Pre-Installation Tasks/9.2

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Installing PC-BSD is very easy. However, you should review this section to make sure your hardware is supported and you know how to prepare your installation media.


Hardware Compatibility

Most hardware should work with PC-BSD, but in some cases, cheap hardware has been reported not to work. If you use mainstream or top-end hardware, such as those that feature VIA or NVIDIA chipsets, it will usually work flawlessly.

To ensure your hardware is supported, check the FreeBSD 8.1 Hardware List.

Partitioning the Hard Drive

PC-BSD doesn’t come with a built-in partition manager. If you’re planning to install PC-BSD on a brand new hard drive or you wish to shrink an existing partition to make disk space for PC-BSD, you will need to use a third-party partitioning utility before starting the PC-BSD installation. Many partitioning applications are available. Two free live CDs are particularly user friendly: PartImage and PartedMagic.

Before creating or editing any partitions, make sure you back up your valuable data first to an external media, such as a removable flash drive, first!

If you are dual-booting and your hard drive already has partitions, you should double-check that you have a free primary partition as PC-BSD will not install on a logical or secondary partition. You can use your partitioning application to convert a secondary to a primary partition if you don't have an available primary partition.

Obtaining PC-BSD

The installation files for PC-BSD can be downloaded for free and come with an .iso or .img file extension. Depending upon the type of file you choose, the size will vary between ~200MB and ~4GB. This section will show you how to select which file to download, how to verify the download, and how to burn the file to media.

If you have a slow download connection or wish to support the PC-BSD project financially, you can purchase PC-BSD DVDs from FreeBSD Mall.

Members of the PC-BSD project attend many IT conferences across the globe and give out PC-BSD DVDs at conference booths. Visiting a PC-BSD booth is an excellent way to meet other PC-BSD users and to get your questions answered. Check the the PC-BSD website to see if any Upcoming Events are happening near you. If you are organizing a PC-BSD booth, contact us to arrange for DVDs.

When you go to the Download page of the PC-BSD website, you will find a number of files available for download:

  • DVD (requires a DVD burner)
  • USB Flash (requires a USB memory stick or flash card)
  • Boot-Only CD (requires a network connection during the install)
  • Boot-Only USB (requires a USB memory stick or flash card and a network connection during the install)

There are two versions available for each type of file: one for 32 bit (i386) systems and one for 64 bit systems. It is important that you download a file that is correct for your computer's architecture (32 or 64 bit).

Note: If you plan to use VirtualBox to install PC-BSD, download the 32-bit version, even if your computer is 64-bit. At this time, VirtualBox can only install 32-bit operating systems. Don't worry, the 32-bit install will still work if you're using VirtualBox on a 64-bit system.

The rest of this section will show you how to verify the integrity of the ISO you downloaded, then how to burn it to media.

Data Integrity Check

After downloading the file that is correct for your architecture and installation type, it's a good idea to check that the file is exactly the same as the one on the PC-BSD server. While downloading, some bits and bytes may get "damaged" or lost, so it's wise to check the integrity of the downloaded file. Did you know that missing a few bits can make the installation file unusable?

If you are currently using a Windows system, you can download the free data integrity check (also known as an MD5 checksum]) application Mat-MD5, seen in Figure X-XX, or WinMd5Sum.

Figure X-XX

Md5 thumb.png

On Unix-like systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, or PC-BSD, you can use the md5 commandline tool to check the data integrity. Run the command as seen in Example X-XX, substituting the name of the file that you downloaded. In this example, the file is located in the Downloads subdirectory of the user1's home (~) directory:

Example X-XX

md5 ~/Downloads/PCBSD8.1-x86-DVD.iso
MD5 (/home/user1/Downloads/PCBSD8.1-x86-DVD.iso) = 6702a54dc517e0dc18abccc04fdc11e7

You will find the MD5 checksum on the download page of PC-BSD for each .iso file. The checksum reported by either Mat-MD5, WinMd5Sum or md5 must be the same as the checksum listed on PC-BSD's download page. If the MD5 numbers don't match, you'd better download the file again.

Burning the installation DVD

You have now downloaded PC-BSD and checked if the download has gone OK. It's now time to burn the ISO to a DVD. This section will assist you to burn PC-BSD onto a DVD-R (Writable) or on a DVD-RW (Rewritable). This tutorial assumes you already have:

  • A DVD-RAM drive that allows you to burn media and not just read
  • A writable medium in your DVD-RAM
  • A file with a .iso extension containing PC-BSD
  • A Windows or Unix computer to burn your ISO file.

At this point, you will have to choose how you want to burn the downloaded .iso file. If you use a Windows computer, you can choose from ImgBurn, Nero, CDBurnerXP, or InfraRecorder. If you use a Unix computer with KDE (such as PC-BSD), you can use K3B. Alternatively, if you use a Unix machine with Gnome, you can use Gnome Baker.

Burning the DVD on Windows


ImgBurn is one of the easiest image burners available as it simply does what its name suggests: burns images/ISO files.

To burn an ISO, open ImgBurn, select the "Please select a file..." button, seen in Figure X-XX, to locate the downloaded ISO and click the DVD image at the bottom to burn.

Figure X-XX:



Nero is one of the most popular commercial applications on Windows to burn DVDs. Although it is commercial, you usually have a month free to test it. To burn an ISO, launch Nero, click "Recorder → Burn Image", select your .iso file and burn your DVD. Alternatively, you can click "File → Open", as seen in Figure X-XX:

Figure X-XX:

Nero1 thumb.png

In the Windows dialog box, select the penultimate option labeled "Image Files" to display the .iso files, as seen in Figure X-XX:

Figure X-XX:


Browse to the directory where you stored your .iso file of PC-BSD; you should see your file listed. Select it and click "OK". On the next screen, click the "Burn" button, seen in Figure X-XX, and Nero will start burning your disk:

Figure X-XX:

Nero3 thumb.png

After a few minutes, Nero will alert you that the burning process is complete and will eject the DVD for you.


CDBurnerXP is another freeware application for Windows. It has a modern interface and looks similar to its commercial counterparts. Using CDBurnerXP is also very easy. Launch the application and a dialog window will appear and ask you whether you want to continue burning files on a writable disk that already has files (multi session), or whether your DVD doesn't have any content yet (No multi session). Click the second option "Don't Continue Disc (No Multi Session)", as seen in Figure X-XX.

Figure X-XX:


Afterwards, CDBurnerXP's main interface will show up. In the upper-left corner, click "File → Write Disc from ISO File...", as seen in Figure X-XX:

Figure X-XX:

Cdburnerxp2 thumb.png

A dialog window then appears for you to select your .iso file. Under "Select an ISO image to write", click the "..." button, seen in Figure X-XX, to select your file:

Figure X-XX:

Cdburnerxp3 thumb.png

The file will be listed in the main window. The only thing you have to do is "Write Disc", and CDBurnerXP will start burning your .iso file onto your DVD, as seen in Figure X-XX:

Figure X-XX:

Cdburnerxp4 thumb.png



InfraRecorder is another free, open source burn application that is simple, powerful, and burns both CDs and DVDs. It uses source code from cdburnerxp, and can be portable using InfraRecorder Portable.

To burn the ISO, open InfraRecorder and click on "Write Image". Search for the location of the PC-BSD image with the extension .iso at the end, and double click it. Lastly, click "OK", and watch it burn.

When it is finished, the tray with the DVD will open and a dialog box will appear indicating that the burn is finished.

Burning the DVD on a Unix system

Using K3B on Unix-like installations using KDE

Any Unix-based operating with the KDE Windows manager, such as PC-BSD, FreeBSD or Linux distributions using KDE, are suited to K3B, one of the best burning applications for Unix. K3B has a similar interface to other modern burning software found on Windows, such as Nero or CDBurnerXP, and is equally easy to use.

To burn your ISO, launch K3B and click "Tools → Burn Image...", as seen in Figure X-XX:

Figure X-XX:


A new window, seen in Figure X-XX, will launch so that you can choose your .iso file. Under "Image to burn", click the blue folder icon to select your file:

Figure X-XX:


Once your file is listed, click the "Start" button in the top-right corner, and K3B will burn the .iso file onto your DVD.

Using Brasero on GNOME

Brasero is an easy to use CD-ROM/DVD burner included with the GNOME desktop. To launch Brasero... and click ...", as seen in Figure X-XX:

Figure X-XX:


A dialog window will be displayed and you will be able to select your .iso file. Select it and click "OK". The next window, seen in Figure X-XX, allows you to select your CD-ROM drive, as well as a few other options. Leave these options as default. Click "Start" and Brasero will begin to burn your DVD:

Figure X-XX:


Using growisofs / dvd+rw-tools under FreeBSD

If you are familiar with the Unix command line, you can install the sysutils/dvd+rw-tools port and use that to burn the DVD. Once the port or package is installed (see the FreeBSD handbook if you are unfamiliar with the process) you follow the following steps:

# Place the blank DVD into the drive (I'll assume it is /dev/cd0)
# Issue the command: growisofs -Z /dev/cd0=PCBSD8.1-x86-DVD.iso
# Eject the DVD once growisofs is complete

You may need to have the ATAPI_CAM kernel option in your kernel to successfully do this if you are burning to a DVD drive that's connected via the ATAPI interface.

Burning a ISO image on a Mac OSX system

Launch 'Disk Utility', seen in Figure X-XX, located under 'Applications' → 'Utilities':

Figure X-XX:

Mac-Step1 thumb.jpg

As seen in Figure X-XX, click on 'File' → 'Open Disk Image...' then browse to the location of the ISO image. Select the ISO image and click 'Open'.

Figure X-XX:

Mac-Step2 thumb.jpg

As seen in Figure X-XX, the ISO will now be displayed in the right hand side pane. Select the ISO image and click the 'Burn' icon.

Figure X-XX:

Mac-Step3 thumb.jpg

Insert the appropriate media, check the 'Verify burned data' if applicable (seen in Figure X-XX), and click 'Burn'.

Figure X-XX:

Mac-Step4 thumb.jpg

Writing the ISO to Flash media

To write the USB IMG file to a Flash Card or USB pen drive you can do this with the Unix/Linux command dd:

dd if=<path_to/img_file.img> of=/dev/da0 bs=1m

Just substitute da0 with the device name of your USB stick.

NOTE: The USB images are FreeBSD-UFS formatted, and will not show up as a viewable file-system under Windows.

ADD SECTION ON how-to to flash a USB pen drive with the installer image. On Unix system this can be done with dd(1) and on Windows there's a nice tool with gui written by the M0n0wall crew:

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