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Man Pages
BSDINSTALL(8) FreeBSD System Manager's Manual BSDINSTALL(8)

bsdinstall
system installer

bsdinstall [
options
] [
target
] [
...
]

bsdinstall is used for installation of new systems, both for system setup from installation media, e.g., CD-ROMs, and for use on live systems to prepare VM images and jails.
Much like make(1), bsdinstall takes a target and possible parameters of the target as arguments. If invoked with no arguments, it will invoke the auto target, which provides a standard interactive installation, invoking the others in sequence. To perform a scripted installation, these subtargets can be invoked separately by an installation script.

bsdinstall supports the following options, global to all targets:
file
Provide a path for the installation log file (overrides BSDINSTALL_LOG). See ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES for more information on BSDINSTALL_LOG.

Most of the following targets are only useful for scripting the installer. For interactive use, most users will be interested only in the auto, jail, and script targets.
Run the standard interactive installation, including disk partitioning.
destination
Sets up a new chroot system at destination, suitable for use with jail(8). Behavior is generally similar to auto, except that disk partitioning and network setup are skipped and a kernel is not installed into the new system.
script
Runs the installation script at script. See SCRIPTING for more information on this target.
If the current controlling TTY is a syscons(4) or vt(4) console, asks the user to set the current keymap, and saves the result to the new system's rc.conf.
Prompts the user for a host name for the new system and saves the result to the new system's rc.conf. If BSDINSTALL_CONFIGCURRENT is set, also sets the host name of the current system.
Interactively configures network interfaces (first invoking wlanconfig on wireless interfaces), saving the result to the new system's rc.conf and resolv.conf. If BSDINSTALL_CONFIGCURRENT is set, also configures the network interfaces of the current system to match.
Provides the installer's interactive guided disk partitioner for single-disk installations. Defaults to UFS.
Provides an alternative ZFS-only automatic interactive disk partitioner. Creates a single zpool with separate datasets for /tmp, /usr, /usr/home, /usr/ports, /usr/src, and /var. Optionally can set up geli(8) to encrypt the disk.
Provides the installer's interactive manual disk partitioner with an interface identical to sade(8). Supports multiple disks as well as UFS, ZFS, and FAT file systems. ZFS is set up with one pool and dataset per partition.
parameters
Sets up disks like autopart and partedit, but non-interactively according to the disk setup specified in parameters. Each disk setup is specified by a three-part argument:
disk [
scheme
] [
{partitions}
]
Multiple disk setups are separated by semicolons. The disk argument specifies the disk on which to operate (which will be erased), while the scheme argument specifies the gpart(8) partition scheme to apply to the disk. If scheme is unspecified, scriptedpart will apply the default bootable scheme on your platform. The partitions argument is also optional and specifies how to partition disk. It consists of a comma-separated list of partitions to create enclosed in curly braces. Each partition declaration takes the form
size type [
mount point
]
size specifies the partition size to create in bytes (K, M, and G suffixes can be appended to specify kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes respectively), while the auto keyword causes the partition to take all the remaining space on the disk. The type option chooses the gpart(8) filesystem type, e.g., freebsd-ufs, freebsd-zfs, or freebsd-swap. The optional mount point argument sets where the created partition is to be mounted in the installed system. As an example, a typical invocation looks like:
bsdinstall scriptedpart ada0 { 20G freebsd-ufs /, 4G freebsd-swap, 20G freebsd-ufs /var, auto freebsd-ufs /usr }
A shorter invocation to use the default partitioning (as autopart would have used) on the same disk:
bsdinstall scriptedpart ada0
Mounts the file systems previously configured by autopart, partedit, or scriptedpart under BSDINSTALL_CHROOT.
Fetches the distributions in DISTRIBUTIONS to BSDINSTALL_DISTDIR from BSDINSTALL_DISTSITE.
Verifies the checksums of the distributions listed in DISTRIBUTIONS against the distribution manifest.
Extracts the distributions listed in DISTRIBUTIONS into BSDINSTALL_CHROOT.
Interactively invokes passwd(1) in the new system to set the root user's password.
Interactively invokes adduser(8) in the new system.
Interactively sets the time, date, and time zone of the new system.
Queries the user for the system daemons to begin at system startup, writing the result into the new system's rc.conf.
Reads a small amount of data from /dev/random and stores it in a file in the new system's root directory.
Installs the configuration files destined for the new system, e.g., rc.conf(5) fragments generated by netconfig, etc.) onto the new system.

The following environment variables control various aspects of the installation process. Many are used internally during installation and have reasonable default values for most installation scenarios. Others are set by various interactive user prompts, and can be usefully overridden when making scripted or customized installers.
The set of distributions to install, e.g., "base kernel ports". Default: unset
The directory in which the distribution files can be found (or to which they should be downloaded). Default: “/usr/freebsd-dist
URL from which the distribution files should be downloaded if they are not already present in the directory defined by BSDINSTALL_DISTDIR. This should be a full path to the files, including architecture and release names. Most targets, e.g., auto and jail, that prompt for a FreeBSD mirror will skip that step if this variable is already defined in the environment. Example: ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/releases/powerpc/powerpc64/9.1-RELEASE
The directory into which the distribution files should be unpacked and the directory at which the root file system of the new system should be mounted. Default: “/mnt
Path to a log file for the installation. Default: “/tmp/bsdinstall_log
Directory where files destined for the new system's /etc will be stored until the config target is executed. If this directory does not already exist, it will be created. Default: “/tmp/bsdinstall_etc
Directory where files destined for the new system's /boot will be stored until the config target is executed. If this directory does not already exist, it will be created. Default: “/tmp/bsdinstall_boot
Name for the pool containing the base system. Default: “zroot”
Options to be used when creating the base system's pool. Each option must be followed by the -O flag to be taken into consideration or the pool will not be created due to errors using the command zpool. Default: “-O compress=lz4 -O atime=off
Name for the boot environment parent dataset. This is a non-mountable dataset meant to be a parent dataset where different boot environment are going to be created. Default: “ROOT”
Name for the primary boot environment, which will be the default boot environment for the system. Default: “default”
The type of pool to be created for the base system. This variable can take one of this values: stripe (No redundacy), mirror (n-Way mirroring), raid10 (RAID 1+0 - n x 2-Way Mirrors), raidz1 (RAID-Z1 - Single Redundacy RAID), raidz2 (RAID-Z2 - Double Redundacy RAID) or raidz3 (RAID-Z3 Triple Redundacy RAID). Default: “stripe”
Indicates either the pool will use 4K or 512 sectors. If this variable is not empty, 4K sectors will be used. Default: “1”
If this variable is not empty, it will use geli(8) to encrypt the root pool, enabling automatically the ZFSBOOT_BOOT_POOL variable. Default: “”
Path to the geli(8) keyfile used to encrypt the pool where the base system is stored. Default: “/boot/encryption.key
If set a separated boot pool will be created for the kernel of the system and loader(8). Default: unset
Options to use when creating the boot pool, when enabled (See ZFSBOOT_BOOT_POOL ). Default: unset
Name for the optional boot pool when it is enabled, (See ZFSBOOT_BOOT_POOL ). Default: “bootpool”
Size of the boot pool when it is enabled (See ZFSBOOT_BOOT_POOL ). Default: “2g”
Disks to be used for the base system, including the boot pool. This variable must only be used on a scripted installation. See SCRIPTING for more information. Default: unset
Size of the swap partition on each block device. This variable will be passed to gpart(8); which supports SI unit suffixes. Default: “2g”
If set, enables the encryption of the swap partition using geli(8). Default: ""
If set, enables a swap mirroring using gmirror(8). Default: unset
ZFS datasets to be created on the root zpool, it requires the following datasets: /tmp, /var/tmp, /$ZFSBOOT_BEROOT_NAME/$ZFSBOOT_BOOTFS_NAME. See ZFS DATASETS for more information about who to write this variable and to take a look into the default value of it.
If set and the installation is interactive, allow the user to confirm the layout before continuing with the installation. Default: “1”

bsdinstall scripts consist of two parts: a preamble and a setup script. The preamble sets up the options for the installation (how to partition the disk[s], which distributions to install, etc.) and the optional second part is a shell script run under chroot(8) in the newly installed system before bsdinstall exits. The two parts are separated by the usual script header (#!), which also sets the interpreter for the setup script.
A typical bsdinstall script looks like this:
PARTITIONS=ada0 
DISTRIBUTIONS="kernel.txz base.txz" 
 
#!/bin/sh 
sysrc ifconfig_em0=DHCP 
sysrc sshd_enable=YES 
pkg install puppet
For a ZFS scripted installation, the script looks like this:
DISTRIBUTIONS="kernel.txz base.txz" 
export ZFSBOOT_VDEV_TYPE=stripe 
export ZFSBOOT_DISKS=ada0 
export nonInteractive="YES" 
 
#!/bin/sh 
echo "ifconfig_em0=DHCP" >> /etc/rc.conf 
echo "sshd_enable=YES" >> /etc/rc.conf 
pkg install puppet
On FreeBSD release media, such a script placed at /etc/installerconfig will be run at boot time and the system will be rebooted automatically after the installation has completed. This can be used for unattended network installation of new systems; see diskless(8) for details.

The preamble consists of installer settings. These control global installation parameters (see ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES) as well as disk partitioning. The preamble is interpreted as a sh(1) script run at the very beginning of the install. If more complicated behavior than setting these variables is desired, arbitrary commands can be run here to extend the installer. In addition to the variables in ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES, in particular DISTRIBUTIONS, the preamble can contain a variable PARTITIONS which is passed to the scriptedpart target to control disk setup. Alternatively, to use zfsboot instead of partedit, the preamble can contain the variable ZFSBOOT_DATASETS instead of PARTITIONS, and setting the variables ZFSBOOT_DISKS and ZFSBOOT_VDEV_TYPE to create the pool of disks for the base system. Usually, for a mirrored booting disk, this two variables looks like this:
ZFSBOOT_DISKS="ada0 ada1" 
ZFSBOOT_VDEV_TYPE=mirror
Remenber to export all the variables for the zfsboot command, otherwise it will not get set.

Following the preamble is an optional shell script, beginning with a #! declaration. This script will be run at the end of the installation process inside a chroot(8) environment in the newly installed system and can be used to set up configuration files, install packages, etc. Note that newly configured system services, e.g., networking have not been started in the installed system at this time and only installation host services are available.

The zfsboot partitioning takes the ZFSBOOT_DATASETS variable to create the datasets on the base system. This variable can get pretty huge if the pool contains a lot of datasets. The default value of the ZFSBOOT_DATASETS looks like this:
# DATASET	OPTIONS (comma or space separated; or both) 
 
# Boot Environment [BE] root and default boot dataset 
/$ZFSBOOT_BEROOT_NAME				mountpoint=none 
/$ZFSBOOT_BEROOT_NAME/$ZFSBOOT_BOOTFS_NAME	mountpoint=/ 
 
# Compress /tmp, allow exec but not setuid 
/tmp		mountpoint=/tmp,exec=on,setuid=off 
 
# Do not mount /usr so that 'base' files go to the BEROOT 
/usr		mountpoint=/usr,canmount=off 
 
# Home directories separated so they are common to all BEs 
/usr/home	# NB: /home is a symlink to /usr/home 
 
# Ports tree 
/usr/ports	setuid=off 
 
# Source tree (compressed) 
/usr/src 
 
# Create /var and friends 
/var		mountpoint=/var,canmount=off 
/var/audit	exec=off,setuid=off 
/var/crash	exec=off,setuid=off 
/var/log	exec=off,setuid=off 
/var/mail	atime=on 
/var/tmp	setuid=off
The first column if the dataset to be created on the top of the ZFSBOOT_POOL_NAME and the rest of the columns are the options to be set on each dataset. The options must be written on a coma or space separated list, or both. And everything behind a pound/hash character is ignored as a comment.

This version of bsdinstall first appeared in FreeBSD 9.0.

Nathan Whitehorn <nwhitehorn@FreeBSD.org>
October 4, 2018 FreeBSD 12.0-RELEASE

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