This time, my Linux was continuously buggy. I decided to reinstall. Fresh system, fresh conf, fresh desktop.

So I returned to Debian, the Linux distribution that is so stable you can build your house on top of it. But I also thought it was worth trying Debian GNU/kFreeBSD. That is, a Debian distro, with its organisation and stability and a BSD kernel (hence the K in the distro name). FreeBSD is said to have a fast efficient network stack, pf, the super firewall, and finally ZFS which is said to be the last filesystem to be before the world gets down.

This article tells my adventure, which looks like either Han Solo, or masochism…

an installer ought to be sane !

First, let’s download some install media for a usb key. Failed. The recommended method by the Debian website is to copy iso content on the usb stick. Someone reminds me of another one : dd. and it was working few years ago.

dd if=debian-netinstall.iso of=/dev/sdabc bs=64k

Great, it boots.

But the installer believe itself to be a CDrom, whereas it is actually a usb stick.

So far so good, let’s do something I haven’t done for years : burn a CD ! I bought a few CDrw at the beginning of my apprentice as a Linux padawan (but no master to lead…). That allows to make Linux install for cheap.

The first burnt iso failed (the CD’s md5sum fingerprint doesn’t correspond to the downloaded iso) but I made the stupid step to use it instead.

So, I boot the CD, format hard drive (exactly, I erase my whole former Linux like I planned to), but install failed, as the disc was corrupt. I have now a computer with no bootable OS. More usable as construction material !

CD rescue, go to Windows, burn again, this time without problem.


Then boot, and partitioning.

First, classical solution : the usual three partition system, swap, / and /home. I try to place them on ZFS (and discover by the time the notion of ZFS pool). It failed.

So I continue and simply placed the swap out of ZFS. Failed again. After that I gave up the swap idea, just keep a void partition of 1G to swap it when the system would be on (I did not succeed in any way during this whole day to swap).

At this time, I figured out that the installer has an option “have a ZFS root partition”, which lead to five parts :

  • Luciole/ROOT/racine/
  • Luciole/ROOT/racine/boot
  • Luciole/ROOT/racine/home
  • Luciole/ROOT/racine/usr
  • Luciole/ROOT/racine/var

These are ZFS volumes. ZFS looks like LVM, with logical volumes which seem to be resizable, with the filesystem’s functions incorporated. Looks pretty amazing !

Luciole is my hostname, and the name I gave to the ZFS pool. And it asked me for a / partition name, a bit odd since it already called it ROOT. I used racine, which is the french for “root”.

So, we have five parts corresponding to the five historical parts of a Unix/Linux system, but easier to manage, as it’s not disc partitions.

But now, Grub doesn’t want to setup ! Yet there’s an option to setup it on ZFS !

Let’s try everything

So I tried to place / on UFS. Then /boot on ext2 (old school, but so efficient according to the manuals !) and the system on UFS. Let’s make the swap aside.

I tried all this various stuff together or not, and all failed.

Except one that worked. Don’t remember which one.

Install. Grub … ? No !

Let’s return back to the Grand Old Distro.

After X attempts, I gave up and return to the classical Debian GNU/Linux. One hour install, plus few days custom, not yet clearly finished, but OK.

What to say ? Of course I reported a bug. Obviously a bit awkward since I did it from the current fresh Linux, not the failing kFreeBSD.