New BSD Installer

Devin Teske devin.teske at
Tue Feb 14 17:44:16 UTC 2012

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-freebsd-stable at [mailto:owner-freebsd-
> stable at] On Behalf Of Ian Smith
> Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 9:15 AM
> To: Bruce Cran
> Cc: FreeBSD Stable Mailing List; Joe Holden; Alex Samorukov
> Subject: Re: New BSD Installer
> 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?
> <rant>
> I don't see it in terms of reverting.  Much other useful functionality
> of sysinstall has yet to be reimplemented.

Ron McDowell and I are working feverishly on bsdconfig(8) set to arrive in

- It's modular
- It's easily estendable/maintained (written in sh(1))
- It's goal is to completely reimplement all missing functionality from

However, it's still in the preliminary stages.

Discussions on bsdconfig are being held on -sysinstall@

Development work is being performed off the reservation (using SourceForge CVS
server) until we can agree on the structure prior to import to the base of HEAD
SVN tree.

Despite being preliminary code, there is currently 8529 lines of code so far.

I won't be posting links to the preliminary code (it's still preliminary) for
fear of getting too much feedback too early in the game (but if you're
interested, you can crawl the recent posts to -sysinstall@ and gleen the links
both from Ron and myself).

>  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.

bsdconfig(8) will fill this gap as sysinstall(8) did in the past.

The current plan moving forward is:

1. RELENG_9 will continue to offer both sysinstall and bsdinstall in the
installed base

2. RELENG_10 will drop sysinstall(8) but bring in bsdconfig(8)

This much has been agreed upon in the discussions involving many.

> I also think much of the sometimes gratuitous deprecation of sysinstall
> is unwarranted.

Yes, it has been acknowledged by many that the scheduled deprecation is

>  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.

When bsdconfig(8) reaches a usable state (is entered into HEAD), we encourage
you to be an avid tester in the early stages to make sure we "get it right" with
respect to replication of sysinstall(8) features.

bsdconfig(8) should work fine on RELENG_9 just as 10.0-CURRENT

> Strangely, the big push to GPT partitions was oft said to be because MBR
> slices provided too few partitions. 

That's part of it (no pun intended).

The other big deal is that you can't exceed 2TB on a single primary partition.

> 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,

I'm with you on this one. I really don't like the single-"/" setup.

> 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.

Maybe a vote should be taken. There's about 12 votes in this office here alone
for putting the partition scheme back the way it was (Colin Percival had a great
formula for determining partition sizes).

> 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.

Others will point out that if you try hard enough, you can create the old-style
MBR partitions with RELENG_9 (note: some minor bugs were documented in
9.0-RELEASE; the next release will not suffer these fallbacks).

> 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.

I too would be sad if those disappear. However, I do think sysinstall(8) needs
to be deprecated (given that we're developing bsdconfig(8) to replace it).

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