Booting FreeBSD on a Macintosh?

Volker Nebel vnebel at
Fri Jan 24 21:13:05 UTC 2014

Dear Michael, dear Raimundo, dear Nathan,

thank you for your tips! I waited for release 10 to be publicly announced, 
then tried GPT again, taking care that boot code is written, but it does 
not work.
    I then made the MBR slice with BSD partitions in it following the 
example in man gpart. Booting took long but it worked till I got the error 
message "can't exec getty '/usr/libexec/getty' for port /dev/ttyv5".
   I then tried BSD partitiions directly, as Michael had mentioned, the 
"dangerously dedicated" method, simply using the bsdinstaller. Now it 
boots quickly and fine. :)

Best regards and thanks again,

On Sat, 18 Jan 2014, Michael Sinatra wrote:

> On 01/15/14 11:26, Volker Nebel wrote:
>> On Wed, 15 Jan 2014, Michael Sinatra wrote:
>>> On 1/15/14 3:01 AM, Volker Nebel wrote:
>>>> Dear all,
>>>> looking for a good a computer I bought a Macmini 6,1 with Intel Core i5
>>>> last summer, then installed Ubuntu (for amd64) on it and now came back
>>>> to FreeBSD (already running on my laptop). Having installed this, the
>>>> macmini does not boot anymore, unfortunately. It only shows a blinking
>>>> question mark in a folder symbol.
>>>>    I searched the web for hints and found half a dozen of pages
>>>> describing how to run both, Mac OS and FreeBSD. One page recommanded to
>>>> issue
>>>> "gpart bootcode -b /boot/pmbr -p /boot/gtpboot -i 1 ada0" after the
>>>> installation and before reboot, but this didn't help. I found the hint
>>>> to use FreeBSD for i386 - same result. (And it did boot Ubuntu for
>>>> amd64.) Someone else recommanded to use MBR partitioning scheme instead
>>>> of GPT, but the Partition Editor of the FreeBSD Installer returns "Error
>>>> Invalid Argument" when I try to Create a partition of type freebsd-boot
>>>> and size 64k or 512K.
>>>>    Can anybody help? How can I install FreeBSD 9.2 on a Macmini and
>>>> boot?
>>> Surprisingly, the way I have gotten it to work is to use a good,
>>> old-fashioned BSD-style disklabel.  I just installed FreeBSD 10-RC1 on a
>>> Mac Mini, but it was the oldest possible Intel version (a 1,1).
>>> If you install 9.2 the way you would install 8--use an MBR partition
>>> with BSD disklabel on slice 1, you should get it to boot.
>>> I am not close to the machine right now, and it's powered off, but I can
>>> fire it up and send you the partition/label parameters.
>>> Again, this is a very old 1,1 (still, it's an EFI system, but it's only
>>> 32-bit), but the same scheme might work on your system as well.
>>> michael
>> Hi Michael,
>> thank you for the hints! Though I would prefer GTP disk layout because
>> booting with MBR may take longer (Apple first looks for GTP file system,
>> that's what one of the posts said), I wouldn't mind doing so. But as I
>> wrote, I don't get the first slice created. Is type freebsd-boot wrong?
> I read that also, but I am not sure it's quite right.  At any rate the
> following MBR partition scheme boots just fine on a Mini 1,1:
> [kenai] /home/michael# gpart show
> =>       63  125045361  ada0  MBR  (60G)
>         63  125045298     1  freebsd  [active]  (60G)
>  125045361         63        - free -  (32K)
> =>        0  125045298  ada0s1  BSD  (60G)
>          0  117440512       1  freebsd-ufs  (56G)
>  117440512    7604224       2  freebsd-swap  (3.6G)
>  125044736        562          - free -  (281K)
> Oddly, if you skip the MBR and just do a BSD disklabel on the device
> (similar to the old "dangerously dedicated" mode), it will still boot
> properly into FreeBSD.
> I have yet to find a GPT scheme that will boot from a Mac Mini's EFI (at
> least without something like rEFIt, but even that doesn't always work
> with GPT schemes).  I assume that's because the Minis I have are really
> old; however, I have a newer mini (the one I am composing this message
> on--I think it's a 3,1) that also boots with a similar MBR scheme.
> The easiest way to install this with the newer bsdinstallers is to
> select "Manual" partitioning and then create an MBR partition with the
> first slice for FreeBSD, and then label that slice with a BSD dislabel,
> in the same way that sysinstall would have done it for 7.x or 8.x.
> After that, it should "just work."
> michael

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