FreeBSD  Release  8.0  Installer  Guide




There are two FBSD environments. The FBSD workstation and the FBSD server.

The FBSD workstation environment is equivalent to a MS/Windows workstation. It has a GUI (graphical user interface) using an AGP video card, a sound card, a read/write CDROM device, scanner, and all the other devices one would expect on a MS/Windows workstation.

The FBSD server environment contains all the facilities the normal MS/Windows home user never sees because these services are provided by the users ISP, such as a Firewall, Mail server, Domain name server, and the like.

The intended final usage of the PC will dictate what FBSD components need to be installed and which are not needed. The primary difference is the GUI component is not normally installed for a server environment as it consumes a very large amount of disk space which penalizes you every time you do a system backup of your system.

This Installer Guide's stated purpose is the building of a FBSD gateway server, and as such will not have the GUI component installed.

Another area of consideration is the style of PC, Desktop or Laptop. FBSD does function on both.

Laptop PCs have some quirks when it comes to I/O devices such as NICs and modems. Laptops have been used for servers, but it is highly recommended that laptops only be used for workstations. Even though this document is written for the desktop style of PC, everything also applies to the laptop to some varying degree.

The desktop style of PC is the targeted PC this Installers Guide is written to.


I have found the brute force method of installing FBSD to result in a percentage of installs having problems. By brute force I mean, using a fully loaded PC, (IE: more than one IDE hard drive, using an AGP high resolution video card, using USB devices, ISA & PCI modems, RAID control cards with RAID hard drives as the installation target).

This Installers Guide uses the incremental method. The incremental method starts with a very simple basic hardware configuration which is specified below, and after FBSD is working on that, then additional components are added one at a time. This way you greatly reduce the number of variables that have to be considered when trying to debug installation problems.

Following the incremental method used here is not a mandatory requirement; it’s just a way to remove many of the areas where install problems occur due to outdated legacy hardware equipment or a maxed out PC hardware environment. The followings install instructions have been tested using the hardware ‘Desktop PC starting base’ and have resulted in a repeatable successful install across a range of PC manufactures.



Desktop PC starting base

Any Intel 386 through Pentium CPU or clone thereof.

One IDE hard drive on the primary IDE controller

One IDE cdrom reader or r/w device on the secondary IDE controller as master. The sysinstall program gives cd/dvd device not found error when the master nipple is unused and the cd/dvd device is on the slave nipple. You can't have an ATA bus with a slave and not a master.

One floppy drive if available

Simple PCI VGA video card cheap type, no need for high speed graphics card

Any kind of mouse (serial or USB)

Any kind of monitor, cheaper the better


Things you may need later

External serial modem or internal PCI modem card (non-WinModem type)

Two internal PCI 10/100 NICs


Things to remove and not use

Sound card

USB port disk drives, zip drives

ISA modem card


It became popular after 1999 for motherboard manufactures to include on the motherboard some or all of the functions listed below replacing the need for plug in expansion cards.

Sound card, USB ports, modem card, video card and 10/100 NIC.

If the PC you are using is of this type, then you must enter the PC BIOS setup utility and navigate around the menus looking for options to disable the onboard functions not required for the ‘Desktop PC starting base’.

Hard drives and CDROM drives are both IDE devices, but operate at different speeds. Your CDROM read or read/write drives must not be on the same IDE controller as your primary boot hard drive, as this will cause your hard drive to run at the speed of the slower CDROM drive, which is much slower than the speed of the hard drive. This results in significant hard drive performance degradation. The primary IDE controller should be reserved for master and slave hard drives of the same speed (UMDA 33, 66, or 100). The secondary IDE controller should be reserved for master and slave CDROM drives. Check how your hard drive and CDROM drives are cabled and change them right now if they are sharing the same IDE controller.

Installer Note: Just to be absolutely clear. The ‘Desktop PC starting base’ hardware requirements above are not the minimum needed for FBSD to run. It is what the FBSD target install system is to be stripped down to as the basic hardware configuration used by the incremental installation method used in this Guide. The legacy ISA expansion card slots on motherboards are being phased out by motherboard manufactures because they are so much slower than PCI slots. ISA modem cards and ISA NICs are not included as supported hardware in reference to this Guide as they are known to cause configuration problems, and this Guide does not give debugging procedures to address ISA IRQ problems. Do not try to use legacy ISA expansion boards. Get yourself PCI expansion cards if you need them. Also be aware that a lot of PCI modem cards are specially designed to work only with MS/Windows PCs. These types of modems are known as WinModems. FBSD only works with internal PCI modems that have onboard controllers. WinModems do not have onboard controllers and can usually be identified by the use of lucent chips on the circuit board.

5.4 is the first release to no longer support pre Y2K legacy PC's. Install problems show up in legacy PC's using 40 pin UDMA33 hard drives, default memory sizes and CPU speeds under 1GHz. You can work around this be using an newer PC to install the system on the Hard drive then put the hard drive in an legacy PC to run.

8.0 is the first release to include a complete rewrite of the USB stack. This resolves many problems with plug in external hard drives, plug in printers and booting from a USB stick. FBSD runs best on PC equipment manufactured after 2008.

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