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Old 31st July 2008
J65nko J65nko is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Budel - the Netherlands
Posts: 3,545
Default I. Treating 'iso-itis' in an OpenBSD environment with USBmediazine®

I. Treating 'iso-itis' in an OpenBSD environment with USBmediazine®

Note: This article/guide has been written in the summer of 2007, a couple of weeks before the first complete installation ISO (installer and filesets) files turned up in the 4.1 snapshots. This was a major change of policy, because previously the ISO only was about 5 MB and only contained the installation program. So Please read the following with this in mind
  • The 'iso-itis' delusion
  • Overview of existing traditional 'iso-itis' remedies
  • Treatment with USBmediazine®
  • Physical requirements for the USBmediazine® therapy
  • The USBmediazine® therapy
  • Side-effects
  • USBmediazine® session transcripts
The 'iso-itis' delusion

'iso-itis' is a delusion or fixed false belief that the only way to install an operating system on a computer, is to burn a downloaded ISO image to CD and use this CD to install. Alternative installation methods are just plainly ignored.

Cases are known where patients seriously suffering from this disease, have stolen money from the savings box of their little brother or sister, to buy recordable CDs. And this just to satisfy their irresistible. urge of an ISO install of their favorite OS.

Iso-itis patients who downloaded an official OpenBSD ISO, however wait a terrible disappointment. The downloaded ISO only contains the OpenBSD installation program and not the actual files needed for installation. These files or install sets, are not included in the ISO image and should be retrieved from other media.

Although this fact and the reasoning for it, is clearly stated in, the impossibility to install with this ISO, shatters their beliefs and causes bewilderment and serious dis-orientation.

Overview of existing traditional 'iso-itis' remedies

Quite some other iso-itis treatments, have been mentioned in literature, but most of them lack a detailed description or only seem applicable to upgrades of existing systems.
  • 'ftp-remote-ozene' and its 'ftp-local-ozene' derivate.

    Here the file sets are retrieve from a remote or local ftp server. Contra-indicated for environments lacking existing Internet connectivity or proper local hardware and ftp server software.

  • 'disk-local-dihydrate'

    For this treatment the necessary file sets need to be transferred from an existing local disk. The decreasing popularity of the FAT32 file system as well as the increasing number of incompatible mutations of the UFS and FFS file systems have seriously endangered the viability of this approach.

  • 'PXE-oxane'

    Contra-indicated for 'PXE-oxane' are older network cards without PXE support, cards with older PXE versions, and the absence of local network DHCP and tftpd servers.

  • 'NFS-bisulfate'

    Unfortunately having been contra-indicated for iso-itis patients with 'i386' hardware, 'NFS-bisulfate' will probably stay one of the most obscure and unknown treatments.

  • 'tape-trichloride'

    The very rare availability of tape drives in the ecosystem of 'iso-itis' patients rules out this method in practical all cases.
Treatment with USBmediazine®

Like many scientific discoveries, the basis of this remedy was found by accident.

The USBmediazine® approach has been discovered, when the author of this article noticed, that the OpenBSD installer successfully detected an USB flashdrive, which he forgot to remove the night before. To his surprise the device was even proposed as possible source to copy the installation files from.

Considering the availability of affordable supported USB hardware with sufficient storage capacity, author expresses the belief that the USBmediazine® approach is an attractive alternative for the existing traditional therapies.

To treat iso-itis we will show how to use an USB device as information carrier for the install sets. While booting, the OpenBSD installation program will probe for USB devices. The detected USB storage devices will be offered as source to copy the install sets from.

IMPORTANT: Due to the limited resources, the capability to dynamically detect USB devices is not present in the stripped down installation kernel. The USB device, containing the install sets, must be inserted before the installation program is started. Insertion halfway during the install will not be noticed and thus lead to failure.

Although we will use an OBSD snapshot instead of an OBSD release, this method has been successfully tested with releases in a clinical environment.

Physical requirements for the USBmediazine® therapy
  1. Bootable OpenBSD installation CD created from an official 'cd41.iso' image

  2. USB storage device containing the installation file sets

    Possibilities: external USB hard drive, USB flash drive, USB card-reader with a memory card (e.g. Secure Digital or CompactFlash)
The following is a listing of the files in an installation directory as found on the OpenBSD ftp servers. Only the emphasized ones are needed for an OpenBSD installation.
       100,767 Jun 20 18:06 INSTALL.i386
        22,354 Jun 20 18:06 INSTALL.linux
         1,019 Jun 20 18:06 MD5
    42,550,189 Jun 20 18:06 base41.tgz
     6,145,660 Jun 20 18:06 bsd
     6,194,002 Jun 20 18:06
     5,027,399 Jun 20 18:06 bsd.rd
     5,144,576 Jun 20 18:06 cd41.iso
        44,368 Jun 20 18:06 cdboot
         2,048 Jun 20 18:06 cdbr
     3,012,608 Jun 20 18:06 cdemu41.iso
     2,949,120 Jun 20 18:06 cdrom41.fs
    78,804,008 Jun 20 18:06 comp41.tgz
     1,240,440 Jun 20 18:06 etc41.tgz
     1,474,560 Jun 20 18:06 floppy41.fs
     1,474,560 Jun 20 18:06 floppyB41.fs
     1,474,560 Jun 20 18:06 floppyC41.fs
     2,608,788 Jun 20 18:06 game41.tgz
           263 May 05 10:04 index.txt
     7,658,376 Jun 20 18:06 man41.tgz
     2,292,841 Jun 20 18:06 misc41.tgz
        52,864 Jun 20 18:06 pxeboot
    11,956,269 Jun 10 12:11 xbase41.tgz
        75,554 Jun 10 12:11 xetc41.tgz
    35,579,466 Jun 10 12:11 xfont41.tgz
    10,348,663 Jun 10 12:11 xserv41.tgz
     2,547,511 Jun 10 12:11 xshare41.tgz
The patient only has to download these files and copy them to an USB storage device. The directory listing on a Secure Digital card in an Apacher USB card reader shows that the total storage space needed is only 201 MB.
$ env BLOCKSIZE=$((1024*1024)) ls -l /mnt/obsd
total 201
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  42550189 Jun 22 04:57 base41.tgz
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   6145660 Jun 22 04:56 bsd
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   6194002 Jun 22 04:56
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   5027399 Jun 22 04:55 bsd.rd
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  78804008 Jun 22 04:55 comp41.tgz
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   1240440 Jun 22 04:53 etc41.tgz
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   7658376 Jun 22 04:53 man41.tgz
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   2292841 Jun 22 04:57 misc41.tgz
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  11956269 Jun 22 05:03 xbase41.tgz
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel     75554 Jun 22 05:03 xetc41.tgz
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  35579466 Jun 22 05:02 xfont41.tgz
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  10348663 Jun 22 05:01 xserv41.tgz
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   2547511 Jun 22 05:01 xshare41.tgz
The USBmediazine® therapy
  • Calm down the patient and assure him that the OpenBSD installation CD he created from the 5 MB cd41.iso image is not wasted. Coach the patient to download the needed installation files and copy them to an USB storage device.

  • Have the patient insert the USB storage device in an USB slot of his PC.

    As explained previously, attaching the USB device before the installation is an absolutely crucial requirement. Neglection of this step will lead to complete failure of the therapy. If the therapist resides in the USA, he may also risk a lawsuit for malpractice.

  • After starting the PC insert the CD. Interrupt the boot process to adjust the BIOS booting sequence. Enable the CD or DVD drive as first boot device. Save the BIOS change and continue booting.

  • The CD will start the OpenBSD installation program after having probed the available hardware. When the disk preparation and TCP/IP configurations have been concluded, select the USB storage device as source. Select the installation file sets needed and continue the install.
Optionally the therapy can be augmented by assisting the patient in doing an complete ISO-less install using the traditional 'bsd.rd' reinstall method as described in . Although this step is optional, it will eradicate the last traces of iso-itis from the patient's mind. In clinical tests many have reported an incredible feeling of freedom after re-installing OpenBSD completely ISO-less.


Wide proliferation of USBmediazine® could possibly harm the sales of OpenBSD release CDs. The proceeds of these CD's is a major form of funding the OpenBSD project

To minimize this side-effect and thus not endanger the financial future of the OpenBSD project, the therapist is required to use to donate a percentage of his USBmediazine® generated income. He also should encourage the cured patients to do likewise.

USBmediazine® session transcripts

Part II is a transcript of a main therapy session where OpenBSD is installed using a 'cd41.iso>' CD. The installation file sets will be retrieved from a SD (Secure Digital) card in an USB card-reader.

The transcript in part III demonstrates the optional ISO-less therapy with the 'bsd.rd' installation kernel. This type of install can only be done on top of an existing OpenBSD system and is a favorite way to reinstall or upgrade. An USB flash memory disk is used as storage medium for the file sets.

Both these transcripts are solely meant to demonstrate the USBmediazine® method and should not be regarded in any way as a substitute for the excellent official OpenBSD installation guide at

$Id: new-iso-itis.xml,v 1.11 2007/06/27 04:41:19 j65nko Exp $
$Id: vbul-html.xsl,v 1.6 2007/06/27 04:49:57 j65nko Exp $
You don't need to be a genius to debug a pf.conf firewall ruleset, you just need the guts to run tcpdump
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