On Fri, 5 Sep 2003 17:01:41 +0200, "Michael Vondung"
> Hello!
> My apologies for the length of this post. Summary: 4.x or 5.x for a
> desktop
> machine, disk partitioning for a workstation, miscellaneous installation
> questions.

Replying to selected bits -
> 4.8 or 5.1?
> My "personal server" happily runs 4.8R and will be updated to 4.9 when
> -stable becomes a bit more stable. It consists of older hardware and I
> don't
> plan to upgrade it to 5.x any time soon, if ever. But what do you
> recommend
> for the workstation? It doesn't have dual-processors and all of its
> hardware
> seems to be supported by 4.x. This machine, though, will eventually get
> 5.x.
> I'm wondering if it makes sense to put 4.8 on it now or if it would be a
> better choice to just go with 5.1R. My primary concern here is ease of
> upgrading. Will it be difficult to go from 4.9 to 5.2, somewhere down the
> road? Mergemaster is a rather scary looking critter. Differently put,
> will
> there be tools provided to allow this without too much fiddling?

4.8 now, 5.x via fresh install rather than upgrade when you feel

Re applications: Do you have a lot of applications installed, or some
fairly large ones?  How fast is your Internet connection?  Depending on
the answers, choose whether you want to prepare for 5.x by using
portupgrade to make packages of applications (then saving them to the XP
drive or burning them to CD), or by reinstalling the applications over
the Internet onto the new 5.x system.  

Re system configuration: Do you have a lot of customized system config
files?  If not, doing it over again on a fresh installation of 5.x
shouldn't take long.  Unless you are thoroughly familiar with exactly
what has changed between 4.x and 5.x, that should be easier than trying
to pull your configuration through an upgrade.

> Keep in mind that I -am- new to the FreeBSD
> and
> Unix world. 

Yeah, definitely 4.8.  :)

> Miscellaneous
> - FreeBSD will be on the second disk. Is Sysinstall, if FreeBSD is
> installed
> on the slave, going to ask if I'd like to put the BootMgr on the first
> drive?

Yes.  You must put the FreeBSD boot manager on *each* drive you want to
boot with it, so if you would like the FreeBSD boot manager to offer you
a choice between the XP drive (it'll call this "???" - see the FAQ) and
the FreeBSD drive, install the boot manager on *both*.  There is no
requirement to use FreeBSD's boot manager, though.  Grub from the ports
works nicely (read the online documentation *carefully* first), or GAG is
a very nice, free, just about automagic bootloader.  You can also use the
Windows bootloader - sorry to say I'm familiar with using it to boot
Windows and FreeBSD from the *same* drive, but not two different drives. 
(You are welcome to read the FAQ or online Handbook on this subject.  The
last I did so, its description of the method for using the Windows
bootloader for Windows and FreeBSD on separate drives was sufficiently
unclear to me that I didn't want to try it.)

Short version of the above - use GAG.  :)

> - In case I decide to make the second disk (with FreeBSD) the master
> drive
> some time in the not-so-near future, will it be fairly simple to
> accomplish
> this? Only jumper rearrangement, MBR and fstab editing?

*Only* MBR editing?  And I'm giving *you* advice?  Actually, I can't see
that MBR editing would be necessary with FreeBSD (someone correct me if
I'm wrong here).  Fstab editing would be necessary, yes.  XP may be
unhappy on the second BIOS drive unless you are using a bootloader that
will take care of this pretty automagically, like GAG, or reconfigure
Grub to take care of it (see the Grub documentation re the 'map'

> - Anything else I need to pay particular attention to? Besides backing up
> important files on the XP disk in case something goes wrong.

If you have a CD burner (you mentioned a "CDR" and a "CD/DVD" player, so
I'm not sure), you should consider backing up to something that has no
chance of getting fried by the same mishap that takes out your FreeBSD

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