freebsd install from floppy

Polytropon freebsd at
Sat Mar 6 11:47:00 UTC 2010

On Sat, 6 Mar 2010 12:24:30 +0100, Piotr Lukawski <plukawski at> wrote:
> In many situations, especially for and old or non standard equipment
> floppies are the best or even the only solution.
> [...]
> The decision to make floppies obsolete is very bad, because it is still
> needed by many people.

Sometimes you simply stick with systems that just work,
even if they are 10 years old - and older. So a machine
with no USB support can likely exist. It gets even more
interesting if you need to read and write floppies to
keep computer systems alive for a museum (see 5,25"
floppies). Sometimes, a floppy is completely sufficient
and easy to use, e. g. when transfering some config
files to a system without network and USB; the tar
utility can be used to directly operate on floppies,
which is very useful, and maybe even faster than using
USB (device detection, mounting etc.).

So when booting via CD, USB or network isn't possible,
what are the options?

Okay, with FreeBSD, you can extract the hard disk,
place it into a different computer and then install
the OS there; retransfer the hard disk to the original
computer and everything should work from now on.
(Special hardware may require additional configuration,
but the base system doesn't care on what kind of
hardware it is running, basically.)

The reason to still use such old systems can be very
different, for example "just works" is one of the main
reasons. Others may include accurate and reliable
working, or less power consumption. (One thing that
I could observe over the years: The older hardware
is, the longer it works - mostly.) Another reason
could be the idea of resisting to buy something new
that does the same as the old stuff, an action that
costs money and creates electronic waste.

I still have such a system which I keep for nostalgia
mostly: It introduced me to FreeBSD: A 150MHz P1
with 128 MB SDR-SDRAM, SCSI CD (which I can't boot
from), no USB, but Ethernet (which I also can't
boot from), and it's in a perfect condition, still
usable as a workstation. It does nearly everything
my current workstation (P4, 2GHz) can do, and some
of the things even faster. I'm sure most of you can't
even imagine that. :-)

FreeBSD has always impressed me by providing working (!)
drivers for older stuff that still works, e. g. SCSI
PCI cards, SCSI scanners and PD drives. Most hardware
works out of the box, and for very special cases, there
are modules or kernel options.

And why use FreeBSD? Because it runs faster on the same
hardware with every new release. That's something
other operating systems can't do. Settings where you
update your software, then need to update your hardware,
and then still don't feel that anything is faster at
all, are known.

If floppy images aren't included on the install CD / DVD
or via FTP, then at least there should be a simple means
to generate them, e. g. "make floppies".

I wouldn't like to see floppies disappear for, let's say,
the next 10 years, as much as I dislike floppy media per

By the way, their form factor is superior to CDs and
DVDs in every concern! Give the world a rewritable optical
media the size of a Minidisc and the world is yours.
I don't like the idea that I need a drive with the size
of a full-featured computer to use media that dissolves
chemically and gets unreadable if touched with the finger
on the wrong side. :-)

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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