Installing FreeBSD 9-RELEASE onto a ZFS root

This tutorial will guide you through installing FreeBSD 9-RELEASE onto a ZFS root with UFS boot. We will also cover a small amount of post-install items to ensure your system is available for immediate use.

Jul 20, 2013

Disclaimer: This should work for you, but all systems are different. I have compiled this information from many sources and will include them at the bottom of this post. The reason I am creating this is because I feel as if the other sources do not “finish” the installation, so a new user would be oblivious as to what they should do next.

Step 1: Download FreeBSD 9-RELEASE

Go to this link, Get FreeBSD, and click the ISO link on the architecture that you would like to install FreeBSD on. If you are certain you have an AMD64 (an Intel or AMD 64bit capable CPU), or a SPARC, or Itanium, or any of the others, make sure to grab that ISO architecture. When in doubt, download the i386 ISO. If you are burning it to a memory stick, USB drive, etc., use the memstick image. Else, download the dvd.iso image. To create a bootable USB drive with the memstick image, please refer to this article: 2.3.7 Prepare the Boot Media.

Note: Make sure all of your hardware is compatible with FreeBSD before attempting to install it. Please read the Hardware Notes before continuing before continuing.

Step 2: Boot FreeBSD

Insert the DVD into your DVD drive or plug in the USB drive. If your BIOS is not set to automatically boot from CD/DVD or USB, make sure to manually select the boot device. When FreeBSD boots to its menu, choose “Live CD”.

Step 3a: Create the BOOT and ZFS partitions

If you are doing a single disk installation, create these partitions:

gpart create -s gpt ada0 $ gpart add -b 34 -s 94 -t freebsd-boot ada0
gpart add -t freebsd-zfs -l disk0 ada0
gpart bootcode -b /boot/pmbr -p /boot/gptzfsboot -i 1 ada0

If you are doing a ZFS Mirror, repeat the procedure onto the second drive:

gpart create -s gpt ada1
gpart add -b 34 -s 94 -t freebsd-boot ada1
gpart add -t freebsd-zfs -l disk1 ada1
gpart bootcode -b /boot/pmbr -p /boot/gptzfsboot -i 1 ada1

Note: On your system it may not be ada[n]. If that is the case, substitute the correct hard drive identifiers above. To check, cd to /dev and run ls and see what your disks are listed as.

Step 3b: Creating the ZFS pool

If you have a single disk installation, use this:

zpool create zroot /dev/gpt/disk0

However, if you are creating a ZFS Mirror, use this instead:

zpool create zroot mirror /dev/gpt/disk0 /dev/gpt/disk1

This will create a zpool named “zroot”. Even though we now have a pool, it is useless without any filesystems or mountpoints.

Step 4: BOOTFS property, ZFS checksum, and mounting

This is just a simple task. It makes sure your system is bootable, while setting the ZFS checksum (this helps detect bitrot), and then mounts zroot.

zpool set bootfs=zroot zroot
zfs set checksum=fletcher4 zroot
zfs set mountpoint=/mnt zroot

Step 5: Export/Import pool

Note: Do not skip this step! If anything happens to your pool, this cache file can help you. Later in the guide you will save this file onto a permanent location in your new system.

zpool export zroot
zpool import -o cachefile=/var/tmp/zpool.cache zroot

Step 6: Create Filesystems

Note: You may change the options and filesystems. You can add more or less, it’s up to you. This is what is advised on the FreeBSD Wiki however.

zfs create zroot/usr
zfs create zroot/usr/home
zfs create zroot/var
zfs create -o compression=on -o exec=on -o setuid=off zroot/tmp
zfs create -o compression=lzjb -o setuid=off zroot/usr/ports
zfs create -o compression=off -o exec=off -o setuid=off zroot/usr/ports/distfiles
zfs create -o compression=off -o exec=off -o setuid=off zroot/usr/ports/packages
zfs create -o compression=lzjb -o exec=off -o setuid=off zroot/usr/src
zfs create -o compression=lzjb -o exec=off -o setuid=off zroot/var/crash
zfs create -o exec=off -o setuid=off zroot/var/db
zfs create -o compression=lzjb -o exec=on -o setuid=off zroot/var/db/pkg
zfs create -o exec=off -o setuid=off zroot/var/empty
zfs create -o compression=lzjb -o exec=off -o setuid=off zroot/var/log
zfs create -o compression=gzip -o exec=off -o setuid=off zroot/var/mail
zfs create -o exec=off -o setuid=off zroot/var/run
zfs create -o compression=lzjb -o exec=on -o setuid=off zroot/var/tmp

Step 7: Create SWAP partition

Note: You may change the SWAP size depending on your usage. General rule of thumb is twice the amount of RAM, but whether that applies or not still today is a matter of preference. Checksumming will also be disabled, for obvious reasons.

zfs create -V 4G zroot/swap
zfs set org.freebsd:swap=on zroot/swap
zfs set checksum=off zroot/swap

Step 8: Fixing /usr/home permissions

chmod 1777 /mnt/tmp
cd /mnt ; ln -s usr/home home
chmod 1777 /mnt/var/tmp

Step 9: Installing FreeBSD

No need to change anything here.

cd /usr/freebsd-dist
export DESTDIR=/mnt
for file in base.txz lib32.txz kernel.txz doc.txz ports.txz src.txz;
  do (cat $file | tar --unlink -xpJf - -C ${DESTDIR:-/}); done

Step 10: Backing up zpool.cache

Note: Make sure to not skip this step.

cp /var/tmp/zpool.cache /mnt/boot/zfs/zpool.cache

Step 11: Configuring FreeBSD

This will help get your FreeBSD system up and running.

echo 'zfs_enable="YES"' >> /mnt/etc/rc.conf
echo 'ifconfig_re0="DHCP"' >> /mnt/etc/rc.conf
echo 'hostname="pc.mydomain.local"' >> /mnt/etc/rc.conf.local
echo 'zfs_load="YES"' >> /mnt/boot/loader.conf
echo 'vfs.root.mountfrom="zfs:zroot"' >> /mnt/boot/loader.conf
touch /mnt/etc/fstab

Note: If your ethernet card is not a Realtek card and is an Intel card, use em[n]. Otherwise, check out 12.8 Setting Up Network Interface Cards.

Step 12: Unmounting and fixing mountpoints

No need to change anything here.

zfs set readonly=on zroot/var/empty
zfs umount -af
zfs set mountpoint=legacy zroot
zfs set mountpoint=/tmp zroot/tmp
zfs set mountpoint=/usr zroot/usr
zfs set mountpoint=/var zroot/var

Note: You may need to exit out of the user and then re-login as root if zroot does not unmount.

Step 13: Post Installation



Root on ZFS FreeBSD 9
Installing FreeBSD Root on ZFS (Mirror) using GPT

© 2021 techmunchies, inc