Moving on from Linux to FreeBSD

Butterfly

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Hi Gang,
It's been a while since I was here. So, hi all :)
Okay. So, I have this Linux box (32 bit Manjaro Linux) for which the support of the OS has stopped. There was an attempt to keep the patient alive, but there are "voices of reason" that call on pulling the perverbial plug...
So. Is it possible to upgrade this system to (32 bit) FreeBSD?
The disk is partitioned as such that there is a boot partition (sda1), a swap (sda2) an OS partition (sda3) and a home partition (sda4)...all neatly partitioned...the way I like...
So, can I install FreeBSD on there keeping sda4 out of the loop and afterwards hooking up (mounting, yea, I know ;) ) the home folder from the home partition?
It'll prove to be a learning curve (unless...I'm wrong :-/ ) but I'm okay with that...
Thanks for shedding some ligh here...
Melissa
 

Martin Paredes

Active Member

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So. Is it possible to upgrade this system to (32 bit) FreeBSD?
Yes
can I install FreeBSD on there keeping sda4 out of the loop and afterwards hooking up (mounting, yea, I know ;) ) the home folder from the home partition?
Yes, if you don't especify a /home partition during installation, FreeBSD create a link "/home -> /usr/home"

To know if sda4 can be mounted in FreeBSD, we need to know:

What type of scheme is in sda (MBR or GPT)?

What type of filesystem is sda4 (UFS[12], EXT[234])?

But in general, it can be done.
 

ralphbsz

Son of Beastie

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In theory yes. You could get the FreeBSD installer, then ask it to *not* re-partitioning the disk, use the pre-existing boot/swap/root partitions for FreeBSD, and put new file systems into them. In theory, this will work with either GPT or MBR partitioning. It is possible, but risky: The tiniest mistake, and your home partition is fried.

One big question is: What file system are you using for the "home partition"? It is probably a Linux native file system, like ext4. There is support for ext in FreeBSD, but it is not native, and I would trust my data to a second-priority file system.

May I suggest an alternative: Find a second disk drive. Remove the current disk drive, and install FreeBSD on the second disk. Size the partitions to your liking, use a reasonable and modern partitioning system (GPT) and sensible partition sizes, and use whatever file system is best for your needs (in most cases, that will be ZFS). Once you have the FreeBSD system reasonably well up and running, re-connect the Linux disk, and copy the home partition to your new disk, the disconnect the old disk again and put it in a safe place. Like that, you treat the old disk as read-only, and there is very little risk of data loss.

Remember: The biggest risk of data loss is caused by humans, and the mistakes they make. You know the correct way to administer a computer? Hire a man and a dog. The man is there to feed the dog. The dog is there to bite the man when he tries to touch the computer. Seriously, doing an in-place reinstall (perhaps with odd partition sizes, odd partitioning scheme, and odd file systems) is something that only the most experienced and risk-seeking people should try; people who like their data should do something more sedate.
 

ShelLuser

Son of Beastie

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So. Is it possible to upgrade this system to (32 bit) FreeBSD?
Depends what you mean with upgrading. You won't be able to use the same filesystem so it would technically not be an upgrade but a fully clean installation.

The disk is partitioned as such that there is a boot partition (sda1), a swap (sda2) an OS partition (sda3) and a home partition (sda4)...all neatly partitioned...the way I like...
Well, considering that you're new to this my suggestion would definitely be to remove the whole lot (except your home partition) and then re-create the setup in the same way. Chances are high your boot partition can't be used in its current state anyway considering that it cannot be larger than 545kb for FreeBSD usage.

And even if you could it would be a lot more difficult than a regular install; you'd have to change the partition types and then apply the new filesystem onto it.

The main thing to keep in mind here is not to treat FreeBSD as if it were Linux. It's not.
 
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Butterfly

Butterfly

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Messages: 47

Hi Martin,
But in general, it can be done
Great news! I always wanted to move to FreeBSD on at least one machine. A server is not an issue, since FreeBSD is basically more inclined towards server work...
The installation that I have now did not survive an upgrade (not the fault of the maintainers, rarther an ailing patient waiting for life support to stop... :'‑( ) so I'm (in the Unix/Linux style) trying to revive that system. If that fails, why not as well give it a whole new soul?
Thank tou..so much...
Melissa
 
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Butterfly

Butterfly

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Hi all,
Basically...best do a re-install, and get the data back from the fridge...
Yes...but...did I learn something from that?
I did do installs, and got a complete desktop going...
So, the type is EXT3, for sure. ZFS and GPT should be attempted, the home may have to stay EXT3...unless an in-place format-and-move of the data can be done...
I'm an adventurer...but... :-/ is this a dragon I can befriend?
Life is great...such a challenge...
Melissa
 

Minbari

Aspiring Daemon

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So, can I install FreeBSD on there keeping sda4 out of the loop and afterwards hooking up (mounting, yea, I know ;) ) the home folder from the home partition?

In theory You can use the GNU/Linux home partition as a FreeBSD home partition on UFS, but in reality ext3/4 on FreeBSD does not have native support and with fuse the transfer speed it's terrible. The best way it's to backup all Your data and start from scratch if You want FreeBSD otherwise pick other GNU/Linux distribution who has IA-32 support (eg. Debian GNU/Linux).
 
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Butterfly

Butterfly

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and with fuse the transfer speed it's terrible.
Ouch, that, of course defies the beauty of FreeBSD...let's not have that...:)
The deeper question here is this: what if I need/want to migrate my main system to something else, and of course...FreeBSD comes to mind, how would I go about it? Actually, I'd test drive a migration...
 

hotaronohanako

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with freebsd you'll be in pain.! I suggest you just give it a Try in some Virtual Machine first and make your mind about it.!
 

Jeckt

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So, the type is EXT3, for sure. ZFS and GPT should be attempted, the home may have to stay EXT3...unless an in-place format-and-move of the data can be done...

ZFS is not recommended for 32bit systems. You'll want to use UFS.

This is also a lot less dangerous if you're important data is backed up.
If you don't have back ups, it might be time to consider making some.
Not just for restore purposes for this upgrade, but because your hard drive could randomly die at any time.
 

Martin Paredes

Active Member

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Messages: 159

I would also recommend, that you get another disk and leave the original as backup

But if you wan to learn on the production system, the risk is on you (at least made a buckup).

What size had the partitions sda1, sda2, sda3 and sda4?

How much GB of data are in /home?
 
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Butterfly

Butterfly

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Hmm, testing it in a VM...not a bad idea...
See, this is what happens in my case: I pick up EOL's and give 'em new life...albeit with a limit...
The one thing I always do, is backup over FTP (still working on a private cloud, if I get the time. Anyone have some time they cant use anymore? Please send it via this thread. Much appreciated :p )
to a server here internally and ten experiment. So the data is never really at risk...
The home folder spans about 750Mb...should be doable to backup...
I'll have to take care to use UFS, then, thanks Jeckt for mentioning that :)
 

bookwormep

Well-Known Member

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A little late to this thread, here is two cents worth.
There is a community based version of Arch called:
archlinux32 - https://archlinux32.org/

This community has created 32-bit re-packaged Arch.
If you are familiar with Manjaro, then Arch would also.
 

ralphbsz

Son of Beastie

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ZFS is not recommended for 32bit systems. You'll want to use UFS.
That statement is an over-generalization. Yes, ZFS *can* have problems in low-memory situation. In particular if you have very large data sets, and turn on ZFS features like compression and deduplication. But you can perfectly safely and efficiently operate ZFS on 32-bit systems. It may require a little bit of tuning, but those tuning parameters are well documented and easy to set.

For example: My home server uses ZFS on an effectively 3GiB 32-bit machine (the hardware has 4, but FreeBSD can only use 3, for some reason I forgot already). It has attached 3 ZFS file systems, one that is 3TB with redundancy, and both a 1TB and a 4TB file system without redundancy. The system has run under moderate load for about 6 or 8 years, and has never had a ZFS-related problem.

And simply telling people to UFS has unintended side effects: To begin with, they immediately lose the great safety benefit of checksums on the data. Also, setting up RAID with UFS is harder and/or more work than with ZFS (where mirroring is nearly trivial to configure), so more users will fail to use RAID, exposing them to data loss.

If you don't have back ups, it might be time to consider making some.
Not just for restore purposes for this upgrade, but because your hard drive could randomly die at any time.
Everyone needs to have backups. Old joke: There are two kinds of computer users: those that religiously do backups, and those who haven't lost data yet.

But in modern usage, backups are not intended to guard against disk hardware failure. For that, it is better to use RAID. Backups are intended to protect against human error (for example the infamous "rm -Rf /"), and against software failure (if you have a bug in your file system for example).
 
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