I'm trying to set up a headless FreeBSD 13.1 system. I've done so successfully before on this particular machine, but for whatever reason, after a complete reinstall, it doesn't want to boot without a monitor attached via HDMI. Since it never shows up on the network, I'm assuming it never even gets past the boot prompt.

It boots as expected if I plug in an HDMI cable to a monitor before powering up the machine. Plugging in a monitor after unsuccessfully trying to boot without a monitor does not work (black display).

I tried adding -P to /boot.config, but this had no effect. The system is, apart from that, fairly vanilla.

The system is a fan-less Chinese(?) "Basoaro" system with an American Megatrends BIOS, but I can't find anything in the BIOS that seems relevant, and since it used to be possible to boot the system without an attached monitor, I'm assuming it's not a BIOS-related issue.

Whatever I did before to get it to boot headless, I've forgotten what it was.

  • Have you tried hitting [Enter]? From BIOSs complaining about a clock’s battery low voltage I am used to hitting F2, too. Does this strange behavior you’re experiencing show with other operating systems? May 22 at 16:18
  • @KaiBurghardt I wouldn't be able to hit any key if a keyboard was not attached (which it wouldn't be when I run the system as a headless system; which implicitly also means keyboard-less). As you can see in the answer I posted, the issue was due to the 2nd stage boot loader of the OS blocking when the console device wasn't read.
    – Kusalananda
    May 22 at 17:06
  • Oops, sorry. I have a couple “headless” systems with full-disk encryption (using a keyphrase) so they are (at least temporarily) equipped with a keyboard when powered up. May 22 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


I believe my issue might have been solved by simply adding


... to /boot/loader.conf. The loader.conf(5) manual describes this as "selecting the EFI console". This seems not to block the boot process when there's no attached video or serial console.

I was initially afraid of assigning a value to the console setting as I didn't want to get locked out entirely with no way of accessing the system, but I don't know whether that's even a possible risk.

  • Why would you be afraid of locking yourself out? If the system did not boot with an HDMI display attached after performing said change, you could still boot a live system to reverse the changes. May 22 at 16:12
  • @KaiBurghardt Of course. You misinterpreted why I was afraid of locking myself out. It would be a hassle, and it would take extra time.
    – Kusalananda
    May 22 at 17:02

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