FreeBSD 5.4 install problem. Newbee needs help.

Gary W. Swearingen garys at
Wed Aug 10 05:54:15 GMT 2005

William Manley <wmanley at> writes:

> I am a new FreeBSD user and I have an installation that has gone bad. My problems started when I enabled XDM for a
> graphical logon into Gnome. When I logged in as root the system just looped back to the logon screen. I then assumed I
> had configured my .xinitrc file wrong so I booted the install cdrom into Fixit mode and tried to mount the root
> filesystem on the hardisk which the operating system would not let me do. The following are the commands I typed with
> the output.

I don't use gnome or kde, but I'd think you'd want to use gdm for a
gnome desktop or kdm for a kde desktop and if you want to use xdm,
be prepared to do some reading and configuration to make it give you
a Manley desktop.

BTW, one usually tries to run as little software as possible as "root"
mostly to limit damage caused by buggy (or I suppose infected)
software or operator error.  After you get your desktop running as
a non-root user, some graphical programs will do needed things as
root and/or you'll start up a terminal emulator like xterm with the
shell run by "root".  KDE, at least, offers a "root terminal", but
you can switch from normal to root with the "su" command.

> mount /dev/ad0s1a /mnt
> operation not permitted

Not sure, but I wonder if /mnt is already in use. Try
    mkdir /ad0s1a;  mount /dev/ad0s1a /ad0s1a

> disklabel -r ad0
> no valid label found

That "-r" is obsolete, but someone else explained the real problem.

> Does the warning tell me that my bios is not set up properly for FreeBSD to work with the hardisk setup. The handbook
> says to set up your bios to select hardisk's naturally. Before starting the install I looked at the bios and was not
> sure what to configure. Should I go to the basic page and set the hardisk as uninstalled? Any help in getting back into
> my system will be appreciated. If I have to reinstall I'll do it.

If your install seemed to go OK and you've got a graphical login
screen, you're probably in fair shape.  You might want to try the
install again and not use "xdm".  Or:

You might need to tell us more about what you see at login.  Try
logging in as a normal user.  Probably won't work any better.  If the
screen offers some other stuff, like a "safe mode" or "single user
mode", try that.  Or try to interrupt the boot before you get to the
graphical screen by tapping the space bar as soon as you see major
changes in the kind of boot messages (eg, from BIOS to FreeBSD).  If
you can get the thing to give you a prompt, try "help" or "?" and
check that out and then try "boot -s" to get into single-user mode as
root.  If you manage to do that, or get things mounted from the CD or
floppy "fixit" mode, you want to disable XDM, but I'm sorry I forget
how that's done.  Look it up on the net or ask.  I think your goal is
to get a normal non-graphical "login" prompt; log in as root and then
read manual pages (or use web from another OS) until you figure out
how to configure your Gnome setup using gdm.  BTW, I know many insist
on having a graphical login, but some of us have been using graphical
desktops for 10 years and more and still log into a normal text
terminal first and start the graphics with a command, maybe because we
don't log in often and when we're logging in a lot it's usually
because we're having problems and we don't want X then anyway.

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