How does Sysinstall Mount File Systems?

Jerry McAllister jerrymc at
Tue Feb 2 23:28:49 UTC 2010

On Tue, Feb 02, 2010 at 03:56:17PM -0600, Martin McCormick wrote:

> How does one tell sysinstall to use an existing disk that is
> already formatted?

It should come up in the list of available drives.
Just select it and proceed.   It will overwrite the part that
you tell it too.  The most likely thing is you want to use it
all for FreeBSD.   If so, select that option.   If you want more
than one slice, you have to tell it that by telling it how much
to use for the slice or by indicating which existing slice to use.

If it doesn't show up, then the system is having some trouble
talking to it for some reason.

Note:  in all of this, where I use the FreeBSD term slice, MS uses
     the term  'Primary Partition'.   There can be from 1 to 4 primary 
     partitions - slices - on a disk.   Slices/Primary Partitions are
     essentially identical and are compatible with each other, although
     MS utilities ignore non MS slices as if they are not there.  These 
     slices - primary partitions can be further divided.   FreeBSD calls 
     those subdivisions 'partitions' and MS tends to call them something 
     like 'logical partitions'.  The subdivisions are not compatible
     between the systems, but generally FreeBSD can read and, except for
     NTFS, write the MS versions.
     Because of the weight of MS in the marketplace, most non-FreeBSD
     utilities use the MS terminology and it even still shows up in some
     FreeBSD documentation which causes newbies all kinds of confusion.
     That seems to be gradually being cleaned up though.

Now, if you mean you want to _share_ an existing disk that is already
being used, then you will have to get a utility to shrink the slice
that is already being used and create a new slice and then tell
sysinstall to install in to it.   This is most often used for creating
a 'dual boot' machine.    The main utilities for this are gpartd 
and Partition Magic.     Partition Magic is commercial - around $70
and Gparted is freely downloadable (last I tried).  There are also
several other free ones available.    In both cases - Gparted or PM -,
make the bootable media and do not try to run from a copy that
is installed on your hard disk.   I found that PM 7 is better
quality than PM 8.   In fact, I sent my PM 8 back for a refund.
But, Partition Magic seems to handle MS NTFS type disk and other 
odities better than some of the free ones.    It did NOT handle
a USB connected disk - neither PM 7 or PM 8 did that even though
PM 8 promoted working with USB as one its features.

Probably you weren't talking about crating a dual boot disk, so you
can probably just ignore than last long para.  But, just in case
that is what you meant, I threw it in.


> Thank you.
> Martin McCormick
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