Chapter 2. Installing FreeBSD

Restructured, reorganized, and parts rewritten by Jim Mock.
Updated for bsdinstall by Gavin Atkinson and Warren Block.
Updated for root-on-ZFS by Allan Jude.
Table of Contents
2.1. Synopsis
2.2. Minimum Hardware Requirements
2.3. Pre-Installation Tasks
2.4. Starting the Installation
2.5. Using bsdinstall
2.6. Allocating Disk Space
2.7. Fetching Distribution Files
2.8. Accounts, Time Zone, Services and Hardening
2.9. Network Interfaces
2.10. Troubleshooting
2.11. Using the Live CD

2.1. Synopsis

There are several different ways of getting FreeBSD to run, depending on the environment. Those are:

  • Virtual Machine images, to download and import on a virtual environment of choice. These can be downloaded from the Download FreeBSD page. There are images for KVM (qcow2), VMWare (vmdk), Hyper-V (vhd), and raw device images that are universally supported. These are not installation images, but rather the preconfigured (already installed) instances, ready to run and perform post-installation tasks.

  • Virtual Machine images available at Amazon's AWS Marketplace, Microsoft Azure Marketplace, and Google Cloud Platform, to run on their respective hosting services. For more information on deploying FreeBSD on Azure please consult the relevant chapter in the Azure Documentation.

  • SD card images, for embedded systems such as Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black. These can be downloaded from the Download FreeBSD page. These files must be uncompressed and written as a raw image to an SD card, from which the board will then boot.

  • Installation images, to install FreeBSD on a hard drive for the usual desktop, laptop, or server systems.

The rest of this chapter describes the fourth case, explaining how to install FreeBSD using the text-based installation program named bsdinstall.

In general, the installation instructions in this chapter are written for the i386™ and AMD64 architectures. Where applicable, instructions specific to other platforms will be listed. There may be minor differences between the installer and what is shown here, so use this chapter as a general guide rather than as a set of literal instructions.


Users who prefer to install FreeBSD using a graphical installer may be interested in GhostBSD, MidnightBSD or NomadBSD.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • The minimum hardware requirements and FreeBSD supported architectures.

  • How to create the FreeBSD installation media.

  • How to start bsdinstall.

  • The questions bsdinstall will ask, what they mean, and how to answer them.

  • How to troubleshoot a failed installation.

  • How to access a live version of FreeBSD before committing to an installation.

Before reading this chapter, you should:

  • Read the supported hardware list that shipped with the version of FreeBSD to be installed and verify that the system's hardware is supported.

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at

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