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Date:      Sat, 5 Dec 2009 12:53:33 -0800
From:      Randi Harper <>
To:        Ian Smith <>
Cc:        "Derek \(freebsd lists\)" <>,
Subject:   Re: 8.0-RELEASE-i386-memstick fixit - No USB devices found!
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <> <>

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On Sat, Dec 5, 2009 at 4:01 AM, Ian Smith <> wrote:
> In freebsd-questions Digest, Vol 286, Issue 12, Message 7
> On Fri, 27 Nov 2009 06:51:50 -0800 Randi Harper <> wrote=
> =A0> On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 5:00 AM, Derek (freebsd lists) <482254ac@raz=> wrote:
> =A0> > Hi,
> =A0> >
> =A0> > Just wondering if anyone else out there has successfully gotten th=
> =A0> > 8.0-RELEASE-i386-memstick fixit prompt up.
> =A0> >
> =A0> > It boots fine, and sysinstall comes up, but I continually get "No =
> =A0> > devices found!" when I go to the fixit/USB option.
> =A0> >
> =A0> > When I switch to the debug tty, I see da0, and all my device param=
> =A0> >
> =A0> > I've even created a second USB stick, and stuck it in and tried.
> =A0> >
> =A0> > No joy.
> =A0> >
> =A0> > Anyways, has anyone successfully gotten the 8.0-RELEASE-i386-memst=
ick fixit
> =A0> > prompt up?
> =A0> >
> =A0> > Thanks!
> =A0> > - Derek
> =A0>
> =A0> That's really weird. I can't say that I've seen this problem. It
> =A0> sounds like you're trying to load the livefs - can you bring up a
> =A0> normal fixit shell prompt and see what entries you have in /dev for
> =A0> da0*? There should be a da0a. Due to sysinstall weirdness, adding th=
> =A0> USB support was somewhat of a hack, as it doesn't look for da0 - it
> =A0> looks for da0a. :P
> Hi Randi,
> I had the same problem, rather more substantially, installing 8.0 from
> the memstick.img. =A0This thread and to you seems to be where I should
> report what I remember of the process, only later finding all this.
> I made the memstick.img by dd as per the release page on my Thinkpad
> T23. =A0It only sports USB 1.0 ports, and while I was confident of the dd
> (which took ~25m at ~600kB/s), I didn't really expect a 2002 laptop to
> boot from the image, but on seeing the USB stick show up in its BIOS and
> promoting it in the disk boot order, it did! =A0Never underestimate IBM .=
> I was being very careful, as I wanted to install 8.0 on ad0s4, hopefully
> not damaging my 7.0-R on ad0s2, still having memories of a 3.3-R install
> in similar circumstances that went horribly wrong, 8? years ago :)
> So .. booted into sysinstall, fdisk and label ad0s4, leave boot0 as was,
> committed that much after two earlier attempts failed due to the below,
> quit to reboot, checked the labelling, redid the mount points, all ok.
> Picked pretty much all distributions from custom install, then of course
> had to select media. =A0Picked USB - and got about what Derek did, no USB
> disk found.
> Very long story short: googled for ages and found a forum thread about
> this very problem, in which someone suggested Options / Rescan Devices
> then trying again. =A0The OP there said it didn't work for him, but it
> sure did for me! =A0After knowing that, the install went pretty smoothly,
> modulo not getting fc-10 to install by FTP, but that's another issue..
> And just now, prompted by this thread I tried selecting Fixit, to again
> get what Derek did. =A0And again, Options / Rescan Devices fixed it for
> me. =A0Maybe it will for Derek and/or maybe provide another clue? =A0Mayb=
> sysinstall could try a device rescan itself in that circumstance?

This is a known issue. It would be possible to write in a hack to fix
this problem that would be fairly quick to implement, but sysinstall
already has one too many bandaids in place. I'd rather take a little
bit of extra time and fix the underlying problem, especially since
there is this workaround (forcing a device rescan) that seems to work
for users in the meanwhile.

sysinstall was written back in the good 'ol days of pre-devfs and
hasn't been updated much since. When it first runs, it does a device
scan - that is, there's this really ugly data structure of all
possible devices and a description/limit for each. So, just for
example (and I'm not checking the code, so this value is probably
wrong), say there's an entry for 'fxp' that is a type network with a
limit of 16 devices - it's going to poke the system looking for fxp0,
fxp1, ..., fxp15. It's doing this for every single network card, all
possible disk devices, everything. Back in the day when computers were
slower, this process could take a while, so it only happened once
unless the user selected it again.

Needless to say, this is extremely inefficient (sysinstall code has to
be changed any time a new driver is added, too!) and there's a lot of
better ways to do this. It's very easy to pull a list of network
cards, disks, etc, but the work in moving away from that ugly data
structure is no small job. Right now, much of my time is being taken
up in trying to get gpt support into sysinstall, but getting rid of
that data structure is high in my priority list, especially since
there's a workaround. Old/cheap USB flash sticks seem to be the main
offender, as they are slow to be recognized/probed, and sysinstall has
already finished it's device scan by then.

> While I'm at it .. selecting 'Holographic Shell', while in that state at
> least, brings up a shell that (perhaps due to stick not being mounted?)
> has no ls command, making navigation difficult :) =A0pwd works, set works=
> but no ls. =A0Later (from debug msgs on vty1) I saw that I'd been perhaps
> in /stand and only much later found that find worked and served as ls ..

This is normal. That's running off of the memory disk. echo * also
works to list files. The memory disk needs to stay fairly small in
size, so it has only a few programs, mostly stuff that is used by

> One more thing, while I remember .. seeing the USB stick is here ad0a,
> isn't that the old 'dangerously dedicated mode' now dropped from 8.0?

Well... yes. But this works. DD mode still works sometimes, but it's
easier to say "not supported" than "only in these circumstances".
FWIW, I don't expect DD mode to be gone forever. There were changes
made outside of sysinstall that aren't compatible with the way that
sysinstall (specifically, libdisk) did things. I think. It's
complicated, not something I'm entirely sure about, and  I
unfortunately can't do anything about other than moving away from
libdisk to libgeom. But this won't fix prior installations. I'm hoping
that those working on geom can come up with a solution for existing DD

> And to be a real pest with questions, where in CVS do I find the script
> or whatever makes memstick.img in the first place?

It's part of the make release process. You really don't want to touch
that. I don't even want to touch that. When I'm testing out
sysinstall, I take an existing memstick and modify it as opposed to
building an entirely new one.

-- randi

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