Putting FreeBSD 11 onto a Raspberry Pi 2

I have 5 Raspberry Pi 2 here. I’m going to install FreeBSD 11.x on them. I’ve already done one. The second is started, and now I’m going to write it down so I know what to do the next time.

The wiki entry will contain the latest status.

The binaries

Rasperberry Pi 2 only runs FreeBSD 11.x (10.x will run on the B but not the 2).

If you have Rasperberry Pi B, you can run 10.x and you can find what you need at http://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/releases/arm/armv6/ISO-IMAGES/10.1/ Look for something like FreeBSD-10.1-RELEASE-arm-armv6-RPI-B.img.bz2

I want something from 11.x, so I’ll grab something from ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/snapshots/arm/armv6/ISO-IMAGES/11.0/, specifically FreeBSD-11.0-CURRENT-arm-armv6-RPI2-20150601-r283896.img.xz. By the time you read this, the latest snapshot may different. Pick your download accordingly.

I downloaded this file to ~/Downloads/ISO/ and decompressed it with this command:

$ unxz FreeBSD-11.0-CURRENT-arm-armv6-RPI2-20150601-r283896.img.xz

This creates FreeBSD-11.0-CURRENT-arm-armv6-RPI2-20150601-r283896.img which we will use to burn the micro-SD card.

Burning to SD card

The kit I bought came with an adaptor allowing me to insert the micro-SD card into my Macbook.

OSX specific instructions

You can skip this section if not using OSX.

After inserting the card, I tried issuing the dd command, but it failed. The card was mounted read-only. You can verify the status using the Finder, and File | Get Info. If you need to, eject the card, slide the read-write switch, and reinsert. You might have to do this a few times to get it right. Keep checking via Finder.

Once the card is mounted read-write, you need to unmount it, but not eject it, so you can write to it. I opened Disk utility, I clicked on the media (mine was labeled NO NAME, then right click, and click on Umount NO NAME”

The burn

Here is the command I used to burn the micro-SD card:

sudo dd if=FreeBSD-11.0-CURRENT-arm-armv6-RPI2-20150601-r283896.img of=/dev/disk2 bs=1m conv=sync

On my system, this took about 13 minutes.


Go back to Disk Utility and hit Eject on that micro-SD card before extracting it from your machine.

Boot it!

Place the micro-SD card into the Raspberry Pi. Hook up the keyboard and monitor. Then power it up.

I’m told the following:

  • The Raspberry Pi won’t boot FreeBSD without a monitor attached due to a bug. (since proven incorrect)
  • The bug might be with FreeBSD / might be with the Raspberry Pi.
  • I have not verified any of the above.

Mine came right up, and I tweeted about it.

What I didn’t do yet

I didn’t get anything running. I didn’t try ssh. I didn’t try networking. That’s for another day.

Website Pin Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati del.icio.us Digg Google StumbleUpon Premium Responsive

5 thoughts on “Putting FreeBSD 11 onto a Raspberry Pi 2”

  1. You can use ‘diskutil’ to discover device names, mount and unmount disks, and even eject them from the command line in OS X. Typically after inserting the SD card in your MacBook, you would ‘diskutil list’ to figure out which device it is, ‘diskutil unmountDisk’ to unmount the mounted filesystem(s) if there are any, then dd the image to the disk, another ‘diskutil unmountDisk’ if the automounter grabs it when your image completes, and finally ‘diskutil eject’ to tell OS X you’re going to kick the card.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top