Boot and MBR.

Mark Weisman mark at
Fri Feb 27 09:12:11 PST 2004

I've installed GAG, and that is a really easy setup! It identified all
the partitions, and what was in them, stepped me through the process of
copying the manager to the disk and everything, kudos for the
recommendation! When I select to boot to the WindowsXP partition, it
come to a black screen with red squares in a diagonal line across the
screen, not sure but it doesn't look good. Have to hit reset on the box
to get out, the three finger salute doesn't work. I see the cursor
blinking in the upper left corner, yet no operating system. Any ideas?

Res Ipsa Loquitor,
Mark-Nathaniel Weisman
Site Master

-----Original Message-----
From: Jerry McAllister [mailto:jerrymc at] 
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2004 7:24 AM
To: Mark Weisman
Cc: Jerry McAllister; questions at
Subject: Re: Boot and MBR.

> Just out of curiosity what is the order in creating a dual boot 
> system? Which operating system do you put on first? I see that having 
> WinXP setup in partitions is not a good idea, yet I'm not aware of how

> to load the system in just a slice? I would appreciate any and all 
> help in trying to get this thing online. I need my workstation back as

> soon as possible. Thanks.

I am not sure which thing you are referring to when you use
the word 'order' but...

Install whatever MS-Win system you want to have first and make sure it
boots OK.

Then, use one or another utility to shrink the MS slice and make room
for another - you can have up to 4 primary slices.   FIPS works fine
if the MS slice (called partition in MS land) is a FAT, but if it is
NTFS you will need some more sophisticated utility like Partition Magic
(which is not free - about $69 in Best Buy type stores) I have heard
there is a newer free one now available that can handle NTFS and MS
extended slices (partitions in MS speak) but I don't remember the
name.   Partition Magic will create a slice (which they call partition
since they are mostly MS oriented) and mark it as a FAT32 - or something
else if you tell it too.

Then install FreeBSD.   Presuming you use the CD sysinstall method,
when you get to the partitioning stage it shows you the primary
slices on the disk and what they currently have in them.   Put the
cursor on the new FAT slice that was created when you resized stuff with
PM or FIPS and 'D' delete it.  Then hit 'C' create and it will
make that a FreeBSD slice.   Then hit 'S' make it bootable (which,
non-intuitively will put an 'A' in the Flags column to indicate it
should be bootable.   I have also, sometimes, moved the cursor up and
marked the slice with the MS system in it as bootable (hit 'S' on it)
but sometimes not bothered and it hasn't seemed to make a difference as
long as the MS system booted OK before I got started.

As soon as you get this done and hit 'Q' to save and go on, you will
be presented with a screen that has three choices.   
   BootMgr    Install the FreeBSD Boot Manager
   Standard   Install a standard MBR (no boot manager)
   None       Leave the Master Boot Record Untouched

On this screen you want to choose the first one:  BootMgr
Then use the tab to make sure OK is selected and go on to
the next stuff.

After this you will be put in to a screen to divide up the FreeBSD
slice in to partitions.   Do this as needed for your installation

>From here on out you are past the boot stuff.  You will choose what you
want installed - if you have room, just grab it all, and where you want
to install from - FTP or CD, etc

Finish up the install and network configuration.

When you boot, you will be presented with a menu something like:

  F1  DOS
  F2  FreeBSD

or maybe 

  F1  ??
  F2  FreeBSD

or I have on one machine

  F1  ??
  F2  DOS
  F3  FreeBSD

because it is a Dell machine and has a bootable Dell Slice with their
maintenance stuff on it.

You get a menu listing for every slice that is marked bootable
regardless of what it is.   It labels all MS FAT slices as 'DOS'
regardless of which MS system is on it.. 
You get the ?? if the Boot Manager finds it bootable, but doesn't know 
sort of system it is - such as for NTFS.   It doesn't have to know what 
kind of system it is to boot it so the ?? doesn't matter.  It is just a 
cosmetic annoyance.   IF it is too much for your stomach to take, then 
you can get a fancier Boot Manager such as GAG or GRUB and install it
and you can configure those with whatever labels you want to use. Those
can be installed later after the system is fully installed 
and you have some time to play.  

The basic FreeBSD boot manager is small to fit in the official one 
sector space that is available.  The fancier boot managers generally use

some additional space that, by convention is never otherwise used, but 
is not officially available for it.   I kind of with they (whoever does 
this sort of official definition) would just officially redefine the
standard so the whole unused cylinder was official boot mangler space.


> Res Ipsa Loquitor,
> Mark-Nathaniel Weisman
> Site Master
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Weisman
> Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 4:59 PM
> To: Jerry McAllister
> Cc: questions at
> Subject: RE: Boot and MBR.
> You are right, I have them setup originally under WinXP as partitions,

> then added FreeBSD to the second partition where it calls it a slice. 
> Divided up the slice into the required folders. I have tested, and it 
> is not cosmetic, in that when I select that menu item, the computer 
> goes to the next row and stays indefinitely. I can put WinXP back on 
> the computer if I have to, however, wouldn't that put the WinXP MBR on

> the box? I've gone in under fdisk and set the slice bootable, however 
> nothing. I'm not sure how to install it now to just that slice. Any 
> help would be greatly appreciated.
> Res Ipsa Loquitor,
> Mark-Nathaniel Weisman
> Site Master
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jerry McAllister [mailto:jerrymc at]
> Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 1:27 PM
> To: Mark Weisman
> Cc: questions at
> Subject: Re: Boot and MBR.
> > 
> > I've got my primary drive divided in two partitions, one partition 
> > had
> > WindowsXP and the other has FreeBSD 5.1-Release on it. I had 
> > WindowsXP
> > installed and working until I put FreeBSD on the second partition 
> > and had it take control of the MBR. I know that the other partition 
> > is still bootable if I can get a pointer to it, currently the boot 
> > menu shows it
> > as:
> >   F!: ??
> >   F2: FreeBSD
> > How can I get that first menu choice to look at the installation on
> the
> > first partition as bootable? Making the machine a dual boot between
> the
> > two system?
> The fact that it displays ?? is only a cosmetic problem.
> Have you tried selecting F1 to see if it will boot the XP slice?   
> Mine does.
> Also, a side issue, in FreeBSD land, what you have is a disk
> with tw0 'slices' as apposed to partitions.   Probably you have
> your FreeBSD slice divided up in to several 'partitions'.   MS calls
> the primary divisions of a disk partitions, but in BSD UNIX land they 
> are called slices.
> > The second question I have, is can I put the command startx into my 
> > rc.conf file to have it boot directly into the x-server? Any help on

> > these two would be awesome. Thanks.
> I have not been successfule with that sort of thing.   Anyway, I 
> don't think just putting it in rc.conf would do the trick because
> that just sets a bunch of variables in there.  Then the stuff is
> actually run from rc (and some other places I think) using those 
> variable values set in /etc/defaults/rc.conf and /etc/rc.conf..
> I think you might not want your startx to fire off until after
> you log in anyway.    That would mean putting it in .login (if 
> you have a csh or tcsh shell)  and that is what didn't work for me, 
> though I didn't try many variations.
> But, someone else better weigh in on this.
> ////jerry
> > 
> > Res Ipsa Loquitor,
> > Mark-Nathaniel Weisman
> > Site Master
> >
> > 
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