Sanity Check on Mac Mini

Kevin Oberman rkoberman at
Fri Mar 8 01:51:52 UTC 2013

On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 2:18 PM, Doug Hardie <bc979 at> wrote:

> On 7 March 2013, at 11:57, Kevin Oberman <rkoberman at> wrote:
> > On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 11:10 AM, Doug Hardie <bc979 at> wrote:
> >
> > On 7 March 2013, at 06:42, Richard Kuhns <rjk at> wrote:
> >
> > > On 03/07/13 01:59, Doug Hardie wrote:
> > >> I have a new Mac Mini and have encountered the same problem reported
> last year by Richard Kuhns.  YongHyeon PYUN provided some patches to the
> kernel that resolved the problem.  However, without an internet connection
> its a bit tricky to get them into the system.  Here is the approach I
> believe will work, but wanted to check first before I really mess things up.
> > >>
> > >> 1.  Downloaded from current today via
> > >>      sys/dev/bge/if_bgereg.h
> > >>      sys/dev/bge/if_bge.c
> > >>      sys/dev/mii/brgphy.c
> > >>
> > >>    I believe the patches are incorporated in today's versions.  The
> comments indicate such.  Thus I don't need to apply the original supplied
> patch.
> > >>
> > >> 2.  Put those on a flash drive.
> > >>
> > >> 3.  Install 9.1 release from flash drive onto the Mini disk.  Have to
> include the system source.
> > >>
> > >> 4.  Copy the files from 1 above from flash over the files on the disk.
> > >>
> > >> 5.  Rebuild the kernel and install it.
> > >>
> > >> Thanks,
> > >>
> > >> -- Doug
> > >
> > > That's worked for me 3 times now.
> >
> > Thanks.  Well, I got 9.1 Release installed, but it won't boot from the
> internal disk.  It doesn't see the disk as bootable.  I installed using the
> entire disk for FreeBSD.  I used the i386 release.  Perhaps I need to
> switch to the amd64 release?
> >
> > I would generally recommend using the amd64 release, but it may not get
> your system to boot.
> >
> > How is your disk partitioned? GPT? Some BIOSes are broken and assume
> that a GPT formatted disk is UEFI and will not recognize them if they lack
> the UEFI boot partition. UEFI boot is a current project that seems likely
> to reach head in the fairly near future, but it's not possible now.
> No idea what the default partitioning is for BSDInstall.  However the Mini
> is only EFI or UFEI with some fallbacks although the comments I find in the
> web indicate that different models have different fallbacks.
> One comment indicates that an older unit will boot if its MBR
> partitioning.  I don't know if the new installer supports that or not.
> >
> > You may be able to tweak your BIOS to get it to work or you may have to
> install using the traditional partitioning system. The installer defaults
> to GPT, but can create either.
> >
> > I have such a system (ThinkPad T520) and I have two disks... one that
> came with the system and containing Windows, and my GPT formatted FreeBSD
> disk. I wrote a FreeBSD BootEasy boot into the MBR of the Windows disk and
> it CAN boot the GPT disk just fine. Not ideal for most, but it works well
> for me
> Based on a comment I say, waiting till the empty folder icon appears and
> then plugging in the install memstick causes the mini to boot from disk.
>  That just downright weird, but it works.  I could live with that, but this
> is an unattended server and would experience some down time if I am not
> there when there is a power failure.
> I just found some "instructions" for using MBR with bsdinstall, but given
> there is an effort to create a UEFI boot which I suspect would expect to
> find the GPT boot partition, perhaps I should just go with the memstick
> approach

To be cleat, you just insert the thumb drive and the hard drive boots? That
IS weird! Or do you get the BootEasy prompt for the partition/disk you want
to boot? If the latter, the system is processing the MBR from the thumb
drive and using that to boot the GPT disk.

I am not an expert on EFI or UEFI. I know EFI is older and UEFI replaced it
about five years ago. I am not entirely clear on the differences, but I
assume a newer Mac Mini would be UEFI. My experience with boot loaders is,
to put it politely, ancient. I mean pre-BIOS. I have, at best, a limited
understanding of BIOS booting and not much on UEFI, but I know that UEFI
can boot devices using the old PC partitioning system as well as GUID (GPT)
partitioned ones. The Wikipedia article on UEFI is enlightening.
R. Kevin Oberman, Network Engineer
E-mail: rkoberman at

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