Wednesday, 9 October 2013

FreeBSD at last, FreeBSD at last


Story so far.

I wanted to switch Linux distro, and had settled on either Manjaro or, moving away from Linux altogether, FreeBSD as my OS of choice, and had finally got around to starting switching seriously rather than just playing with VMs under Kubuntu.

Bought a 40Gb HDD (SATA, 2.5") off eBay. The one that was sent was an ex-Playstation job, not suitable for laptop use, but after a couple of emails back and forth with the vendor I thought what the hell.

So, into the Novatech laptop (around 6 years old) it went, replacing the already replaced HDD which was dual-booting AntiX and Lubuntu, stuck a USB stick with FreeBSD on it in, switched on and crossed my fingers.

Top tips:



3: Have second machine handy with the Handbook open on it.

4: Learn to love vi.

5: Have a second machine handy with a guide to vi on it.

6: As root set up X (BEWARE - you NEED to read the Handbook to pick up a couple of vital setup steps, using our old friend vi).

7: Install your desktop environment/window manager. I really like awesome but settled on XFCE as a nice balance of lightness and configurability without some of the headscratchiness of awesome or similar.

8: Install your global software as root - I just stuck to Firefox and LibreOffice using pkg_add -r.
One mistake I made was not setting the hostname as fully qualified (something.something.something) during installation which caused resolution timeouts on startup, but a bit of time with my good friend (now) vi helped resolved this in /etc/rc.conf

Make sure that you add yourself to the wheel user group, so that you can use su to install stuff:

#pw user mod username -G wheel

And then you can add software to your heart's content.

Overall, a slightly tense switch from Linux, as you start with a tabula rasa, but this is the beauty of a switch to BSD - YOU choose what YOU want from the off.

I'm really looking forward to getting this "just so".

Some handy links for you:


  1. If you aren't comfortable using vi, FreeBSD by default ships with "ee" which is a much easier to use editor, similar in a sense to nano.

  2. I actually quite like vi, but for newcomers who don't feel comfortable with the command line it can be daunting.