Monday, July 25, 2005

More FreeBSD / PC-BSD

It's interesting how some of the simplest tasks become monumental with me. I did the PC-BSD install this evening. That went very well. A couple things to note:
  1. PC-BSD wants to install to it's own Primary partition. It saw the extended partition I have on my system, but did not display the logical drives (all my GNU/Linux installs). I knew this was the case from the previous time I installed it. So here's what I did to make sure things would stay nice and clean in the partition table for the rest of my OS installations--
    1. I booted up my Knoppix 3.9 LiveCD and used cfdisk to create the primay BSD partition for the installation on the HDD from the END of the drive forward. 11GB. Plenty of room for the distro and swap file.
    2. When I got to the partitioning section of the installation I told it to use ad0s3 (hda3), the primary partition I had made for it. This worked great and left the rest of my disk for more logical partitions for even more GNU/Linux installs! :-)
  2. The GRUB bootloader entry in /boot/grub/grub.conf is very simple:

    title FreeBSD
    root (hd0,2,a)

  3. I used xorgconfig to adjust the display setting for my monitor. I was only getting 1024x768 24bit @ 60Hz on my 19" E90f. That just would not do. I entered the correct horizontal & vertical frequencies and saved the new xorg.conf. Ctrl+Alt+Backspace restarted X and I was back in business at 1280x1024 24bit @75Hz. Nice.
  4. The scripts included in the Install & Configuration guide made updating & installing ports a snap--useful and instructive at the same time.
So what was my problem that kept me up so late (again! What's with these freakin' computers?)? I'll tell you. It was my Belkin wireless Keyboard & Mouse combo. Never a problem on any other OS, but with PC-BSD it was either the keyboard that would work, and the mouse would not or vice-versa. After much trial & error I found out why--so simple, so obvious.

This reciever has two tails on it, one USB and the other a PS/2 keyboard connection. I have always had both plugged in. This didn't bother any other OS but it rendered havoc with PC-BSD. Long story short(er):
  1. I unplugged the PS/2 keyboard connection
  2. Booted into the BIOS
  3. Enabled USB Mouse & USB Keyboard (which were both set to disabled)
This allowed me to use the keyboard on booting up with Grub to select the OS to boot, and now both the keyboard & mouse work at the same time under all the OS, even PC-BSD. Crazy problem, insanely simple solution.

One final note. FreeBSD ports work in similar fashion to the Gentoo portage system. It downloads source and compiles it on your system. I did not know that. I thought the ports were binary packages ready to go (like you would obtain with apt-get under Debian)...

Well, that's fine. I wanted a FreeBSD system I could learn on, and I have already started learning it seems...


Jon said...

Glad you're up and running. I've added a bookmark to check back from time to time. Damn those BIOS and their hidden ways :-)

/* re /. comment: my bad, my FUD. Meant to say FreeSBIE because I thought at the time PC-BSD was built on that, but it's plain FreeBSD as you pointed out. Thanks for nipping that FUD in the bud. I got PC-BSD at the same time as P.H.L.A.K, Navyn OS, OpenBSD 3.7 and Vidalinux 1.1 when I was looking for a change. So I guess I didn't keep it clean in my mind what was based on what as they're each derivaitve systems except for OpenBSD*. For what it's worth, PC-BSD and OpenBSD are the only 2 that I'll use after issues with the other three */

From my time with Gentoo, short as it was, the compiling times are painful for OO.o and other big stuff, but the payoff is hopefully as nice. Gentoo eeked out performance other distos didn't for me, so hopefully you'll get the same benefits from Portage - you spend a lot more time using software than installing it after all.

*For clarification: NavynOS (live CD) and VidaLinux OS are both based on Gentoo, but pre-compiled Stage 3s, and P.H.L.A.K. is a live CD based on Debian

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