FreeBSD Jumpstart Guide

$FreeBSD: doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/pxe/article.sgml,v 1.22 2003/12/19 15:53:55 blackend Exp $

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This article details the method used to allow machines to install FreeBSD using the Intel® PXE method of booting a machine over a network.

1 Introduction

Warning: This procedure will make the ``Server'' both insecure and dangerous, it is best to just keep the ``Server'' on its own hub and not in any way accessible by any machines other than the ``Clients''.


Server The machine offering netboot and install options.
Client The machine that will have FreeBSD installed on it.

Requires: Clients supporting the Intel PXE netboot option, an Ethernet connection.

Please let me know if you come across anything you have problems with or suggestions for additional documentation.

If you would like someone to train/implement a specific netinstall system for you, please send email so that we can discuss terms.

I would also like to thank Paul Saab and John Baldwin for doing most of the programming work on pxeboot, the interface to the Intel PXE (netboot) system.

2 Server Configuration

  1. Install DHCP: Install net/isc-dhcp3 you can use this config file dhcpd.conf, stick it in /usr/local/etc/.

  2. Enable tftp:

    1. Make a directory /usr/tftpboot

    2. Add this line to your /etc/inetd.conf:

      tftp    dgram   udp     wait    nobody  /usr/libexec/tftpd    tftpd /usr/tftpboot
  3. Enable NFS:

    1. Add this to /etc/rc.conf:

    2. Add this to /etc/exports:

      /usr -alldirs -ro
  4. Reboot to enable the new services or start them manually.

3 Bootstrap Setup

  1. Download bootfiles: Download the kern.flp and mfsroot.flp floppy images.

  2. Set up tftp/pxe-boot directory:

    1. Put pxeboot in the boot directory:

      # rm -rf /usr/obj/*
      # cd /usr/src/sys/boot
      # make
      # cp /usr/src/sys/boot/i386/pxeldr/pxeboot /usr/tftpboot
    2. Using the vndevice mount the kern.flp file and copy its contents to /usr/tftpboot:

      # vnconfig vn0 kern.flp    # associate a vndevice with the file
      # mount /dev/vn0 /mnt      # mount it
      # cp -R /mnt /usr/tftpboot # copy the contents to /usr/tftpboot
      # umount /mnt              # unmount it
      # vnconfig -u vn0          # disassociate the vndevice from the file
  3. Compile a custom kernel for the clients (particularly to avoid the device config screen at boot) and stick it in /usr/tftpboot.

  4. Make a special loader.rc to and install it in /usr/tftpboot/boot/loader.rc so that it does not prompt for the second disk, here is mine.

  5. Extract the installer and helper utilities from the mfsroot disk and uncompress them, put them in /usr/tftpboot as well:

    # vnconfig vn0 mfsroot.flp         # associate a vndevice with the file
    # mount /dev/vn0 /mnt              # mount it
    # cp /mnt/mfsroot.gz /usr/tftpboot # copy the contents to /usr/tftpboot
    # umount /mnt                      # unmount it
    # vnconfig -u vn0                  # disassociate the vndevice from the file
    # cd /usr/tftpboot                 # get into the pxeboot directory
    # gunzip mfsroot.gz                # uncompress the mfsroot
  6. Make your sysinstall script install.cfg, you can use mine as a template, but you must edit it.

  7. Copy the sysinstall script into the extracted and uncompressed mfsroot image:

    # cd /usr/tftpboot
    # vnconfig vn0 mfsroot
    # mount /dev/vn0 /mnt
    # cp install.cfg /mnt
    # umount /mnt
    # vnconfig -u vn0

4 Install Setup

  1. Put the install files in an NFS accessible location on the Server. Make a directory corresponding the 'nfs' directive in the install.cfg file and mirror the FreeBSD install files there, you will want it to look somewhat like this:

    ABOUT.TXT       TROUBLE.TXT     compat20        floppies        ports
    ERRATA.TXT      UPGRADE.TXT     compat21        games           proflibs
    HARDWARE.TXT    XF86336         compat22        info            src
    INSTALL.TXT     bin             compat3x        kern.flp
    LAYOUT.TXT      catpages        crypto          manpages
    README.TXT      cdrom.inf       dict            mfsroot.flp
    RELNOTES.TXT    compat1x        doc             packages
  2. Copy the compressed packages into the packages/All directory under nfs.

  3. Make sure you have an INDEX file prepared in the packages directory. You can make your own INDEX entries like so:

    alfred-1.0||/|Alfred install bootstrap||||||

    Then you can install custom packages, particularly your own custom post-install package.

5 Custom Post-Install Package

You can use the script to create a custom package for post install, the idea is to have it install and configure any special things you may need done. pkgmaker is run in the directory above the package you wish to create with the single argument of the package (ie mypkg) which will then create a mypkg.tgz for you to include in your sysinstall package.

Inside your custom package dir you will want a file called PLIST which contains all the files that you wish to install and be incorporated into your package.

You will also want files called pre and post in the directory, these are shell scripts that you want to execute before and after your package is installed.

Since this package is in your install.cfg file it should be run and do the final configuration for you.

This, and other documents, can be downloaded from

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