I need to install FreeBSD 10 on an old PC with no CD drive but it has a USB port. I'm on a laptop running Windows 8.1 and have downloaded the FreeBSD 10 DVD ISO image.

I have an external USB hard drive. I have the DVD ISO image. How do I go about preparing the external HDD with the files so that I can boot and install from this external HDD?

I tried UNETBOOTIN from Windows but it does not recognize the external USB HDD.

2 Answers 2


If your BIOS supports booting from USB, you can use one of the -memstick.img image files, located in the same area as where you got the .iso. file. You can write that image directly to a USB stick using Win32 Disk Imager or similar, and then boot from it to install.


It's a function of the BIOS on whatever sort of hardware you are attempting to boot with.

If the BIOS supports it, an obvious option is to burn a DVD and use a USB based DVD device. If your BIOS doesn't support it, no level of boot record magic will fix that.

Bottom line is to spend some time sussing your BIOS and perhaps flashing it to the latest/greatest (with all that inherent pain). An inability of your BIOS to find a boot target is not really a FreeBSD problem. (sorry, more snippy-sounding than I intended.)

  • Is it even possible to install FreeBSD from USB hard drive?
    – Steve F
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 21:15
  • Good question. I've been using FBSD since '98 (I'm old). Way-back-when, FBSD was installed from floppy wherein the installer used ftp to pull down the various tar-balls (pretty slow). I really haven't used that feature in many years, but it might actually still be there... Your short answer is: "yes, it can be done." The longer answer is: "the installer is a long-neglected piece of code that no one uses much. There does exist a carefully pre-cooked version of the installer for CD/DVD and it can probably just be copied to a drive and launched. However, I have never seen a recipe for such."
    – ericx
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 21:22

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