Friday, March 18, 2011

Another weird, but educational, FreeBSD experience.

I mainly use FreeBSD on a Dell E520 that I have right in front of me. However, we have another computer (Dell Dimension 9200) where FreeBSD 8.1 is installed but is very rarely, if ever, used.
The other day, somebody expressed an interest in getting to know FreeBSD, so I said I'd get things updated and working.
So, I did a

portsnap fetch upgrade

followed by
portmanager -u

However, even after this, according to *pkg_version -vl "<"* some 80 packages steel needed updating.
So, I tried
portupgrade -a

but, although this seemed to run without problems, the pkg_version test still showed about 80 packages needed to be updated.
Now, during the portmanager run, twice I ran into a problem with the fetching of file audiofile-0.2.7.tar.gz from
In both cases the download stopped halfway (or thereabouts) through and the whole process just died. So, I had to ^c to stop things and start over.
On another computer I tried to download the same file and in three attempts, one actually went to completion (very slowly although the file is only 500 kB). My intention was to copy it to a usb-key and paste it from the key to the FreeBSD tty where I was doing the port upgrade.
It was then that I realized I was unsure how to handle usb-keys in FreeBSD. However, a number of articles helped me notably this and this.
What worked for me was to first delete all partitions on the key using Gparted and replacing them with a Fat32 partition.
However, my FreeBSD tty didn't recognize the key in this format.
OK, seemed that I needed a ufs fs and, after identifying the disk as da0, I ran
# newfs /dev/da0

and ended up with da0s1 in /dev
Then to mount the partition, I made a new directory /mnt/usb and ran
# mount /dev/da0s1 /mnt/usb

Now, while this did work and sounds straightforward, actually, I had quite some problems in getting it to mount.
When I tried to mount it to /usr/home/paul/Desktop/usb, it seems the "formerly" directory ~/Desktop/usb was mutated into a file. But not jus any file, a file that was unreadable and unremovable.
This I cannot explain.
Anyway, even though I failed to fully upgrade my ports, I went ahead and installed gnome2 from ports. However, the install stopped because of a conflict between the installed libiodbc and the to-be-installed unixODBC.
So, I deinstalled libiodbc from /usr/ports/databases/libiodbc and tried again to install gnome2.
This time, success.
So after adding the two following lines to /etc/rc.conf

I rebooted and got the gnome greeter page. I signed in but got brought straight back to the greeter page.
So, into safe mode, mounted all three pricipal slices tp /usr, /tmp and /var and then ran startx.
This gave me the following error:
xauth: error in locking authority file /root/,Xauthority
and that's about as far as I got.
Looks like I may have to download FreeBSD 8.2 to a disk and install from scratch.

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