Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FreeBSD 8.2 on EeePC 901: Chapter 6

OK, now things are looking an awful lot better and, in retrospect, it really wasn't that difficult.

In my last post, I pointed out that installing the source tree before starting to install xorg and gnome2 seemed to be essential although I don't believe I've come across this advice either in the FreeBSD forums or Handbook.
That's strange, it can't be just something required for the EeePC 901.

In any event, if I were to do this on another 901, the steps I'd take would be:

1. Create a 10.8GB primary partition for FreeBSD.
2. Install FreeBSD (I used 8.2) from a USB-stick (I used 250MB /tmp, 400MB /, 1000MB /var and 9.4GB /usr)
3.Install nano (text editor) from packages (or use vi which I'm just starting to get used to)
4. Add the line "sendmail_enable="NONE"" (without the outer quotes) to /etc/rc.conf to get rid of the My Unqualified Host error on boot
5. Install the ports tree (portsnap fetch extract)
6. Install the source tree from the USB-key
7. Make install /usr/ports/x11/xorg (this took 4.5 hours on my EeePC 901)
8. Make install /usr/ports/x11/gnome2 (this took 36 hours; it stopped just once because "filesystem full". After running "make clean", sufficient space created to continue "make install clean")

With FreeBSD 8.2, ports tree, source tree and xorg installed, the /usr slice contained 1.7GB. This expanded to 4.8GB with the installation of gnome2.

While I haven't tried everything yet, all essential things work like mouse, keyboard and touchpad. Wifi doesn't work although there is a "homemade" rt2860 driver source for FreeBSD 8 here although I haven't tried it yet.
Neither have I tried sound or video.

As I did on the Desktop, I installed Cairo-Dock from ports. However, unlike on the Desktop, using metacity compositing did not remove the ugly black bar around the dock. To get the nice transparent OS X type dock, I had to start the app with "cairo-dock -c" which asks for Cairo Dock to be launched without OpenGL.

I also installed Conky and Conkyforecast and it works. But, the stalling problem I have on the Desktop is actually far worse on the netboot.
At first lauch, it launches frozen. After killing and relaunching, it runs (which I can see from the clock) for about 40 seconds and then stops. Nothing strange shows up in the terminal on a terminal launch so this is puzzling and annoying.

I would also say, although have not done any measurements, that FreeBSD seems quite a bit slower on the netbook than on the Desktop. Is this because of the slow SSD's?
In any event, it does work and looks great. Whether I'd want it as my primary OS on this machine is doubtful because of how slow it is.
Nevertheless, it is still highly usable.

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