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Methods, Problems and Solutions

BSD UNIX Information for Crystallography

Installing FreeBSD 3.3 XWindows (high security server install) and Win95 Dual Boot System via Network/FTP

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Note: As of December 2000, FreeBSD 4.2 has been released. There has been no time to update the tutorials but it is not that different to what is described here. Just translate over the numbering system. It is recommended you use the latest FreeBSD distribution.


Note: Because of variations in install, multiple toolsets, (never knowing whether a previous install might have affected the next one); some/all(?) of the following information might be wrong; and there are probably better methods for doing the following. Keep this in mind and feel free to think a bit before blindly following the instructions.

The following install leaves the system with no open scannable ports for maximum security. It is assumed that users will enable the servers they require at a later date. After installing Xwindows, use of port 6000 by X can be disabled by adding the flag '-nolisten tcp' to the X server command line.

Why bother with FreeBSD

As explained in other pages, FreeBSD makes for a very solid, secure high capacity server and can also be used with relative ease as a firewall computer. It of course can be used as a client system but Linux has the advantage here due to ready to use Binaries for Crystallographic applications being available.

Note that the one problems with installing Xwindows with FreeBSD is that you pretty much have to know your optimal XServer type prior to installation. Normally you only find this out during running Xconfigurator mid way during installation after which there is not easy way as part of the install to load the optimised server, so you may end up starting the install again. In this case, the optimal Xserver for a ATI Xpert@Work Video Card is a MACH64 based XServer.

Also refer: "Installing FreeBSD" at http://www.freebsd.org/handbook/install.html | http://www2.uk.freebsd.org/handbook/install.html
Also refer: "Kernel configuration" at http://www.freebsd.org/handbook/kernelconfig.html

Backup your old stuff

The following method does the dual boot installation of FreeBSD and Win95 from scratch using an unpartitioned disk. It is possible to install FreeBSD on an existing Windows system without destroying the Windows area using FIPS or other similar non-destructive reformatting software (e.g., Partition Magic). However implementing that is possibly part of a "future" X hour hacking session; so we are doing "clean the disk - then install" method here.

"FIPS is a program for non-destructive splitting of harddisk partitions" - FIPs Webpage at: http://www.igd.fhg.de/~aschaefe/fips/

If new to UNIX/BSD/LINUX, Expect to Initially Waste a Lot of Time

Like Austen Powers(?), "It's UNIX Baby Yeahhhh!"
Also refer Unix-haters handbook - http://catalog.com/hopkins/unix-haters/handbook.html

Noting down the PC System Information

Note down all the information on your system including chip-sets, monitor refresh rates, etc. If BSD makes a wrong choice, or prompts for a decision, you have to give it the correct information. If you have Win95/Win98 or WinNT installed, you can gain this information quite easily from the control panel (assuming the PC is setup with the correct drivers). This also includes all the network information; IP address, name, domain, gateway/router, NetMask, etc. Too much information does not hurt, only too little. For network cards and the like, you may have to go into Win95 or Win98 and get the memory addresses and the IRQs used. You tend to find out what extra information you need the hard way.

In this case:

Deciding now on the partitions

The following PC is configured to have 3 operating systems, Windows, Linux and FreeBSD. In principle, if you set up a dual boot system, then a multiple boot system is a piece of cake. The main limitation being that for PCs, each hard-disk can only have 4 primary bootable partitions.

Obtain the Ranish Partition Manager for DOS and create a Win95 Boot disk

After mucking around with a few utilities, the freeware Ranish Partition Manager for DOS is a work of genius for managing partitions and boot managing. Menu driven, it is a breeze to create and delete partitions, multiple primary partitions, configure the MBR area. It easily will fit on a Windows/DOS boot floppy with the rest of your boot utilities.

Now before you consider deleting Windows, create a boot disk (format a: /u/s) and copy over the required utility software.

Creating the FreeBSD Boot Images on Floppy Disk

These are generally in the floppies directory of the media you intend to install from. There are two images to be burn onto floppy disks: 1) kern.flp and 2) mfsroot.klp.

Choose the closest FreeBSD mirrors via:

Use fdimage.exe for DOS from the tools directory to write/burn the images onto floppy disks. Standard "copy" command will not work. Just type fdimage filename.flp a: for the kern.flp and mfsroot.flp.

Determine the Install Process/Method you are going to Use

You have a variety of options to install the FreeBSD. If you have good internet links, FTP based install is very convenient (otherwise buying/burning up a CD-ROM is a very good option). In this example, we will install from a FreeBSD FTP mirror. Another very easy and quick option for installing FreeBSD is off a local DOS partition.

One very nice feature about the FreeBSD install is that it has a canned list of regional FTP download sites. So there is no need to write down the FTP mirror you wish to use unless there is a non-listed one you wish to download from.

Also, if you wish to use a user specified mirror by putting in the address, the trick is to insert only up to "i386" in the address:

e.g., ftp://ftp2.uk.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/releases/i386/ or
ftp://ftp.mirror.ac.uk/sites/ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/releases/i386/ or

However, for multiple, routine installation, the CD-ROM is good use - but you still need the install/boot images on floppy disk. Creating a CD-ROM is a good and not too difficult option if you have a CDR/CD-Writer. The trick is working out what the root area has to be for the CD-ROM.

Creating a FreeBSD CD-ROM from downloaded files of FTP

It is not possible to install all the packages area onto the CD-ROM due to lack of space. In the FreeBSD install manager, you can change the source of the install for packages missing from the CD.

Whatever you do, if you use the internet, choose the closest mirror. If you are isolated from the internet, or have slow links, CD-ROM or Hard-disk based install are obvious things to choose from. As mentioned above, FreeBSD can be installed from a local DOS partition.

Booting from Your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk, Deleting Existing Partitions and Editing Master Boot Manager (MBR) Options

Boot from your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk and run the menu driven Ranish Partition Manager.

Booting from Your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk and Creating Partitions

Note: There are many possible permutations and combinations but the following seems to work for me. Despite the literature, setting active partitions and boot managers can be quite quirky due to limitations/nuances in PC hardware and the various pieces of software.

Boot from your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk and run the menu driven Ranish Partition Manager.

Formatting the C: Drive - Windows FAT-32

Boot from your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk and run the menu driven Ranish Partition Manager.

FreeBSD X-Window user FTP based Install

Things to do Now that Basic FreeBSD has been Installed

Mounting DOS File Systems

Date: Tue, 05 Oct 1999 10:32:08 +0100
From: Richard Smith [rsmith@trltech.co.uk]
Reply-To: richard@jezebel.demon.co.uk

Ben Cuthbert wrote:
> Does anyone know
> what is the command that lets you connect
> to the MS-dos partition of you HDD from FreeBSD
> ------ FreeBSD UK User's Group  -  Mailing List ------
> http://listserver.uk.freebsd.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-users

Any of the following:

1) mount -t msdos /dev/... /mntpt

2) mount_msdos /dev/... /mntpt

3) place an msdos filesystem record into /etc/fstab and get it
automounted at boot time.

4) as 3) but manually mount using: mount /mntpt


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