Suggestions for PII 400 boot failure

Fbsd1 fbsd1 at
Thu Nov 20 19:31:23 PST 2008

Vinny wrote:
> Hi,
> A friend of mine is trying out FreeBSD and ran into
> a booting problem.  Here is his message:
> "Well, that's discouraging.
> I have put together an old PII 400 with  three 20GB drives and a CDROM 
> that I'd like to run BSD on.  Half a GB of RAM I figured would be 
> respectable.
> Downloaded the ISO files, burned CDs of them and when I try to run them 
> it starts to boot and then freezes tighter than a muskrat's arse.
> Three lines coming on the screen and it ends with "Starting the_" and 
> just hangs.
> I've got a PIII 1000 here that I use as a file server and the boot disks 
> run fine on that.  Just won't boot off the PII 400.
> Weird.  Really, really weird.  I tried five different CDROMs in case it 
> was the actual drive but same thing.  I tried using version 6.3 instead 
> of release 7.0 and same thing.
> That system doesn't like BSD/Linux whatever.
> I use GParted as a partition manager all the time which is bootable and 
> same thing on that machine.  It just don't like booting to that OS."
> Any suggestions?
> Thanks
> Vinny

Excerpt from Installers guide

The first thing your PC does after being powered on or when rebooting is 
the motherboard BIOS ROM chip gets control and it interrogates all the 
hardware ports on the motherboard to determine what I/O devices are 
attached. This is called the POST process. As part of this POST process 
the user changeable BIOS values stored in a CMOS chip on the motherboard 
are read and used to configure the PC’s hardware. These BIOS values are 
changed using the BIOS setup utility. The most common BOIS chip in use 
today is manufactured by Award. If your PC does not use an Award BIOS 
chip then you have to read the manual that came with your PC for details.

This summary screen information is very helpful in debugging FBSD 
hardware problems, because it tells you what your PC hardware is and how 
the IRQ numbers are assigned. IRQ stands for interrupt request. An 
interrupt is the doorway the I/O device uses to tell the CPU that it 
wants its turn at getting some processing cycles. This is how the CPU 
shares service time among all the devices attached to the motherboard.

Starting Award BIOS setup utility
During the power up/reboot POST process you will see in the lower left 
corner of the monitor screen the message ‘Press DEL to enter setup’. 
While this message is showing press the keyboard delete key and the 
Award BIOSs setup utility main menu displays on the screen.

First time changes to PC BIOS
Navigate around the menus using the keyboard arrow keys looking for the 
following options. Your PC BIOS may not have all of these.

Virus Warning=, set this option to disable. It’s a firmware check of the 
hard drive boot sector looking for MS/Windows boot virus. This will stop 
FBSD booting from the install CDROM.

plug-n-play=, set this option to disable. FBSD is not sensitive to 
Microsoft plug-n-play standard and may refuse to install, or cause PCI 
cards not to be found.

Disable or set to auto any BIOS option to assign IRQ numbers to PCI 
expansion slots.

Disable any ISA expansion slots.

Operating system type=, set to ‘other’ or any Unix type of operating 
system, don’t set to MS/Windows.

Disable all power management options.

boot sequence=, set this option to (CDROM,C) Since you are installing 
FBSD from CDROM you must tell the PC what I/O device to boot from.

Follow the BIOS menu instructions to save your changes and exit. The PC 
will reboot it self.

Keep in mind that some older CDROM drives and older legacy PC BIOS do 
not support booting off CDROM. Generally with PCs manufactured after 
1999 this is not a problem.

If you do run into this, you have a really old PC and you will need to 
create boot floppies to boot from. This is outside the scope of this 
document. Please read the FBSD Handbook at

Legacy BIOS also are incompatible with the larger hard disk sizes and 
the faster 66 and 100 UDMA drives.

More information about the freebsd-questions mailing list