Linux to FreeBSD – Experiences

Linux to Unix

So I decided to checkout a BSD. After starting up fossunet and joining I got drawn to BSD by Klanger and regexorcist, who have been a great help with links and advice y the way, thanks guys.

Previous BSD Experience

I have experimented with various bsd’s before, but my experience lies with Linux, and  a few multiboot setups were borked due to bsd’s windows-like mentalitiy (ie “The-Entire-Partition-Table-is-MINE!)…. well the first partition anyway. 🙂

Minimal over Easy

After listening to advice and checking out various links, I decided to get the PCBSD netinstall iso, to install FreeBSD 8 to be precise. I knew that even if I took the easy route and got the Full install dvd iso, I wouldn’t be happy with a chunky desktop environment, and i’d be sure to do a minimal install. With Linux I like minimal. This means Linux base, Gnu tools, X and a window manager. My current distro of choice is Crunchbang Statler, Debian Squeeze + OpenBox. Previous disros all ended up with Fluxbox.

Deeper Linux

In the past I have built an LFS (Linux From Scratch), it took me 3 months of trial and error, a lot of reading and a few headaches, but I did it. It was a great learning experience, but I will never repeat it.

I installed Gentoo, Slackware, Debian Netinstall, Archlinux, all from the base up. Again, all great experience and fun, but once you have completed the challenge, you just go back to the distro that does what YOU need on YOUR hardware.

I helped out as a backroom dev on Dreamlinux, and also built Tota Linux with the LxH Crew, both of which I have now stepped down from.

At this present moment, my distro choice is Crunchbang Statler. It’s a mix of Debian + WM + Great Community. Crunchbang already has what I was trying to achieve with Tota Linux.

I was going to just stick with CB, but the distro-junkie in me, just wouldn’t let it lie! 😛


I have decided to wipe my 64bit lappie, and sacrifice it to the BSD cause 🙂

AMD Mobile Athlon 64bit 3000+ (1.8Gb)
Ati Mobility Radeon 9600 (128Mb)
Broadcom Wireless Network Card
1280X800 Widescreen Monitor

BSD Install

Using the PCBSD installer to install FreeBSD via ftp netinstall.

As soon as you boot the cd.iso, after a series of file-system integrity checks, you are presented with a gui installer which has 10 stages. Language, Keyboard, System, Disk, Users, Time, Components, Summary, Installation, Finished.

Each one is self explanatory, I chose to install FreeBSD with netinstall the dhcp configuration as I have the laptop plugged directly into the router. I also chose the default freebsd ftp repo mirror location. English + US keyboard, Use entire harddisk, add the PcBSD bootloader, added myself as a user. I have chosen to only install BSD Ports and BSD Source, even though you can add OpenOffice, Firefox and other apps etc. As I said, minimal base to get what I need via the commandline.

Installation Finished

Boot, hit F1, login as root, start installing.

Base Packages

Necessities: Xorg, Gdm, OpenBox, Wireless/Wpa, Ssh/Sshfs, Ftp, GnuGPG, Nano, Findutils/Locate.

Desktop + Net: Browser, Email, IM, IRC, Wicd, Tint2, Conky, Scrot, various network tools.

Package Installation

I was going to do my usual Arch/Debian routine and go Xorg minimal, package by package, but I have to admit that I am impatient to get to a desktop, soooooo…. installed the entire xorg set with all dependencies:

pkg_add -r -v xorg

pkg_add -r openbox

pkg_add -r gdm

Now I need to do a web serach for other apps to see if BSD has them in the repos, then i’ll try to login to the desktop.

*HINT* Synaptics Touchpad: Before spending an hour with xorg.conf, adding packages, copying other xorg.confs etc etc: READ THIS:

/me says “DOH!”

Synaptics Touchpad Howto

1. Create a file

X -configure

2. Move it from root to X11

cp /root/ /etc/X11/xorg.conf

3. Add this line to the end of the ServerLayout or ServerFlags section

Option “AutoAddDevices” “false”

READ MORE on Xorg:

Desktops Environments

As I have plenty of space and am curious to see what FreeBSD has to offer, I have decided to install Xfce4 (The only DE I really like) and Kde4. Basically to try something new/different while i’m at it. I have tried Kde4, and no, I don’t like Kde in general, but as I have said, i’m curious. Gnome is a no go as It has become too bloated for my liking, and it is reported to be a bit “iffy” on BSD.

How to Make KDE start with “startx”

After KDE has been installed, the X server must be told to launch this application instead of the default window manager. This is accomplished by editing the .xinitrc file:

For KDE3:

echo "exec startkde" > ~/.xinitrc

For KDE4:

echo "exec /usr/local/kde4/bin/startkde" > ~/.xinitrc

Now, whenever the X Window System is invoked with startx, KDE will be the desktop.

How to Make Xfce4 start with “startx”

echo "/usr/local/bin/startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc

Now, whenever the X Window System is invoked with startx,XFCE4 will be the desktop.

READ MORE on Desktops:

To be continued……………..


2 thoughts on “Linux to FreeBSD – Experiences

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