I've been tasked with installing FreeBSD 8 alongside CentOS 6, without the luxury of removable media. CentOS 6 is already on the machine, and running quite nicely. However, I cannot figure out how to get FreeBSD running. I've spent a good chunk of time trying various things, but I keep running into walls. Here are the two attempts that yielded the most success:

  1. UNetBootIn: after a little bit of tweaking, it gave me a GRUB menu item to boot into sysinstall for FBSD 8. However, when I went to install it, I got a "Disks not found" error, which I have not been able to resolve. I've tried switching my hard disk from IDE to ACHI and back with no luck. I think this is likely the best way to do this, but I'm blocked.
  2. Copying the contents of the installation ISO to my hard drive: I made a FAT32 partition for the ISO, and a GRUB entry that runs /boot/loader, but I get an error saying that the kernel cannot be loaded. When I use lsdev, I can see the partition that it's on, but I cannot seem to load the kernel. Using ls tells me that / does not exist.
  3. Like #2 but using /boot/kernel/kernel instead of /boot/loader in my GRUB entry: This will successfully load the kernel, but gets messed up when it asks me to mount a root partition. Unfortunately, no matter which partition I tell it to use, the kernel rejects all of my attempted mount points.

If anyone has any ideas about how to make any of these work, or can point me in the right direction, I'd be extremely grateful!

  • It is possible to install FreeBSD without installer: daemonforums.org/showthread.php?t=1538. This process is different since 9.x, so be sure to have a guide for the correct version.
    – Legolas
    Feb 27, 2012 at 7:43
  • I remember that the BSDs had their own idiosyncratic disk partitioning scheme, perhaps it doesn't recognize your existing partitioning?
    – vonbrand
    Feb 9, 2013 at 16:39

2 Answers 2


I haven't tried this, but you might be able to boot FreeBSD if you first create a BSD disklabel on the disk.

I strongly recommend reading the Linux + FreeBSD howto for information about BSD and Linux partitions before doing anything else. I'll explain what to do with fdisk as it's closer to the metal.

You may be able to perform the actions below from Parted; I don't know if its support for BSD partitions is up to the task. I advise you to try Parted before fdisk as it's less error-prone.

First, from Linux, create a BSD partition table. Run fdisk /dev/sda (or whichever disk you want to install FreeBSD on) and:

  1. Create a PC-style primary partition (one of /dev/sda1 through /dev/sda4) with the n command. It will contain everything from FreeBSD, so size it adequately.
  2. Set its type to a5 (FreeBSD) with the t command.
  3. Create a BSD disklabel on the newly created partition with the b command.
  4. Create (with the n command) a BSD partition a that uses part of the space allocated to FreBSD; typically the a partition starts 64kB after the beginning of the BSD space. This is the root partition. Set its type (with the t command) to 7 (4.2BSD).
  5. Create a BSD partition b that uses part of the space allocated to FreeBSD. This will be the swap partition; set its type to 1 (swap). I think this step is optional.
  6. Remove the d partition that Linux's fdisk created.
  7. Use the x command to create a BSD partition d that coincides with the partition where you've stored the FreeBSD installation file.
  8. Review your changes very very carefully. If you're satisfied, run w to write the new BSD disklabel to disk, and run w again in the main menu to write the PC partition table to disk.

Note that this is all very error-prone; a typo could destroy all your data. Again, if Parted can do this, use Parted.

Once you've created BSD partitions, try method #2 or method #3 again.


Virtual media over IPMI, but it depends if your server is a real server or a low cost machine.

  • I don't have the use of IPMI. I'm operating with a lot of restrictions here unfortunately. Feb 26, 2012 at 1:04
  • 1
    Have a look at (a little dated) the handbook's Remote Installation article for a possible way down this road (which doesn't quite answer the question, I suppose there's a way to utilize your working CentOS installation...)
    – sr_
    Feb 26, 2012 at 12:57
  • Depenguinator looks like it should do it.
    – jirib
    Feb 26, 2012 at 14:49

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