A simple and hopefully usable FreeBSD live CD

Ulrich Spörlein uqs at spoerlein.net
Thu Aug 26 10:55:25 UTC 2010

On Sun, 22.08.2010 at 20:50:29 +0200, Ed Schouten wrote:
> I think I already mentioned it on some of the lists, but I've spent some
> time creating a better FreeBSD live CD (or at least I tried to).
> Basically the CD is just a stock FreeBSD installation (base + manpages +
> kernel) with a small mfsroot between the boot process to let it use
> unionfs and tmpfs before calling into /sbin/init.
> You can just run adduser, dhclient and fire up a SSH daemon. It's
> exactly the same as an installation of FreeBSD on a harddisk, with the
> only exception that any changes don't survive a reboot. It also has a
> copy of all the installsets, which means you can do installations and
> recoveries.

Hi Ed,

I did something similar quite a while back, but never finished the
installation part that I envisioned back then. What I had in mind was:

- base system sitting on the ISO image, unaltered
- this base system (binaries, manpages, etc.) will be copied over during
  installation (after, partitioning, newfs, etc. create fstab and
  rc.conf afterwards).
- a unionfs layer on top with the LiveCD parts *plus* useful packages.
  Consider it more of a rescue CD lookalike

The advantages would be access to way more useful tools (license
permitting) and reduced storage size, as the binaries are re-used and
there's no need for additional "install sets".

ISTR that DragonflyBSD went a similar route and of course Ubuntu has
this option (but they don't have the base/package distinction).

Depending on the target media size (think about 2GB USB drives), you can
add tons of packages that you deem useful.

Btw, I had made the unionfs "override" layer persistent (storing it on
the first FAT32 partition that could be found) if the user choose so
before shutdown, so additionally installed packages or altered rc.conf
settings survived reboots. The unionfs parts were kinda flaky during the
4.x/5.x days and I had quite some panics.

Anyways, my vote is for integrating sth. like this with the new pcbsd
installer and catapulting our installer into the 21st century!


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