Flash on FreeBSD/PC-BSD/DBSD

Previously we reported Matteo’s suggestion on how to get Flash and YouTube/Google Video to work on FreeBSD, but now that gnash-0.8.1 is in the ports tree (and hence avilable for FreeBSD, PC-BSD and DesktopBSD), the greasemonkey+mplayer hack is no longer needed to watch these videos.

It seems like Flash it getting better on the BSD desktop (Gnash, swfDec, Adobe Flash) but unfortunately this is only Flash 7. According to this post Gnash still needs a lot of working on. Youtube videos work, but anything more complicated code-wise (eg. Flash games) make Gnash crash.

CNN for instance and a lot of other popular websites use Flash 9, so there’s still a problem for *BSD users. Or not…?

There’s now a PBI available for PCBSD 1.4 of the Windows version of Firefox with Flash 9 (using Wine) which can be downloaded here or here.

However, Gnash, swfDec or the Flash 9 PBI are little hacks in order to get Adobe Flash working on the BSD Desktop. What we want from you, Adobe, is either a BSD Flash version of an open source version of Flash so we can make it work ourselves.

Win4BSD 1.1 in ports

Win4BSD

Win4BSD is a PC emulator that runs Windows as a guest at nearly native speed under FreeBSD. It is based on QEMU, a partially open, partially closed source emulator package. However, Win4BSD offers many advantages, including much greater speed, ease of use, more seamless integration with the host OS, and “grabless” mouse transition between the host and Windows guest.

Win4BSD is the latest port of a product that has previously been known as Win4lin and SCO Merge.

This port downloads, extracts and installs the contents of the Win4BSD package. It will work with or without a Win4BSD license. If you do not have a license, Win4BSD will function for a 3 week trial period.

You can download packages (.iso, .tbz, pbi) and user guide from ftp://ftp.win4bsd.com/pub/releases/1.1/

Install Win4BDS in:

  • FreeBSD: as root /usr/ports/emulators && make install clean
  • PC-BSD: same as FreeBSD or download the PBI
  • DesktopBSD: same as FreeBSD or install with the PackageManager

I use Win4BSD on my PC-BSD system for a few Windows (only) programs and I must say that the speed is reasonably fast and the package as a whole is quite stable; it only crashes occasionally. Recommended, if you can afford $29.99 and want to use *BSD as your primary OS.

RoFreeSBIE 1.3 RC4 Released

Dan Angelescu has announced the availability of a public release candidate of RoFreeSBIE 1.3, a FreeBSD-based live DVD:

rofreesbie.pngRoFreeSBIE 1.3RC4 has been released. It is based on FreeBSD 6.2-STABLE based. It has improved start-up, backup and restore scripts. Using backup and restore scripts you can save the system settings to a floppy or an USB storage device and restore them at start-up. Almost all settings can be restored (network configuration, firewall, even menus on the desktop or the way system logs in). It includes also a unique feature – the possibility to activate and deactivate NVIDIA drivers on the fly. Also thanks to the DesktopBSD project and its developer, Peter Hofer, a new graphical installer has been included. Many bugs have been corrected and the final release will be available soon.

DesktopBSD 1.6-RC3 Released

DesktopBSD logoDesktopBSD 1.6 RC 3 is now available for download from our mirrors or via BitTorrent. This release candidate is considered a large step towards a final release 1.6 with major changes such as:

  • X.Org release 7.2, improving support for modern graphics hardware
  • NVIDIA graphics driver, providing hardware 3D acceleration for NVIDIA video cards
  • Latest FreeBSD 6-STABLE as base system with High Definition Audio (HDA) support
  • More up-to-date software packages from the DesktopBSD build servers
  • Many small bug fixes and optimizations

Upgrades from 1.0 and previous release candidates are supported. An additional language CD and 64-bit (AMD64) DVD will be released soon.

DesktopBSD vs PC-BSD review

Fareast has written a quick comparison of DesktopBSD and PC-BSD on Dailykos.com:

DesktopBSD logoAfter reading a very not-nice review of DesktopBSD a couple of weeks ago, and in light of the fact that I just adore PC-BSD, it’s a bit strange that I would be reviewing it here.

Still the hunger to try out some new and untried open source system got the better of me, and I downloaded the latest release 1.6, just to see what the deal really was. I installed the system under vmware-server, allotting 256M ram, and a bit over 2G hard drive space, just to make things more interesting.

The idea behind DesktopBSD is the same as that of PC-BSD; to make an easily installable version of the FreeBSD open source operating system through a graphical interface, coupled with a nice shiny front end to run it all on. This is significant because FreeBSD, while not that difficult to get up and running, is a considerable time hog when you want to get a modern day window manager running on it, i.e., downloading and compiling KDE from source (a huge package), with a conservative estimate being anywhere from fifteen to twenty hours just for that alone.

I have to admit that by setting up the specs so tough, that I kind of wanted DesktopBSD to choke; I’m really into the way that PC-BSD has their pbi directory set up with the install wizards, plus the ability to use the traditional ports method of FreeBSD to update your system, that I didn’t want to see anything endangering that crown.

Sadly, I was let down. If anything, DesktopBSD is easier and faster to setup than PC-BSD, and the speed that it showed with so little ram was nothing less than astonishing. I pulled up Firefox, surfed over to youtube and Flash was working out of the box; opened up a BBC news story and scrolled around, and it was very smooth.

One thing sorely lacking in the install were any office suite apps of note–no open office, no abiword or gnumeric or really anything; considering that DesktopBSD is just FreeBSD with the nice desktop, and no pbi directory like PC-BSD, means that if you want open office you need to compile it from source, just like in a normal,vanilla FreeBSD.

Does the system have the ability to do what I want it to do without a huge amount of effort, those things being: playing music, surfing the web (Flash included), using email, watching vids, and a bit of eye-candy thrown in, or at least some of the shiny on a slower machine? If the answer is yes to those simple requirements, then we have a winner, and a system that I want to install to my machine. Joe Sixpack/Average User can use Windows Vista if that is what is best for him, and I’m none the worse for wear.

PC-BSD LogoAnd PC-BSD, with the ability to do both the traditional compile from source, as well as offering the packages through their nifty pbi directory has DesktopBSD beat in this category. Make no mistake, DesktopBSD is an excellent system that offers all the strength and flexibility of a vanilla FreeBSD setup with a huge time savings, it’s just that PC-BSD is that brilliant, and in comparison, there simply is none.

Read the full review here. Bold by me.

There’s more detailed information on the differences and similarities between PC-BSD and DesktopBSD on the FBSD Projects Page.

Setting up a FreeBSD Multimedia Desktop

Of all the many and free operating systems out there, few can begin to meet or surpass the quality, stability, and structured operation of FreeBSD. But out of the box, FreeBSD is and always will be a server OS. That’s the reason why some groups have created desktop versions of FreeBSD (such as PC-BSD and DesktopBSD) to provide users with a viable FreeBSD desktop.

Despite both of these really good alternatives to the stock FreeBSD install, some people believe that nothing beats setting up their own FreeBSD desktop right from scratch, and in this tutorial you’re shown how to do just that. What you’ll end up with is a desktop environment that is top notch and tailored right to your liking that is pure and uncustomized by anyone else, except you. So it’s a system you can have exactly your way to your liking.

For those who are new or unfamiliar with FreeBSD, this will also be a great way for you to learn how to use and troubleshoot the OS, because by going this way, while it is not the easiest and you’ll likely run into at least one snag or problem not listed in this tutorial that you’ll have to troubleshoot and solve, you’ll learn so much about the OS that you’ll either come to love it or hate it.

Remember, this tutorial is not for the faint-hearted. There are easier ways to set up a FreeBSD (based) multimedia system than shown in this tutorial; mostly via the previously two named desktop oriented FreeBSD distributions.

BSDStats numbers (May 2007)

BSDStats.org is a website that records the numbers of PCs/servers running a particular BSD system. This is broken down per country, releases, drivers/HW stats, CPU stats, and port stats.

Though these figures are interesting enough, they cannot be used for any benchmarking or market analysis or so, since the software that anonymously updates (pings) the bsdstats server is not (yet) installed on a lot of/most servers (e.g. FreeBSD) or it’s not mandatory to use when pre-installed (e.g. PC-BSD). The numbers are likely to be much higher. The counters reset at the first day of each month (servers that are on 24/7/365) or when the computer is first switched on.

The numbers, that we’re interested in as far as this blog is concerned, for May 2007 are:

  • FreeBSD – 5,131 systems – 53.0 %
  • PC-BSD – 4,265 systems – 44.1 %
  • DesktopBSD – 28 systems – 0.3 %

Please note, that the number for DesktopBSD (28) is not correct this month. There are likely to be many more users but the update script contacted the BSDStats server on 1 May at half 5 in the morning only. All PCs that were off at that time aren’t included in this number. This problem will be fixed in the upcoming RC3.