How to install FreeBSD on a libreboot system

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This section relates to preparing, booting and installing FreeBSD on your libreboot system, using nothing more than a USB flash drive (and dd). They’ve only been tested on a Lenovo ThinkPad x200.

It is expected that you use text mode in libreboot (txtmode images), for the early boot process in FreeBSD. Booting the installer results in a red flickering text display, and doesn’t boot.

Thanks go to ioxcide in this Reddit post for the initial instructions.

TODO: test FreeBSD more extensively, and make sure it works (and fix it if it does not). Instructions are provided here, to boot and install FreeBSD but we’re not sure whether it is currently fully compatible with libreboot.

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This section is only for the GRUB payload. For depthcharge (used on CrOS devices in libreboot), instructions have yet to be written in the libreboot documentation.

freebsd.img is the installation image for FreeBSD. Adapt the filename accordingly, for whatever FreeBSD version you use.

Prepare the USB drive (in FreeBSD)

This page on the FreeBSD website shows how to create a bootable USB drive for installing FreeBSD. Use the dd on that page.

Prepare the USB drive (in NetBSD)

This page on the NetBSD website shows how to create a NetBSD bootable USB drive from within NetBSD itself. You should use the dd method documented there; you can use this with any ISO, including FreeBSD.

Prepare the USB drive (in LibertyBSD or OpenBSD)

If you downloaded your ISO on a LibertyBSD or OpenBSD system, here is how to create the bootable FreeBSD USB drive:

Connect the USB drive. Check dmesg:
$ dmesg | tail
Check to confirm which drive it is, for example, if you think its sd3:
$ disklabel sd3

Check that it wasn’t automatically mounted. If it was, unmount it. For example:
$ doas umount /dev/sd3i
dmesg told you what device it is. Overwrite the drive, writing the FreeBSD installer to it with dd. For example:
$ doas dd if=freebsd.img of=/dev/rsdXc bs=1M; sync
You should now be able to boot the installer from your USB drive. Continue reading, for information about how to do that.

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Prepare the USB drive (in GNU+Linux)

If you downloaded your ISO on a GNU+Linux system, here is how to create the bootable FreeBSD USB drive:

Connect the USB drive. Check dmesg:
$ dmesg
Check lsblk to confirm which drive it is:
$ lsblk

Check that it wasn’t automatically mounted. If it was, unmount it. For example:
$ sudo umount /dev/sdX*
# umount /dev/sdX*

dmesg told you what device it is. Overwrite the drive, writing your distro ISO to it with dd. For example:
$ sudo dd if=freebsd.img of=/dev/sdX bs=8M; sync
# dd if=freebsd.img of=/dev/sdX bs=8M; sync

You should now be able to boot the installer from your USB drive. Continue reading, for information about how to do that.

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Installing FreeBSD without full disk encryption

Press C in GRUB to access the command line:

grub> kfreebsd (usb0,gpt3)/boot/kernel/kernel
grub> set FreeBSD.vfs.mountfrom=ufs:/dev/da1p3
grub> boot

It will start booting into the FreeBSD installer. Follow the normal process for installing FreeBSD.

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Installing FreeBSD with full disk encryption

TODO

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Booting

TODO

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Configuring Grub

TODO

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Troubleshooting

Most of these issues occur when using libreboot with coreboot’s ‘text mode’ instead of the coreboot framebuffer. This mode is useful for booting payloads like memtest86+ which expect text-mode, but for FreeBSD it can be problematic when they are trying to switch to a framebuffer because it doesn’t exist.

In most cases, you should use the vesafb ROM images. Example filename: libreboot_ukdvorak_vesafb.rom.

won’t boot...something about file not found

Your device names (i.e. usb0, usb1, sd0, sd1, wd0, ahci0, hd0, etc) and numbers may differ. Use TAB completion.

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Copyright © 2016 Leah Rowe info@minifree.org
Copyright © 2016 Scott Bonds scott@ggr.com
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Copyright 2017 Alyssa Rosenzweig alyssa@rosenzweig.io

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