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installboot: no OpenBSD partition, description and solution


You get the message "no OpenBSD partition" from installboot
on a i386 architecture when you've forgotten to
run 'fdisk -i <device>', or othewise don't have
a 0xA6 labeled IBM-PC-style partition.  It seems that disklabel
will happily put BSD partitions inside, near as I can tell,
PC partitions.  At least under some circumstances.
Some sort of MS Windows "surface test" program had
been run on my drives before I got them and I got
the "no OpenBSD partition" error from installboot
after running disklabel, newfs and loading a root filesystem.
Partitioning looks fine to disklabel, but closer to
the hardware when installboot takes a look it does
not see any OpenBSD.

My solution was to start over and begin by running
fdisk -i to get an OpenBSD partition with the bootable
flag set.  This makes the disk into (essentially)
a single OpenBSD partition at the BIOS level
which disklabel can then sub-divide with it's
own partitioning scheme at the BSD level.

I'm not sure that the vocabulary I use above is
correct.  I could not find a description in the
man pages of how OpenBSD works around the awful
IBM-PC partitioning strangeness.

Hope this saves somebody some time.


Karl <kop_(_at_)_meme_(_dot_)_com>
Free Software:  "You don't pay back, you pay forward."
                 -- Robert A. Heinlein