I've been trying to create a modified FreeBSD 7.0 install CD that will allow me to do installations entirely via the serial console on a headless system. Lots of digging on the Internet, reading the handbook, and I've gotten nowhere fast. The following process was my best hope, but it still isn't making a serial console install possible...

In a shell on another older FreeBSD system, after downloading the Disc 1 install ISO:

 # cd /data
 # mdconfig -a -t vnode -f /data/7.0-RELEASE-i386-disc1.iso -u 1
 # mount -t cd9660 /dev/md1 /mnt
 # mkdir headlessISO
 # tar -C /mnt -pcf - . | tar -C /data/headlessISO -pxvf -
 # umount /mnt
 # mdconfig -d -u 1

Next I verified that the following line appears in /data/headlessISO/boot/device.hints, ensuring that COM1 (sio0) may be used for console purposes:


Then I created a boot.config file for the root of what will be the new CD ISO:

 # echo "-Dh -S115200" > /data/headlessISO/boot.config

I would have preferred to use "-P" in place of the above "-Dh", but I'm using an Intel S3210SHLC motherboard and either it or some bug in FreeBSD 7.0 always causes a keyboard to be detected, even when there isn't one (solutions/explanations for that would be appreciated too).

Next step was to build the new ISO as follows:

 # mkisofs -R -J -ldots -no-emul-boot -b boot/cdboot
     -o /data/7.0-RELEASE-i386-disc1-headless.iso /data/headlessISO

Since the old FreeBSD system has no CD writer, I transfer the new ISO to a Windoze box and burn a CD with Nero. End result is a bootable install CD that acts as if I never customized it at all. I've configured the motherboard BIOS to enable console redirection to COM1 and that works fine... until the FreeBSD boot process, whereupon everything reverts to internal console only. As a variation on the above procedure, I replaced the step in which I create boot.config with one in which I create /data/headlessISO/boot/loader.conf.local containing the following lines:


That, unfortunately, gets the same result.

So, what am I doing wrong? Note that the creation of boot.config and some mods to the ttyd0 line in /etc/ttys appears to work fine for enabling serial console operation on this same motherboard *after* FreeBSD 7.0 has been installed to the hard drive using the internal console - it just won't work for creating an install CD. I assume I don't need any variation of the /etc/ttys mod for the custom install CD, true?

FWIW, I've also taken the resultant ISOs I've created and fed them to UNetbootin (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/) in order to create a bootable USB flash thumb drive installer instead of a CD. This is even less successful because once control appears to go from BIOS to the installer, the screen goes blank and I'm left with nothing but an eternal blinking cursor. Am I up against another Intel S3210SHLC motherboard problem or does UNetbootin not actually live up to it's claims for FreeBSD 7.0? Anyone know?

Is there anyone out there who might have experience with FreeBSD 7.0 on the Intel S3210SHLC motherboard? Is this a problematic motherboard with known problems?

Carl                                             / K0802647
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