how to boot or access problem file system

Jonathan McKeown j.mckeown at
Fri Jul 31 07:12:06 UTC 2009

On Thursday 30 July 2009 23:14:39 PJ wrote:
> But isn't it strange that it used to be pretty simple to upgrade and
> update. But recently, I notice that communication between the developers
> and users (or is it the manual page writers) are getting far away from
> the realities of user/operational needs. Oh, what's the sense of beating
> a dead horse, mechanics will never be writers... let's not kid ourselves.

I may be misunderstanding what you've been saying over the last couple of days 
(I can understand your frustration, but your questions would be much clearer 
if you didn't let it spill over into chippy remarks about FreeBSD like the 

Let me summarise what I think you've said, and what I think it means, and 
please, correct me if I'm wrong.

You run a custom kernel, and you decided for your latest system upgrade that 
you would use freebsd-update, which as far as I know doesn't work with custom 

You discovered this and tried to move your custom kernel aside and put a 
GENERIC kernel in place for the upgrade, rebooted in the middle of the 
process, and now when you try and boot up, your system can't find a kernel - 
which is why the bootloader is asking you to tell it where to look.

If that's the case, your data should all still be there in the original 
slices/partitions (others have told you how to check that). You are likely to 
struggle to get the system booted unless you can work out where to direct the 
bootloader to find a kernel, but you may well be able to inspect the data on 
the disk if you boot a LiveCD (which is a version of FreeBSD that runs from 
the CD - there's one in the release set).

Given the problems you've encountered so far, and the level of effort and 
learning that's acceptable to you in your situation to try and resolve it, I 
would suggest you go and buy a new hard drive (they're not expensive these 
days compared with the cost of your time), and fit it alongside your 
messed-up drive in your computer. You can then do a fresh install on the new 
drive, get everything set up the way you want, and then retrieve the data 
from the old hard drive (various ways to do this: mounting the drive and 
simply copying files, dump and restore of complete filesystems, etc).

You've also thrown in a new problem, which is that X doesn't recognise your 
mouse. Unfortunately, that doesn't have much to do with FreeBSD. It's a 
result of a decision by the X developers to require a hardware abstraction 
layer - you probably need to enable hal and dbus. Googling will put you on 
the right track.


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