Installing FreeBSD network drivers

So I decided to build a local NAS system to store music (since I’m worried my CDs are starting to degrade), and to do Time Machine backups (last backup 2018!). Despite never having used FreeBSD before, I am planning to go with FreeBSD for this since I want to use a native well-integrated ZFS implementation.

Anyway, the first issue I’ve hit is that I need RealTek network drivers, but they are not included in the installer kernel. So there are various blog posts around that describe copying them into the ports system using a USB stick, etc. Fortunately, I have a USB network adapter, and FreeBSD supports that in the default kernel.

So after booting with the USB adapter attached, manually get a DHCP lease:

dhclient ue0

Now I have some basic connectivity, RealTek drivers are apparantly available in the ports system:

pkg update -f
pkg install realtek-re-kmod

But as soon as I did that, the ports package mentioned there is already a built-in driver, so I wasn’t sure whether my chipset wasn’t supported by that driver, or whether there was just some sort of misconfiguration. Turned out that I had the RTL8125 adapter, which needs the ports driver.

From then on, it was straightforward to follow the network guide in the handbook to get networking configured.