This excerpt is from Chapter 3, Installation in Secure Architectures with OpenBSD by Brandon Palmer and Jose Nazario, and published by Addison Wesley. Download the entire Chapter 3 here for free.
New OpenBSD users often complain that the installation process is hard and, consequently, give up before they have even gotten a system up and running. For most of these people, simply reading the documentation for the installation process would have solved most of their problems. Unlike many other systems, OpenBSD isn't designed to be configured with the click of a button -- there is no graphical installation process. This chapter will walk through some of the more important parts of the installation process and give information about some of the options. It will not try to guide the user through a normal installation, as that process is well documented on the OpenBSD Web site and included with the official CDs.
3.1 Supported Hardware
OpenBSD supports a great deal of hardware, but it's more centered on being a server operating system, so support for fancy desktop hardware sometimes lags behind. People seeking support for the newest hardware should look more closely at FreeBSD or Linux as a way to satisfy their needs. Because the list of supported hardware is a moving target, it has not been included in this text. Consult the list at the OpenBSD Web site, which is kept current. Careful consideration must be taken before installing OpenBSD on a system. While Linux will support almost any given piece of hardware, the same cannot be said of an OpenBSD system. Review the Web site listing to make sure the system will be supported before proceeding with an installation.
3.2 System Preparation
Oneof the most important steps in the installation process is getting to know the hardware. Make sure the documentation for the main parts of the system is at hand, or at least readily accessible from the Internet. Having this information will make the installation go much more smoothly if any problems occur.
Before an installation is started, it is good practice to review the hardware used in the system and to make notes to be used during the installation. The main components include the following:
- CPU and system architecture
- Network interface card or cards
- Disk devices and controllers
- Video hardware
- Sound hardware
This was first published in June 2004