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Advanced FreeBSD Installation Issues

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Get the basic information necessary to begin installing FreeBSD on a system with another operating system that was previously installed. You will see how to prepare for a FreeBSD installation that will allow the system to operate with Windows, and you will also see how to install FreeBSD on a system that is running Linux.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

In this chapter

  • Backing Up an Existing Windows or Linux Filesystem

  • Nondestructive Hard Disk Partitioning with FIPS

  • Working with FIPS

  • Potential Problems with and Limitations of Dual-Boot Systems

  • The FreeBSD Boot Manager

  • Booting FreeBSD from LILO

  • Alternate Installation Methods

Chapter 2, "Installing FreeBSD," discussed a standard installation with a few complicating factors, such as dual-boot disk configurations and coexistence with other operating systems. It also assumed that you were installing FreeBSD from a CD-ROM rather than via one of the many different alternate installation media available.

This chapter serves mostly as a supplement to Chapter 2, by explaining a number of essential preinstallation tasks for those whose systems don't fit the previously mentioned assumptions. If you are installing FreeBSD on a system with another operating system previously installed, or if you aren't using a CD-ROM to install FreeBSD, you'll want to read this chapter before performing the installation. After you have completed the necessary preinstallation tasks you learn here, you should return to Chapter 2 and proceed with the normal installation.

Most people install FreeBSD on a workstation that is already running Windows. This chapter shows how to prepare for a FreeBSD installation that will enable the two systems to operate side by side. We'll also look briefly at installing FreeBSD on a system that is running Linux. After reading this chapter, you will know how to install FreeBSD in such a way that you can choose to boot your computer into FreeBSD or into Windows or Linux.

In addition, we'll briefly cover NFS and FTP network installs for situations where an installation CD is not available.

Backing Up an Existing Windows or Linux Filesystem

Before you go any further, back up any existing Windows or Linux filesystem you want to maintain. Although the next section shows 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.

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

NOTE

The exact procedures for doing a system backup are beyond the scope of this book. Therefore, see the documentation for the backup program you plan to use 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 a few ways that this can be done:

  • Simply delete the partitions and start over. This causes 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. This is a desirable option when you don't really care what's on the disk, or if you don't have a nondestructive partitioning program such as Partition Magic—and if you aren't daunted by the idea of reinstalling Windows or Linux after you have made space for FreeBSD and installed it.

  • Use a commercial partitioning program such as Partition Magic. If you have PowerQuest's Partition Magic, by all means use it. This solution is the "best of both worlds," allowing you to nondestructively reallocate the space on your hard disk for a FreeBSD installation without losing any of your data or configurations. A discussion of how to use this commercial program is beyond the scope of this book. See the Partition Magic documentation for instructions. Partition Magic's Web site is http://www.powerquest.com/partitionmagic/.

  • 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 we'll discuss in this chapter. It's not as polished a solution as Partition Magic, but it's free and can give you similar results.

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