Having played for a while with TrueOS, a desktop oriented FreeBSD based distribution, I have decided to try the original FreeBSD system: I intend to use it as a FAMP testing server for some projects.

The first step is, of course, installing FreeBSD: I am happy to say that for a system with a slightly intimidating reputation, the installation process has gone like a breeze: quick, and easy.

Downloading FreeBSD

I chose to download the boot iso: this is a smaller image of 2xx MB, it does not contains all the necessary packages to install FreeBSD, so it will need to connect to an Internet server during the installation process to download the rest of the stuff.

The official FreeBSD site has also available for download bigger images (up to a 2.x GB DVD). Some years ago, the first time I tried FreeBSD, I installed it in an old machine with a not very reliable Internet connection, I remember I used the standard CD iso.

Installing FreeBSD 11

The first thing you will probably notice from FreeBSD is that command like look & feel of the installer: do not worry, the FreeBSD installer is as easy to use as the installer of TrueOS, or any Linux distribution out there.

Wellcome screen

First thing: select your keyboard map. If you have an US keyboard you do not need to do anything since that it is the default keyboard map.

Keymap selection

Now choose a hostname for the machine

Set a hostname

The installer will install the FreeBSD kernel, and userland always: but you can decide here to install also some additional, optional packages on top of that.

  • src: contains the FreebSD kernel, and userland sources. Unless you got to recompile the kernel, or build drivers, etc you will not be needing them.
  • ports: contains all the infrastructure for downloading and compile 3rd party software (the applications you are going to run in the system)

In FreeBSD you can either download the sources of the programs you want to install, and compile them (ports system), or you can install pre-compiled binaries using the package manager. Therefore, if you intend to use the package manager you can choose not to install the ports component.

Select additional software to install

Remember when I said I was using the minimal boot only iso? Time to fetch from Internet the packages that were not included in that CD:

Network installation

Which means I must configure the network: FreeBSD has correctly detected my only network card:

Select network interface

Configuring an IPv4 interface

Configure IPv4

For this test I will use DHCP, and a dynamic IP

Use DHCP

DNS configuration

The installer will also offer to configure IPv6 if you wish; once you are done you will be ready to download the missing packages from an Internet server.

Choose the FTP server from where to download the necessary software

Choose an ftp server

Ready to partition the disk. You can use the guided Disk Setup to configure your partition layout. By default it starts with a partition for / and the swap, but you can add as many partitions, and mount them as you see fit.

Guided partioning

Use entire disk

Partition scheme

A single partition may be good enough for a testing machine, but for anything a bit more serious check the FreeBSD handbook on designing the partition layout.

Partition editor

As expected there is a confirmation message asking one last time to confirm your partition schema before written the changes to the disk:

Confirm partition layout

Installing …

Installing

Choose the password for the root user:

Set root password

Choose a time zone:

Select time zone: region

Select country

Set time and date

Installing a server is easy, configuring a machine that is going to be connected continuously to a network providing services is not that easy. You can do, of course, all that configuration post installation, or you can start now with some security hardening options:

Security options

At this point you have only a root account in your system: you can add more user accounts. I decided to add one extra user account, since one should not log in as root unless one actually needs to perform administration tasks.

Add extra user account

I went mostly with the default options when creating the new user, except that I added it to the wheel group: I wanted to give that user the possibility to became root.

Introduce data to create user account

After rebooting the system FreeBSD was installed, and ready to be used 🙂

System installed!

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