GIT –  System Manager’s Manual :  sysinstall — system installation and configuration tool

SYSINSTALL(8)		FreeBSD System Manager's Manual 	 SYSINSTALL(8)

     sysinstall -- system installation and configuration tool

     sysinstall [var=value] [function] [...]

     The sysinstall utility is used for installing and configuring FreeBSD
     systems.  It is the first utility invoked by the FreeBSD installation
     boot floppy and is also available as /usr/sbin/sysinstall on newly
     installed FreeBSD systems for use in later configuring the system.

     The sysinstall utility is generally invoked without arguments for the
     default behavior, where the main installation/configuration menu is pre-

     On those occasions where it is deemed necessary to invoke a subsystem of
     sysinstall directly, however, it is also possible to do so by naming the
     appropriate function entry points on the  line.  Since this action
     is essentially identical to running an installation script, each -
     line argument corresponding to a line of script, the reader is encouraged
     to read the section on scripting for more information on this feature.

     The sysinstall utility is essentially nothing more than a monolithic C
     program with the ability to write MBRs and disk labels (through the ser-
     vices of the libdisk(3) library) and  distributions or packages
     onto new and existing FreeBSD systems.  It also contains some extra
     intelligence for running as a replacement for init(8) when it is invoked
     by the FreeBSD installation boot procedure.  It assumes very little in
     the way of additional utility support and performs most file system oper-
     ations by calling the relevant syscalls (such as mount(2)) directly.

     The sysinstall utility currently uses the dialog(3) library to do user
     interaction with simple ANSI line graphics, color support for which is
     enabled by either running on a syscons VTY or some other color-capable
     terminal emulator (newer versions of xterm will support color when using
     the ``xterm-color'' termcap entry).

     This product is currently at the end of its life cycle and will eventu-
     ally be replaced.

     The sysinstall utility may be either driven interactively through its
     various internal menus or run in batch mode, driven by an external
     script.  Such a script may be loaded and executed in one of 3 ways:

	     If sysinstall is compiled with LOAD_CONFIG_FILE set in the envi-
	     ronment (or in the Makefile) to some value, then that value will
	     be used as the filename to automatically look for and load when
	     sysinstall starts up and with no user interaction required.  This
	     option is aimed primarily at large sites who wish to create a
	     single prototype install for multiple machines with largely iden-
	     tical configurations and/or installation options.

	     If sysinstall is run interactively, that is to say in the default
	     manner, it will bring up a main menu which contains a "load con-
	     fig file" option.	Selecting this option will prompt for the name
	     of a script file which it then will attempt to load from a DOS or
	     UFS formatted floppy.

	     Each command line argument is treated as a script directive when
	     sysinstall is run in multi-user mode.  Execution ends either by
	     explicit request (e.g. calling the shutdown directive), upon
	     reaching the end of the argument list or on error.

	     For example:

	     /usr/sbin/sysinstall _ftpPath=://ziggy/pub/ mediaSetFTP configPackages

	     Would initialize sysinstall for FTP installation media (using the
	     server `ziggy') and then bring up the package installation edi-
	     tor, exiting when finished.

     A script is a list of one or more directives, each directive taking the
     form of:



     or #somecomment

     Where var=value is the assignment of some internal sysinstall variable,
     e.g. "ftpPass=FuNkYChiKn", and function is the name of an internal
     sysinstall function, e.g. "mediaSetFTP", and #comment is a single-line
     comment for documentation purposes (ignored by sysinstall).  Each direc-
     tive must be by itself on a single line, functions taking their arguments
     by examining known variable names.  This requires that you be sure to
     assign the relevant variables before calling a function which requires

     The noError variable can be assigned before each directive: this will
     cause any error detected while processing the directive itself to be
     ignored.  The value of noError will automatically reset to the default
     "unassigned" every time a directive is processed.

     When and where a function depends on the settings of one or more vari-
     ables will be noted in the following table:

     Function Glossary:

	     Invoke the Anonymous FTP configuration menu.

	     Variables: None

	     Select which routing daemon you wish to use, potentially loading
	     any required 3rd-party routing daemons as necessary.


	     router  can be set to the name of the desired routing daemon,
		     e.g. ``routed'' or ``gated'', otherwise it is prompted

	     Configure host as an  server.

	     Variables: None

	     Configure host as a user of the Network Time Protocol.


		     Whitespace-separated list of ntpdate(8) servers to sync

	     Configure host to support PC NFS.


		     The name of the PCNFSD package to load if necessary
		     (defaults to hard coded version).

	     Bring up the interactive package management menu.

	     Variables: None

	     Add users and/or groups to the system.

	     Variables: None

	     Invokes the disk partition (MBR) editor.


		    The disk geometry, as a cyls/heads/sectors formatted
		    string.  The word "sane" instructs sysinstall to calculate
		    a safe (not necessarily optimal) geometry if the current
		    one has more than 65535 cylinders, more than 256 heads or
		    more than 63 sectors per track (255 sectors on the PC98
		    architecture).  Default: no change to geometry.

		    Set to disk partitioning type or size, its value being
		    free in order to use only remaining free space for
		    FreeBSD, all to use the entire disk for FreeBSD but main-
		    tain a proper partition table, existing to use an existing
		    FreeBSD partition (first found), exclusive to use the disk
		    in ``dangerously dedicated'' mode or, finally, somenumber
		    to allocate somenumber blocks of available free space to a
		    new FreeBSD partition.  Default: Interactive mode.

		    is set to one of boot to signify the installation of a
		    boot manager, standard to signify installation of a "stan-
		    dard" non-boot MGR DOS MBR or none to indicate that no
		    change to the boot manager is desired.  Default: none.

		    If set, bring up the interactive disk partition editor.

	     Note: Nothing is actually written to disk by this function, an
	     explicit call to diskPartitionWrite being required for that to

	     Causes any pending MBR changes (typically from the
	     diskPartitionEditor function) to be written out.

	     Variables: None

	     Invokes the disk label editor.  This is a bit trickier from a
	     script since you need to essentially label everything inside each
	     FreeBSD (type 0xA5) partition created by the diskPartitionEditor
	     function, and that requires knowing a few rules about how things
	     are laid out.  When creating a script to automatically allocate
	     disk space and partition it up, it is suggested that you first
	     perform the installation interactively at least once and take
	     careful notes as to what the slice names will be, then and only
	     then hardwiring them into the script.

	     For example, let's say you have a SCSI disk on which you have
	     created a new FreeBSD partition in slice 2 (your DOS partition
	     residing in slice 1).  The slice name would be da0s2 for the
	     whole FreeBSD partition (da0s1 being your DOS primary partition).
	     Now let's further assume that you have 4GB in this partition and
	     you want to sub-partition that space into , swap, var and usr
	     file systems for FreeBSD.	Your invocation of the diskLabelEditor
	     function might involve setting the following variables:

	     da0s2-1=ufs 2097152 /
		    A 1GB root file system (all sizes are in 512 byte blocks).

	     da0s2-2=swap 1048576 /
		    A 512MB swap partition.

	     da0s2-3=ufs 524288 /var
		    A 256MB /var file system.

	     da0s2-4=ufs 0 /usr 1
		    With the balance of free space (around 2.25GB) going to
		    the /usr file system and with soft-updates enabled (the
		    argument following the mount point, if non-zero, means to
		    set the soft updates flag).

	     One can also use the diskLabelEditor for mounting or erasing
	     existing partitions as well as creating new ones.	Using the pre-
	     vious example again, let's say that we also wanted to mount our
	     DOS partition and make sure that an /etc/fstab entry is created
	     for it in the new installation.  Before calling the
	     diskLabelEditor function, we simply add an additional line:

		   da0s1=/dos_c N

	     before the call.  This tells the label editor that you want to
	     mount the first slice on /dos_c and not to attempt to newfs it
	     (not that sysinstall would attempt this for a DOS partition in
	     any case, but it could just as easily be an existing UFS parti-
	     tion being named here and the 2nd field is non-optional).

	     You can also set the diskInteractive variable to request that the
	     disk label editor use an interactive dialog to partition the disk
	     instead of using variables to explicitly layout the disk as
	     described above.

	     Note: No file system data is actually written to disk until an
	     explicit call to diskLabelCommit is made.

	     Writes out all pending disklabel information and creates and/or
	     mounts any file systems which have requests pending from the
	     diskLabelEditor function.

	     Variables: None

	     Resets all selected distributions to the empty set (no distribu-
	     tions selected).

	     Variables: None

	     Allows the selection of a custom distribution set (e.g. not just
	     one of the existing "canned" sets) with no user interaction.


	     dists   List of distributions to load.  Possible distribution
		     values are:

		     base      The base binary distribution.

		     GENERIC   The GENERIC kernel.

		     SMP       A kernel suitable for multiple processor sys-

		     doc       Miscellaneous documentation

		     games     Games

		     manpages  Manual pages (unformatted)

		     catpages  Pre-formatted manual pages

		     proflibs  Profiled libraries for developers.

		     dict      Dictionary information (for tools like spell).

		     info      GNU info files and other extra docs.

		     lib32     (amd64 only) 32-bit runtime compatibility

		     ports     The ports collection.

		     ssecure   /usr/src/secure

		     sbase     /usr/src/[top level files]

		     scontrib  /usr/src/contrib

		     scrypto   /usr/src/crypto

		     sgnu      /usr/src/gnu

		     setc      /usr/src/etc

		     sgames    /usr/src/games

		     sinclude  /usr/src/include

		     skrb5     /usr/src/kerberos5

		     slib      /usr/src/lib

		     slibexec  /usr/src/libexec

		     srelease  /usr/src/release

		     srescue   /usr/src/rescue

		     stools    /usr/src/tools

		     sbin      /usr/src/bin

		     ssbin     /usr/src/sbin

		     sshare    /usr/src/share

		     ssys      /usr/src/sys

		     stools    /usr/src/tools

		     subin     /usr/src/usr.bin

		     susbin    /usr/src/usr.sbin

		     Xbin      X.Org client applications.

		     Xlib      X.Org libraries.

		     Xman      X.Org manual pages.

		     Xdoc      X.Org protocol and library documentation.

		     Xprog     X.Org imake distribution.

		     Xsrv      X.Org X server.

		     Xnest     X.Org nested X server.

		     Xprt      X.Org print server.

		     Xvfb      X.Org virtual frame-buffer X server.

		     Xfmsc     X.Org miscellaneous font set.

		     Xf75      X.Org 75DPI font set.

		     Xf100     X.Org 100DPI font set.

		     Xfcyr     X.Org Cyrillic font set.

		     Xft1      X.Org Type 1 font set.

		     Xftt      X.Org TrueType font set.

		     Xfs       X.Org font server.

		     local     Local additions collection.

	     Selects the standard Developer's distribution set.

	     Variables: None

	     Selects the standard X Developer's distribution set.

	     Variables: None

	     Selects the standard kernel Developer's distribution set.

	     Variables: None

	     Selects the standard user distribution set.

	     Variables: None

	     Selects the standard X user's distribution set.

	     Variables: None

	     Selects the very minimum distribution set.

	     Variables: None

	     Selects the full whack - all available distributions.

	     Variables: None

	     Interactively select source subcomponents.

	     Variables: None

	     Interactively select X.Org subcomponents.

	     Variables: None

	     Install all currently selected distributions (requires that media
	     device also be selected).

	     Variables: None

	     Install (if necessary) an HTML documentation browser and go to
	     the HTML documentation submenu.


		     The name of the browser package to try and install as
		     necessary.  Defaults to latest links package.

		     The name of the browser binary itself (if overriding the
		     browserPackage variable).	Defaults to links.

	     Commit any and all pending changes to disk.  This function is
	     essentially shorthand for a number of more granular "commit"

	     Variables: None

	     Start an "express" installation, asking few questions of the

	     Variables: None

	     Start a "standard" installation, the most user-friendly installa-
	     tion type available.

	     Variables: None

	     Start an upgrade installation.

	     Variables: None

	     Start up the "emergency holographic shell" over on VTY4 if run-
	     ning as init.  This will also happen automatically as part of the
	     installation process unless noHoloShell is set.

	     Variables: None

	     Go into "fixit" mode, assuming a live file system CDROM currently
	     in the drive.

	     Variables: None

	     Go into "fixit" mode, assuming an available fixit floppy disk
	     (user will be prompted for it).

	     Variables: None

	     Do just the file system initialization part of an install.

	     Variables: None

	     Initialize all variables to their defaults, overriding any previ-
	     ous settings.

	     Variables: None

	     Sort of like an #include statement, it allows you to load one
	     configuration file from another.


		     The fully qualified pathname of the file to load.

	     If a media device is set, mount it.

	     Variables: None

	     If a media device is open, close it.

	     Variables: None

	     Select a FreeBSD CDROM as the installation media.

	     Variables: None

	     Select a pre-made floppy installation set as the installation

	     Variables: None

	     Select an existing DOS primary partition as the installation
	     media.  The first primary partition found is used (e.g. C:).

	     Variables: None

	     Select a tape device as the installation media.

	     Variables: None

	     Select an FTP site as the installation media.


		     The name of the host being installed (non-optional).

		     The domain name of the host being installed (optional).

		     The default router for this host (non-optional).

	     netDev  Which host interface to use (ed0 or ep0, for example.

		     If set, bring up the interactive network setup form even
		     if all relevant configuration variables are already set

	     ipaddr  The IP address for the selected host interface (non-

		     The netmask for the selected host interface (non-

		     The fully qualified URL of the FTP site containing the
		     FreeBSD distribution you are interested in, e.g.

	     Alias for mediaSetFTP using "active" FTP transfer mode.

	     Variables: Same as for mediaSetFTP.

	     Alias for mediaSetFTP using "passive" FTP transfer mode.

	     Variables: Same as for mediaSetFTP.

	     Alias for mediaSetFTP using an HTTP proxy.

	     Variables: See mediaSetFTP, plus

		     The proxy to use (host:port) (non-optional).

	     Select an existing UFS partition (mounted with the label editor)
	     as the installation media.


	     ufs     full /path to directory containing the FreeBSD distribu-
		     tion you are interested in.



		     The name of the host being installed (non-optional).

		     The domain name of the host being installed (optional).

		     The default router for this host (non-optional).

	     netDev  Which host interface to use (ed0 or ep0, for example.

		     If set, bring up the interactive network setup form even
		     if all relevant configuration variables are already set

	     ipaddr  The IP address for the selected host interface (non-

		     The netmask for the selected host interface (non-

	     nfs     full hostname:/path specification for directory contain-
		     ing the FreeBSD distribution you are interested in.



		     The username to log in as on the ftp server site.
		     Default: ftp

		     The  to use for this username on the ftp server
		     site.  Default: user@host



		     Can be used to set the verbosity of cpio extractions to
		     low, medium or high.

	     Interactively get the user to specify some type of media.

	     Variables: None

	     Invoke the interactive options editor.

	     Variables: None

	     Try to fetch and add a package to the system (requires that a
	     media type be set),


		     The name of the package to add, e.g. bash-1.14.7 or

	     Invoke the interactive group editor.

	     Variables: None

	     Invoke the interactive user editor.

	     Variables: None

	     Stop the script, terminate sysinstall and reboot the system.  On
	     the sparc64 platform, the system is halted rather than rebooted.

	     Variables: None

     system  Execute an arbitrary command with system(3)


		     The name of the command to execute.  When running from a
		     boot floppy, very minimal expectations should be made as
		     to what is available until/unless a relatively full sys-
		     tem installation has just been done.

	     Configure a network device.

	     Variables: Same as for mediaSetFTP except that _ftpPath is not

     The following files can be used to affect the operation of sysinstall
     when used during initial system installation.

     cdrom.inf	     A text file of properties, listed one per line, that
		     describe the contents of the media in use.  The syntax
		     for each line is simply ``property = value''.  Currently,
		     only the following properties are recognized.

		     CD_VERSION       This property should be set to the
				      FreeBSD version on the current media
				      volume.  For example, ``CD_VERSION =

		     CD_MACHINE_ARCH  This property should be set to the
				      architecture of the contents on this
				      volume.  This property is normally only
				      used with FreeBSD products that contain
				      CDs for different architectures, to pro-
				      vide better error messages if users try
				      to install Alpha packages on an i386
				      machine.	For example, ``CD_MACHINE_ARCH
				      = alpha''.

		     CD_VOLUME	      In a multi-volume collection (such as
				      the FreeBSD 4-CD set), the ports/INDEX
				      file on each disc should contain the
				      full package index for the set.  The
				      last field of the INDEX file denotes
				      which volume the package appears on, and
				      the CD_VOLUME property here defines the
				      volume ID of the current disc.

     packages/INDEX  The package index file.  Each package is listed on a sep-
		     arate line with additional meta-data such as the required
		     dependencies.  This index is generated by ``make index''
		     from the ports(7) collection.  When multi-volume support
		     is enabled, an additional field should be added to each
		     line indicating which media volume contains the given

     For information about building a full release of FreeBSD, please see

     This utility may edit the contents of /etc/rc.conf, /etc/hosts, and
     /etc/resolv.conf as necessary to reflect changes in the network configu-

     If you have a reasonably complete source tree online, take a look at
     /usr/src/usr.sbin/sysinstall/install.cfg for a sample installation

     This version of sysinstall first appeared in FreeBSD 2.0.

     Jordan K. Hubbard <>

     Editing slice and partition tables on  which are currently mounted
     by the system is not allowed.  This is generally only a problem when
     sysinstall is run on a system that is already installed.  Use fdisk(8)
     and bsdlabel(8) for these tasks.

     This utility is a prototype which lasted several years past its expira-
     tion date and is greatly in need of death.
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