New BSD Installer

Ian Smith smithi at
Tue Feb 14 17:15:27 UTC 2012

On Sun, 12 Feb 2012 15:32:51 +0000, Bruce Cran wrote:
 > On 2/10/2012 7:47 PM, Alex Samorukov wrote:
 > > I am highly against reverting. Old installer is not GPT aware and in fact
 > > is unmaintained for a very long time.
 > That's not really correct: quite a lot of work was done on it last year.

Indeed.  Was it you working on the updated sade(8) adding GPT and ZFS?


I don't see it in terms of reverting.  Much other useful functionality 
of sysinstall has yet to be reimplemented.  Sure, I know, send code .. 
but it's not only the functionality lost, but the ability for new users 
to accomplish a good deal of initial server setup before they're skilled 
enough to do it all from the command line, which is where I was in '98.

I also think much of the sometimes gratuitous deprecation of sysinstall 
is unwarranted.  I've used sysinstall post-installation regularly since 
'98 on 2.2.6 through 3.3, 4.4-10, 5.-5, 6.1, 7.0-4 and 8.0-2.  Since one 
small disaster on 3.3 about 12 years ago (installing to the wrong slice)
I've had no major issues with it, mostly partitioning all sorts of disks 
but also browsing and adding useful packages at installation.

Strangely, the big push to GPT partitions was oft said to be because MBR 
slices provided too few partitions.  I never found 4 * 6 much of a limit 
myself, and now the default install makes a Linux-like single partition, 
rendering dump & restore more or less unusable or at least impractical, 
while booting multiple systems on GPT also seems to require Linux tools.

I don't know whether this move away from BSD traditional filesystem 
partitioning (/, /var, /usr etc) to Linux-style came down from Core On 
High or is just the prerogative of installer-writers?  Jordan was both 
the latter and a big part of the former for many years, but I guess 
that's something that can be reverted if people feel to do so.

I expect most developers run mostly the latest gear, and nowadays tend 
to use vbox images a good deal, but there will be many laptops and other 
systems using MBR slices and bsdlabel partitions for years to come, and 
I'd hate to see FreeBSD's longterm support for _slightly_ older hardware 
disappear, just because of having added better support for latest kit.

I for one will be screwed if sade, fdisk and bsdlabel disappear, as the 
release notes for 9 seem to indicate may be imminently on the cards.


cheers, Ian

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