Replacing Home Router With PC

C. P. Ghost cpghost at
Fri Mar 12 19:39:53 UTC 2010

On Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 7:26 PM, Nerius Landys <nlandys at> wrote:
>> Yep! Geode-based boxes are great. The ALIX boards are looking like
>> Soekris gear, which I'm very happy with (of course running FreeBSD):
> Is there a nice guide that explains how to install FreeBSD onto a
> headless system (such as one of these small devices) via serial port?

Basically, you have two options:

1. Boot diskless with PXE, and install FreeBSD over the network:

2. Install FreeBSD on a HDD or CF from a working computer, then move
the disk/card to the embedded device.

For Soekris (and probably ALIX as well, since it's also GEODE-based),
there are specific kernel config options that you may or may not need:

Once you've installed FreeBSD, remember to tweak /etc/ttys, so that
getty spaws a login: on the serial console. Especially, turn ttyv0 off
and ttyu0 on:

ttyv0   "/usr/libexec/getty Pc"         cons25  off  secure
ttyu0   "/usr/libexec/getty std.9600"   dialup  on  secure

> I've done this once before but it was long ago, and it was actually an
> install via floppy disk and CD-ROM combination (IIRC), so that
> procedure would not apply here (regarding these tiny devices mentioned
> above).  The Handbook contains some explanation regarding serial
> communication, but I don't believe they really explain _installing_
> onto a headless system.  Also, in the past, I've had problems
> installing FreeBSD via CD-ROM drive that was connected as a USB.  I
> know that in the past FreeBSD didn't support booting via USB device,
> maybe they have fixed that?  My last encounter with the USB-boot
> problem was with my 1U server that didn't have a CD-ROM drive; I was
> not able to install i386 7.0 onto that.  I had to open the 1U case and
> temporarily hook up an IDE CD-ROM drive.  If I remember correctly,
> trying to boot from a USB CD-ROM would result in getting a TON of
> garbled text scrolling across the screen.  I actually posted about
> that about 2 years back, and the responses indicated that booting via
> USB device was not supported.
> My imagination would tell me that to install FreeBSD onto one of these
> tiny devices, I would first create an ISO image that would basically
> use serial communication for everything, then burn that to a CD, then
> boot via USB CD-ROM drive, while having another computer connected to
> the serial port of the tiny device (via null modem cable) and using a
> command-line tool such as ``cu'' from the other computer.
> I would be very interested into looking into purchasing one of these
> small devices, but I'm really scared about the FreeBSD install
> procedure.


Cordula's Web.

More information about the freebsd-questions mailing list