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Date:      Tue, 21 Nov 2006 11:23:23 -0500
From:      Jerry McAllister <>
To:        rickie lyman <>
Subject:   Re: I don't see anything to answer my q
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <>

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On Mon, Nov 20, 2006 at 09:38:26PM -0500, rickie lyman wrote:

> I am a newbee and sometimes Dizzy too. My question is I have a computer that
> has a rather large drive but it is all formated in NTFs and yes it has XP
> Pro on it how would I be able to put Free BSD on there without loosing the
> files I have with the other operating system?? I told you that I was
> confused.

First, is there plenty of empty space on that disk.   If you have
used up all the space with something, then you can't do it on that
disk.  You will have to add one.

But, more than likely, you haven't used up the space - there is probably
lots, more than half still unfilled.   So, then, no problem.

You will have to use some utility to shrink the existing NTFS file
system on the drive.   

As far as I know, there are no freeware utilities that will do this
for NTFS.   The ones that come with FreeBSD will handle fat and fat32
just fine, but not NTFS.

So, you will have to get a commercial one.   The one I have used
successfully a number of times is Partition Magic.   It handles NTFS
with no problem.   I think it cost me around $60.   That was a few
years ago, so it might have gone up or down by now.

When you get that, if you have a bootable floppy drive on the machine.
make the floppy set from Partition Magic.  It is easier to work with
that way.   It is easy - just choose that option after you start the CD
and plug in the Floppies when it asks.  
Mark them 1 & 2 or 0 & 1 or whatever seems clear.

Then boot from the first floppy.   I believe you can do this by
booting from the CD also, but, on the version I have, you cannot
do it from a copy installed on the hard disk.

NOTE: What the BSD UNIX world calls a disk slice, MS decided to
      call a primary partition.   Then they concocted something
      they call extended partitions as well.    FreeBSD continues
      to use the slice terminology (although there are a few places
      in the documentation where the writer scrambles them).  Then
      within each slice, FreeBSD can make up to 8 (but really 6)
      partitions.    So, in FreeBSD terminology, partitions are
      subdivisions of slices and not equivalent to either an MS
      partition or an MS extended partition.    I have tried to be
      clear while using the terms slice and primary partition.

So, onward.
Using Partition Magic or other disk management utility that can correctly
handle NTFS, shrink the NTFS primary partition (called slice in the FreeBSD 
world) to free up the space you want.   Don't worry about its warnings about
bootable sizes and boundaries.  If your system is reasonably recent
(something in the last 5 or 10 years) and the BIOS is recent, then those
are obsolete concerns.   Tell it to commit that change.

Then have it create a new "primary partition" in the newly empty space.
It needs to be a primary partition as apposed to a hidden or other type
partition because it has to be the same as a FreeBSD slice.  You can 
ignore its warning that having more than one unhidden primary partition 
can cause problems.   It is sort of true, but only if you are using the
MS MBR and you will replace that with the FreeBSD MBR later.   You should
have it make the primary partition as an unknown type or as a fat32 type.   
It doesn't know how to set it as a FreeBSD type (at least my older version 
doesn't).   FreeBSD will set its own type in it later during the install.
Make it commit those changes and you are done with Partition Magic.

Then boot your FreeBSD install CD.   
It should ask you which slice (primary partition) in which to install
FreeBSD.   Of course, you want to give it the one you just created.
That will most likely be either slice 2 or 3.   The difference will
depend on if your machine has a hardware vendor installed diagnostic
slice (partition).   

Many vendors such as Dell and HP put their own primary partition on, 
usually in front of the MS primary partition.  They install some 
diagnostics and hardware management tools in there.  They make it hidden 
from MS systems. But, FreeBSD is not so easily fooled and it will see 
that as a bootable slice.   It is generally recognizable as a small 
(around 65 MB) primary partition and it is usually in the first slice 
of 4 possible slices although I have seen it in slice 4 on a couple of 
machines.   If it has a diagnostic utility set in slice 1, then the 
other used slice - usually 2 will have your MS-XP and your new empty 
slice will be number 3.   If there is no vendor diagnostic slice, then 
your new empty slice will be number 2.   You can tell this both from 
Partition Magic and from the FreeBSD installer.

Anyway, install FreeBSD in the newly created and empty slice (primary 
partition).  When you do this, it will also ask you about installing
the MBR.   You want to choose the selection to install the FreeBSD MBR.
Then, during the fdisk piece where you tell it to create the FreeBSD
slice, make sure you also have it mark the slice as bootable.   These
are two different things and both required for it to work.

There is one other thing I like to do when the MS slice (primary partition)
is NTFS and that is put in an extra fat32 slice which I use for
communication between the two systems.   The last I knew, FreeBSD is
able to read NTFS type file systems, but is not able to write to them.
But it is able to write (and read) fat and fat32 type file systems.
So, rather than just the 2 (or 3 if there is a diagnostic set) slices
when I am in Partition Magic, after I shrink the NTFS down, I make two
new primary partitions.   I put a smaller (maybe 10 GB) fat32 primary
partition in between the MS-NTFS partition and the one where I intend
to install FreeBSD.    Later I mount this fat32 as an MSDOS and can use
it to write things and then read it when I boot to MS-XP and vice-versa.

Of course, if you add this extra transfer slice, it will be either
slice 2 (if no vendor diagnostic slice) or 3 (if there is a diagnostic
slice) and the slice where you install FreeBSD will become either 3
or 4 respectively - no problem as long as you don't go over 4 slices.  

That is easily done just as you are making the FreeBSD slice, but you 
can always go back and do it later if you want, by using the disk
management utility (Parition Magic) to squeeze out some more space
and put in a new primary partition.   Remember that there can only
be 4 primary partitions.

One more thing, I have been successful ignoring any little whines that
the fdisk stage comes up with about geometry.   In general, nowdays all
geometry is 'virtual' at the OS level and should be at the BIOS level
although some BIOSen seem less informed.

Have fun,


ps. I have written this up several times and a peek through the list
    archives would have gotten you all of this and saved me the additional
    typing cramps.    Actually, it is also all coverend in the handbook
    and man pages, but possibly the more formal language can be confusing.
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