The i386 installer images for 12.1-RELEASE in disc1, dvd1 and memstick forms fail to install on a Dell FX130 using a USB DVD Writer drive. The hardware has been running FreeBSD 10.x, 11.x and 12.0 to 12.0p13 in the past without a problem. FreeBSD was installed from an .ISO image at each major version change using the same hardware.
All of the following installer images fail to install. The optical media versions boot, but cannot continue past FreeBSD's BIOS drive check. The memstick version just beeps in a continuous loop when the machine is booted.
SHA256 (FreeBSD-12.1-RELEASE-i386-disc1.iso) = 07b10e098e7c9b5e920679d3a9b3d12628f0b918c6e3962620b7f570a82cf41d
SHA256 (FreeBSD-12.1-RELEASE-i386-disc1.iso.xz) = facebc504f63d0eb4615d83ecb6d4b7aabfa206276a1784f97afd756ea5121cb
SHA256 (FreeBSD-12.1-RELEASE-i386-dvd1.iso) = 72290eb4d203bedad90d0b63c0f507889858860a20f47a89141e6f4eb2cf0fad
SHA256 (FreeBSD-12.1-RELEASE-i386-dvd1.iso.xz) = 9da9beea7ebfdea1324a5305820f1a1eeb1eb7c640f8b4675931105b0fba4ad7
SHA256 (FreeBSD-12.1-RELEASE-i386-memstick.img) = 371451e0ee442629415c161e3b8e701eb2a2d11ad1da0d0f00e02e06f9b46abd
SHA256 (FreeBSD-12.1-RELEASE-i386-memstick.img.xz) = 485710488a94ee74a99a2b712d5ce41fb8178f3c4184b737eca74a963ef93be0
To eliminate potential hardware faults, a freshly downloaded ISO of 12.0-RELEASE dvd1 was downloaded, burned to media and installed successfully on the FX130 using the USB DVD Writer drive. As was openbsd66.iso just to be sure. The Dell FX130 is equipped with a VIA 686 class cpu. Both FreeBSD 12.0 and OpenBSD 6.6 install and run perfectly well on this hardware.
The first 12.1 DVD that I burned was then used to boot an old Toshiba A100 laptop using it's internal ATA DVD drive. This booted and ran the installer successfully. This same laptop was then used with the USB DVD Writer with similar success with the 12.1 media. However, I did notice that this laptop reports running Intel Boot Agent, whereas the Dell FX130 does not. Perhaps this fault only affects Dell FX130 or maybe it is a VIA cpu issue?
I am currently running an in-place upgrade from 12.0 to 12.1 on the FX130 which is taking some time to complete. This machine has never run 12.1 so if it reboots successfully the fault could just be in the installer and not in the kernel.
Logging this is a bug because this hardware has been used successfully for some years with FreeBSD up until 12.1