2.11 Troubleshooting

The following section covers basic installation troubleshooting, such as common problems people have reported. There are also a few questions and answers for people wishing to dual-boot FreeBSD with MS-DOS®.

2.11.1 What to Do If Something Goes Wrong

Due to various limitations of the PC architecture, it is impossible for probing to be 100% reliable, however, there are a few things you can do if it fails.

Check the Hardware Notes document for your version of FreeBSD to make sure your hardware is supported.

If your hardware is supported and you still experience lock-ups or other problems, reset your computer, and when the visual kernel configuration option is given, choose it. This will allow you to go through your hardware and supply information to the system about it. The kernel on the boot disks is configured assuming that most hardware devices are in their factory default configuration in terms of IRQs, IO addresses, and DMA channels. If your hardware has been reconfigured, you will most likely need to use the configuration editor to tell FreeBSD where to find things.

It is also possible that a probe for a device not present will cause a later probe for another device that is present to fail. In that case, the probes for the conflicting driver(s) should be disabled.

Note: Some installation problems can be avoided or alleviated by updating the firmware on various hardware components, most notably the motherboard. The motherboard firmware may also be referred to as BIOS and most of the motherboard or computer manufactures have a website where the upgrades and upgrade information may be located.

Most manufacturers strongly advise against upgrading the motherboard BIOS unless there is a good reason for doing so, which could possibly be a critical update of sorts. The upgrade process can go wrong, causing permanent damage to the BIOS chip.

Warning: Do not disable any drivers you will need during the installation, such as your screen (sc0). If the installation wedges or fails mysteriously after leaving the configuration editor, you have probably removed or changed something you should not have. Reboot and try again.

In configuration mode, you can:

After adjusting the kernel to match your hardware configuration, type Q to boot with the new settings. Once the installation has completed, any changes you made in the configuration mode will be permanent so you do not have to reconfigure every time you boot. It is still highly likely that you will eventually want to build a custom kernel.

2.11.2 Dealing with Existing MS-DOS® Partitions

Many users wish to install FreeBSD on PCs inhabited by Microsoft® based operating systems. For those instances, FreeBSD has a utility known as FIPS. This utility can be found in the tools directory on the install CD-ROM, or downloaded from one of various FreeBSD mirrors.

The FIPS utility allows you to split an existing MS-DOS partition into two pieces, preserving the original partition and allowing you to install onto the second free piece. You first need to defragment your MS-DOS partition using the Windows®; Disk Defragmenter utility (go into Explorer, right-click on the hard drive, and choose to defrag your hard drive), or use Norton Disk Tools. Now you can run the FIPS utility. It will prompt you for the rest of the information, just follow the on screen instructions. Afterwards, you can reboot and install FreeBSD on the new free slice. See the Distributions menu for an estimate of how much free space you will need for the kind of installation you want.

There is also a very useful product from PowerQuest (http://www.powerquest.com) called PartitionMagic®. This application has far more functionality than FIPS, and is highly recommended if you plan to add/remove operating systems often. It does cost money, so if you plan to install FreeBSD and keep it installed, FIPS will probably be fine for you.

2.11.3 Using MS-DOS and Windows® File Systems

At this time, FreeBSD does not support file systems compressed with the Double Space™ application. Therefore the file system will need to be uncompressed before FreeBSD can access the data. This can be done by running the Compression Agent located in the Start> Programs > System Tools menu.

FreeBSD can support MS-DOS based file systems. This requires you use the mount_msdos(8) command (in FreeBSD 5.X, the command is mount_msdosfs(8)) with the required parameters. The utilities most common usage is:

# mount_msdos /dev/ad0s1 /mnt

In this example, the MS-DOS file system is located on the first partition of the primary hard disk. Your situation may be different, check the output from the dmesg, and mount commands. They should produce enough information too give an idea of the partition layout.

Note: Extended MS-DOS file systems are usually mapped after the FreeBSD partitions. In other words, the slice number may be higher than the ones FreeBSD is using. For instance, the first MS-DOS partition may be /dev/ad0s1, the FreeBSD partition may be /dev/ad0s2, with the extended MS-DOS partition being located on /dev/ad0s3. To some, this can be confusing at first.

NTFS partitions can also be mounted in a similar manner using the mount_ntfs(8) command.

2.11.4 Alpha User's Questions and Answers

This section answers some commonly asked questions about installing FreeBSD on Alpha systems. Can I boot from the ARC or Alpha BIOS Console? Help, I have no space! Do I need to delete everything first? Can I mount my Compaq Tru64 or VMS filesystems? Can I boot from the ARC or Alpha BIOS Console?

No. FreeBSD, like Compaq Tru64 and VMS, will only boot from the SRM console. Help, I have no space! Do I need to delete everything first?

Unfortunately, yes. Can I mount my Compaq Tru64 or VMS filesystems?

No, not at this time.

This, and other documents, can be downloaded from ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/.

For questions about FreeBSD, read the documentation before contacting <[email protected]>.
For questions about this documentation, e-mail <[email protected]>.