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I realised this is a very specific question, but I am wondering if there is a way to install FreeBSD on a machine using only SSH access to a Ubuntu LiveCD on the server?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Yes, You Can! (But it's entirely unsupported and may cause your hair to fall out, arms to grow out of the top of your head, and other hideous mutations!)

The particular disgusting hackery you're looking for is called The Depenguinator, but be warned: It's 4 years old, and potentially suffering from serious bit rot. If you discover and fix said bit rot I'm sure the author would be happy to accept patches.

If you're not married to an Ubuntu LiveCD a better option would be to use a FreeBSD LiveCD (Like Freesbie) -- I know you can run sysinstall from these CDs to produce a working system, and while I haven't tested it I assume you can run the new 9.0 installer without trouble.
This too isn't officially supported, but it's much less likely to cause hideous mutations.

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I did look into depenguinator 2.0 but it was only supported on older systems, not the Ubuntu 10 that I have available. I may give it a shot and see how far I get. Thanks for your input though! – Prisoner Feb 2 '12 at 16:29
Find an older version to use in order to bootstrap the install and upgrade? – Bart Silverstrim Feb 2 '12 at 16:33
This is a remote machine, I can only choose from specified OSs. I could attempt to go from 10 -> 7 but to then try and depenguin it to FreeBSD is going to be messy as hell! – Prisoner Feb 2 '12 at 16:37
You should be able to get the Depenguinator code to run on any version of Linux with the appropriate packages installed (expect to have to do some legwork though -- I strongly suggest testing in a virtual machine at home before doing it on real hardware :) – voretaq7 Feb 2 '12 at 17:44

The straightest way is:

Install minimal FreeBSD without swap on a [virtual] host near you and dump /, /var, /tmp and /usr partitions.

Install allowed OS on a minimal possible partition on a target host. Bootmanager is a MUST.

Create FreeBSD slice/partitions on a free disk space.

Then boot allowed OS and restore previously dumped FreeBSD partitions onto the newly created ones. Restore can access dump files over net so you need no extra storage on the remote machine.


In VNC select FreeBSD from bootmanager's list.

From FreeBSD delete partition where allowed OS lives and make swap here.

The only trouble you can get in - is a different numbering of slices on a dumped/restored hosts.

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