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Date:      Wed, 3 Aug 2011 02:06:51 -0500
From:      "Conrad J. Sabatier" <>
Subject:   Fw: 8.2-RELEASE-amd64.iso weirdness (help!)
Message-ID:  <20110803020651.41a146a5@serene>

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Begin forwarded message (earlier I replied to the poster, but thought
I'd share this with the list):

On Wed, 3 Aug 2011 01:57:49 +0200, Polytropon <> wrote:

>On Tue, 2 Aug 2011 18:06:06 -0500, Conrad J. Sabatier wrote:
>> As another user mentioned elsewhere, the packages distributions are
>> beyond minimal, consisting only of some basic documentation in a
>> variety of locales or languages.  No software packages at all.
>Since the documentation has been moved out of the regular
>system installation and turned into packages, this is now
>the normal behaviour.

Yes, I've been away from FreeBSD for quite a while now, not just
because of the hardware recognition problems I was having when I first
bought this machine, but also due to a whole slew of other
complications that arose in my personal life, some of which resulted in
my being physically separated from my computer for a very long time
(it's a long story).  :-)

Interesting to see the changes that have taken place in the meantime.
I've certainly got some catching up to do here.  :-)

>For adding packages, it's easy when you've booted your
>new system for the first time and got networking up and
>running. Then simply use "pkg_add -r <package>" to add
>things. Decide if (and how) to use ports - they are often
>more convenient for maintaining the installed software.

I much prefer to use ports, myself.  I just like to install cvsup from
packages on a new install, to get the ball rolling, as they say.  I was
very surprised to see so few packages available in sysinstall, I must

>> Worse still, though, is what I ran across in the
>> partitioning/labeling/boot record section of sysinstall; no more
>> "dangerously dedicated" mode (unless you go into "expert" mode, which
>> is rather a mystery to me), [...]
>This functionality has also been removed. To install a
>system in a dedicated layout, you'll have to use the
>"basic tools" (e. g. fdisk and newfs, or partitioner
>of your choice).

That's a pity.  I always liked using "DD" mode.  Why use a boot manager
or even a plain-vanilla MBR if you don't really need one, right?

>> [...] and worse yet, it seems that the options to
>> install a plain master boot record or boot manager have no effect
>> whatsoever!
>Can you be more specific on this?

I ran the install CD a bunch of times, and have tried both installing
FreeBSD's boot manager as well as installing an ordinary master boot
record.  I thought that would be all it would take to override grub,
but not so!

>> The really crucial problem I'm facing right now is that I can't get
>> Linux's damned "grub" off of my hard drive!  
>This should be easy by dd'ing the beginning of the hard disk
>with /dev/zero's. Otherwise, overwriting with FreeBSD's standard
>booting mechanisms should be possible too.

I've tried just about everything I can think of, and still that nasty,
grubby (pun intended) little sucker is still there when I reboot.  It's
downright infuriating!

>> I was hoping that using
>> "dangerously dedicated" mode in sysinstall would allow me to
>> overwrite the lingering copy of grub on my hard drive that I just
>> can't seem to get rid of. 
>No. The dedicated layout "happens" in "further" parts of
>the hard disk, as far as I remember. Try to clean the
>relevant parts of the disk using the Fixit shell first.

Yes, I've been shelling out and shelling out from sysinstall, but still
not getting the results I want.  It's almost as if my hard drive has
turned into a "grub magnet" and it just won't come off!  :-)

>> The FreeBSD install works for the most part, despite the
>> few oddities mentioned above, but when I try to boot into it
>> afterwards, grub seizes control and hangs with an error code.
>This indicates that it is still present - in a nonfunctional

Exactly.  I haven't looked up the error codes (either 15 or 17,
depending on what I was trying just before the reboot), but that's as
far as it gets, outputting the code and then just sitting there.  I
suspect the codes are related to grub not finding the menu.lst file it
expects to find buried down in a subdirectory of /etc (God, I hate
Linux!).  :-)

>> I've tried numerous workarounds, using boot0cfg and both FreeBSD's
>> and Linux's fdisk and friends, but to no avail.  I'm stymied at this
>> point, and desperately in need of some advice here.
>The boot0cfg would have been my suggestion too. There is
>also "fdisk -BI <disk>", if you want to use that. To
>stay with the "old-fashioned tools", the next step in a
>manual install would be "bsdlabel -w -B <slice>", and
>then "bsdlabel -e <slice>" to add the partitions you want.
>Anyway, sysinstall should be able to do that for you.
>I have to admit that I'm still using this method for
>maximum compatibility, and I even tend to use sysinstall
>because I'm lazy. :-)

Same here.  In the past, I've often fallen back to using sysinstall for
those sorts of admin chores.  Much easier than dealing with a bunch of
arcane command-line options and such.

>In the slice editor, remove everything. Then add one
>FreeBSD slice for the whole disk. Add a standard MBR
>so booting gets you directly into FreeBSD. Then use
>the partition editor to add /, swap, /tmp, /var, /usr,
>/home and anything you like.

I've got to say, this whole experience really took me by surprise.
I've been using FreeBSD since 1996, and could breeze through an install
procedure in my sleep.  Never expected these sorts of complications to

>> Can some sage person out there help me out of this predicament?
>> Right now I feel like I'm doomed to keep running Linux or nothing at
>> all!  I am dying to get back to FreeBSD again.
>First try to use dd to clean the beginning of the hard
>disk. In _worst_ case, clean the whole disk. Then start
>sysinstall as usual (and as explained in the Handbook).

I ran dd and zeroed out the entire first gigabyte of space on the
drive, yet grub was still there!  I couldn't believe it.  I'm on the
verge now of just zeroing out the entire drive.  Hate to have to resort
to such a ridiculously extreme method, but at this point, there seems
to be little else left to try.  The unfortunate thing is that, after
all these repeated failures, I then have to go back and reinstall Ubuntu
Linux to get back online, post questions, do further investigation, etc.
Very time-consuming.

By the way, I'm just wondering, how long have you been using FreeBSD,
and do you like the way it's been evolving since you started?  I was
madly in love with FreeBSD (and still am, if I could just get it
running again) before I bought this machine and had to abandon it
because it wouldn't properly detect either my CD-ROM or my hard drive.
You can imagine what a disappointment *that* was!

Thanks for replying to my post.  I do appreciate it very much.  I'll
let you know if I ever do manage to get anywhere with this problem.


Conrad J. Sabatier

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