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Advanced FreeBSD Installation Issues

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This sample chapter covers pre-installation issues for installing FreeBSD on a system that already has another operating system on it. You'll learn how FreeBSD can operate side-by-side with Windows or Linux. NFS and FTP network installs are also covered.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

If you wish to install FreeBSD on a system that already has another operating system on it, you will want to read this chapter before doing the installation. Most often, you will install FreeBSD on a workstation that is already running Windows. This chapter shows how the two can operate side-by-side. We will also look briefly at installing on a system that is running Linux.

In addition, we will briefly cover NFS and FTP network installs.

Backing Up Existing Filesystems

Before you go any further, back up any existing filesystems that you want to maintain. Although the next section will show you how to nondestructively create space for FreeBSD, mistakes can still happen, and programs can cause errors. It is best to have a backup of anything you want to keep.


If you are not taking regular backups of your system, it is a good idea to get into the habit of doing so anyway. Hard disks are mechanical devices. They can and do fail sometimes. When they do, you will want a backup to restore your data from.

Media that can be used for backup purposes include recordable CDs, Zip or Jaz disks, tape drives, or—if the amount of data you need to save is small—floppy disks. Backing up the operating system and installed programs, such as word processing programs, are not necessary because they can be easily reinstalled. The primary things to worry about are your files containing data that cannot be easily replaced.

If you do not have an actual backup program, you can use an archiving program such as WinZip to help you compress data for backup and also to place that data onto disks.

The exact procedures for doing the backup are beyond the scope of this book. Please see the documentation for the program you plan to use for doing the backup for information on how to complete the backup.

Once you have backed up any existing files that you wish to keep, you will need to free up some space on your hard disk for installing FreeBSD. There are several ways that this can be done:

  • Simply delete the partitions and start over. This will cause you to lose all the existing data on your system, and you will have to reinstall everything that is currently on your system once you have re-created the partitions.

  • Use a commercial partitioning program such as Partition Magic. If you have Partition Magic, by all means use it. A discussion of how to use this commercial program is beyond the scope of this book. Please see Partition Magic's documentation for instructions.

  • Use the FIPS utility. This freely available program allows you to split an existing partition to create free space. FIPS is included on the CD with this book, and it is the method that will be discussed here.

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