FreeBSD Installer Roadmap

Nathan Whitehorn nwhitehorn at
Tue Jan 18 18:38:07 UTC 2011

After some discussion with M. Warner Losh and Josh Paetzel of iX 
Systems, we've come up with the following roadmap for an installer for 
9.0. Over the next month, we intend to try to adapt bsdinstall as the 
front-end for the more featureful, but lacking a terminal-compatible 
user interface, pc-sysinstall. This implies that the user interface and 
installation flow for the hybrid installer will be extremely similar to 
what is currently available in bsdinstall, so please continue sending 
feedback and bug reports on it. What will be different is the backend 
code, which will allow use of additional features not currently present 
in bsdinstall, such as ZFS installation.

At the end of that month period, we'll see how far we've gotten, and 
plan to merge either a successful hybridization or to merge bsdinstall 
with its own backend, which I will continue to maintain in the interim. 
At this point, we plan to integrate whichever installer is merged with 
the release infrastructure so that it becomes the default installation 
environment presented on snapshot ISOs. If we have have not completed 
the hybrid installer at this point, work on hybridization will still 
continue after this. Since the interface presented to user will be 
extremely similar, a bsdinstall -> pc-bsdinstall transition can happen 
with a minimum of user astonishment, or even awareness, at any point in 
the future, either before or after the 9.0 release.

This plan ensures that we have a minimum of three months of testing of 
the new installer on snapshot media before the 9.0 release, which should 
ensure a minimum of bugs. I would also like to point out that there are 
no roads in this map that end up with us having sysinstall as the 
default installer past the 18th of February. After 15 years of 
sysinstall being "greatly in need of death", it will finally be time to 
retire it.

Thanks to Warner Losh and Josh Paetzel for excellent discussions. Please 
continue to send any comments on this plan, bug reports or feature 
requests for bsdinstall or pc-sysinstall, and suggestions for the 
installation process.

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