Applied FreeBSD: Fibre Channel Target

I wanted to learn about iSCSI and Fibre Channel (FC) but I do not have access to any Enterprise hardware systems that would allow learning. As such, I decided I would build a basic Fibre Channel system.

The most simple Fibre Channel network is a point-to-point system which has just two nodes. The node that serves a storage resource over the network is the Target, and the consumer of the storage resource is the Initiator. I bought two Qlogic 2460 4 Gb/s PCI Express FibreChannel Host Bust Adapters (HBAs) and 15ft. of LC-type fibre cable from Ebay. I downloaded the latest firmware for the devices and updated them using the EFI loader on my workstation. I left one card in my Linux workstation, and put the other in the FreeBSD box.

I have a SATA harddrive in the FreeBSD box that is not currently being used, so the goal will be to serve it over Fibre Channel for the Linux workstation to use. There is not a lot of HOWTO, guides, or general information about Fibre Channel and FreeBSD, but I found Justin Holcomb’s blog to be extremely helpful in getting started.

Configuring a FreeBSD Fibre Channel Target

First of all, /dev/ada1 is the disk drive I want to serve over FC.

root@freebsd:/usr/home/bryan # camcontrol devlist
<TOSHIBA HDWD110 MS2OA8J0>         at scbus0 target 0 lun 0 (ada0,pass0)
<TOSHIBA HDWD110 MS2OA8J0>         at scbus1 target 0 lun 0 (ada1,pass1)
<hp CDDVDW SH-216ALN HA5A>         at scbus2 target 0 lun 0 (cd0,pass2)
<AHCI SGPIO Enclosure 1.00 0001>   at scbus4 target 0 lun 0 (ses0,pass3)

Also, during boot, FreeBSD recognizes my FC card (from dmesg output):

isp0: <Qlogic ISP 2432 PCI FC-AL Adapter> port 0xe000-0xe0ff mem 0xfe440000-0xfe443fff irq 16 at device 0.0 on pci1
isp0: Polled Mailbox Command (0x8) Timeout (100000us) (isp_reset:953)
isp0: Mailbox Command ‘ABOUT FIRMWARE’ failed (TIMEOUT)
isp0: isp_reinit: cannot reset card
device_attach: isp0 attach returned 6

FC is supported by the system, but in order to have the system act as an FC Target, the kernel needs to be compiled with the ISP_TARGET_MODE option (as well as enabled ispfw to load run-time firmware onto the FC HBA. I followed the steps from Justin’s blog:

#mkdir ~/kernels
# touch /root/kernels/FCTARGET
# vim /root/kernels/FCTARGET

Add the following to the FCTARGET kernel configuration file:

include GENERIC
device          ispfw                   #Firmware for QLogic HBAs
options         ISP_TARGET_MODE         #Required for Target Modecd /usr/src

Now build and install the kernel.

# ln -s /root/kernels/FCTARGET /usr/src/sys/amd64/conf/FCTARGET
# make buildkernel KERNCONF=FCTARGET
# make installkernel KERNCONF=FCTARGET
# reboot

After rebooting, the system is ready to be configured in FC Target mode. Modify /etc/rc.conf such that ctld_enable=”YES” is added.

 # sysrc ctld_enable=YES
ctld_enable: NO -> YES

Next, the CAM target layer daemon (ctld) needs a configuration file that will describe what resources to serve. The config below is the most basic configuration, which has no authentication and simply serves the block device over FC port isp0.

# cat /etc/ctl.conf
target  ???????????????? {
alias toshiba-drive
auth-group no-authentication
port isp0
lun 0 {
backend block
# Disk serial number is 671ABKPFS
device-id 671ABKPFS
path /dev/ada1

The “??????????????????” is because I do not know the World Wide Name (WWN) for the FC link. The ctladm command shows the WWN when querying for CAM target layer ports.

# ctladm port -l
Port Online Frontend Name     pp vp
0    NO     camsim   camsim   0  0  naa.50000006f1d1ab01
1    YES    ioctl    ioctl    0  0
2    YES    tpc      tpc      0  0
3    NO     camtgt   isp0     0  0

From the above output, it is clear that isp0 is not online. After reading through the ctladm man page, I found the commands to bring the port online.

# ctladm port -o on isp0
Front End Ports enabled
# ctladm port -l
Port Online Frontend Name     pp vp
0    YES    camsim   camsim   0  0  naa.500000012e445301
1    YES    ioctl    ioctl    0  0
2    YES    tpc      tpc      0  0
3    YES    camtgt   isp0     0  0  naa.2100001b320f1d96

Now the port has a WWN: naa.2100001b320f1d96. The complete ctl.conf file is updated:

# cat /etc/ctl.conf
target  naa.2100001b320f1d96 {
alias toshiba-drive
auth-group no-authentication
port isp0
lun 0 {
backend block
# Disk serial number is 671ABKPFS
device-id 671ABKPFS
path /dev/ada1

Now it is time to start the CAM target layer (CTL) service on the system. Note that if there are any syntax errors in the ctl.conf file, the service will not start and will provide some clues as to where the errors are.

# service start ctld

The service starts without any hiccups and one can now query CTL for status.

# ctladm devlist -v
LUN Backend       Size (Blocks)   BS Serial Number    Device ID
0 block            1953525168  512 MYSERIAL   0     671ABKPFS

Now it is time to configure the Linux system as an FC initiator to test FC link and CTL target service.

Configuring a Linux Fibre Channel Initiator

Good news! This just worked out of the box, no configuration needed. First of all, looking through dmesg output, this RHEL 7 workstation has loaded the driver for the Qlogic card.

[ 1.303534] qla2xxx [0000:04:00.0]-00fc:1: ISP2432: PCIe (2.5GT/s x4) @ 0000:
04:00.0 hdma+ host#=1 fw=8.06.00 (9496).

Further down in the output, there is more activity with the qla2xxx driver:

[281614.649436] qla2xxx [0000:04:00.0]-500a:1: LOOP UP detected (4 Gbps).
[283199.887749] qla2xxx [0000:04:00.0]-500b:1: LOOP DOWN detected (2 5 0 0).[283202.700162] qla2xxx [0000:04:00.0]-500a:1: LOOP UP detected (4 Gbps).[283202.711117] scsi 1:0:0:0: Direct-Access     FREEBSD  CTLDISK          0001 PQ: 0 ANSI: 7
[283202.721738] scsi 1:0:0:0: alua: supports implicit TPGS
[283202.722115] scsi 1:0:0:0: alua: port group 01 rel port 03
[283202.722342] scsi 1:0:0:0: alua: rtpg failed with 8000002
[283202.722343] scsi 1:0:0:0: alua: rtpg sense code 06/29/01
[283202.722344] scsi 1:0:0:0: alua: not attached
[283202.722507] sd 1:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg3 type 0
[283202.722732] sd 1:0:0:0: [sdc] 1953525168 512-byte logical blocks: (1.00 TB/931 GiB)
[283202.722734] sd 1:0:0:0: [sdc] 4096-byte physical blocks
[283202.723335] sd 1:0:0:0: [sdc] Write Protect is off
[283202.723336] sd 1:0:0:0: [sdc] Mode Sense: 7f 00 10 08
[283202.723483] sd 1:0:0:0: [sdc] Write cache: enabled, read cache: enabled, supports DPO and FUA
[283202.727281] sd 1:0:0:0: [sdc] Attached SCSI disk

The FC loop has gone up, which was explicitly done on the FreeBSD server. At this point, the system negotiates the FC protocol and the remote drive is now handed over to the SCSI subsystem, where is becomes /dev/sdc.

That is all there is to it, fdisk or parted can now be used on the Linux workstation to partition the remote disk and put a filesystem on the disk. For fun, there is a useful utility systool that  can be used for learning about FC devices on the system.

# yum install sysfsutils -y
# systool -c fc_host -v host1
Class = “fc_host”
Class Device = “host1”
Class Device path =
dev_loss_tmo        = “30”
fabric_name         = “0xffffffffffffffff”
issue_lip           = <store method only>
max_npiv_vports     = “127”
node_name           = “0x2000001b320f368f”
npiv_vports_inuse   = “0”
port_id             = “0x0000e8”
port_name           = “0x2100001b320f368f”
port_state          = “Online”
port_type           = “LPort (private loop)”
speed               = “4 Gbit”
supported_classes   = “Class 3”
supported_speeds    = “1 Gbit, 2 Gbit, 4 Gbit”
symbolic_name       = “QLE2460 FW:v8.06.00 DVR:v8.”
system_hostname     = “”
tgtid_bind_type     = “wwpn (World Wide Port Name)”
uevent              =
vport_create        = <store method only>
vport_delete        = <store method only>
Device = “host1”
Device path = “/sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1b.4/0000:04:00.0/host1”
fw_dump             =
nvram               = “ISP ”
optrom_ctl          = <store method only>
optrom              =
reset               = <store method only>
sfp                 = “”
uevent              = “DEVTYPE=scsi_host”
vpd                 = “0”


Setting up FibreChannel is even easier than iSCSI, but it does require a kernel recompile on the FreeBSD server. Furthermore, FC requires HBAs on each machine as well as the fibre infrastructure such as switches and fibre cable.


Applied FreeBSD: Enabling the Serial Console

To enable the serial console in FreeBSD, edit /boot/loader.conf and add the following:


The above configuration allows for the use of both a video console connected to some form of a display port and the serial port.  It also sets the console baud rate to 115,200 baud rather than the default 9,600 baud. The default for the console is 8N1 9600 baud, just for reference.

Also, edit /boot.config (it may need to be created) and add the following:


According to the man page for boot.config(5), this activates the serial console during the boot process. Finally, to get a serial console login from the host on the other end of the serial cable, in this case, a RHEL7 box, use screen:

sudo screen /dev/ttyS0 115200

I have my FreeBSD box attached to my Linux workstation via a serial patch cable. Of course I can use ssh to remotely login and manage the FreeBSD box, but in case my little network goes down, I can still login to my FreeBSD box.

Applied FreeBSD: Basic iSCSI

iSCSI is often touted as a low-cost replacement for fibre-channel (FC) Storage Area Networks (SANs). Instead of having to setup a separate fibre-channel network for the SAN, or invest in the infrastructure to run Fibre-Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), iSCSI runs on top of standard TCP/IP. This means that the same network equipment used for routing user data on a network could be utilized for the storage as well. In practice, to get high-levels of performance, it is advised that system designers consider iSCSI Host Bus Adaptors (HBAs) for each iSCSI participating team, and that the network at a minimum have a separate VLAN for iSCSI traffic–or more ideally, have separate physical network.

My disclaimer: this article does not cover any of the above performance enhancements! The systems in this article are setup and configured in a VMWare Workstation virtualized environment so that I don’t have to physically procure all of the hardware just to learn about iSCSI.

This article will cover a very basic setup where a FreeBSD server is configured as an iSCSI Target, and another FreeBSD server is configured as the iSCSI Initiator. The iSCSI Target will export a single disk drive, and the initiator will create a filesystem on this disk and mount it locally. Advanced topics, such as multipath, ZFS storage pools, failover controllers, etc. are not covered.  Please refer to the following documentation on iSCSI for more information:

Now to get started…

iSCSI Target Test Setup

The disk drive which should be shared on the network is /dev/ada0, a 5G SATA disk created in VMWare that I attached to the system before starting it up. With FeeBSD, iSCSI is controled by the ctld daemon, so this needs to be enabled on the system. While at it, why not go ahead and enable it at boot time too?

root@bsdtarget:~ # echo ‘ctld_enable=”YES”‘ >> /etc/rc.conf
root@bsdtarget:~ # service start ctld
Starting iscsid.

The real magic is the /etc/ctl.conf file, which contains all of the information necessary for ctld to share disk drives on the network. Check out the man page for /etc/ctl.conf for more details; below is the configuration file that I created for this test setup. Note that on a system that has never had iSCSI configured, there will be no existing configuration file, so go ahead and create it.

root@bsdtarget:/dev # less /etc/ctl.conf
auth-group test{
chap “iscsitest” “bsdforthewin”

portal-group pg0 {
discovery-auth-group no-authentication

target iqn.2017-02.lab.testing:basictarget {
auth-group no-authentication
portal-group pg0
lun 0 {
path /dev/ada0
size 5G
lun 1 {
path /dev/ada1
size 5G

For this setup, LUN 0 will be used by a FreeBSD iSCSI Initiator. I have LUN 1 configured for experimenting with Windows Server at a later time. Before starting ctld, it is a good idea to make sure that the /etc/ctl.conf file is not readable by all users (ctld will complain). At a later point it might be necessary to add iSCSI authentication for the sessions, and it would not be wise to have all users able to look at the authentication secret password.

root@bsdtarget:~ # chmod 640 /etc/ctl.conf
root@bsdtarget:~ # service start ctld

If there are any syntax errors or warnings, ctld will complain about it on the console. The ctladm tool can be used to query the system for more information, for example:

root@bsdtarget:/dev # ctladm lunlist
(7:0:0/0): <FREEBSD CTLDISK 0001> Fixed Direct Access SPC-4 SCSI device
(7:0:1/1): <FREEBSD CTLDISK 0001> Fixed Direct Access SPC-4 SCSI device
root@bsdtarget:/dev # ctladm devlist
LUN Backend Size (Blocks) BS Serial Number Device ID
0 block 10485760 512 MYSERIAL 0 MYDEVID 0
1 block 10485760 512 MYSERIAL 1 MYDEVID 1


That’s really it for the iSCSI Target configuration. The real effort is in setting up the /etc/ctl.conf file. And for a real production system, there would be more configuration with the exported disks, such as using ZFS shares, RAID-1 mirroring, et cetera.

iSCSI Initiator Test Setup

In order for a FreeBSD host to become an iSCSI Initiator, the iscsd daemon needs to be started. It doesn’t hurt to go ahead and add the instruction to /etc/rc.conf so that iscsid is started when the system comes up.

root@bsdinitiator:~ # echo ‘iscsid_enable=”YES”‘ >> /etc/rc.conf
root@bsdinitiator:~ # service start iscsid
Starting iscsid.

Next, the iSCSI Initiator can manually connect to the iSCSI target using the iscsictl tool. While setting up a new iSCSI session, this is probably the best option. Once you are sure the configuration is correct, add the configuration to the /etc/iscsi.conf file (see man page for this file). For iscsictl, pass the IP address of the target as well as the iSCSI IQN for the session:

root@bsdinitiator:~ # iscsictl -A -p -t iqn.2017-02.lab.testing:basictarget

The command returns silently, but a look at /var/message/logs shows that the remote disk was recognized and is now recognized by the Initiator as /dev/da1.

da1 at iscsi3 bus 0 scbus34 target 0 lun 0
da1: <FREEBSD CTLDISK 0001> Fixed Direct Access SPC-4 SCSI device
da1: Serial Number MYSERIAL 0
da1: 150.000MB/s transfers
da1: Command Queueing enabled
da1: 5120MB (10485760 512 byte sectors)

The iSCSI session connection status can also be verified with iscsictl:

root@bsdinitiator:~ # iscsictl -L
Target name                                                 Target portal          State
iqn.2017-02.lab.testing:basictarget       Connected: da1

Once the disk is recognized by the iSCSI Initiator system, it can be configured for use on the Initiator like a regular SCSI/SATA disk attached to the system physically. The commands below create a partition and UFS filesystem on /dev/da1.

root@bsdinitiator:~ # gpart create -s gpt /dev/da1
root@bsdinitiator:~ # gpart add -t freebsd-ufs -l 1m /dev/da1
root@bsdinitiator:~ # newfs -U /dev/da1p1
/dev/da1p1: 5120.0MB (10485688 sectors) block size 32768, fragment size 4096
using 9 cylinder groups of 626.09MB, 20035 blks, 80256 inodes.
with soft updates
super-block backups (for fsck_ffs -b #) at:
192, 1282432, 2564672, 3846912, 5129152, 6411392, 7693632, 8975872, 10258112
root@bsdinitiator:~ # mkdir /iscsi_share
root@bsdinitiator:~ # mount -t ufs -o rw /dev/da1p1 /iscsi_share

If there is already a filesystem resident on the device, it only needs to be mounted after the iSCSI session is connected. Back on the iSCSI Target machine, it is possible to see all of the iSCSI Initiators connected

root@bsdtarget:/dev # ctladm islist
ID   Portal                   Initiator name                                                 Target name
6      iqn.2017-02.lab.testing:basictarget

Finally, if for some reason it is necessary to disconnect the system, unmount the filesystem and use iscsictl to disconnect the iSCSI session.

root@bsdinitiator:~ # umount /iscsi_share
root@bsdinitiator:~ # iscsictl -R -t iqn.2017-02.lab.testing:basictarget

There is much more to explore with iSCSI, this is just the very beginning, but it serves a a model and a starting point for this work. More to come in the future!

Update: Windows iSCSI Initiator

I am not a very savvy Windows user, and I am very new to Windows Server. I have just started to learn some of the basics. As such, I thought I’d try setting up a Windows Server 2016 host as an iSCSI Initiator. I won’t go into much detail other than what is required for setting up the iSCSI parts. Go ahead and fire up Server Manager.


From the “Tools” menu, select iSCSI Initiator. It is also possible to start this application from the Windows search tool by searching for “iSCSI Initiator”. As shown below, when running it for the first time, Microsoft’s iSCSI service may not be running. If not, start it up!initiator2

There are many options for configuring the iSCSI Initiator, but for demonstration purposes we’ll cover the basic case. In the Target box, enter the IP address of the iSCSI Target machine and click on the Quick Connect button.


A screen should pop-up window finding the IQN for the iSCSI Target service, and it should also state somewhere that the Login was successful.


After closing out the pop-up window, the target should now be in the Discovered targets area of the Targets tab.


Next go to the Volumes and Devices tab. Unless you know the exact mount point for the iSCSI volume, the best bet is to click the Auto Configure button which will get the data from the iSCSI Target, as shown below.


I bet you wouldn’t have memorized that!  Both LUN 0 and LUN 1 are recognized by Windows. Press OK to exit out of the iSCSI Initiator application. Next, open up the Disk Management application on the Windows Server.


Notice that two new 5 GB disks are present. The tricky part here is that I am not sure which is LUN 0 and which is LUN 1. My best guess is that the disk that is recognized as a healthy primary partition is LUN 0 which contains a GPT label and is UFS formatted.  Thus the unrecognized disk must be LUN 1, which was not modified by the FreeBSD iSCSI Initiator. In reality I would deploy two iSCSI portal groups, one for the FreeBSD iSCSI Initiators and one for Windows iSCSI Initiators. I might have a third portal group for shared volumes.

For the unrecognized volume, create a MBR partition with the Disk Management tool, and then create a FAT32 partition on this disk as well. I decided to name the partition ISCSI_BSD. As shown below, on this Windows Server, the E: drive is now LUN 1, or /dev/ada2 back on my FreeBSD iSCSI Target machine.


The iSCSI drive shows up as a regular drive in Windows Explorer, as shown below.


Inside I created a special message for viewing from the FreeBSD side:


Finally, it is possible to verify the Windows access using the FreeBSD iSCSI Initiator. Reload the iSCSI Target session data, and now /dev/da2 is available on the FreeBSD Initiator. Even nicer, the FAT32 partitions are recognized by FreeBSD–less work to do! On Windows Server an MBR partition was created, which shows up as /dev/da2p1 in FreeBSD, and the actual FAT32 data partition is /dev/da2p2.

root@bsdinitiator:/iscsi_win_edrive # iscsictl -R -t iqn.2017-02.lab.testing:basictarget
root@bsdinitiator:/iscsi_win_edrive # iscsictl -A -p -t iqn.2017-02.lab.testing:basictarget

root@bsdinitiator:~ # ls -l /dev/da2*
crw-r—– 1 root operator 0x72 Mar 4 22:32 /dev/da2
crw-r—– 1 root operator 0x77 Mar 4 22:32 /dev/da2p1
crw-r—– 1 root operator 0x78 Mar 4 22:32 /dev/da2p2
root@bsdinitiator:~ # mount_msdosfs /dev/da2p2 /iscsi_win_edrive
root@bsdinitiator:~ # cd /iscsi_win_edrive/
root@bsdinitiator:/iscsi_win_edrive # ls
$RECYCLE.BIN hello.txt
System Volume Information
root@bsdinitiator:/iscsi_win_edrive # cat hello.txt
Hello FreeBSD! This is Windows Server!
I made your /dev/ada1 into a FAT32 partition.
I call it E: Drive. Thank you!

It works! I can see the message from Windows land.

FreeBSD Major/Minor Version Upgrades

Last year at some point I installed FreeBSD 10.2-RELEASE on an old i686 computer. In the time between now and then, there was a 10.3 minor release as well as an 11.0 major release. I am not in a hurry to get to FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE yet, but I thought it was time to make the minor version upgrade to 10.3-RELEASE. Fortunately, upgrading FreeBSD is an easy process.

The current version of FreeBSD installed on the machine is shown below.

root@bsdbox:~ # uname -a
FreeBSD bsdbox 10.2-RELEASE FreeBSD 10.2-RELEASE #0 r286666: Wed Aug 12 19:31:38 UTC 2015 i386

To upgrade to the next minor version, use the freebsd-update command with the upgrade option and the release version.

root@bsdbox:~ # freebsd-update -r 10.3-RELEASE upgrade

Depending on your system, this command could take a while to run while it inspects the system. On this i686 machine, I just let the command run and came back after an hour or so to check on its progress.

Looking up mirrors… 4 mirrors found.
Fetching metadata signature for 10.2-RELEASE from… done.
Fetching metadata index… done.
Fetching 1 metadata files… done.
Inspecting system…

The following components of FreeBSD seem to be installed:
kernel/generic src/src world/base

The following components of FreeBSD do not seem to be installed:
world/doc world/games

Does this look reasonable (y/n)?

After inspecting the system, the upgrade process is just making sure I am happy with the parts that will be upgraded. Enter “y” to continue, and then if you have an i686 machine, walk away and give it some time to fetch the updates.

Fetching metadata signature for 10.3-RELEASE from… done.
Fetching metadata index… done.
Fetching 1 metadata patches. done.
Applying metadata patches… done.
Fetching 1 metadata files… done.
Inspecting system… done.
Fetching files from 10.2-RELEASE for merging… done.
Preparing to download files…
…(output truncated for the sake of sanity)…
590….39600….39610….39620….39630….39640….39650….39660….39670….39680….39690….39700….39710….39720….39730….39740….39750….39760….39770….39780….39790….39800….39810….39820….39830….39840….39850….39860….39870….39880….39890….39900….39910….39920….39930….39940….39950….39960….39970….39980….39990….40000….40010….40020….40030 done.
Applying patches… done.
Fetching 873 files… done.
Attempting to automatically merge changes in files… done.

The following file could not be merged automatically: /etc/ssh/ssh_config
Press Enter to edit this file in vi and resolve the conflicts

I had made some modifications to /etc/ssh/ssh_config on my baseline system, so rather than just overwriting the file, FreeBSD is offering me the opportunity to look at a diff of my original and the new version that FreeBSD needs to install. Luckily for me, I had just added one line, and I no longer needed it, so I edit out the changes and let FreeBSD move onward. Once you save the changes and exit out of the editor, the upgrade process continues.

To install the downloaded upgrades, run “/usr/sbin/freebsd-update install”.

Excellent! The updates have been downloaded, my system has been examined, and all of the necessary modifications have been merged into the software to install. To initiate the actual install:

root@bsdbox:~ # freebsd-update install
Installing updates…
Kernel updates have been installed. Please reboot and run
“/usr/sbin/freebsd-update install” again to finish installing updates.

At this point, the system is ready to be rolled over to the next version of FreeBSD. Reboot the system:

root@bsdbox:~ # shutdown -r +1

Once the system comes back up, check out the version:

root@bsdbox:~ # uname -a
FreeBSD bsdbox 10.3-RELEASE-p11 FreeBSD 10.3-RELEASE-p11 #0: Mon Oct 24 18:47:18 UTC 2016 i386

Nice! To finalize the install, run the freebsd-update command with the install option as directed in the output before the last system reboot.

root@bsdbox:~ # freebsd-update install

That is it, the system is now upgraded from FreeBSD 10.2 to 10.3! An upgrade to a major version is no different from the above, just specify the proper version. For example, to upgrade to FreeBSD 11.0:

root@bsdbox:~ # freebsd-update -r 11.0-RELEASE upgrade


FreeBSD and Iomega ZIP Drives

Iomega ZIP drives and disks are dead technology, but I have an old box from 1999 that has a fully functioning 100MB ZIP drive. Out of the box, FreeBSD supports these devices through the SCSI subsystem. During the boot process, FreeBSD recognizes the drive as /dev/da0.

da0 at ata0 bus 0 scbus0 target 1 lun 0
da0: <IOMEGA ZIP 100 12.A> Removable Direct Access SCSI device
da0: 11.100MB/s transfers (PIO3, ATAPI 12bytes, PIO 65534bytes)
da0: Attempt to query device size failed: NOT READY, Medium not present

The last line is not a critical failure, it just means that there is no ZIP disk inserted in the drive. Rebooting the machine with a ZIP disk inserted results in the following output:

da0 at ata0 bus 0 scbus0 target 1 lun 0
da0: <IOMEGA ZIP 100 12.A> Removable Direct Access SCSI device
da0: 11.100MB/s transfers (PIO3, ATAPI 12bytes, PIO 65534bytes)
da0: 96MB (196608 512 byte sectors: 255H 255S/T 3C)

The last line shows that the ZIP disk media was recognized, and the number of 512-byte blocks is listed. A disk can be inserted at any time, and interestingly enough, when a disk is inserted into the driver, there are no messages in /var/log/messages indicating which partition the media is listed as. Running a listing on the devices in /dev can reveal some hints though.

root@bsdbox:/media # ls /dev
acpi consolectl kbd0 pci ttyv4
… da0 …
… da0s4 …

The drive represents the ZIP media on /dev/da0s4. According to older documentation from FreeBSD 6, slice 4 is where the device driver places the media partition.  To access the ZIP disk, first create a mount point on the filesystem, such as /media/zipdisk, and then mount the device using the mount(8). The zip disks I have are FAT formatted, so I need to use the “-t msdosfs” option.

root@bsdbox:/meda # mkdir /media/zipdisk
root@bsdbox:/meda # mount -t msdosfs /dev/da0s4 /media/zipdisk

This disk is now available on /media/zipdisk for reading and writing.  When finished with the disk, before physically ejecting it, be sure to unmount the filesystem first.

root@bsdbox:/meda # umount /media/zipdisk

Now it is safe to press the disk eject button on the drive. Of course for frequent use of a ZIP drive, entries should be added to /etc/fstab to make things easier. For infrequent use, however, the above methodology should work just fine!

Disable console bell in FreeBSD

I use Bash and frequently utilize tab completion. On my FreeBSD box, when there are multiple options during tab completion, the annoying console bell always obnoxiously makes itself heard. For C programmers, it is the ‘\a’ that you included in your printf() calls when first learning C to drive others crazy.

To disable it, as root user you can run:

root@bsdbox# sysctl hw.syscons.bell=0
hw.syscons.bel;: 1-> 0

Add the “hw.syscons.bell=0” command to /etc/sysctl.conf to permanently disable it.  Good riddance!

WindowMaker as the X11 window manager

My light-weight window manager of choice is WindowMaker.  It is simple, easy to modify, and stays out of the way.  The default window manager installed with X11 on FreeBSD, however, is twm.  I first experienced twm in the Virginia Tech Computer Science Dept. UNIX lab (all FreeBSD boxes), and tvm looks exactly the same today.  I cannot pick on it too much, however.  The guy in the office next door to me at work uses tvm on his Linux box.  I suppose I ought to call it an Emacs box, since he does everything out of emacs.  I digress…

Please read this excellent tutorial on xinit and .xinitrc files from the Fluxbox project first.  The tutorial explains very clearly how the xinit program works and how .xinitrc files are processed.  In short, however, once the end of .xinitrc is reached, X11 is shutdown.  Thus you need a blocking command in xinitrc scripts that prevents the script from exiting.  In the default xinitrc script,  /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xinit/xinitrc, I noticed towards the bottom of the script:

twm &

It was followed by three xterm commands. The first two were also run in the background, but the final xterm was not run in the background, thus preventing X11 from terminating until that terminal is closed by the user.  No more twm on this box though!  I removed the xterm commands, and changed the twm line to the following:


Now, WindowMaker is launched and until the user exits the WindowMaker session X11 will continue to run. All users on my FreeBSD will have WindowMaker when the execute startx.  I also created a .xinitrc in my user account home directory as follows:

exec wmaker

In reality, however, I have XDM to run as my “magic client” (see article linked above). Instead of managing a separate .xinitrc and .xsession file, I just symlinked the files together so that any changes are available in both files, in the cast that I ever disable XDM.

ln -s .xinitrc .xsession

After I log into the system via XDM, my .xsession file is executed and WindowMaker is launched.