I’ve been wanted to get back to where we started, specifically my MacBook Air (MBA) and doing something with the spare partition I created when I setup eOS, but I hadn’t really found the time or decided what I was going to use it for.

Given FreeNAS runs on FreeBSD I thought that was probably the most sensible option, so decided to give PC-BSD a shot, mainly as I expected that to be a lot easier than trying to install FreeBSD and then get a desktop environment up and running (although I had managed that in a virtual machine running a Xfce desktop).  If PC-BSD works, then maybe I’ll try that next.

Already having the rEFInd boot loader installed, I assumed it would just be a case of downloading the latest PC-BSD.ISO file, burning onto a DVD and then using that to boot.  With the DVD inserted into the Superdrive, I get 2 new boot option after a short wait from power on:

  1. Boot Fallback boot loader from 1MiB FAT volume
  2. Boot Legacy OS from ISO-9660 volume

I tried the 2nd option first, but this just displays a prompt to select CD-ROM boot type, but neither option 1 or 2 can be selected.  The 1st option looked more promising and started to run through the boot process, and then displayed a menu to select boot options.  Pretty much left these as the default and clicked to start.   I started to see a very similar boot process to that on FreeNAS with lots of devices being detected and configured, and as this process usually takes some time on FreeNAS just left it running.

Needless to say, things are rarely that straightforward, especially when you don’t really know what you’re doing!  After a little googling, I began to suspect I hadn’t burned the DVD correctly, and also found some details about copying an .IMG file to a USB stick instead.  

In MacOS this is pretty simple through Terminal using ‘dd if=PCBSD10.3-RELEASE-x64-DVD-USB.img of=/dev/disk3s1 bs=1M’ (where disk3s1 was my USB device)

When I’d done this and rebooted the MBA, I got 3 options:

  1. Boot Fallback boot loader from EFI
  2. Boot Linux (Legacy) from whole disk volume
  3. Boot FreeBSD (Legacy) from unknown volume

Option 3 had a FreeBSD logo, so tried that first but it simply brought up the eOS boot menu.  Option 1 fails as no bootable partitions are found.  Option 2 booted eOS (which I’d guessed would be the case) but as it looked like I needed to sort out my spare partition this was quite helpful!

I thought I needed to create and format a UFS partition, but a little googling suggested this wasn’t going to be easy (if possible?) on Linux.  My search did suggest that XFS might work for a FreeBSD install so I used ‘sudo apt-get install xfsprogs’ where I could then use GParted to create a 25GB XFS partition.

Back to the rEFInd boot loader and option 1, but the same message and panic as it couldn’t find a bootable partition.    No progress and much more googling required me thinks…


Haha!  And that’s why I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with computers over the last 30+ years!!  Not much more googling was actually required as a solution was found in probably the first place I should have really been looking – the PC-BSD Manual!  Very much a case of RTFM.

In the advanced installation options, this gave steps for using the text install/emergency console by enabling some settings in the installation menu.  As I’d managed to get to this stage using the DVD I burned to begin with, I reconnected the Superdrive, stuck in the DVD and attempted option 1 again from the first numbered list.  This got me to the text installer, which I used to select the newly created 25GB partition and away it went.  It took about 25 minutes to extract and install the required files at which point the system took me back to the text install menu where I could reboot.

And hey presto, I now have a new option in my rEFInd boot menu, which surprisingly is called the same as option 1 in the 2nd numbered list.  Selecting this booted PC-BSD to CLI login screen, which then tries to start the GUI, but other than giving me a small arrow cursor doesn’t get very far.  I can escape out to the FreeBSD command line, but it wants to restart the GUI, so pretty hard to troubleshoot at this stage.

I think that’s enough though for this blog.  PC-BSD is now installed alongside the other 2 operating systems, even though I have some more work to get PC-BSD up and running correctly.  

To be continued…