This note is about installing and running DragonFly BSD 6.4


DragonFly BSD from is a BSD :). As such, it is a rock and the userland is sane. It was forked from FreeBSD long ago and is renowned for its HAMMER FS. I started the exploration with the intention of learning more about HAMMER and have enjoyed the journey.

Link to high res image:

I like DragonFly BSD, but there is a bit of a learning curve, even for someone used to FreeBSD… I say this as someone who has been using FreeBSD for more than a decade and while there is some overlap, it’s still pretty different. Maybe if I had used an earlier version of FreeBSD it would seem more familiar, but I started with 8.


  • A machine to run it on - I put it on my Dell Optiplex 755, Core 2 Quad  CPU   Q9550  @ 2.83GHz w/8GB RAM, and a 240 GB SSD
  • DragonFly BSD 6.4 USB image from


Getting started

Create a workarea on your existing system

mkdir -p ~/Downloads/dragonfly
cd ~/Downloads/dragonfly/

Download the image, decompress it, and verify it

Note that md5’s of the releases are available at

MD5 (dfly-x86_64-6.4.0_REL.img) = b3b23e1a18292c46643f8df435e4ab68

bzip2 -d dfly-x86_64-6.4.0_REL.img.bz2
md5 dfly-x86_64-6.4.0_REL.img
MD5 (dfly-x86_64-6.4.0_REL.img) = b3b23e1a18292c46643f8df435e4ab68

Burn it to USB - I use Balena Etcher

Installing DragonFly BSD

Boot to the USB stick

DragonFly Boot Menu

The DragonFly Boot Menu will appear after a few seconds.

  • Choose 1. Boot DragonFly [kernel]

The bootup process takes a minute or so… be patient.

Running the DragonFly BSD Installer

  • login as installer with no password

The installer will begin and display its dialogs:

Welcome screen and staring the installation
  • Welcome to DragonFly BSD

A brief description of Dragonfly BSD is presented.

  • Choose Install DragonFly BSD

  • Begin Installation

The installer describes what it’s about to do.

  • Again, choose Install DragonFly BSD
Disk Setup
  • UEFI or legacy BIOS

  • Choose Legacy BIOS (or UEFI, if you have it)

  • Select Disk - a list of disks is presented.

  • Choose da0: 244198MB

  • How Much Disk? - asks you how much of the disk (all of it, or just part of it).

  • Choose Use Entire Disk

  • Are you absolutely sure?

  • Acknowledge by choosing OK

  • Information

The disk
da0: 244198MB
was formatted.
  • Acknowledge by choosing OK
File System Setup
  • Select file system
  • Choose Use HAMMER2 as recommended.
  • Create Subpartitions
/boot 1024M
swap 16G
/ 166G
/build *
  • Choose Accept and Create

The filesystem is created.

OS Installation
  • Install OS

  • Choose Begin Installing Files

It will take a couple of minutes for the operating system files to be written to disk.

Boot Block Installation
  • Install Bootblock(s)
 Disk Drive   Install Bootblock? Packet Mode?
 [da0      ]  [X]                [X]
  • Choose Accept and Install Bootblocks

  • Information

    Bootblocks were successfully installed!

  • Acknowledge by choosing OK

Completing the installation
  • DragonFly BSD is Installed!

The base installation, now it’s time to configure the system.

  • Choose Configure this system

Configuring the newly installed system

Timezone configuration

  • Choose Select Timezone

  • Local or UTC (Greenwich Mean Time) clock

    • Choose YES
  • Select Timezone

  • Choose America

  • Choose Chicago

  • Information

    The Time Zone has been set to
  • Acknowledge by choosing OK

Date and Time configuration
  • Set date and time

  • Set Time/Date as you like

  • Confirm your choices by choosing OK

  • Information

    The time and date have been set.

  • Acknowledge by choosing OK

Keyboard map configuration
  • Choose Set keyboard map

  • Select Keyboard Map

    • Choose us.pc-ctrl-kbd
Root password configuration
  • Choose Set root password

  • Set Root Password

    • Enter root password

    • Enter root password again

    • Choose Accept and Set Password

    • Information

      The root password has been set.

    • Acknowledge by choosing OK

Additional user configuration
  • Choose Add a user

  • Add user

  •  Username wsenn
    Real Name Will Senn
    Password **
    Password again **
    Shell /bin/sh
    Home Directory /home/wsenn
    User ID (leave blank)
    Login Group (leave blank)
    Other Group Membership [wheel,video]
  • Choose Accept and Add

  • Information

    The user 'wsenn' was added.

    • Acknowledge by choosing OK
Network configuration
  • Choose Configure network interfaces

  • Assign IP Address

    • choose em0

    • Use DHCP

      • Choose Use DHCP

        It takes a few seconds to initialize the nic.

    • Information

      Lots of em0 info is displayed

    • Acknowledge by choosing OK

Hostname and domain configuration
  • Choose Configure hostname and domain

  • Enter your hostname

  • Enter your domain

  • Confirm your selections by choosing OK

Console font configuration (optional)

Probably don’t need to change it but if you do…

Choose cp437 fonts

Screen map configuration

Probably don’t need to change it but if you do…

Choose the iso-8859-1 to cp437 screen map

Wrapping up configuration
  • Choose Return to Welcome Screen

  • Choose Reboot This Computer

  • Reboot

    • Choose Reboot
  • Remove the USB Stick and reboot

I had to power cycle the computer at this point.

Running DragonFly BSD

The computer will reboot and display the Dragonfly BSD Boot manager.

Default: F1

After about 10 seconds, the computer will boot the default entry (DragonFly BSD).

The Dragonfly BSD Boot menu will appear and a countdown timer will count down before booting the default entry - 1. DragonFly BSD (kernel).

Login as regular user

login: wsenn

Get the ip


Temporarily change ssh to allow password based logins

su -

vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config
PasswordAuthentication yes
service sshd restart

Copy over your user key (if you plan to log in remotely)

on remote host

ssh-copy-id loki

Change ssh back to only allow key based logins

on loki

su -

vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config
PasswordAuthentication no
service sshd restart

Log in over ssh

ssh loki

Do updates and upgrade

Note: 6.4.0 ships with an old version of pkg and the upgrade fails as a result and blows away the pkg configuration. The simple solution is to copy the sample configuration over and rerun the upgrade as described below.

pkg update
pkg upgrade

This results in the following error:

Updating Avalon repository catalogue...
Avalon repository is up to date.
All repositories are up to date.
New version of pkg detected; it needs to be installed first.
The following 1 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

Installed packages to be UPGRADED:
	pkg: 1.14.4 -> 1.18.4 [Avalon]

Number of packages to be upgraded: 1

3 MiB to be downloaded.

Proceed with this action? [y/N]: Y
[1/1] Fetching pkg-1.18.4.pkg: 100%    3 MiB 790.6kB/s    00:04    
Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting)
[1/1] Upgrading pkg from 1.14.4 to 1.18.4...
[1/1] Extracting pkg-1.18.4: 100%
pkg: Failed to execute lua script: [string "-- args: etc/pkg.conf.sample..."]:12: attempt to call a nil value (field 'stat')
pkg: lua script failed
No active remote repositories configured.
Restore the borked configuration

cp /usr/local/etc/pkg/repos/df-latest.conf.sample /usr/local/etc/pkg/repos/df-latest.conf

Rerun the upgrade step

pkg upgrade

This time, things ought to be good.

Install some useful baseline packages

pkg install sudo vim bash sysrc


Change the user shell to bash

as user


Install a Windowing Environment

sudo -s
pkg install xorg xf86-input-evdev windowmaker leafpad nautilus chromium slim slim-themes

echo "exec wmaker" > .xinitrc

sysrc slim_enable="YES"
sysrc dbus_enable="YES"
sysrc snd_hda_load="YES"

sysrc -f /boot/loader.conf autoboot_delay="1"

sudo shutdown -r now

should restart with slim

Login, fire up Chrome and youtube, stuff oughta just work

  • Right-click on the desktop, open a terminal, then


logging out of windowmaker takes 10 seconds then beep

Post installation rigamarole

I have an ASUS ATI Radeon HD 650 Silence video card. I did the following to learn more about it.

kldload radeon
Id Refs Address            Size     Name
 1   26 0xffffffff80200000 1ada9a8  kernel
 2    1 0xffffffff81cdb000 7c550    ehci.ko
 3    1 0xffffffff81d58000 8a1f0    xhci.ko
 4    1 0xffffffff82600000 16000    ums.ko
 5    1 0xffffffff82616000 19a7000  radeon.ko
 6    1 0xffffffff83fbd000 baa000   drm.ko
 7    1 0xffffffff84b67000 1f000    iicbus.ko
 8    1 0xffffffff84b86000 a000     radeonkmsfw_CAICOS_pfp.ko
 9    1 0xffffffff84b90000 b000     radeonkmsfw_CAICOS_me.ko
10    1 0xffffffff84b9b000 a000     radeonkmsfw_BTC_rlc.ko
11    1 0xffffffff84ba5000 f000     radeonkmsfw_CAICOS_mc.ko
12    1 0xffffffff84bb4000 f000     radeonkmsfw_CAICOS_smc.ko
13    1 0xffffffff84bc3000 3b000    radeonkmsfw_SUMO_uvd.ko

I have onboard sound. Here’s the exploration.

kldload snd_hda
cat /dev/random > /dev/dsp

Static sound ensues :).

cat /dev/sndstat
Installed devices:
pcm0: <Analog Devices AD1984 (Analog)> (play/rec) default
pcm1: <Analog Devices AD1984 (Analog)> (play/rec)
pcm2: <ATI R6xx (HDMI)> (play)

dmesg|grep pcm
pcm0: <Analog Devices AD1984 (Analog)> at nid 18 and 20 on hdaa0
pcm1: <Analog Devices AD1984 (Analog)> at nid 17 and 21 on hdaa0
pcm2: <ATI R6xx (HDMI)> at nid 3 on hdaa1

I mucked up loader.conf and booting became an issue. Here’s the fix.

  • insert usb and boot to it
  • select r for ramdisk
  • in the booted system, mount /dev/da0s1a
  • find and edit loader.conf in /mnt
  • reboot

I originally had a janky mouse, the fix was to install xf86-input-evdev

To enable X11 over ssh sudo vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config X11Forwarding yes

post last updated 2023-01-19 13:12:00 -0600