSD 2 CD install set including cost of shipping for $7.00.

This is the point where many new users start saying, but it’s suppose to be free. Well FBSD is free, free to use as in no licensing fee to pay, as in you have free access to the source code, and free access to download the ISO CD images of the 4 CD set from a FBSD FTP server. But the production of making the 3 CD set and the marketing of the install CD set is not free. You have to pay for that service.


The FBSD 2 CD set is available from many FBSD FTP sites. Many people think they can just download the ISO image, burn it to CD and away they go. Well here's a news flash for you: it’s not that easy. ISO is simply a compression standard. The people who build the FBSD release CDROMs compress the CDROM contents into a single flat ISO file for easy downloading. These ISO files are populated to all the FBSD FTP mirror sites. The list of all world wide FBSD FTP sites can be found here

There are 13 USA sites. Change the X in the following URL to a number between 1 and 13 to get a USA sit For example would get the fifth FBSD FTP mirror site in the USA.

The CDROM ISO images would be found at this directory path

at that location you would find these files,

7.1-RELEASE-i386-disc1.ISO, 7.1-RELEASE-i386-disc2.ISO, 7.1-RELEASE-i386-bootonly.ISO, and CHECKSUM.MD5.

The 7.1-RELEASE-i386-disc1.ISO file contains everything needed to install FBSD. The 7.1-RELEASE-i386-disc2.ISO file contains a selection of the most used ports from the 19,000+ ports system.  As new releases come out, the path stays the same except the release number changes in the path. So to get release 8.0 you would replace the 7.1 with 8.0 and every thing else stays the same.

The CHECKSUM.MD5 files holds the checksum values of the 3 files. If you used a FBSD system to FTP these files you should also download the CHECKSUM files and use the checksum hash values to verify your downloaded ISO file is complete and correct by running these steps to verify the download is good.

ls -l        to verify file sizes

md5 7.1-RELEASE-i386-disc1.ISO >> CHECKSUM.MD5

to create a checksum value of your downloaded file & append it to the end of the downloaded CHECKSUM.MD5 file'


to display the file, and review the last 2 lines of the file

In this example the first line contains the CHECKSUM value of the 7.0-RELEASE-i386-disc1.ISO file when it was created at the FBSD ftp site. The last line contains the CHECKSUM value of your downloaded ISO image you just created using the md5 command. If the 2 values do not match then your download is no good and you have to download it again.


First of all the .ISO file extension is not supported in the native MS/Windows world. Sure you can download it from one of the FBSD FTP sites and burn it to a CD using MS/Windows, but you end up with a data disk where the ISO file is a single file, not a bootable CD containing the FBSD directory tree which you need to install from. The second major problem is you need a fast Internet connection, (IE: ISDN, DSL, CABLE) to download over. Using a 56K modem will take over 28 hours per CD if you are lucky enough that your ISP does not cut you off or the FTP server does not get busy and suspend your session. To resolve this problem of using a MS/Windows box to obtain the FBSD install CDROM image you will need a MS/Windows FTP program that can restart the ftp download where it left off at, if it gets terminated during the initial download. I used SMARTFTP from Then you need a MS/Windows program that can burn ISO files to CDROM. I used Nero from The downloaded demos from these sites work just fine to do what you have to do to create your FBSD mini install CDROM. Uninstall them, but keep the downloaded install zip files for them and next time you need to retrieve a FBSD .ISO file, just reinstall to get a new 30 day demo.

So lets be realistic, the first time installer of FBSD should purchase at the bare minimum the $3.00 single install CD from to get started. Doing so will result in you installing the current production version of FBSD and enabling you to receive the maximum level of support from the FBSD questions mailing list. Many of the experienced users who respond to questions on the list will only answers questions about the current version of FBSD.


The first thing your PC does after being powered on or when rebooting is the motherboard BIOS ROM chip gets control and it interrogates all the hardware ports on the motherboard to determine what I/O devices are attached. This is called the POST process. As part of this POST process the user changeable BIOS values stored in a CMOS chip on the motherboard are read and used to configure the PC’s hardware. These BIOS values are changed using the BIOS setup utility. The most common BOIS chip in use today is manufactured by Award. If your PC does not use an Award BIOS chip then you have to read the manual that came with your PC for details.

All Award BIOS's display a summary screen at the completion of the post process which list all the devices found, there names and which IRQ number was assigned by the BIOS to that I/O device. IBM PCs do not show this summary screen by default, some other manufactures of PCs may also have selected to turn off this summary screen by default.

You the FBSD installer must enter the BIOS setup utility and activate this summary screen display.

This summary screen information is very helpful in debugging FBSD hardware problems, because it tells you what your PC hardware is and how the IRQ numbers are assigned. IRQ stands for interrupt request. An interrupt is the doorway the I/O device uses to tell the CPU that it wants its turn at getting some processing cycles. This is how the CPU shares service time among all the devices attached to the motherboard.


During the power up/reboot POST process you will see in the lower left corner of the monitor screen the message ‘Press DEL to enter setup’. While this message is showing press the keyboard delete key and the Award BIOSs setup utility main menu displays on the screen.


Navigate around the menus using the keyboard arrow keys looking for the following options. Your PC BIOS may not have all of these.

Virus Warning=, set this option to disable. It’s a firmware check of the hard drive boot sector looking for MS/Windows boot virus. This will stop FBSD booting from the install CDROM.

plug-n-play=, set this option to disable. FBSD is not sensitive to Microsoft plug-n-play standard and may refuse to install, or cause PCI cards not to be found.

Disable or set to auto any BIOS option to assign IRQ numbers to PCI expansion slots.

Disable any ISA expansion slots.

Operating system type=, set to ‘other’ or any Unix type of operating system, don’t set to MS/Windows.

Disable all power management options.

boot sequence=, set this option to (CDROM,C) Since you are installing FBSD from CDROM you must tell the PC what I/O device to boot from.

Follow the BIOS menu instructions to save your changes and exit. The PC will reboot it self.

Keep in mind that some older CDROM drives and older legacy PC BIOS do not support booting off CDROM. Generally with PCs manufactured after 1999 this is not a problem.

If you do run into this, you have a really old PC and you will need to create boot floppies to boot from. This is outside the scope of this document. Please read the FBSD Handbook at

Legacy BIOS also are incompatible with the larger hard disk sizes and the faster 66 and 100 UDMA drives.

Touchstone Software, manufactures and sells replacement BIOS chips. Check out web site for instructions on how to get the technical information about your computer's BIOS chip so they can cross-reference it to their product line, or call their sales dept at (978) 686-6468. A replacement BIOS chip costs around 80.00 USA Dollars. 


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This FreeBSD Installer Guide is an public domain HOW-TO. This content may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, and used by all without permission in writing from the author.