Run FreeBSD Headless Without a GPU

If you tried booting FreeBSD 10 without any video card connected to the computer, you could wait for centuries but still no username/password would display on your ssh remote shell. With video card attached it would work flawlessly. This quick howto will show you how to get it working.

September 5, 2016

Why it Does Not Work Without GPU

I don't know for sure. When running headless there is nothing to be seen, especially in the first stages of boot when no error logs are being saved permanently.

I think it's beacause FreeBSD has three (maybe more) options for console output on startup. Video card, serial port or null. Video card seems to be the default.

Make it Work

If there is no video card attached and console output is set to video, it refuses to boot. It can be solved either by setting boot output to serial port (see FreeBSD Handbook) or, even better, to null output (which means a mute console).

For more options see loader.conf man page. Or you can just add the following line to /boot/loader.conf file.


Now try booting it without graphics card and after a while you should be able to connect to your headless computer/server.