Monday, September 3, 2012

FreeBSD Read-Only filesystem...and changing to read-write

I have had some some seriously annoying issues involving time, especially in the last three months. The worst part has been the "little" things that pop up that have caused delays all of the projects I have undertaken during this time. That said, this is the first of a few quick posts that I wanted to make.

Anyway, the primary point of this post is to record the command used to make a FreeBSD system read AND writable when it is read-only. I have been recently testing a FreeBSD system and was very annoyed to find that the system installs as read-only. It really didn't take long to find the right command from the manpage...but putting it here makes it even easier to find later...and maybe helps someone else.

So, if you want to make ALL partitions on a FreeBSD system writable:

#>mount -u -a -o rw

-u   means update the current permissions on the selected partitions
-a   means all, which in this case means all partitions listed in fstab
-o   means options, where you can see I used 'rw'...intuitively this should be understood as "read, write" privileges.

Because I have used -a I do NOT need to list any specific partition (nor required options). The -u  also implies that I want the command to update the listed (or fstab-defined) mount points. I have NOT tried this command on any other flavor of linux but I am fairly confident that it is a universal command....mount is NOT a "new" *nix command. :-)

Edited (5 Sep 12): One thing that I didn't think about was the persistence of read-write property. The above command will make your read-only partitions writable, but the next reboot or the next mount command will use the options in the fstab file. To make this change permanent (usually*), you would need to edit:
#> vi /etc/fstab

The format of each line of this file is:

device   mountPoint  fileSystemType options   dump   pass#

There are whole chapters of books written about how to use the mount command and fstab files, so I have no intention of rehashing all of that here. The important part here is that the options column be changed from ro (or just 'r') to the desired rw.

I mentioned above that the change to read-write would usually persist upon modification of the /etc/fstab file. However, this is NOT always the case...but I don't have time to write anything more about that. Maybe a future blog post or an another update to this one.


  1. Thanks David, helped me out on a VMWare problem

  2. Thank you worked well for me too on Freenas.