How To Install FreeBSD OS Primer, Procedure List for Beginners, Cheat Sheet for FreeBSD Newbies, Install FreeBSD Cheatsheet for Newbie * FreeBSD Installation Primer for Beginners * Setup FreeBSD 4.9 Procedure List * Configure Operating System, Set Up, Configuration, Tutorial, Howto, Administrator's Setup Guide, Tips and Tricks Cheetsheet, Step by Step Instructions to install FreeBSD
How to Install FreeBSD 4.9(TM)



    FreeBSD is a computer operating system, like Windows or Linux.  It's a lot more stable than Windows, and allows for easier maintenance than Linux.  FreeBSD can easily emulate Linux and some people report that some Linux applications run better on FreeBSD than Linux.  Click on the links below find out more about the advantages:

    FreeBSD at Yahoo!
    TechTV Comparison with Linux
    Linux vs. FreeBSD

    FreeBSD has been around longer than Windows or Linux in some form or another.  Click here to find out more about the history of FreeBSD.


    A. You are familiar with computers, and probably know either Windows or Linux fairly well.

    B. You have access to the Internet.  You need to be able to plug into an existing router or switch for your new FreeBSD computer.

    C. You don't plan to dual-boot.  It has been our experience that while many people have sucessfully configured two or more operating systems on a hard drive, the chance for a major loss of data is significant.  If you really want to use your computer with multiple operating systems, you might want to consider getting a 'cold swap' hard drive bracket and keep each operating system on a separate hard drive.  Our preference is to keep the OSs on their own separate computers.

    D. Either the computer's hard drive is blank, or the data on it is backed up elsewhere.  This procedure will PERMANENTLY DELETE any data currently residing on it.


  1. Make sure the computer's hardware is installed properly:
    motherboard settings, cables connected properly, adequate cooling, etc.


    The FreeBSD software is usually obtainable in ISO CDROM image format.  ISO stands for International Standards Organization.  When referring to an ISO CD image, it just means that the entire contents of the actual, usable CD, is contained in a single file.  This single file has a specified format, that when used with the proper software, will create the needed bootable CD.

    Before we tell where to get the ISO file or files, note that you can get the FULL version or the MINI version.  You are likely to be better off downloading the FULL version because you will have less to download later on.  The rest of this procedure assumes that you have downloaded the FULL version.

  2. Download FreeBSD version 4.9, or latest version as you desire. The 5.x branch is not production rated, yet.

    You can get the ISO's here:

    More info:

  3. Now that you have downloaded the ISO files, make sure to back them up--either making several copies or distributing them to several physical locations, or both.  This will avoid the need to download them again.


  4. Presumably you are familiar with either the Windows or Linux operating systems.  In order to create the bootable installation disks, you will need to burn the ISOs using the appropriate software (always make sure to use the 'verify' option so you are absolutely certain that the data was burned properly):

    Create a CD from an ISO image in Windows
    Create a CD from an ISO image in Linux


  5. Update your motherboard to the latest BIOS if necessary.

  6. Turn off BIOS or Video caching or shadowing if necessary.  (This is necessary if you have problems viewing the monitor).

  7. Configure BIOS so that the computer will boot from a CDROM

  8. Configure BIOS so that the computer's clock is running UTC time.  Odds are, unless you live in the same longitude as London, England, your computer is NOT set to UTC time.  In many instances UTC time is referred to at GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), but the official nomenclature is UTC.

    Click on either of these links to find out the current UTC time:

    U. S. Naval Observatory Master Clock
    UTC Time


  9. Boot with the CD in the drive.

    The computer will boot and will soon show:

    Hit [Enter] to boot immediately, or any other key for command prompt.
    Booting [kernel] in _ seconds...

  10. Hit Enter, or wait until it boots


  11. Select:
    Skip kernel configuration and continue with installation?
    Press: 'Enter'

  12. You'll see lots of messages as the FreeBSD operating system boots from the CD and then it shows:

    sysinstall Main Menu


  13. Select and navigate through the following sequence:

    [Custom] ® [3 Partition    Allocate disk space for FreeBSD]

    A. If it gives you a warning about Geometry, select 'OK'.  Press 'Enter'.  This warning may appear for some some large hard drives.

    B. If partitions/slices already exist, delete them--this is a 'new' install.

  14. Press the 'A' key, in order to select:

    A = Use Entire Disk

    The partitions are generated and allocated in about 1 second.

  15. Press the 'Q' key, in order to select:

    Q = Finish

  16. Select:
    BootMgr    Install the FreeBSD Boot Manager.

    Press: 'Enter'

  17. Select:
    4 Label    Label allocated disk partitions.

    Press: 'Enter'

  18. Press the 'A' key, in order to select:

    A = Auto Defaults

  19. Press the 'Q' key, in order to select:

    Q = Quit


    Choose Custom Installation Options

  20. Select:
    5 Distributions    Select distribution(s) to extract.

    Press: 'Enter'

  21. Cursor to:
    All    All system sources, binaries and X window system'.

    Press: 'Enter'

    User Confirmation Request

    Would you like to install the FreeBSD ports collection?

  22. Press 'Y' for yes.


    The FreeBSD ports collection is a group of many thousands of compatible programs that will run on FreeBSD.  At this point, the entire ports collection is NOT installed.  That would take up many gigabytes of space.  What actually happens shortly is that the 'ports tree' is copied onto the hard drive.  The ports tree contains just a few small files for each program.  This small group of files specify how that program is to be installed: where to retrieve the software, what the file names are, locations, and other configuration information.  This minimal information allows you to easily install a program when you decide to do so.  All you would need to do is go to that program's directory within /usr/ports/ and type: 'make install' and installation will proceed.

  23. Cursor to:
    X Exit    Exit this menu (return to previous).

    Press: 'Enter'

    Screen shows:
    Choose Custom Installation Options

  24. Cursor to:
    6 Media    Choose the installation media type.

    Press: 'Enter'

  25. Select:
    1 CD/DVD    Install from a FreeBSD CD/DVD.

    Press: 'Enter'

  26. Cursor to:
    7 Commit    Perform any pending Partition/Label/Extract actions.

    Press: 'Enter'

    User Confirmation Requested

    Last Chance!...etc....

  27. Press 'Y' for Yes

    The computer now shows various progress graphs as it configures the hard disk and installs software from the CD.  Typically this will take around 5-10 minutes depending on the speed of your computer.

    If error messages show up at this point, then the hard drive, CD Drive, CD disk, one of the cables, relative placement of the cards in the motherboard slots, or some other connection is likely the cause.  One type of error is a signal [number] error.  This type of error are almost always RAM memory, but in some instances are caused by a faulty motherboard or CPU.

    Here is a list of device codes that may help you decipher error messages:

    FreeBSD Device List

    As described earlier, it's a good idea to keep two CDs with known good ISO burns so if there is an error at this point you can use the other CD to diagnose whether it is a problem with the ISO CD or hardware related.

  28. When the system has been configured, and the ports have been installed, it will show:

    User Confirmation Requested

    Visit the general configuration menu for a chance to set any last options?

  29. Press 'Y' for Yes

  30. Cursor to:
    Time Zone    Set which time zone you're in

  31. Press: 'Enter'

    The screen shows:

    Select local or UTC (Greenwich Mean Time) clock

    Is this machine's CMOS clock set to UTC?  If it is set to local time, or you don't know, please choose NO here!

    Since you specifically set this computer's clock to UTC earlier, you want to select 'Yes'.

  32. Press 'Y' for Yes

  33. Navigate the menu and select your local time as is appropriate for you.

    When you have chosen your local time zone, the screen shows:

    FreeBSD Configuration Menu

  34. Cursor to:
    X Exit    Exit this menu (Returning to Previous)

  35. Press: 'Enter'

    The screen shows:

    Choose Custom Installation Options

  36. Cursor to:
    X Exit    Exit this menu (returning to previous)

  37. Press: 'Enter'

    The screen shows:

    sysinstall Main Menu

  38. Press the TAB key to select:
    [X Exit Install]

  39. Press: 'Enter'

    The screen shows:

    User Confirmation Requested

    Are you sure you wish to exit?   The system will reboot
    (be sure to remove and floppies/CDs/DVDs from the drives).

  40. Press 'Y' for Yes

    After about 5 seconds, the screen will go dark and the computer will start to reboot.  VERY QUICKLY, as it begins to reboot, remove the CD from its drive.  Put it in safe place, then close the CDROM tray.

    Also, VERY QUICKLY, as the computer reboots, go into the BIOS and change to boot settings so that the computer will boot from the hard drive, rather than the CDROM.

    The computer will boot and will show:

    Hit [Enter] to boot immediately, or any other key for command prompt.
    Booting [kernel] in _ seconds...

  41. Hit Enter, or wait until it boots

    You'll see lots of messages for a minute or so, as the FreeBSD operating system boots from the hard drive.  Don't be alarmed if your computer pauses for quite some time at the 'Generating public/private dsa key pair' message.  It only does this once.  Soon it shows:


  42. Login by typing:


  43. Press: 'Enter'

    The screen will show a bunch of information about FreeBSD. When it is finally done booting, there will be a little number/pound sign '#' at the bottom of the screen.  This is the cursor for the 'root' user.

  44. Type in the following:

    shutdown -h now

    The computer will take a few seconds and then show a bunch of messages.  At the bottom you will see 2 lines:

    The operating system has halted.
    Please press any key to reboot.


  46. Instead, turn OFF the power to the computer


  47. Connect a cable between the computer's Ethernet card and your router (or switch) so that you will have access to the Internet (if you haven't already done so).

  48. Turn on the power, and let the machine reboot

    Once the computer has booted, it will show:


  49. Login by typing:


  50. Press: 'Enter'

  51. If it shows:


    Then press: 'Enter' (no password)

  52. To run the system installation program, type in:


  53. Press: 'Enter'

  54. Select and navigate the following sequence:

    [Configure] ® [Media] ® [FTP] ® [Main site -] ®
    [Running multi-user, assume that the network is already configured?] ® No

  55. Select the proper NIC (Network Interface Card)

    (Probably 'dc0' DEC/Intel 21143 (and clones) PCI fast ethernet card)

    Press: 'Enter'

  56. After you have selected the NIC card, a window shows:

    Do you want to try IPv6 configuration of the interface?

  57. Press 'N' for No


    Do you want to try DHCP configuration of the interface?

  58. Press 'Y' for Yes

    Scanning for DHCP Servers

  59. Next a full screen shows.  In the box for 'Host', type in the the name you want the computer to be called.  This could be something like: 'FreeBSD', 'Zeus', 'Gizmo', 'Sally', 'Wilbur', etc.  This name should probably be 8 characters or less.

  60. If you have a domain name configured on your network, then type that in the 'Domain' box.  Otherwise, just leave it blank.

  61. Press the Tab key until OK is hightlighed, then press 'Enter'.


    FreeBSD Configuration Menu

  62. Cursor to:
    X Exit this menu (returning to previous)

  63. Press: 'Enter'


    sysinstall Main Menu

  64. Tab to:
    X Exit install

  65. Press: 'Enter'

    Now, even though you have exited the sysinstall program, you may still see its menu.  This may be confusing, so just hit the Enter key a bunch of times or enter the command 'clear' to clear the screen.  You should now have a command prompt: '#'.

  66. Type in the following:

    shutdown -r now

    The computer will take a few seconds, then show a bunch of messages, and eventually reboot.

    When you see:


  67. Type in:


    Press: 'Enter'

  68. At the command prompt (SomeName#) enter:

    ping -c 4

    You should get some ping messages back and you should see a line that looks like this:

    4 packets transmitted, 4 packets received, 0% packet loss

    This indicates you have configured networking properly, and you now have access to the Internet.


    'CVSup' stands for 'Concurrent Versions System UPdate' and is usually pronounced 'siv-sup'.  This program allows you to keep the 'source tree' that you loaded from the CDROM updated so that when you install a program you will be loading the most recent, and presumably bug-free, version.

    Even though you might have the very latest version of FreeBSD, the programs that run on FreeBSD are constantly being updated and improved.  So, this update of the ports tree is essential.  It's also a good idea to run CVSup just before you load a program that you need, so that you load and install the latest version.

    As you become more familiar with FreeBSD, you may want to write a 'cron' script that will automatically run CVSup during the night so that you will always have an updated ports tree.

    There is more information in the CVSup Section of FreeBSD handbook.

  69. Enter:

  70. Select and navigate the following sequence:

    [Configure] ® [Packages] ® [FTP - Install from an FTP server]

  71. Cursor down to

    Each of these mirror sites has a different geographical location.  Here are the approximate locations of the primary FreeBSD servers as of 2004 September.  If you cursor down even further, you will see locations in different countries.  For speed of downloading, and to balance the load on the different servers, please choose the location nearest you.    Fairfax, Virgina, U. S.    Fairfax, Virgina, U. S.    Kallax, Sweden    Ashland, Oregon, U. S.    Cambridge, Mass., U. S.    Fairfax, Virgina, U. S.    Manchester, England    London, England    Bloomington, Indiana, U. S.    Tucson, Arizona, U. S.    Boston, Mass., U. S.    Danville, Illinois, U. S.    Atlanta, Georgia, U. S.    Charlottesville, Virgina, U. S.


    Running multi-user, assume that the network is already configured?

  72. Press 'Y' for Yes


    Logging into

  73. Shows:

    Located index, now reading package data from it...

    This download could take just a few minutes, or around half an hour depending on your network connection speed, and your computer speed.

  74. Shows:

    Package Selection

  75. Select and navigate the following sequence:

    [Net] ® [cvsup-without-gui-16.h(or similar)]

  76. Press space bar to select that option

  77. Tab to select:

  78. Press: 'Enter'

    Package Selection

  79. Tab to:

  80. Press: 'Enter'


    Package Targets

    These are the packages you've selected for extraction.


  81. Make sure OK is highligted, then press: 'Enter'


    Please select a FreeBSD FTP distribution site

  82. Select a download site.

    (See list above for the nearest site, or cursor down to your country's section)

  83. Once you've highlighted your chosen site, press: 'Enter'


    User Confirmation Requested

    You've already done the network configuration once,
    would you like to skip over it now?

  84. Press 'Y' for Yes


    Logging into


    Adding packages/...etc....

    At the bottom of the screen you should see the download in progress with the value changing.  The download is about 850K.

  85. Once the download is finished, the screen shows:

    FreeBSD Configuration Menu

  86. Cursor to:
    X Exit    Exit this menu (returning to previous)

  87. Press: 'Enter'


    sysinstall Main Menu

  88. Tab to:
    [X Exit Install]

  89. Press: Enter

  90. Now you will probably see most of the menu on your screen.  Press 'Enter' a bunch of times and it will disappear at the top of the screen.

  91. Shutdown the computer:

    At the command prompt (SomeName#), type in:

    shutdown -h now

  92. Press: 'Enter'

    The computer will take a few seconds and then show a bunch of messages.  At the bottom you will see 2 lines:

    The operating system has halted.
    Please press any key to reboot.


  94. Instead, turn OFF the power to the computer


    Depending on the speed of your Internet connection and how 'fresh' your ports are, will determine how long this procedure will take.  Generally speaking it will probably take a minimum of 5-10 minutes.  In the worst case, it can take several hours.  To be safe, you might want to start this routine so that it can run overnight.

  95. Wait at least 5 seconds, then turn on the power, and let the computer reboot

  96. Once the computer has booted, login as 'root' like you have done before.

  97. Type in one of the following commands:

    (There are quite a few servers all over the world.  Click here to find the nearest CVSup server.  Make sure that you use the closest server to you.  )

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Ellensburg, Washington, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Virginia, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Cambridge, Mass., U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Cambridge, Mass., U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Tucson, AZ, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Dallas, TX, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Louisville, CO, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Louisville, CO, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Buffalo, NY, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Santa Clara, CA, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Springfield, VA, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (West Layfayette, IN, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Buffalo, NY, U. S.)

    cvsup -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile
    (Buffalo, NY, U. S.)

    You will shortly see something like:

    Connected to

    After a while, you will see something like:

    Updating collection ports-all/CVS
         Checkout ports/CHANGES
         Edit ports/INDEX

    This process will now take a while as described previously.  You will see many, many lines informing you of the progress as the ports are updated.

    When you again see the command prompt (SomeName#), FreeBSD is installed.  CONGRATULATIONS!

    Now, click here to configure your shell and set up some automated daily tasks >>>

Here are some other FreeBSD related links:
How to Install FreeBSD

Shell Configuration

FreeBSD Device List

Hardware Burn-In Test Using FreeBSD

FreeBSD Commands Cheat Sheet

'make install' fails on FreeBSD

The FreeBSD 'Handbook' online

Search for Answers to Questions about FreeBSD

How to Install NTP (Network Time Protocol) software on FreeBSD

How to Install Samba file server software on FreeBSD

Mounting and Using the Floppy Drive in FreeBSD

Mounting and Using the CD-ROM Drive in FreeBSD

How to Find or Search for a Directory or a file

How to Preserve the Date and Time Stamp When Copying Files

How to Copy Files, and Directories recursively in FreeBSD / unix

How To Fix The 'Read Only File System' Problem When rc.conf is Corrupted on Freebsd

Random Passwords Generator

URL Decoder / Link Maker

AT YOUR OWN RISK: These instructions have no guarantee or warrantee of fitness for any purpose whatsoever--and none shall be implied or inferred.  If you use these and incur any kind of damage--it is your responsibility.

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