Install FreeBSD 14.0 (Short and Sweet Version)

Last edited on 2024-01-18 Tagged under  #freebsd   #bsd   #zfs 

FreeBSD beastie

The FreeBSD Handbook has an extensive chapter on installing FreeBSD that covers a wide range of scenarios with descriptions of each possible choice. Its an invaluable resource maintained by volunteer contributors.

After performing a few installs, these are my personal notes of steps taken and choices made. A distilled, short and sweet version of the above Handbook.

Hardware used is a Thinkpad T480s with 24GB RAM, 1TB SSD, and Intel integrated ethernet/wireless/gpu. Architecture is amd64.

There is always more than one way to do it. This is mine. 😃

1. Download

Download FreeBSD-14.0-RELEASE-amd64-disc1.iso and CHECKSUM.SHA256-FreeBSD-14.0-RELEASE-amd64 from RELEASES.

-disc1.iso contains all of the files needed to install FreeBSD, its source, and the Ports Collection, and SHA256 is a checksum used to verify the downloaded iso is identical to the original.

Verify ...

$ sha256sum -c CHECKSUM.SHA256-FreeBSD-14.0-RELEASE-amd64 FreeBSD-14.0-RELEASE-amd64-disc1.iso
FreeBSD-14.0-RELEASE-amd64-disc1.iso: OK

2. Prepare install media

Write -disc1.iso to a USB stick using dd. Insert USB stick and determine the device ID.

Example (on Linux/FreeBSD) ...

# dmesg | tail


da0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 scbus4 target 0 lun 0
da0: <OCZ RALLY2 1100> Removable Direct Access SCSI device
da0: Serial Number AA04012700074216
da0: 40.000MB/s transfers
da0: 3824MB (7831552 512 byte sectors)
da0: quirks=0x2<NO_6_BYTE>


Create install media on device ...

# dd if=FreeBSD-14.0-RELEASE-amd64-disc1.iso of=/dev/da0 bs=1M conv=sync

3. Install

Insert and boot install media on target device.

On the Thinkpads, pressing F12 at boot (usually) will enter a menu where you can select the USB install stick as the boot target.

Install FreeBSD using the text-based installation program bsdinstall.

FreeBSD boot loader menu


  • [Enter] for Boot Multi user
  • Choose [Install]
  • Keymap Selection: Default is US keyboard map. I prefer the Colemak layout: (*) Colemak ergonomic alternative.
  • Set Hostname: <new_name_for_device>.<root_domain>
  • Optional system components to install: keep default components, adding ...
    • [*] kernel-dbg
    • [*] lib32
    • [*] ports
    • [*] src
  • Partitioning: Auto (ZFS) Guided Root-on-ZFS
  • ZFS Configure Options: Keep default options, adding ...
    • Pool Type/Disks: stripe
      • [*] ada0 for SATA, [*] nda0 for NVME
    • Encrypt Disks? YES
    • Swap Size 32g
    • Encrypt Swap? YES
    • Enter encryption passphrase. Retype to confirm.
  • New password for root. Retype to confirm.
  • Select network interface: em0 (ethernet - Intel)
    • Configure IPv4 for this interface? [ Yes ]
      • Use DHCP? [ Yes ]
    • Configure IPv6 for this interface? [ No ]
    • Resolver Configuration
      • Search lan
      • IPv4 DNS #1 <ip_address>
  • Clock set to UTC? [ Yes ]
  • Time Zone Selector: America - Canada - Eastern EST
  • Set Date
  • Set Time [ Skip ] (let NTP set on reboot)
  • Services to be started at boot:
    • [*] local_unbound
    • [*] sshd
    • [*] ntpd
    • [*] powerd (for laptops)
    • [*] dumpdev
  • System security hardening options: select all
  • Add user? < Yes >
    • Username
    • Full name
    • Uid: <enter>
    • Login group: <enter>
    • Other groups? wheel
    • Login class: <enter>
    • Shell: sh
    • Home directory: <enter>
    • Home directory permissions: <enter>
    • Use password-based authentication? yes
    • Use an empty password? no
    • Use a random password? no
    • Enter password. Retype to confirm.
    • Lock out account after creation? no
    • Add another user? no
  • Final Configuration: Exit
  • Manual Configuration: < No >
  • [ Reboot ]

4. First boot

NOTE: Keyboard at boot reverts back to default US keyboard.

System begins boot and prompts for encryption passphrase. Upon successful entry, boot continues to login:. Enter the username and account passphrase created during the install.

To read boot messages after login ...

$ less /var/run/dmesg.boot

Show the version of FreeBSD installed ...

$ freebsd-version ; uname -a

List system partitions ...

$ gpart show

5. Shutdown

Switch to root, then power off the system ...

$ su
# shutdown -p now

6. After the install

Now what? These are some extra steps I take after installing FreeBSD.


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