FreeBSD on a PC with Windows

Manolis Kiagias sonicy at
Fri Dec 7 05:52:42 PST 2007

David Morton wrote:
> I have been out of work so long (since being diagnosed as autistic and
> scared) that even as an IT professional, I now get very anxious about
> messing with my PC.
> However, I got a magazine that included FreeBSD/i386 6.2 on the DVD and I
> have always wanted to play with BSD.  My past experience included UNIX
> System V, some Solaris 7 or 8, and other variants, so you know a bit of
> history.
> Anyway, I have a laptop preinstalled with Vista Home Premium and I would
> like to also run BSD on it.  In reading your installation documentation, I
> do not see anything that suggests I can install FreeBSD onto my PC without
> wiping Windows.
> I also have restricted web access so cannot access you web site, so I would
> like to know if FreeBSD will install in a way that will not kill Windows on
> my PC?
> I have to ask this, because I once had an old PC and put Solaris on it, and
> that required a dedicated drive.  The PC is now dead, so I have to make it
> all work on one machine.
> Thanks, David
> David Morton
> E: totoaus at
> M: 0400 560 330
> H: 03 6295 0278
> 80 Rocky Bay Road
> Deep Bay, TAS 7112
> _______________________________________________
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Since I have a laptop with vista and FreeBSD, I will give a few quick 
hints that will save you time and despair:

- You will need to "shrink" your windows partition to make room for 
FreeBSD to create it's slice.

Now, I don't know what type of laptop you got, but since it is a Vista 
laptop, it is obviously one of the newest models. In most cases, disk 
partitions on these are:

1. Recovery partition for the pre-installed OS
2. Main Windows installation
3. Data Partition

The first (recovery) partition does not have a drive letter assigned to 
it in Windows, so it is not directly "viewable" from Windows explorer. 
The size is usually around 7-8Gb.
The rest of the disk is usually split between C: (Windows) and D: (for 
user storage). If this is the case, you would probably prefer to shrink 
the partition assigned to D:, since Vista needs quite some space for 
itself and the applications. To shrink  the partition you could try 
Norton Partition Magic, or, even better, download and run the GParted 
live CD.

If you intend to experiment with ports, packages and the like on 
FreeBSD, I suggest you leave a couple of Gigabytes for the slice. It all 
depends of course on what you plan to install. Bear in mind FreeBSD's 
slice must be created as primary partition, so you must not have more 
than three primary partitions on your disk prior to creating the slice.

When installing FreeBSD, you will be asked whether you would like to 
install a Boot Manager. Answer NO (select to leave the MBR untouched). 
When installation is finished, reboot to Vista  (it will be your only 
option anyway), and download and install EasyBCD (it is a free program, 
google for it). With this, in a few clicks, you will create an option to 
boot FreeBSD in Vista's boot menu. It is trivial as the program detects 
the FreeBSD partition automatically.

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