{*} {*} NOTE: This project is currently suspended because of lack of time, and because of significant collisions with loader changes by others.

{*} New: I've published a tarball for people who would like to check this out. Beware, it's work in progress!

Note: PC-BSD >= 9.0-RC3 has the new BootLoader enabled by default.

"You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression"

Look at the current text menu of FreeBSD's bootloader, look at the old-fashioned ASCII logo. FreeBSD aims to support the most modern hardware platforms, to implement the latest protocols and greatest algorithms. Do you think it's appropriate that FreeBSD greets its users with a boot screen that looks like a 20 years old DOS program?

That's why I'm working on this:

Graphics support for /boot/loader

Lets start with a screenshot (this one is not completely up-to-date, current WIP looks a bit different):


The project consists of the following parts (in bottom-up order):

Every theme has its own subdirectory /boot/themes/<name> which contains at least a configuration file, and possibly other files as well. Example:


And the configuration file (/boot/themes/default/theme.conf) looks like this:

theme_bgcolor="0 0 0"           # black
theme_fgcolor="255 255 255"     # white
theme_options_xy="64 10"
theme_actions_xy="64 82"

A theme is enabled by adding a line to /boot/loader.conf:


New themes can easily be created. It is expected that the base system will ship only with a limited number of themes (maybe just one), and more themes can be provided through the ports collection.

If a theme wants to do more sophisticated things, such as using multiple graphics files or fonts, or re-arrange the menu in completely different ways, it will have to bring its own Forth code and modify beastie.4th directly (an appropriate mechanism to provide hooks into may be provided at a later time).

Work in progress

Note this is currently work in progress, happening in the FreeBSD Perforce ("p4") repository. I plan to commit it to FreeBSD when it's ready, after proper review and approval.

For those you are eager to check out the WIP, there's a tarball available for preliminary testing. Please see the testing instructions for details. Note this is "bleeding edge", so it might not work for you.

Current status:




low-level graphics functions


(./) done for i386/amd64 (BIOS-based, VGA, 4bpp)

platform switch


in progress

FICL Forth words


(./) done

"beastie" menu graphics support


(./) done

text/binary converter for fonts


(./) done (a version written in C also exists)

initial default theme


(./) done (background image, font)

multiple themes support


(./) done



in progress

If you have any questions or requests, please contact OliverFromme.

OliverFromme/BootLoader (last edited 2013-12-06 11:44:05 by OliverFromme)