Issues with installing FreeBSD 5.4 from a DOS partition
wisher21 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 19 02:52:09 PDT 2005
Now, I'm somewhat new to FreeBSD, but I've really enjoyed it as an OS
so far, and found it to be quite fast, stable, and well laid out.
Some things I've found difficult to get used to but I'm by and large
Anyway, I set up 5.3 a while back from a DOS partition using the 5.3
boot disks, as I'm using an older 450 mhz pentium III which refused to
boot from the CD drive for whatever reason. This went well, but some
ports were having issues compiling, and a few other things so I
decided to upgrade to 5.4, full clean install.
First of all, I don't know if this is just a problem with my hardware,
but it seems to me that the 'Install from ftp' option is broken in 5.4
and above - on both the computers I tried, they would hang on a 'part
length 0' error most of the way through installing the docs dist -
always at the same place, from whatever ftp I downloaded it from. On
attempting to install version 6 the same way, I had the same problem
on both pcs, in a slightly different portion of the install.
So I decided to go the DOS partition route, as it seemed to be the
best alternative. This is what I chose to do with 5.3 as well. My
method in 5.3 was to first download the 5.3 disc 1 iso image from
ftp.freebsd.org, extract the image to the DOS partition and install.
However, as you are probably aware, the premade images in 5.4 and
above are on two discs instead of just needing the one.
Well, this ends up presenting a problem. Also in 5.4, there was a
change in the INDEX file of the packages, and it will prompt you as to
which CD has the package you want to install, and to please put that
CD in. As you might imagine, it's difficult to switch cds when you
are in fact installing off of a DOS partition. The fact that it's a
DOS partition also makes it difficult to mount the drive beforehand,
go into the packages directory and run 'make index'. What I ended up
doing to resolve this was to go into the INDEX file in the /packages
directory, and switch all the pipes at the end of each line to point
to CD_DRIVE 0 instead of the 1 or 2 which they were pointed at. This
fixed the problem, and 5.4 installed normally.
Now, I didn't see any sort of mention of this anywhere in any docs I
could find. The official install instructions didn't say anything
about this in the section on installing from a DOS partition, or in
the errata, etc. I also couldn't find any docs on how to edit the
INDEX file and so on, so it's half luck that I even found a viable
I realize that almost all installs these days are going to be straight
from an Atapi cd drive, and loading the OS only occurs very rarely,
but this hardware is fine for me, and both the ftp and DOS partition
are supposedly supported install options - it would be nice if they
still worked out of the box, and that issues like what I had happen
are at least mentioned somewhere with a workaround.
I mean, even just an explanation of how to edit the cdrom.inf and
INDEX files to get the install to fly would be great. Or a copy of
edited versions somewhere on the ftp with a little note "if you want
to install all the cd packages from a DOS partition, do this!".
On the other hand, pain of the install aside I couldn't be much
happier with the OS now that it's up.
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