13.3. Configuring Boot Time Splash Screens

Contributed by Joseph J. Barbish.

Typically when a FreeBSD system boots, it displays its progress as a series of messages at the console. A boot splash screen creates an alternate boot screen that hides all of the boot probe and service startup messages. A few boot loader messages, including the boot options menu and a timed wait countdown prompt, are displayed at boot time, even when the splash screen is enabled. The display of the splash screen can be turned off by hitting any key on the keyboard during the boot process.

There are two basic environments available in FreeBSD. The first is the default legacy virtual console command line environment. After the system finishes booting, a console login prompt is presented. The second environment is a configured graphical environment. Refer to Chapter 6, The X Window System for more information on how to install and configure a graphical display manager and a graphical login manager.

Once the system has booted, the splash screen defaults to being a screen saver. After a time period of non-use, the splash screen will display and will cycle through steps of changing intensity of the image, from bright to very dark and over again. The configuration of the splash screen saver can be overridden by adding a saver= line to /etc/rc.conf. Several built-in screen savers are available and described in splash(4). The saver= option only applies to virtual consoles and has no effect on graphical display managers.

Sample splash screen files can be downloaded from the gallery at http://artwork.freebsdgr.org. By installing the sysutils/bsd-splash-changer package or port, a random splash image from a collection will display at boot.

The splash screen function supports 256-colors in the bitmap (.bmp), ZSoft PCX (.pcx), or TheDraw (.bin) formats. The .bmp, .pcx, or .bin image has to be placed on the root partition, for example in /boot. The splash image files must have a resolution of 320 by 200 pixels or less in order to work on standard VGA adapters. For the default boot display resolution of 256-colors and 320 by 200 pixels or less, add the following lines to /boot/loader.conf. Replace splash.bmp with the name of the bitmap file to use:


To use a PCX file instead of a bitmap file:


To instead use ASCII art in the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TheDraw format:


To use larger images that fill the whole display screen, up to the maximum resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels, the VESA module must also be loaded during system boot. If using a custom kernel, ensure that the custom kernel configuration file includes the VESA kernel configuration option. To load the VESA module for the splash screen, add this line to /boot/loader.conf before the three lines mentioned in the above examples:


Other interesting loader.conf options include:


This will stop the boot options menu from being displayed, but the timed wait count down prompt will still be present. Even with the display of the boot options menu disabled, entering an option selection at the timed wait count down prompt will enact the corresponding boot option.


This will replace the default words FreeBSD, which are displayed to the right of the boot options menu, with the colored beastie logo.

For more information, refer to splash(4), loader.conf(5), and vga(4).

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at http://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/

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