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Users who prefer to install FreeBSD using a graphical installer may be interested in <link xlink:href="">GhostBSD</link>, <link xlink:href="">MidnightBSD</link> or <link xlink:href="">NomadBSD</link>.
After reading this chapter, you will know:
The minimum hardware requirements and FreeBSD supported architectures.
How to create the FreeBSD installation media.
How to start <application>bsdinstall</application>.
The questions <application>bsdinstall</application> will ask, what they mean, and how to answer them.
How to troubleshoot a failed installation.
How to access a live version of FreeBSD before committing to an installation.
Before reading this chapter, you should:
Read the supported hardware list that shipped with the version of FreeBSD to be installed and verify that the system's hardware is supported.
Minimum Hardware Requirements
The hardware requirements to install FreeBSD vary by architecture. Hardware architectures and devices supported by a FreeBSD release are listed on the <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/releases/index.html">FreeBSD Release Information</link> page. The <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/where.html">FreeBSD download page</link> also has recommendations for choosing the correct image for different architectures.
A FreeBSD installation requires a minimum of 96 MB of <acronym>RAM</acronym> and 1.5 GB of free hard drive space. However, such small amounts of memory and disk space are really only suitable for custom applications like embedded appliances. General-purpose desktop systems need more resources. 2-4 GB RAM and at least 8 GB hard drive space is a good starting point.
These are the processor requirements for each architecture:
This is the most common desktop and laptop processor type, used in most modern systems. <trademark class="registered">Intel</trademark> calls it <acronym>Intel64</acronym>. Other manufacturers sometimes call it <acronym>x86-64</acronym>.
Examples of amd64 compatible processors include: <trademark>AMD Athlon</trademark>64, <trademark>AMD Opteron</trademark>, multi-core <trademark class="registered">Intel</trademark> <trademark>Xeon</trademark>, and <trademark class="registered">Intel</trademark> <trademark>Core</trademark> 2 and later processors.
Older desktops and laptops often use this 32-bit, x86 architecture.
Almost all i386-compatible processors with a floating point unit are supported. All <trademark class="registered">Intel</trademark> processors 486 or higher are supported.
FreeBSD will take advantage of Physical Address Extensions (<acronym>PAE</acronym>) support on <acronym>CPU</acronym>s with this feature. A kernel with the <acronym>PAE</acronym> feature enabled will detect memory above 4 GB and allow it to be used by the system. However, using <acronym>PAE</acronym> places constraints on device drivers and other features of FreeBSD.
All New World <acronym>ROM</acronym> <trademark class="registered">Apple</trademark> <trademark class="registered">Mac</trademark> systems with built-in <acronym>USB</acronym> are supported. <acronym>SMP</acronym> is supported on machines with multiple <acronym>CPU</acronym>s.
A 32-bit kernel can only use the first 2 GB of <acronym>RAM</acronym>.
Systems supported by FreeBSD/sparc64 are listed at the <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/platforms/sparc.html">FreeBSD/sparc64 Project</link>.
<acronym>SMP</acronym> is supported on all systems with more than 1 processor. A dedicated disk is required as it is not possible to share a disk with another operating system at this time.
Pre-Installation Tasks
Once it has been determined that the system meets the minimum hardware requirements for installing FreeBSD, the installation file should be downloaded and the installation media prepared. Before doing this, check that the system is ready for an installation by verifying the items in this checklist:
Back Up Important Data
Before installing any operating system, <emphasis>always</emphasis> backup all important data first. Do not store the backup on the system being installed. Instead, save the data to a removable disk such as a <acronym>USB</acronym> drive, another system on the network, or an online backup service. Test the backup before starting the installation to make sure it contains all of the needed files. Once the installer formats the system's disk, all data stored on that disk will be lost.


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