2.13 Preparing Your Own Installation Media

Note: To prevent repetition, ``FreeBSD disk'' in this context means a FreeBSD CDROM or DVD that you have purchased, or produced yourself.

There may be some situations in which you need to create your own FreeBSD installation media and/or source. This might be physical media, such as a tape, or a source that Sysinstall can use to retrieve the files, such as a local FTP site, or an MS-DOS partition. For example;

2.13.1 Creating a Local FTP Site with a FreeBSD Disk

FreeBSD disks are laid out in the same way as the FTP site. This makes it very easy for you to create a local FTP site that can be used by other machines on your network when installing FreeBSD.

  1. On the FreeBSD computer that will host the FTP site, ensure that the CDROM is in the drive, and mounted on /cdrom.

        # mount /cdrom
    
  2. Create an account for anonymous FTP in /etc/passwd. Do this by editing /etc/passwd using vipw(8) and adding this line.

        ftp:*:99:99::0:0:FTP:/cdrom:/nonexistent
    
  3. Ensure that the FTP service is enabled in /etc/inetd.conf.

Anyone with network connectivity to your machine can now chose a media type of FTP and type in ftp://your machine after picking ``Other'' in the FTP sites menu during the install.

Warning: This approach is OK for a machine that is on your local network, and that is protected by your firewall. Offering up FTP services to other machines over the Internet (and not your local network) exposes your computer to the attention of crackers and other undesirables. We strongly recommend that you follow good security practices if you do this.

2.13.2 Creating Installation Floppies

If you must install from floppy disk (which we suggest you do not do), either due to unsupported hardware or simply because you insist on doing things the hard way, you must first prepare some floppies for the installation.

At a minimum, you will need as many 1.44MB or 1.2MB floppies as it takes to hold all the files in the bin (binary distribution) directory. If you are preparing the floppies from DOS, then they MUST be formatted using the MS-DOS FORMAT command. If you are using Windows, use Explorer to format the disks (right-click on the A: drive, and select "Format".

Do not trust factory pre-formatted floppies. Format them again yourself, just to be sure. Many problems reported by our users in the past have resulted from the use of improperly formatted media, which is why we are making a point of it now.

If you are creating the floppies on another FreeBSD machine, a format is still not a bad idea, though you do not need to put a DOS filesystem on each floppy. You can use the disklabel and newfs commands to put a UFS filesystem on them instead, as the following sequence of commands (for a 3.5" 1.44MB floppy) illustrates:

    # fdformat -f 1440 fd0.1440
    # disklabel -w -r fd0.1440 floppy3
    # newfs -t 2 -u 18 -l 1 -i 65536 /dev/fd0

Note: Use fd0.1200 and floppy5 for 5.25" 1.2MB disks.

Then you can mount and write to them like any other filesystem.

After you have formatted the floppies, you will need to copy the files to them. The distribution files are split into chunks conveniently sized so that 5 of them will fit on a conventional 1.44MB floppy. Go through all your floppies, packing as many files as will fit on each one, until you have all of the distributions you want packed up in this fashion. Each distribution should go into a subdirectory on the floppy, e.g.: a:\bin\bin.aa, a:\bin\bin.ab, and so on.

Once you come to the Media screen during the install process, select ``Floppy'' and you will be prompted for the rest.

2.13.3 Installing from an MS-DOS Partition

To prepare for an installation from an MS-DOS partition, copy the files from the distribution into a directory on that partition. For example, c:\freebsd. The directory structure of the CDROM or FTP site must be partially reproduced within this directory, so we suggest using the DOS xcopy command if you are copying it from a CD. For example, to prepare for a minimal installation of FreeBSD:

    C:\> md c:\freebsd
    C:\> xcopy e:\bin c:\freebsd\bin\ /s
    C:\> xcopy e:\manpages c:\freebsd\manpages\ /s

Assuming that C: is where you have free space and E: is where your CDROM is mounted.

If you do not have a CDROM drive, you can download the distribution from ftp.FreeBSD.org. Each distribution is in its own directory; for example, the bin distribution can be found in the 4.4/bin directory.

For as many distributions you wish to install from an MS-DOS partition (and you have the free space for), install each one under c:\freebsd -- the BIN distribution is the only one required for a minimum installation.

2.13.4 Creating an Installation Tape

Installing from tape is probably the easiest method, short of an online FTP install or CDROM install. The installation program expects the files to be simply tarred onto the tape. After getting all of the distribution files you are interested in, simply tar them onto the tape;

    # cd /freebsd/distdir
    # tar cvf /dev/rwt0 dist1 ... dist2

When you go to do the installation, you should also make sure that you leave enough room in some temporary directory (which you will be allowed to choose) to accommodate the full contents of the tape you have created. Due to the non-random access nature of tapes, this method of installation requires quite a bit of temporary storage. You should expect to require as much temporary storage as you have stuff written on tape.

Note: When starting the installation, the tape must be in the drive before booting from the boot floppy. The installation probe may otherwise fail to find it.

2.13.5 Before Installing over a Network

There are three types of network installations you can do. Serial port (SLIP or PPP), Parallel port (PLIP (laplink cable)), or Ethernet (a standard Ethernet controller (includes some PCMCIA)).

The SLIP support is rather primitive, and limited primarily to hard-wired links, such as a serial cable running between a laptop computer and another computer. The link should be hard-wired as the SLIP installation does not currently offer a dialing capability; that facility is provided with the PPP utility, which should be used in preference to SLIP whenever possible.

If you are using a modem, then PPP is almost certainly your only choice. Make sure that you have your service provider's information handy as you will need to know it fairly early in the installation process.

If you use PAP or CHAP to connect your ISP (in other words, if you can connect to the ISP in Windows without using a script), then all you will need to do is type in dial at the ppp prompt. Otherwise, you will need to know how to dial your ISP using the ``AT commands'' specific to your modem, as the PPP dialer provides only a very simple terminal emulator. Please refer to the user-ppp handbook and FAQ entries for further information. If you have problems, logging can be directed to the screen using the command set log local ....

If a hard-wired connection to another FreeBSD (2.0-R or later) machine is available, you might also consider installing over a ``laplink'' parallel port cable. The data rate over the parallel port is much higher than what is typically possible over a serial line (up to 50kbytes/sec), thus resulting in a quicker installation.

Finally, for the fastest possible network installation, an Ethernet adapter is always a good choice! FreeBSD supports most common PC Ethernet cards; a table of supported cards (and their required settings) is provided in the Hardware Notes for each release of FreeBSD. If you are using one of the supported PCMCIA Ethernet cards, also be sure that it is plugged in before the laptop is powered on! FreeBSD does not, unfortunately, currently support hot insertion of PCMCIA cards during installation.

You will also need to know your IP address on the network, the netmask value for your address class, and the name of your machine. If you are installing over a PPP connection and do not have a static IP, fear not, the IP address can be dynamically assigned by your ISP. Your system administrator can tell you which values to use for your particular network setup. If you will be referring to other hosts by name rather than IP address, you will also need a name server and possibly the address of a gateway (if you are using PPP, it is your provider's IP address) to use in talking to it. If you want to install by FTP via a HTTP proxy (see below), you will also need the proxy's address. If you do not know the answers to all or most of these questions, then you should really probably talk to your system administrator or ISP before trying this type of installation.

2.13.5.1 Before Installing via NFS

The NFS installation is fairly straight-forward. Simply copy the FreeBSD distribution files you want onto a server somewhere and then point the NFS media selection at it.

If this server supports only ``privileged port'' (as is generally the default for Sun workstations), you will need to set this option in the Options menu before installation can proceed.

If you have a poor quality Ethernet card which suffers from very slow transfer rates, you may also wish to toggle the appropriate Options flag.

In order for NFS installation to work, the server must support subdir mounts, e.g., if your FreeBSD 3.4 distribution directory lives on:ziggy:/usr/archive/stuff/FreeBSD, then ziggy will have to allow the direct mounting of /usr/archive/stuff/FreeBSD, not just /usr or /usr/archive/stuff.

In FreeBSD's /etc/exports file, this is controlled by the -alldirs. Other NFS servers may have different conventions. If you are getting ``permission denied'' messages from the server, then it is likely that you do not have this enabled properly.

This, and other documents, can be downloaded from ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/.

For questions about FreeBSD, read the documentation before contacting <questions@FreeBSD.org>.
For questions about this documentation, e-mail <doc@FreeBSD.org>.