grub, install cd and root-on-zfs (was: Re: ZFS: amd64, devd, root file system)

Peter Schuller peter.schuller at
Mon May 14 19:08:40 UTC 2007

> Considering the amount of work which would be required to allow FreeBSD
> to boot from ZFS (which you apparently do not appreciate), I perfectly
> understand Pawel's choice.

I have already given up on using the FreeBSD boot loader on any system
except in simple cases. I have had too many issues with the automatic
re-writing of the boot configuration nuking partition tables, infinite
chainload looping and whatnot. Nowadays I just keep a grub floppy in all
my machines and boot off that; that way I know I will always be able to

But this also means that with grub supporting ZFS, I should be able to
have my FreeBSD root on ZFS too. I would suggest that as a workaround
for anyone who does want root on ZFS.

However, in order for it to be truly seamless one would like to see
support for it in the installer. Currently my procedure for setting up
"everything but small root on ZFS" is:

   * install freebsd on disk A
   * parttion/slice disk B; set up glabel and gmirror for location
   * create ufs fs and zfs pool
   * move system over, mucking about with fstab
   * finally boot the new system

This does complicate (1) automatic installs and (2) any situation where
you don't have spare drives available for use as a temporary install

Actually; I have been wondering. Has there ever been any discussions
w.r.t. providing a FreeBSD live CD with a fully populated and built
/usr/src and fully working system? I know there is FreeSBIE and such,
but in terms of an official installation CD/DVD for each release.

This would be very useful for at least three reasons:

(1) You can do stuff like root-on-ZFS or root-on-gmirror or whatever
else you can think up, straight off the bat with no additional hassle
and without anyone having to implement support in the installer.

(2) There will be no unknown "magic" going on in the background; you
will know exactly what you did to get things installed and running (make
installworld distribution DESTDIR=... and set up boot loader), thus
giving you more of a sense of control.

(3) A fully populated LiveCD is much more useful for recovery/debugging
than a super-stripped floppy-on-a-CD where you are missing basic tools.

/ Peter Schuller

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