7. Getting A FreeBSD boot floppy from the Net.
Introduction to FreeBSD

When a computer starts up it requires a certain amount of instructions to be able to start the operating system. This is called ``booting'' or ``boot-strapping'' a computer. The ``boot'' code must be stored on a device that the computer considers bootable. In other words, there are set boot devices that the computer checks for the code required to start the operating system.

The two main boot devices are the floppy drive and the hard disk. CD-ROM Drives and certain network cards can also be configured as boot devices on some systems. Once the boot code finishes initializing the computer, it loads the kernel. The kernel is the single most important part of FreeBSD. The kernel establishes the link between the hardware and the software, it contains all the device drivers, executes any programs, and controls all system resources.

FreeBSD has a floppy disk that contains this ``boot'' information, the kernel, and setup/install utility. This is often referred to as a ``boot floppy''. The boot floppy is stored as a disk image, a sector by sector copy of the contents of the floppy disk. The contents of each and every sector of the disk is copied into the contents of a 1.44 Meg file, thus preserving the native FreeBSD formatting and file structure. A conventional file by file copy of the disk would not preserve the FreeBSD file system across platforms. When this disk image is transfered to a floppy disk, using a low-level disk tool called rawrite.exe , or fdimage.exe, it transforms the floppy disk from a DOS-formatted disk, into a FreeBSD formatted, bootable installation floppy disk.

There are two ways to go about this, depending on which operating system you have most readily available. DOS or UNIX.

Obtaining the File:

The easiest method of obtaining the file requires a Web-Browser such as Netscape, or a FTP client such as NCFTP or WS-FTP and a formatted floppy disk. A 1.44M disk drive is required because the disk images are 1.44Meg in size. Start your web browser or FTP client and open to: ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/


* (Case is important!) FreeBSD recognizes the difference between Uppercase letters and Lowercase letters and considers them as different from each other. Windows and DOS systems don't.

Boot Floppies are -RELEASE specific. You need to know which version of FreeBSD you want to install and change to the matching directory. All of the versions available for download will be listed as a directory. If you have trouble selecting a -RELEASE, see the section on Selecting a -RELEASE to install. Once you have changed to appropriate -RELEASE directory, go to the floppies directory. Click on the boot.flp file and down load it to your computer.


If any text appears on your screen, then it is not being downloaded to the harddisk, but to your screen. You will need to right-click on boot.flp and select save link as in order to save it to your computer. This happens mostly on Netscape.


Do NOT Save it to your Floppy Drive at this point! Save it to a temporary directory on your hard disk or filesystem. You will transfer it to the floppy later using a special utitlity.


If you are using FTP to download the floppy disk image, be sure to use ``binary mode'' to do the transfer. If you select ``ASCII'' mode, the file will be too big to fit on the floppy, and it will be corrupted.


If you are creating the disk from a FreeBSD, or other UNIX workstation, you need access to the dd program and `` write permissions '' to the floppy disk.


This may require SuperUser access.

Insert floppy into the SERVER now. If you are using a telnet connection, Do not put the floppy into your local machine, it still belongs in the server.

At the prompt, type:

dd if=boot.flp of=/dev/fd0

The floppy drive light should come on and after a few minutes you will get a message telling you how many bytes of information were transferred and how fast. If you have any trouble or questions about dd read the dd man page.


To use the DOS method, you have to download the program rawrite from the FreeBSD FTP site. You can use Netscape or any other ftp client. Open to ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/tools/ Then download the rawrite.exe file. To use the program, from the DOS prompt, type rawrite When it prompts for the source file type: boot.flp and press ENTER. When it asks for the destination drive type a: and press ENTER. Now it should go though a bunch of "Writing Sector XX" stuff and the floppy disk light should come on for a while.

Win95 Users:

If you are using Win95, you should download and use fdimage.exe instead. It can be found in the same directory as rawrite.exe. However if you use rawrite under Win95, you must Maximize the DOS window by pressing ALT + ENTER

P.S. Be sure Win95 doesn't rename it to something like rawrite(3).exe instead, when you make several attempts to download it.

When the programs have finished writing to the floppy disk, you will have a FreeBSD Install/Boot floppy disk. Use it to install FreeBSD on all of your Machines.

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