Run existing FreeBSD installation inside jail

Rafael Aquino freebsd at
Fri Jul 21 14:06:54 UTC 2006

Hi there...

I developed a step-by-step guite to remotely upgrade a 4.x to 6.x,
with the only inconveniece of keep using UFS1. That's because I'm 
responsible for about 70 servers without video and keyboard in
diference places around the town.

As long as all the servers have a installation pattern and run
the same services, and the customization is made remotely and automatically,
I installed a brand new 6.1 in a new HD, customized everything NOT MACHINE
DEPENDENT, and made a root.tar.gz, usr.tar.gz and var.tar.gz.

It's not a state-of-art, because I'm installing it all untarging it... 
But as long as I don't need to visit 70 building (in places like the attic,
under some water reservatory), it worked very well for me.

If you are interested on giving it a try (I made about 20 of those in
laboratory before start to do it on production servers) I can send
my annotations.

One of the best advantages is that it only requires two reboots,
keeping a very low downtime, and all of your configuration files are still
there after the final rebooting, in case you forget something. And it
only requires some space on the /, /var and /usr partitions...

Best regards!

Rafael Mentz Aquino
BSDServer Ltda.
51 - 9847 8825

---------- Original Message -----------
From: albi <albi at>
To: "Hr. Daniel Mikkelsen" <daniel at>
Cc: vladimirow at, freebsd-questions at
Sent: Fri, 21 Jul 2006 15:52:31 +0200
Subject: Re: Run existing FreeBSD installation inside jail

> On Fri, 21 Jul 2006 15:40:03 +0200
> "Hr. Daniel Mikkelsen" <daniel at> wrote:
> > Mikhail Vladimirov wrote:
> > 
> > > I want to try the following trick:
> > > 
> > > 1. Install FreeBSD 6.x-STABLE on the separate HDD, while it is
> > > inside my home PC.
> > > 2. Place this HDD into server, make it bootable.
> > > 3. Boot new system, and mount old HDD (with FreeBSD 4.x and all old
> > > stuff)
> > > 4. Setup jail inside new system, which will run old system.
> > > 5. Now I have all services running, and I can transfer it to new
> > > system one by one quietly.
> > > 
> > > I believe, that FreeBSD is backward compatible, and all my stuff,
> > > which successfully run on 4.x sill run inside jail on 6.x.  I am
> > > right?  Did anybody tried to do something like this?  What was the
> > > results?
> > 
> > Hi.
> > 
> > It might work well enough for your services to run, depending on what
> > they are.
> > 
> > I'd insert two new steps in between 3 and 4:
> > 
> > 3b: Tar down a copy of the old system.
> > 3c: Upgrade the old system in place (mergemaster, installworld, etc.)
> > to the same version your new system is running.
> the original poster didn't say whether the services were from ports
> and/or base
> if from ports only then your suggestion (3c) could perhaps lead to
> problems (that is upgrading base and not upgrading ports, or am i wrong
> here ?)
> FYI, from experience i know that e.g. the config-file of dovecot changed
> (different syntax), so you can't just switch from 4.x to 6.x and keep
> all your config-files from the old setup for software from the ports
> in that case you need to first get a working setup for your services 
> for
> 6.x before switching completely, but other than that the original 
> plan sounds good
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------- End of Original Message -------

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