FreeBSD is a free and open-source Unix-like operating system descended from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), based on Research Unix. The software contains a significant collection of server-related software in the base system and the ports collection, allowing FreeBSD to be configured and used as a mail server, web server, firewall, FTP server, DNS server, and a router, among other applications.
However, the first version of FreeBSD was launched in 1993. As of 2005, the software became the most popular open-source BSD operating system, accounting for more than three-quarters of all installed simply, permissively licensed BSD systems.
FreeBSD operating system has similar features with Linux, with two major differences in scope and licensing: however, the software maintains a complete system, i.e. the project delivers a kernel, device drivers, userland utilities, and documentation, as opposed to Linux only delivering a kernel and drivers, and also relying on third-parties for system software.
Lots of FreeBSD’s codebase has become an integral part of other operating systems including Darwin (the basis for macOS, iOS, iPad, watchOS, and tvOS), TrueNAS (an open-source NAS/SAN operating system), and the system software for the PlayStation and PlayStation 4 game consoles.
FreeBSD can be downloaded on a regular desktop or a laptop. The X Window System is not installed by default but is available in the FreeBSD ports collection.
FreeBSD’s TCP/IP stack is based on the 4.2BSD implementation of TCP/IP which contributed greatly to the widespread adoption of these protocols. It also supports IPv6, SCTP, IPSec, and wireless networking (Wi-Fi).
The software has several unique features related to storage. Soft updates can protect the consistency of the UFS filesystem ( which is widely used on the BSDs) in the event of a system crash. Also, the Filesystem snapshots allow an image of a UFS filesystem at an instant in time to be efficiently created. Snapshots create room for a reliable backup of a live filesystem. GEOM is a modular framework that provides RAID (levels 0, 1, 3 currently), full disk encryption, journaling, concatenation, caching, and access to network-backed storage.
FreeBSD offers lots of security-related features such as access control lists (ACLs), security event auditing, extended file system attributes, mandatory access controls (MAC), and fine-grained capabilities. However, these security enhancements were developed by the TrustedBSD project.
How to Download FreeBSD
FreeBSD Installation process
Step 1: Get the latest FreeBSD
When you get the latest FreeBSD CD 1 ISO image released from the FreeBSD download page and burn it to a CD. Then, place the CD image into your machine CD/DVD drive and reboot the machine into BIOS/UEFI mode or boot menu sequence by clicking a special key (usually ESC, F2, F11, F12) during the power-on sequence.
Next, instruct the BIOS/UEFI to use the CD/DVD appropriate drive to boot from and the first screen of the installation procedure should be displayed on your screen. Click on the [Enter] key to start the installation process.
Step 2: Start the installation process
On the next screen click on the Install option and press [Enter] to continue.
Tap on your keyboard layout from the list and press [Enter] to move forward with the installation process.
Fill in a descriptive name for your machine hostname and press [Enter] to continue.
On the next page choose what components you want to install in the system by clicking on the [space] key. For a production server, it’s recommended you select only lib32 compatibility libraries and Ports tree. Then, press the [enter] key after you’ve made your selections in order to continue.
Step 3: Hard disk Partition
Select the method your hard disk will be partitioned. Choose Auto – Unix File System – Guided Disk Setup and press the [enter] key to move to the next page. In case you have more than one disk and need a resilient file system you should go for the ZFS method. However, this guide only covers the UFS file system.
On the next page choose to perform FreeBSD OS installation on the entire disk and click on the [enter] tab again to continue. Note; you need to know that this option is destructive and will completely wipe out all your disk data. If the disk has data, you should make a backup before continuing further.
Choose your hard disk partition layout. If your machine is UEFI based and the installation is performed from UEFI mode (not CSM or Legacy mode) or the disk is larger than 2TB, you must use a GPT partition table.
On the next screen review the automatically created partition table of your system and proceed to Finish using the [tab] key to accept the changes.
Step 4: Installation
Click on the [enter] to continue and on the fresh pop-up screen select Commit to start the effective installation process. The installation procedure can take up from 10 to 30 minutes depending on your machine resources and HDD speed.
After the installer extracts and writes the operating system data to your machine drive, you will be prompted to specify the password for the root account.
Enter a strong password for the root account and click on the [enter] to continue.
On the new step, choose the network interface you want to configure and press [enter] to set up the NIC.
Then, select to use IPv4 protocol for your NIC and choose to configure the network interface manually with a static IP address by negating the DHCP protocol as illustrated in the below screenshots.
Step 5: IP Configuration
Add your static network IP configurations (IP address, netmask, and gateway) for this interface and press the [enter] button. In case the network equipment at your premises (switches, routers, servers, firewalls, etc) is IPv4 based then is no point in configuring IPv6 protocol for this NIC. Choose No from the IPv6 prompt to continue.
Set up the DNS resolver. Enter your domain name for local resolving, if that’s the case, and the IP addresses of two DNS servers you run in your network, used for resolving domain names, or use the IP addresses of some public DNS caching servers. When you finish, press OK to save changes and move further. From the time zone selector select the physical region where your machine is located and hit OK.
Choose your country from the list and accept the abbreviation for your time setting.
Adjust the date and time setting for your machine if that’s the case or choose to Skip the setting in case your system time is correctly configured. And follow the onscreen prompts.