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Community => Moderator Distribution Reviews => Topic started by: lcRONOS on February 19, 2015, 08:41:58 PM

Title: FreeBSD Quick Guide and Review
Post by: lcRONOS on February 19, 2015, 08:41:58 PM
First, I will preface with this will not be anywhere near as good as Ben's reviews :P
Okay, moving on.  As there is starting to be enough of a following of BSD on the forums, I decided to give installing FreeBSD on my desktop a go.

Installation (and a tip for UEFI dual boot with Windows)

FreeBSD's installer is an ncurses menu, which results in an over all simple install process.  It is by no means as easy as the GUI installers in the Linux world, however it is far easier than even Arch Linux.  A tip for anyone trying to do a UEFI dual boot with Windows, the only way I could get the install to work is to install Windows first (since it doesn't understand UFS) then install FreeBSD.  All you need is a swap partition (type in freebsd-swap in the partition type) and a root partition, though you can add more as necessary.  Do not try to use the ESP that Windows set for FreeBSD though.  If you mount that partition as /boot/efi then FreeBSD clears it, let FreeBSD create its own separate ESP.  It's a little weird having two EFI System Partitions, but it is the only way to make it work.  Do the rest of the install as normal.  You can then just use the UEFI boot manager to select the OS you want to use.

Post Install

Once the install is complete, and you reboot into your brand new FreeBSD system, all you have is a LUI system running the classic Bourne Shell (or what ever shell you chose for your user).  You will likely notice a long boot time, resulting from issues with the hostname.  This is because for the mail server to work, you must be connected to a DNS server.  To get around this you can just disable the mail service by adding
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sendmail_enable="NO" to your /etc/rc.conf file.  The default text editor in FreeBSD is ee.  At this point it is really up to the user as for what's next, so I will detail what I did.  First though, a note on the package management system.  FreeBSD has two methods of package management, it's renowned ports system, and the pkg installer.  Ports installs everything from source based on information stored on your computer, which allows you to pick and choose features (this is where Gentoo's use flags came from).  If you don't want to deal with the compile times, then you can use
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pkg install to install packages.  From what I can tell, they are completely compatible (though for some reason gnome2 is still in ports, but not found with pkg search), and don't cause issues like Sabayon's package management system does with portage.  In my install I chose to install kde4 and set it up in a cross between the way Gnome 3 looks, and how mCOLe looks.  The easiest (and fastest) way to do this is just run
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pkg install kde4 as root.  Once it is finished, just add
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kdm4_enable="YES" to /etc/rc.conf then to run
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service kdm4 start or just reboot.  At this point, you have FreeBSD up and running with KDE4, so anything left is up to you.


Overall the install process is about equal to Debian, so I'd say the installer is about moderate difficulty.
The package manager gives a level of control equal to that of Gentoo's, while still letting you just install binaries if you don't want to compile.  The only real disadvantages are that there is not an easy way to see what has been installed with either system, and Gentoo's use flags are a little bit easier to configure.  All together I'd say it is one of the best package managers out there, and I really see why so many distros are starting to try and copy it.
On my Desktop, with KDE4 running, installing TF2 off of steam with Wine, and running firefox with 7 tabs open, top reads 1365M of memory being active.  I have 12GB of memory, so swap isn't even being touched right now.
It's only major weakness is in hardware support.  It has no where near the number of drivers available to it as the various Linux distros do, however it can make use of ndisgen.  Wireless cards as a whole are the main weakness, my old laptop had a card that was "supported" however it didn't work very well.  I had download speeds like 1/10th that of on Linux, though it seems atheros cards work very well (my desktop has an atheros card, and I can't tell any speed difference between it and my ethernet card).  Sound is a little weird for me too, as of the time of writing, I can't use the headphone jack on the front of my computer, but the one in the back works.
Overall I'd say it is a very solid system, at least for the people with hardware able to support it.
Title: Re: FreeBSD Quick Guide and Review
Post by: videodrome on February 19, 2015, 11:45:01 PM
Any thoughts on the Network Interface?  I've usually resorted to using the WifiMgr tool.  It seemed glitchy, but it worked.  
Title: Re: FreeBSD Quick Guide and Review
Post by: lcRONOS on February 19, 2015, 11:58:48 PM
My install is on a desktop, so I'm just using ethernet and had it set up during the install, so I just use ifconfig when any work needs done.  When I was trying to play with it on my old laptop, I had the best luck using wpa_supplicant, and also with PC-BSD's network tool.  Ifconfig works very well by itself though, and with a little effort (and maybe some scripts) there isn't really a need for a tool.  My two cents anyway.  Maybe EricG has some ideas.
Title: Re: FreeBSD Quick Guide and Review
Post by: videodrome on February 26, 2015, 09:58:43 PM
It might be the difference in hardware to.  It was not easy to get a Netbook to use FreeBSD and also get online lol.  
Title: Re: FreeBSD Quick Guide and Review
Post by: joejohnston3 on February 26, 2015, 11:37:02 PM
Great work and review, IcRONOS! We appreciate the work and info you shared with the community.
Title: Re: FreeBSD Quick Guide and Review
Post by: lcRONOS on March 01, 2015, 03:28:40 PM
I think that the hardware difference is the majority of the difference in our experiences.  I've since found that I couldn't get steam to work with it in my set up (NVidia card doesn't want to work for me lol).  Wireless is *BSD's biggest weakness right now.
Thanks joejohnston3, it was a fun project, and not very common.  I wanted to have steps for a UEFI dual boot up somewhere, it wasn't even in the handbook.