BETA of FreeBSD's new installer

by Dru Lavigne

Related link:

As part of FreeBSD's participation in Google's summer of code 2005, a new installer is in the works. Here's a sneak peek at the first beta.

In my RSS feeder this morning there was an article from the DragonFly BSD Digest stating that the first BETA of FreeBSD's new installer was available for download.

I had a chance to burn the ISO and try it out. For those of you hoping for a pretty GUI installer, don't look here--you probably want something more along the lines of PC-BSD. For the immediate time being, FreeBSD will continue to use an ncurses installer so those users who don't want to install X won't have to just to install the operating system.

While it's just the first beta, there are already improvements over sysinstall. What follows are the screens I saw in this beta version.


F10=Refresh Display

Welcome to FreeBSD

Welcome to the FreeBSD Live CD.

FreeBSD is an efficient and elegant BSD Unix-derived operating system. for
more information, see

From this CD, you can boot into FreeBSD "live" (without installing it) to
evaluate it, to install it manually, or to troubleshoot problems with an
existing installation, using either a command prompt or menu-driven

Also, you can use this automated application to assist you in installing
FreeBSD on this computer and configuring it once it is installed.

< Install FreeBSD > < Configure an Installed System >
< Live CD Utilities > < Exit to Live CD > < Reboot this Computer >
< Setup NetBoot Install Services >


Begin Installation

This experimental application will install FreeBSD on one of the hard disk
drives attached to this computer. It has been designed to make it easy to
install FreeBSD in the typical case. If you have special requirements that
are not addressed by this installer, or if you have problems using it, you
are welcome to install FreeBSD manually. To do so select Exit to Live CD,
login as root, and follow the instructions given in the file /README .

NOTE! As with any installation process, YOU ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO

< Install FreeBSD > < Return to Welcome Menu > < Exit to Live CD >
Press F1 for Help


Select Disk

Select a disk on which to install

< ad0 >
< ad2 >
< Return to Begin Installation >


How Much Disk?

Select how much of this disk you want to use for FreeBSD.


< Use Entire Disk > < Use Part of Disk >
< Return to Select Disk >


Are you absolutely sure?

WARNING! ALL data in ALL partitions on
the disk



Are you ABSOLUTELY SURE you wish to
take this action? This is your LAST
CHANCE to cancel!

< OK > < Cancel >



The disk


was formatted.

< OK >


Create Subpartitions

Set up the subpartitions (also known as just 'partitions' in BSD
tradition) you want to have on this primary partition.

For Capacity, use 'M' to indicate megabytes, 'G' to indicate gigabytes, or
a single '*' to indicate use the remaining space on the primary

Mountpoint Capacity
[/ ] [256M ] < Ins > < Del >
[swap ] [2048M ] < Ins > < Del >
[/var ] [256M ] < Ins > < Del >
[/tmp ] [256M ] < Ins > < Del >
[/usr ] [8192M ] < Ins > < Del >
[/home ] [* ] < Ins > < Del >
< Add >

< Accept and Create > < Return to Select Disk > < Switch to Expert Mode >


Select Distributions to install

Select the distributions to Install.
The base is required, the rest are optional

Install? Distribution name
[X] [Base ]
[X] [Documentation ]
[X] [Games ]
[X] [Manual pages ]
[X] [Cat Pages ]
[X] [Profilling Libra] (sic)
[X] [Dictonaries ] (sic)
[X] [Info Pages ]
[X] [Local ]

< Accept and Install Distributions >
< Return to Create Subpartitions >


Install OS

Everything is now ready to install the actual files which
comprise the FreeBSD operating system on the selected partition
of the selected disk.

Note that this process will take quite a while to finish. You
may wish to take a break now and come back to the computer in a
short while.

< Begin Installing Files > < Return to Select Distributions >


Install Bootblock(s)

You may now wish to install bootblocks on one or more
disks. If you already have a boot manager installed,
you can skip this step (but you may have to configure)
your boot manager separately.) If you installed
FreeBSD on a disk other than your first disk, you will
need to put the bootblock on at least your first disk
and the FreeBSD disk.

Disk Drive Install Bootblock? Packet Mode?
[ad0 ] [X] [X]
[ad2 ] [X] [X]

< Accept and Install Bootblocks > < Skip this Step >

From F1:

'Packet Mode' refers to using newer BIOS calls to boot from a partition
of the disk. It is generally not required unless:

- your BIOS does not support legacy mode; or
- your FreeBSD primary partition resides on a cylinder of the disk
beyond cylinder 1024; or
- you just can't get it to boot without it.

(I tried skip)


FreeBSD is Installed!


FreeBSD has successfully been installed on this computer. You may
now proceed to configure the installation. Alternately, you may
wish to reboot the computer and boot into the installed system to
confirm that it works.

< Configure this System > < Reboot >
< Return to Welcome Menu >


Configure an Installed System

The options on this menu allow you to
configure a FreeBSD system after it has
already been installed.

< Select timezone >
< Set date and time >
< Set root password >
< Add a user >
< Configure network interfaces >
< Configure hostname and domain >
< Set keyboard map >
< Set console font >
< Set screen map >
< Install extra software packages >
< Remove software packages >
< Return to Welcome Menu >


When finished, I returned to the welcome menu where I could choose to reboot this computer.
Note, there aren't any packages on this beta CD so you won't be able to install any software. This is what you do get:

% uname -a
July 27 10:36:09 UTC 2005 root@x64.samsco.home:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/GENERIC