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Old 9th April 2013
RJPugh RJPugh is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Culpeper, VA
Posts: 43
Default Installation 9.1 on a gpt/UEFI system (problems galore)

I just acquired a Dell Inspiron 660, as a replacement for my departed Dell Dimension 4550. The Inspiron came with Windows 8, which is OK, but I want to set up a FreeBSD variant as a second boot option. FreeBSD doesn't seem to get along well with gpt and UEFI, and that's what I'm working with. I'm looking into disabling the "secure boot," but legacy boot on this thing is flaky as a bowl of cereal.

I've been informed that the most effective approach is to convert the hard drive (a 1TB SATA in this case) to conventional MBR. However, doing that would destroy the Windows 8 instillation, and I'm not able to to that. Windows does have it's uses, and in the short run I need to keep it available.

An attempt to install FreeBSD to a section of the hard drive failed. It wanted to wipe the entire drive, but when I restricted it to one particular partition/slice, it ultimately refused to install; it didn't like the label (/dev/sda7).

For the record, if a rebuild of the hard drive is necessary, and if disabling UEFI turns out to be the only option, I'll do it. But I want to explore other options first.

What I'm now considering is this:

- Acquire a second SATA hard drive, perhaps 500gigs, and put it in one of the two available SATA ports on the motherboard. I've added additional hard drives to computers before, so this part should be easy.
- Install my FreeBSD variant on this second drive, where it won't (or shouldn't) conflict with Windows 8. In my experience, one operating system per hard drive is the easiest way to go. It's not the most effecient, but it's the easiest. Any boot record FreeBSD wants to create will be on this disc (hopefully). BIOS is likely to keep the system pointing at the UEFI boot record on the first drive.
- Use Windows 8's "Advanced Startup Options" as a means of booting FreeBSD. According to some of the literature I've read, this approach has been successfully used for Linux and for earlier versions of Windows, so it should also work for FreeBSD. It's not an ideal solution, but it's one I could live with.
- If Windows 8's ASO menu doesn't work, could I set up a USB flash drive to instruct the system to boot to the FreeBSD install on the second hard drive? I once did this with a floppy disc; booting from the floppy would instruct the BIOS to boot to a Linux instillation. It was intended as a rescue disc should the boot manager flake out. Again, not ideal, but I could live with it.

I just want my Beestie back!

My biggest concern is how the UEFI system will react to a second hard drive. FreeBSD is likely to set that drive up using a more conventional MBR system, so I would have two different disc technologies existing on the same machine. Will that cause UEFI to balk?

Any suggestions or help would be appreciated. If this is covered in an FAQ or in another forum thread, please point me in the right direction (I don't have time to do much searching at the moment, sadly).

Thank you,

RJPugh [at] cyberbard [dot] net.
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