Bug 179312 - PXE installer fails to boot without modification
Summary: PXE installer fails to boot without modification
Status: Open
Alias: None
Product: Base System
Classification: Unclassified
Component: misc (show other bugs)
Version: 9.1-RELEASE
Hardware: Any Any
: Normal Affects Only Me
Assignee: freebsd-bugs (Nobody)
Depends on:
Reported: 2013-06-04 21:30 UTC by anarcat+register
Modified: 2020-11-24 06:31 UTC (History)
2 users (show)

See Also:


Note You need to log in before you can comment on or make changes to this bug.
Description anarcat+register 2013-06-04 21:30:00 UTC
There used to be a way to install FreeBSD through a PXE bootloader. That
bootloader is still present in the ISO and while the article itself has
disappeared (http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en/articles/pxe/article.html), I assume
that this capability was not lost in the 9.x series.

PXE-based installs do not work out of the box in 9.1 anymore, a regression from
8.1 at the very least.


As you see in the above instructions, the user needed to comment out the
following line in /etc/fstab:

/dev/iso9660/FREEBSD_INSTALL / cd9660 ro 0 0

... otherwise the boot fails. Having to modify that file means we need to
duplicate all those files instead of being able to simply mount the ISO as a
filesystem and offer it over NFS...

But even then, this seems just like a crude workaround to a wider problem: in
8.1, the .ISO could be loaded directly into memory and boot properly through a
local memory filesystem.

That way, the .iso could be loaded directly from syslinux, for example with
pxelinux and memdisk:

LABEL FreeBSD-8.1-i386
        MENU LABEL FreeBSD 8.1 i386
        kernel memdisk
        append initrd=freebsd/FreeBSD-8.1-RELEASE-i386-bootonly.iso iso raw

This doesn't work in 9.1 anymore, probably because the mfsroot file seems to be
gone from 9.1.

All this makes PXE-based FreeBSD deployments *much* harder and less attractive
than before, because we need to setup a separate NFS server and hack at the
Follow those instructions:

Comment 1 anarcat+register 2013-06-04 21:36:30 UTC
After further inspection, this may be the same bug as the rather short



Jesus died for his own sins, not mine.
                        - CRASS, 1978
Comment 2 everytrash 2017-10-13 12:23:56 UTC
Improvements to this would be really helpful.
Comment 3 Eitan Adler freebsd_committer freebsd_triage 2018-05-20 23:53:58 UTC
For bugs matching the following conditions:
- Status == In Progress
- Assignee == "bugs@FreeBSD.org"
- Last Modified Year <= 2017

- Set Status to "Open"
Comment 4 Richard Russo 2020-11-24 06:31:14 UTC
I've made a patch for this https://reviews.freebsd.org/D27349 which enables booting from the installer images with memdisk.