16 May 2006

On the subtle interplay of GRUB and FreeBSD

I installed FreeBSD on one of my home computers and was puzzled why GRUB wouldn't boot it. In particular, I found that you typically had to type a stanza like this:

title FreeBSD 6.0
root (hd0,3,a)
kernel /boot/loader

However, when I did this, it would work only partially. The FreeBSD boot loader would load, but if I'd select any option to load a kernel or type any command that would load a kernel, then all that would happen was that the kernel would print one backslash and then hang. This problem was caused by the fact that GRUB selected a graphic instead of a text-based terminal mode. Using this stanza, GRUB switches to a text console just before booting FreeBSD and it all boots just fine:

title FreeBSD 6.0
terminal console
root (hd0,3,a)
kernel /boot/loader

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