Installing a FreeBSD from Scratch From a Linux Box?

Polytropon freebsd at
Tue Mar 21 12:06:22 UTC 2017

On Mon, 20 Mar 2017 19:12:00 -0400, Hunter Jozwiak wrote:
> Hi,
> I am curious as to whether or not this is actually possible. The idea
> is to install FreeBSD from scratch using a Linux live disc akin to how
> one would install Gentoo.

That part already looks too complicated. Why boot with a Linux CD
when you can boot with a FreeBSD CD? Keep in mind: your goal is to
install FreeBSD, and the FreeBSD CD can do exactly that. There is
no need to "prepare" anything which might "require" Linux.

> That means that I would create the
> filesystems, mount them on partitions, download and build the sources,
> chroot in, and do configuration that way.

But _why_ would you want to do it so complicated?

It sounds possible, yes, but Linux's support for FreeBSD file systems
(UFS) is not native, so you'd first have to make sure the Linux you
want to boot does actually _support_ all the required cases. And if
you want to use classic MBR layout (FreeBSD old: fdisk + disklabel,
new: gpart, both followed by newfs), the real fun will start. ;-)

And we're not done yet. Now you need a compiler that will build the
FreeBSD sources correctly. The whole toolchain for the build system
that is included with FreeBSD would have to be replicated with Linux.
That again is lots of hard work. This work mainly takes place in
Linux to make it a build system for FreeBSD...

If you want to explicitely install from source (and _not_ install
from precompiled binary packages as the installer does), how about
the following approach:

Prepare a FreeBSD USB stick with the sources on it. Boot it and
build the sources there. It will be slow, but you only need to do
it once (except you build somewhere else with HDD / SSD and then
transfer the results, the /usr/src and /usr/obj subtrees); when
booted, first initialize the target system with FreeBSD's native
tools (as mentioned above), then "make installworld installkernel"
as described in the handbook and in /usr/src/Makefile's comment
header. You could then chroot into the target system and do the
desired configuration tasks, and finally boot _that_ system.

> The main reason is that
> since there is no talking live installer for the visually impaired, it
> would be difficult to get an install going without sighted assistance.

The installer works in text mode. Do you have a Braille readout
you can use? They usually support everything that works in 80x25
text mode, some provide a tactile interface, others have speech
synthesis as an option. So you don't need it in software...

And: Yes, that is a _very_ valid reason and consideration! People
with impairments are often forgotten by programmers, and ripped off
by commercial software vendors. Linux offers some solutions to
that problem - but as I said, Linux isn't exactly a build system
for FreeBSD...

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

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