Sunday, January 16, 2011

Starting to find FreeBSD quite troublesome

Yes, up to last Thursday (today's Sunday), things were progressing well as I tried to get some familiarity with FreeBSD.
These two threads that I started in the FreeBSD Forums will provide some idea of my problems but also of the great help I got from the forums.
Basically my difficulties started when I decided to upgrade ports and packages as I already mentioned. Thereafter, things started to go wrong.
In particular, neither Midori (browser) nor Gmail-Notifier would start although the worked perfectly before the attempted upgrade.
When each was started from a terminal, error messages about missing libraries or symbols were issued. However, my attempt to rectify this problem as outlined in my first post in this thread, lead to a completely white GUI desktop. Although the mouse pointer was visible I could do nothing with it as right-clicking gave no context menu.
However, after much fiddling around, I eventually found that I could, by the usual route, get the desktop cube to spin (remember I had compiz launching at boot).
Well, sounds like a problem I had before in Linux where a misconfigured compiz produces a totally white screen.
But as I also launched yakuake at boot, maybe there was a way out.
So, I hit F12 and typed "killall compiz" and hit return and miraculously, my desktop re-appeared but with metacity as the wm.
Even so, many things still didn't work so I decided to try the RC2 of FreeBSD 8.2
In truth, although I more or less got this to work, there were many problems and the whole install seemed broken.
Here's a few of the problems:
1. When I tried to launch Gedit from a terminal as root, it failed and gave the following message:

EggSM-client Warning: Failed to connect to session manager. None of the authenticated protocolsspecified are supported.

2. Although the internet was initially connected, in subsequent reboots, it failed to connect (ping gave No route to host)
In Administration>>Network, the "enable connection" box would not stay checked.
3. When I click the network icon in the gnome panel and try to Configure when the window opens, it tells me that the em0 interface doesn't exist.
4. There is no shutdown button available for the Gnome panel, nor is there any mention of shutdown in the Systems item. So, I had to use a terminal to type "#shutdown -h now" but even this did not shutdown but gave a halt and asked for any key to be pressed to reboot.
5. The Find icon in the Gnome panel seems to search ONLY in the chosen folder and NOT in the sub folders. So, I had to resort to the "find / -name *****" command in a terminal which is less convenient.
Perhaps I could have configured the Find applet but it worked "out of the box" in FreeBSD 8.1

To finish off, I'm going to listen the principle things I learnt about FreeBSD installation and configuration over the last few days. All-in-all, I'm still on a very steep part of the learning curve and FreeBSD does not, at first at least, seem anywhere near as newbie-friendly as Ubuntu, OS X or even Haiku.

1. Don't install ports from CD as they're likely to be very old
2. In single user mode, slices are not mounted so you'll need to mount them as follows before doing anything (I'm using the slice names for my system):
#mount /dev/ad4s3a /
#mount /dev/ad4s3d /var
#mount /dev/ad4s3e /tmp
#mount /dev/ad4s3f /usr

3. Should never run portupgrade with the -a swicth as everything gets blindly updated.
4. Ports should be updated with
#portsnap fetch
#portsnap extract (first time)

#portsnap update (all subsequent times)

5. The command
$pkg_version -vL "="

will indicate which packages, if any, need to be updated
6. Can configure all Options tables for large installs before hand by cd'ing to the relevant port and issuing thsi command:
#make config-recursive

Believe me, this can be extremely useful.
7. In Gnome on FreeBSD, need to mount proc for usernames to appear in the greeter screen by adding this line to /etc/fstab
proc /proc procfs rw 0 0

Although I didn't have this problkem in FreeBSD 8.1 but perhaps proc is mounted there.

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