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How To Install FreeBSD 7.x From USB


I have the horrible habit of not putting a label on a CD after I’ve burned it.  This leads to having a stack of CDs and not knowing which does what.  This was my problem recently when installing FreeBSD, so I decided to start using USB based installations where possible.  I prefer the multiple-write capability of USB, and this way I don’t waste CDs.

Step one is to download a modified unetbootin utility particularly for FreeBSD.  You can get .rpm, .deb, .exe or .sh for both 32 and 64bit here.  I went with the 32bit .sh file.  BE CAREFUL WITH THE PACKAGED VERSIONS AS IT SEEMS THEY DEFAULT TO WRITING TO YOUR LOCAL DISK!

Once you have the unetbootin utility downloaded you’ll want to write the data to your USB drive.  This is done using the command:

chmod +x unetbootin-freebsd70*.sh

./unetbootin-freebsd70*.sh installmode=usbdrive targetpartition=/dev/sdX1 formatpartition=yes|no

Be sure you know which /dev entry your USB drive is connected to and don’t overwrite your existing boot loader on your main disk.  The last option, “formatpartition” can be a yes or no.

This will take a minute, and when its done you should have a bootable FreeBSD 7.0 usb disk.  If you are able to do FTP based installation you’re ready to go at this point.

Now if you’d like to be able to do the full installation from the USB as well you’ll want to copy the contents of the .iso onto the same drive.  If you don’t have an .iso you can find one here.

To copy the contents of the .iso to the USB drive I did something like this:

sudo mount -o loop 7.0-RELEASE-i386-disc1.iso /mnt/

sudo mount /dev/sdX1 /media/disk (this should auto-mount if you re-plug the USB drive)

sudo cp -RvLu /mnt/* /media/disk/

When this is done you should have the contents of the FreeBSD install CD on your USB drive.  When prompted for the install type specify MSDOS partition and you’re set.

I will likely post some more FreeBSD tips based on more of my notes.