Request for review/testing: switching the default installer

Freddie Cash fjwcash at
Mon Mar 7 20:41:21 UTC 2011

On Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 6:49 AM, Nathan Whitehorn
<nwhitehorn at> wrote:
> BSDinstall has acquired at this point its final form (prior to a future
> merge with pc-sysinstall), and I believe is ready to replace sysinstall on
> the 9.0 snapshot ISOs. Barring any objections, I would like to pull this
> switch 2 weeks from today, on the 14th of March.
> Bug reports would be very appreciated at this time. There are three known
> bugs currently, which will be fixed soon, so please don't report these:
> error reporting is not graceful if there are no writable disks in the
> system, you must select at least one optional component, and the doc build
> is not currently connected to the releases.

After much finnaggling and gnashing of teeth around hardware (not
related to installer), I have managed to get a bootable 9-CURRENT
image with BSDInstall, and used it to get a bootable install of
FreeBSD 9-CURRENT.  :)

Here are my thought and experiences using the new installer.

Things I really like:
  - that the install CD is a LiveCD with a fully functional system;
while it won't replace a Frenzy CD, it's very close
  - very streamlined install without a lot of extra "fluff" that just
gets skipped anyway (like everything underneath Standard in the first
sysinstall screen)
  - the ability to use features like GPT, gmirror, zfs right from the get-go
  - the ability to drop to a fully functional shell at various stages
of the install, with access to proper man pages

Things that irritated me:
  - when you drop to a shell from the disk editor screen, it lists the
instructions at the top, but then never repeats them ever again
  - if you get lost in the disk editor shell and type "exit" to get
back to the disk editor ... it thinks you are finished partitioning
and carries on with the install, which then errors out due to no
writable filesystems, requiring you to restart the entire process
  - the disk editor is very limited, especially in its error handling;
I found myself stuck in a loop trying to exit the screen without a /
filesystem listed, but I was doing everything from the shell
  - screen flips between a nice blue background (the curses
interface?) and a black background (running shell commands?) which is
quite jarring and slightly confusing;
  - screen elements go from nicely centred (curses interface?) and
then jump to the top-left corner of the screen (shell commands?) which
is also quite jarring and slightly confusing

The last two may be limitations in the curses setup?  But it would be
nice if "shell command" I/O could be centred like the rest, and if the
background could remain a single colour.  Not huge issues, just things
that irritated me.  :)

Overall, I am quite impressed with the new installer, as it is *just*
an installer and not a system configuration creator (or breaker) like

Now that I understand the "new world order" of GPT-based partitioning
and booting, I think I'm going to like FreeBSD 9.0 a heck of a lot.

... off to play with dedupe and other ZFSv28 goodies ...

Freddie Cash
fjwcash at

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