Upgrade OpenBSD remotely

Upgrade server with no CD drive

This mini guide explain how to update an OpenBSD server with no CD reader. You still need to access the server during boot to change the boot kernel.

  1. Copy contents of upgrade CD to HD via e.g. scp. It is suggested to organize the 4.x folder directly under root as this is default during installation.
  2. Reboot from new bsd.rd kernel.
  3. Run through the normal upgrade process.
  4. Update installed packages.
  5. Upgrade config files (under ‘/etc’) that have been outdated

Roughly this means running the following commands.

scp -r /Volumes/OpenBSD4.4/4.4 root@
ssh root@
boot wd0a:/4.4/i386/bsd.rd (at boot prompt)
export PKG_PATH=
pkg_add -ui -F update -F updatedepends

See 4.5 Upgrade FAQ for an examle of how configuration files may be upgraded. In some cases the system will work perfectly without any changes in configuration.

Upgrade headless server remotely

To do remote upgrade requires that you are connected to the server via a serial port console. This enables you to reboot the machine and access the boot promt after reboot. Several guides exists where this setup is explained. There are also special builds of OpenBSD which enables remote update via SSH e.g. Yaifo.

Install OpenBSD via USB stick

  1. Create a bootable USB stick as described in Flash memory as bootable storage
  2. Store install files on the bootable USB disk as described in Creating bootable OpenBSD install media

See Bootable Installation From USB Flash Sticks for a more thorough description.