Minimal FreeBSD desktop, with OpenBox (howto)

FreeBSD Forums user Taz has put together a very detailed howto showing you exactly how to setup a minimal FreeBSD installation with the OpenBox window manager.

If this is something you’ve been wanting to do for awhile but didn’t know where to start or what to tweak etc, have a look. You can’t go wrong.

After deciding that FreeBSD was going to be my new primary OS the question was “how to set it up for desktop usage?”. FreeBSD handbook helped me with this a lot in the beginning. But if you follow the handbook you will probably end up with GNOME or KDE desktop environment and this “how to” is about minimal but functional desktop on FreeBSD.

Fact is that FreeBSD is more than capable of being a desktop OS the only question is what are your own preferences/requests. Mine were: minimalism, functionality, speed, low memory footprint and avoiding linuxisms.

[howto] minimal FreeBSD desktop

FreeBSD or CentOS

FreeBSD or CentOS? FreeBSD or Linux, that is the question.

Well, the answer is: “It depends on what you need the operating system for and what your hardware requirements are”.

What I like about members of the FreeBSD community, they generally acknowledge that their is no perfect operating system and that Linux has some strong points over FreeBSD, and the other way round. Discussions about differences between FreeBSD and Linux are often level headed and based on facts, though not everything is always measurable (sometimes something just feels….)

A good example is a recent discussion (CentOS vs FreeBSD) on the FreeBSD Forums about whether one should use FreeBSD as server or CentOS, a Linux distribution entirely derived entirely from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

Some of the strong points in favours of FreeBSD mentioned in the discussion are:

  • Learning UNIX basics
  • Better on older hardware (low overhead)
  • Stable and secure
  • ZFS Snapshots
  • FreeBSD Jails
  • Better memory footprint
  • Preferred for VPS (RootBSD is a leading hoster FreeBSD VPS’s)
  • Can run some Linux apps faster than on Linux itself
  • Better control over software (ports)
  • Updates and upgrades without ending up reinstalling
  • Good documentation
  • etc

Strong points for  CentOS:

  • Experience handy as there are more CentOS related jobs
  • Security updates are easier
  • Beefier hardware preferred
  • Faster install and update times
  • Slow package patch processes
  • No compiling from source (FreeBSD has pkg though)
  • Better hardware support
  • etc

Note, these features were mentioned in thread, you may have different views. Please don’t start a flame here ;-)

Virtualisation with FreeBSD and VirtualBox

Virtualisation can de done in FreeBSD with Jails. FreeBSD Jails are great to assign certain services to little ‘virtual servers’ that are fast and light weight to use.

There are also Xen Dom0 and BHye buty they are at different stages of development. Let’s not forget about VirtualBox either.

Syscfonfig blog has a post on FreeBSD VirtualBSD and how much it has matured over the last few years. Carsten has also set up a wiki detailing all the steps needed to get VirtualBox to run on FreeBSD. It has more details than the FreeBSD Handbook VirtualBox Chapter.

 

Raspberry Pi drivers now fully open sourced

This is good news for FreeBSD developers: drivers for the Raspberry Pie boards have been open sourced.

Gonzo from kernelnomicon.org and others have been working to get FreeBSD run on the Raspberry Pie, but having all driver details will make their work considerably easier. It will take away a lot of guess work and reverse engineering.

The move means every driver that interacts with the board’s ARM CPU is now open source. This will make it easier to port new operating systems to the device — which already runs a range of Linux distributions, including Debian and Arch Linux. It has been welcomed by groups working to port the Risc OS, FreeBSD and Plan9 — the Bell Labs OS named after the movie Plan 9 from Outer Space — to the device.

Raspberry Pi primed for new OS after drivers are fully open sourced (zdnet)

FreeBSD Events Updates (EuroBSDCon 2012, AsiaBSDCon 2013, BSDCan 2013)

Below some updates and links with regards to past and future FreeBSD related conferences.

1. EuroBSCon 2012 took place between 18-21 October in Warshaw, Poland. There is an overview of all presentations that took place on bsdevents. When PDFss and video recordings appear online, I will link to them.

2. AsiaBSDCon 2013 has been announced. This event will be held at the Tokyo University of Science, from 14-17 March.  The call for papers is already out.

AsiaBSDCon is a conference for users and developers on BSD based systems. The next conference will be held in Tokyo, in 14-17 March, 2013. The conference is for anyone developing, deploying and using systems based on FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, DragonFlyBSD, Darwin and MacOS X. AsiaBSDCon is a technical conference and aims to collect the best technical papers and presentations available to ensure that the latest developments in our open source community are shared with the widest possible audience.

3. BSDCan will be held again: BSDCan 2013. BSDCan 2013 will be held at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada from 15 – 18 May, 2013.

BSDCan is a developers conference with a strong focus on emerging technologies, research projects, and works in progress. It also features Userland infrastructure projects and invites contributions from both free software developers and those from commercial vendors.

4. PDF of PC-BSD Development Environment Presentation

Yuri Momotiuk’s has done a presentation on the PC-BSD development environment is available for download. This presentation provides an overview of PC-BSD source structure, what to include in your GUI application so that it can be localized, how to make the application single-instance, and how to add the application to the Control Panel (via)

ACM Queue Interviews Robert Watson on Open Source Hardware and Research

ACM Queue interviewed Cambridge researcher (and FreeBSD developer) Robert Watson on why processor designs need to change in order to better support security features like Capsicum — and how they change all the time (RISC, GPUs, etc). He also talks about the challenge of building a research team at Cambridge that could actually work with all levels of the stack: CPU design, operating systems, compilers, applications, and formal methods. The DARPA-sponsored SRI and Cambridge CTSRD project is building a new open source processor that can support orders of magnitude greater sandboxing than current designs.

Watch the interview here.

FreeBSD 9.1-RC2 available (and PC-BSD 9.1-RC2)

The second RC build for the FreeBSD-9.1 release cycle was released last week (due to a busy break abroad I’m posting this only now). ISO images for the amd64, i386, ia64, powerpc, and powerpc64 architectures are available.

Remember, this is not the final release version, so only use for testing purposes.

The FreeBSD 9.1 Release Schedule may be of interest, though the release is slightly delayed, as well as the FreeBSD 9.1 ToDo Wiki.

Following this FreeBSD release, the PC-BSD Project has announced PC-BSD 9.1-RC2.