Hi. Can anyone help with this installation problem?

Robert Watson rwatson at FreeBSD.org
Mon Jan 23 12:41:20 GMT 2006

On Tue, 17 Jan 2006, Phil Cartledge wrote:

> I purchased a new computer a few days ago which I intended setup with 
> FreeBSD 6 with a view to abandoning Windows completely.  I have experience 
> so few problems with FreeBSD that I think I may have overlooked a hardware 
> compatibility issue; I hope not but can not be certain.  I am confident that 
> the hardware is functioning correctly as I have successfully install SUSE 
> 9.3 and Debian 3.2 to the hard disk and tried various "live" distributions 
> all where able to detect the hardware.  Unfortunately when running FreeBSD 6 
> installation CD (Release ISO images off the website)it fails to detect the 
> hard drive during the installation process.  The system specs are below 
> sorry I couldn't provide the dmesg as I do not know how to do this during 
> the installation process.
> 40Gb Western Digital WD400BB hard drive (jumper set to master)
> Celeron D310 CPU
> I don't know who the manufacturer of the motherboard is but it consists of the
> following, VIA P4M266A Northbridge, VIA VT8235 southbridge, S3 ProSavage 8
> graphics sharing 8Mb of system RAM.  AMIBIOS version 1.21.12 Release date
> 12/10/2004, onboard sound and 10/100 ethernet port, 6 USB 2.0 ports, 3 PCI
> slots, 1 AGP slot, 1 x parallel, 1 x serial and 1 VGA port.
> 512Mb Kingston PC2100 memory
> Pioneer DVR-110D (Secondary Master)
> Lite-on DVD-R (Secondary Slave)
> PS2 Keyboard and mouse
> Please let me know if you need any other information and if I obtain it via 
> FreeBSD how to do this as I am now completely stuck.  Any assistance would 
> be greatly appreciated.

ATA hardware varies a lot, and new devices are constantly coming out, and 
often have new quirks.  I don't know if the hardware on the motherboard of 
your system is well-supported or not, but having some dmesg output would be 
very helpful.  The easiest way to grab boot time configuration information 
from a system you can't install is to use the install CD, but to set it to use 
a serial console.  That way you can hook the box up to a known working box 
with a null modem cable, then grab the output to a file with a terminal 
program.  Attach the null modem cable to the first serial port (com1, serial0, 
serialA, or some such label) on the machine to manage, and any serial port on 
another box.  If on FreeBSD, I just use cu(1) as my terminal program, but it's 
pretty minimalist (no built-in scrollback).  On Windows you can use hyperterm 
or whatever.  When the real console gets to the boot menu, hit '8' to break to 
the loader.  Then type in:

   set console="comconsole"

and press enter.  You will not get a prompt back.  You should, however, get a 
loader prompt over the serial port.  Now type in "boot -v" on the serial 
console to start a verbose boot.  You will get a lot of output, so you want to 
use script(1), or configure your terminal program to a log to a file or such. 
That output will tell us if FreeBSD sees the hardware but fails to attach it, 
what PCI IDs are present, any errors, etc, and should help a lot.  I find 
complete, tightly integrated serial console support one of the most convenient 
things about FreeBSD.  If you want to keep using the serial console every 
boot, you can slap the above in loader.conf.

BTW, if you haven't tried FreeSBIE, you might give it a try -- it gives you 
quite a nice cd-based boot, so you could use that to set up networking and 
copy off a dmesg without a serial console, not to mention run things like 
pciconf(8).  Using boot -v with FreeSBIE would also be quite useful.

Robert N M Watson

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