Question about FreeBSD installation procedure

Manolis Kiagias sonicy at
Tue Sep 29 06:35:11 UTC 2009

Bret Busby wrote:
> On Sat, 26 Sep 2009, Manolis Kiagias wrote:
>> Bret Busby wrote:
>>> Hello.
>>> I have been interested in installing FreeBSD on my laptop (HP/Compaq
>>> NX5000, 2MB RAM), in a free 20MB partition.
>> I really hope you meant Gb here ;)
>>> I noticed that the Linux Format magazine to which I subscribe, in
>>> Issue 124, comes with FreeBSD 7.2 on the DVD.
>>>> From what I understand, FreeBSD (and possibly all BSD) uses hard disc
>>>> slices rather than partitions, and therefore cannot
>>> easily be installed in a free partition, but needs for hard disc
>>> slices to be used.
>> 'Slice' is FreeBSD jargon for what Windows / DOS would call a 'primary
>> partition'. In short, FreeBSD can only be installed in your machine only
>> if you have free space *and* the possibility to create a primary
>> partition  in it .  Due to BIOS limitations, PC hardware only supports 4
>> primary partitions on any disk.
>> If you already have 4 primary partitions and you are not willing to
>> delete one, you can't install FreeBSD as it won't install on what
>> Windows calls an "Extended partition".  But let's say you have a typical
>> laptop with two partitions for OS and data, and some free space at the
>> end. FreeBSD will happily install there.
>>> Is it yet possible to install FreeBSD into a hard disc partition,
>>> rather than needing to install into hard disc slices?
>>> I have attached a copy of the screenshot showing the partition table;
>>> I wanted to install FreeBSD into sda8.
>>> Can this be done.
>>> Thank you in anticipation.
>> The screenshot won't come through in the mailing list, if at all
>> possible upload it somewhere and send us a link.
> See
> However, with the response above, and, with all of the responses thus
> far, to the query, it appears that I cannot install FreeBSD on the
> computer, without a full system rebuild, involving removal of all of
> the installed operating systems and software from the computer, then
> repartitioning, or, slicing up, the hard drive, and then creating new
> logical, extended partitions, and then reinstalling each of the
> operating systems, and all of the software for each of the operating
> systems, trying to ensure that I then have at least all of the
> software that is currently installed on each operating system on the
> computer, and, the data that is currently present on the computer.

Judging from the screen shot, you should still be able to do it using
gparted to shuffle the partitions a bit. (I recommend using the gparted
or the parted magic live cd for this)
One possible way would be to delete sda8 and move the free space to the
end of the extended partition. Then resize the extended partition so the
free space is out of it. Create a primary partition out of the free
space (or let FreeBSD do it during install).
You still have primary partitions available, your current disk setup
includes one primary and one extended partition with many 'logical
partitions'. Granted, this will take some time but it will work.

> And, with being required to do all of that, I do not know what would
> happen, regarding issues such as the interrupt conflict that I
> encountered when trying to initially install Debian 3.1 on the
> computer, the interrupt conflict being between the WiFi card and the
> ethernet card, which reuired Ubuntu to resolve the conflict, then (at
> the time, as I was then a strictly Debian user) uninstalling Ubuntu to
> reinstall Debian 3.1, with the solution to the interrupt conflict,
> having used Mandriva Linux to do the partitioning, so as to retain the
> initial installation of MS Win XP, which I would probably lose, and
> have to install from scratch, as part of installing BSD on the system.

You could try simply booting the FreeBSD DVD or livefs CD and see what
devices get recognized and any potential problems, without committing to
installing anything.

> So, getting the system set up, initially, to get Debian 3.1 running
> (it has been superseded on the system, first by Debian 4, and, now, by
> Debian 5), took a fair bit of time and effort, and problem solving,
> using various operating systems, to get the one extra operating system
> installed.
> Due to the time and effort involved, and the apparent complexity, it
> all seems too difficult, to install BSD.

I would agree all this would be too difficult for someone doing a first
time install of FreeBSD, having to address multiple issues at the same
time. If at all possible I'd recommend trying on a second spare system.
FreeBSD runs very well on older systems too, maybe it's time to get this
old PC out of the closet :)

> If FreeBSD would be able to be installed in a logical partition,
> within an extended partition, as can be done with Linux, it would
> probably be able to be done by me - in the meantime, it is simply too
> difficult.

I have no idea whether there are plans for these.
Personally I avoid multi-boot systems at all if possible. I always tend
to use one of the OSes anyway , the other just wastes disk space. I
prefer to dedicate entire systems to different OSes. I have a few
systems that multi-boot between Linux and BSD, mostly for demonstration

> Thanks anyway, for your help, to those who responded.

Glad we could help, and let us know if you decide to go down the FreeBSD

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