Getting started


GhostBSD is available for general use.

System requirements

  • 2 GHz dual core Intel/ARM 64-bit processor

  • 4 GiB RAM (system memory for physical and viritualized installs)

  • VGA capable of 1024x768 screen resolution

  • Network connection

  • 15 GiB of storage

  • Either a CD/DVD drive or a USB port for booting the installer media

In the future, there may also be builds for other processor architectures. We would like to bring down the RAM requirement considerably.

Please refer to FreeBSD Hardware Compatibility for more information on individual components.

Tested hardware

GhostBSD is known to boot to a graphical desktop on the following machines. Auxiliary functionality such as wireless networking, sound over HDMI, sleep, graphics acceleration, etc. has not yet been tested systematically.

Please contact us if you would like to sponsor the project with a hardware donation. We are especially looking for Lenovo devices from the previous generations that should be available second-hand inexpensively.

To see Hardware Probes of systems running GhostBSD, please see the GhostBSD Hardware Database provided by It is reasonable to assume that every system listed there can at least successfully boot GhostBSD. Auxiliary functionality such as wireless networking, sound over HDMI, sleep, graphics acceleration, etc. may or may not be working.

Networking hardware

Not all networking devices may be supported by GhostBSD yet. In those cases, you may want to consider using a USB-based networking device. GhostBSD developers currently have access to the following USB-based networking devices, which are known to work:

Getting an ISO

The GhostBSD ISO image is available for download here.

Experimental development images are available for download here.

Creating a bootable USB flash drive

After downloading the appropriate ISO image, copy it to a USB flash drive using one of the methods described below.

Please Note:

  • GhostBSD-YY.MM.DD.iso represents the current GhostBSD ISO, for example, GhostBSD-23.06.18.iso.

  • Likewise, X is a number or letter that will change based on the number of drives attached to the computer, for example, /dev/da-1 or /dev/sdb.

  • It may also be necessary to run the commands below as root using a tool like sudo.


dd if=/path/to/GhostBSD-YY.MM.DD.iso of=/dev/daX bs=3m

On Linux

dd if=/path/to/GhostBSD-YY.MM.DD.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=3M

On macOS

dd if=/path/to/GhostBSD-YY.MM.DD.iso of=/dev/diskX bs=3m

On Windows

  • Download and run the imaging tool, Rufus, from the website.

  • Insert the USB flash drive.

  • Make sure the flash drive is shown in Rufus under Device.

  • Click “SELECT” and choose the GhostBSD ISO file.

  • Click “START”.

A list of additional live USB creation tools can be found on Wikpedia.

The steps described above will create a bootable GhostBSD system on a USB flash drive. To start a live session, insert the flash drive into the computer, reboot, and select the flash drive as the boot device. Further information can be found here.

Virtualization environments

    We recommend running GhostBSD on real hardware ("bare metal") if possible. This should give you the best possible performance and hardware support.

Users have reported success in running GhostBSD in the following virtualization environments:

  • VirtualBox host (on FreeBSD and macOS), known to work in BIOS and EFI mode

  • VMware host (on Windows), possibly only working in BIOS mode?

  • QEMU host (on Linux), works in both BIOS and EFI modes (see below). Note that for acceptable performance, QEMU needs KVM which is currently not available on FreeBSD hosts yet

  • Parallels host, reported to work in EFI mode (see below)

  • Proxmox VE

Please note:

  • The VM needs to be 64-bit

  • The VM needs at least 4 GB of RAM

  • The VM needs at least 2 CPU cores

  • The boot process takes longer than you might expect; boot in verbose mode to see the details

  • For best results set EFI/UEFI boot mode (not BIOS)

Please report back about the results on your virtualization environment.


Create an 8 GiB (or larger) ghostbsd.img image file on which you can install the system:

$ pwd
$ mkdir -p .qemu/ghostbsd
$ fallocate -l $(( 8*1024*1024*1024 )) .qemu/ghostbsd/ghostbsd.img

Then, boot GhostBSD:

qemu-system-x86_64 -machine type=q35,accel=kvm \
-enable-kvm -cpu host -smp 2 -m 4096 \
-device virtio-net,netdev=vmnic -netdev user,id=vmnic,hostfwd=tcp::5222-:22 \
-vga std -soundhw hda -no-quit \
-drive format=raw,file=${HOME}/.qemu/ghostbsd/ghostbsd.img \
-drive format=raw,file=${HOME}/Downloads/ghostbsd.iso \
-boot menu=on

When QEMU starts, press esc and select 2 to boot the ISO.

Use the Install GhostBSD utility to install GhostBSD do the disk image.

Then restart QEMU, you now remove the last two options from the above command.


  • The hostfwd= option creates a port forward from your host port 5222 to the Qemu VM port 22.

  • Unfortunately the qemu-system-x86_64 USB tablet options do not work; you will need to press Ctrl+Alt+g to release the mouse pointer from the QEMU window

  • To make QEMU full screen, press Ctrl+Alt+F

To boot/install GhostBSD in UEFI mode, first install OVMF Open Virtual Machine Firmware on your host side. The package name for Fedora 32 is edk2-ovmf

Then add these two qemu-system-x86_64 options:

-bios /usr/share/edk2/ovmf/OVMF_CODE.fd \
-smbios type=0,vendor=0vendor,version=0version,date=0date,release=0.0,uefi=on \


  • Select Hardware > Boot Order.

  • Expand Advanced Settings. Set BIOS to “EFI 64-bit” and in the Boot flags field, enter vm.bios.efi=1.


Proxmox VE

  • Memory: 4GB (not ballooned)

  • Processors: 2 (1 socket 2 cores)


  • Display: Default (VGA)

  • Machine: q35

  • SATA Controller: VirtIO SATA for attaching virtual disk to (to install the system on)

  • CD Drive: GhostBSD ISO

  • Hard Disk: At least 8GB Raw

  • Network Device: VirtIO

To set resolution, press F2 at boot to access OVMF settings. Select ‘Device Manager > OVMF Platform Configuration > Change Preferred’, save and reboot.


Install VirtualBox using your package manager or from the website. Then, launch the VirtualBox Manager and select Tools > New to create a virtual machine with the following settings.

  • Name and operating system

    • Enter a Name for the virtual machine

    • Set Type to “FreeBSD”

    • Set Version to “FreeBSD (64-bit)”

  • Memory size

    • Increase the RAM to at least 4GB (4096MB)

  • Hard disk

    • Default settings are recommended.

  • Hard disk file type

    • Default settings are recommended.

  • Storage on physical hard disk

    • Default settings are recommended.

  • File location and size

    • Default settings are okay but it may be desirable to increase the maximum size of the virtual storage.

After completing the above steps, the virtual machine will be created. In the VirtualBox Manager, select the new virtual machine and open the Settings screen. Edit the settings described below.

  • System > Motherboard

    • Under Extended Features select “Enable EFI (special OSes only)

  • System > Processor

    • Set Prosessor(s) to at least 2 CPUs

  • Display > Screen

    • Change Graphics Controller to VBoxSVGA

  • Storage

    • Under Storage Devices select the Optical Drive (CD icon)

    • Under Attributes click the CD icon to open a drop down menu.

    • Select “Choose a disk file…” and locate the downloaded GhostBSD iso file.

Click “OK” to save the changes. Finally, in the VirtualBox Manager, select Start. The GhostBSD live system will boot into the Mate desktop environment. Click “Install GhostBSD” to start the installer. After installation, either reboot or shutdown the virtual machine and remove the ISO from the optical drive before the next boot.