Install Problems for Determined Newbie to FreeBSD

As a burned out on Windows XP user, having made numerous attempts to install FreeBSD, I will be most grateful if anyone can help me unravel some installation problems.  

The PC is an HP with Windows XP Home, 120 GB single hard drive, 2800+ Athlon processor.  I am determined to install something besides Windows, as a long haul with a hacker and trojans has convinced me to learn a new OS.  But I can't get it to install.  I want to keep XP until I learn BSD.  

The BSD notes said geometry is not accurately shown on the install when you are partitioning one drive for two OS, that you need to first  boot from DOS and run the BSD PF utility from the tools subdirectory to get an accurate geometry.  I DL'd a DOS boot for XP onto a floppy, which would not work.  So, I did cmd from XP and got in that way -was I in a clean "XP-version" DOS mode from this entry? (for purposes of obtaining an accurate geometry). I got a directory on my D drive where the BSD CD is.  The command "pfdisk>L" gave me the C drive geometry of 306 4 17.  That seems totally wrong, way too low, right?  The number BSD had during the install procress doesn't match this number nor the number I have from SisSoftSandra, which is 15508 cylinders, 240 heads, 63 sectors.

I went ahead anyway with the install, as it didn't object, but then it just ignored my input.  I set up a very small empty partition at the beginning, as it suggested.  The XP partition is next.  The 3rd is BSD, which I set for 50GB.  It does designate it as a FreeBSD partition on that line, but the size, no matter what size I try, comes back with its' own size.  

Then the next step, I chose the auto default to set up the FreeBSD partitions with the disk label editor.  It recommended doing that also.  It either reboots me, does nothing, or I have to go back to the prior step to keep from being booted.

It seems like a fairly simple install procedure, at least the part I have been through!  I have made it beyond this point on prior attempts.  But I know the system partition has to be correct, or it makes sense that the whole thing will not work.  But unless my PC tells me what it is, how in the world would I know what it is?  And the other snags, I just don't understand what I could be doing wrong.

I have already tried installing it on a clean, reformatted system, and had to finally re-install Windows because it wouldn't work.

I have spent a great deal of time and money to bring my PC back into the world free of leaches and snoops, which hounded me for almost a year.  I purchased a used Cisco router, all sorts of virus/spy/trojan checker-remover software, and have a long distance friend helping me via IM and Email.  I am determined to lose the last of it, IE is already gone, just one last continual annoyance to go - Windows!

I have not had the best luck with this endeavor, and I am hoping not to have to abandon my goal to end my participation in the M$/IE anti-consumer madness.   I bought the SAMS huge FreeBSD 2nd Ed book with CD.  Also  DL'd the lastest version.  Now am trying an older, more stable version (4.0 I think).  None of these versions has worked!  The book's CD got magnetized somehow? Unlikely that 3 versions are defective.      

Am at the point in thinking the problem here is a few screws loose in my head.  Any recommendations for something with a  higher return rate on my financial/emotional/time investment are greatly appreciated.  Thank you, and please forgive my b....ching so much, don't mean to sound like a complainer.

Points are the max, 500.  If it drags on too long, I'll open a new question with another 500.
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Q so long, quick answers/re-questions for your paragraphs in order:
* cool
* is your athlon XP or 64 ??
* Sandra displays own interpretation, FreeBSD accesses IDE disk via controller and reads its parameters
* There is PartitionMagic, which does that perfectly, other tools do not stand even near
* basically you need to skew XP and use reclaimed space as FreeBSD DOS partition, and then label it into filesystems
* Yess it seems - just read previos - what do you call head and what you call tail where and when...
* Very bad.... install windows skew it right away etc
* PHEW!!! :-) i suggest thunderbird and firefox
* no comment try for free book
* i certify you are still 100% fine :-)
* E-E forbids more than 500pt/q, better do not rise higher, just share between useful answers in the end.

There are some important steps (IMO), you may dig from your books or ask right below:
1) get the partitions right - handbook part on disks etc, maybe some linux doc on topic etc
1a) install XP and FreeBSD/i386 or amd64, depending on athlon you have
2) get it dual-boot (1)
3) get X11 on FreeBSD
4) get KDE on FreeBSD
5) get mozilla software
:-) now you have basic consumer software set (tm)
6) get wine to run window programs from another partition
I can write a longer essay on all of them, but I hope many others will help you with your computer.

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MariliAuthor Commented:
Hiya gheist:

Sorry for the delay in response.  I appreciate your help; feels stabiliziing to get some definitive points to work with.  Decided to get a more familiar OS on my system B4 getting in too deep with a very different OS, so I installed Win2K and partitioned my single HD into 90GB on C; 30GB on D; and a very small unpartitioned space.  

Am getting this OS up to speed, and I like it a heck of a lot better than XP!  (My Athlon is XP, 32 bit)  Out with IE and lots of other junk, in with Firefox, anti spyware and more indepth router configuration.

Do you recommend the Mozilla browser over their Firefox version browser?

Is there a way to FULLY remove all traces of IE, and still run windows effectively?  Maybe not a question for this EEsection.

Can I still use Partition Magic to make the addtional partition for FreeBSD? (without losing Windows2000?)

Will Windows OS will be affected in any way by the FreeBSD install?  Meaning, BSD screws up during or after the install, can I rely on the other OS?  I think the answer is yes; a verification is helpful.  

My friend is recommending to NOT install the BSD because I had so many probs and because I have a much more stable OS now.  But I'm in for the long haul now; this experience has got me fired up to learn PCs more extensively - studying for the A+. I am going to install it.  

Your #6 - not sure what you mean here.  Wine - like to drink? for the calmiing effect?  Sorry if I sound stupid.  You can laugh.

I'm going to try this install again soon as I get stabilized (electronically, informatively, and emotionally) with W2K.  It helps a lot to know this can work with the 2 systems.  Can work and WILL WORK!

Appreciate the 100% certification!  Thanks!  Needed that.  

No problems with delay
Athlon XP is i386, not amd64
Either is fine. They take 32MB each in RAM, which may or may not be concern
Some day it was called 98lite, i am not sure it made any further
PartitionMagic works perfectly, but you can simply add another windows drive , then rename it to FreeBSD via FreeBSD installer
No , unless you replace default bootblock of drive ( go to freebsd handbook, read disk manual, especially boot.ini pointers), I have hard 2000 has nothing against BootMgr, but XP has...
Your friend is free to buy you next version of Windows 2009 SuperPower when one becomes available.
WINE is windows API emulator for UNIX workalikes


basic problem preventing you to install was partitioning mess.
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Ravi GoruTechnical ConsultantCommented:

Hi Marili,

I appreciate your dedication, efforts and  interests for having freeBSD on ur desk..!!

when a system can not understand the geometry of a hard disk..  am not saying that its very difficult but its not that simple for a learner..!!

Your approaches are very good but I suggest learning to be in a proper order, i mean first you need to understand some mroe basics and practice and then.. you can attend to this problem.. without much difficulty..!!

So, what if you try and find a older hard disk .. whose geometry is easily understandable and try it out with FreeBSD or Linux !!

I just want you to have the UNIX environment first and then start learning or mastering it !!

best of luck :-)


MariliAuthor Commented:
Thank you both for some very useful comments.  

Great idea - never thought of that! - to get an old system to learn UNIX with!  It is apparently a bit of a transition to learn the OS and sure makes sense to get some skill there before trying to do a complicated install, given all the problems I've had.  

All the comments are very helpful, so I thank you and divide the points.  Thanks again, everyone at EE is incredible!
try getting old system with supported older 3d videocard - 3dfx, matrox or ati

yes - best is to use spare system ( look at, this may give you good alternative )
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