FreeBSD 10 RC2, Installation and Configuration for OpenBox

On the other day, I ran below command to update the Arch Linux system on my notebook: # pacman -Syu

It seemed something went wrong and the system became non-responsive. After hard boot, it did not boot up anymore. I believe this was second time it happened to me. IMHO, Arch Linux is a good, solid operating system but I was a bit uncomfortable with its rolling release system. I'm more of "why fix if it's not broken?" type of a guy so I decided to change to another distribution.

I tried CrunchBang(#!) Linux and Debian but was not impressed much. Then I found FreeBSD. FreeBSD and I have a bit of history. It was my first UNIX-like system that I installed on my old Dell Dimension XPS system back in late 1990s. I remember that I drove to a book store in neighboring state just to buy a FreeBSD Handbook (ah~ those old good days...). Since then, I was on and off with FreeBSD.

The information below is the result of my researches in the Internet and of my experiences. It is solely used for my purpose and may not be suitable for others.


Now let's get going. It welcomes you with text based installation screen with FreeBSD logo. FreeBSD_install_welcome

FreeBSD is moving to use 'bsdinstall' as default installer instead of 'sysinstall'. The installation is fairly simple and quick. Following is the components you can configure during installation:

  • Keymap Selection
  • Set Hostname
  • Distribution Select
  • Partitioning
  • Root Password
  • Network Configuration
  • Select local or UTC clock
  • Timezone Select
  • System Configuration
  • Add User Account
  • Final Configuration

After rebooting, a bare-bone installation of FreeBSD 10 is ready to go. As I said it is a "bare-bone" system. Most of software needs to be manually installed; this includes Xorg.

Portsnap: a Ports Collection Update Tool

Before installing Xorg, let's update the ports collection on the system: # portsnap fetch Looking up mirrors... 9 mirrors found. Fetching snapshot tag from done. Fetching snapshot metadata... done. ... # portsnap extract /usr/ports/.cvsignore /usr/ports/CHANGES /usr/ports/COPYRIGHT ...

portsnap fetch downloads most up-to-date ports collection when executed for the first time. Thereafter, it only finds and updates as needed.

portsnap extract installs downloaded files. extract should be executed when portsnap is run first time. Anytime after, update should be used.

Xorg Installation

xorg can be installed as follows. During its installation, it'll ask a couple of questions/choices. I just take defaults: # cd /usr/ports/x11/xorg # make install clean

USB Mouse Configuration for X

On my HP Pavilion notebook, following settings /etc/rc.conf are needed for USB mouse or touchpad to work: # vi /etc/rc.conf ----------------------------------------- dbus_enable="YES" hald_enable="YES" moused_type="auto" moused_enable="NO"

[Edit 2/12/2014] Above settings in /etc/rc.conf is good enough for USB mouse but not for touchpad or synaptic device. To make it work, following setting worked for me. Add the following line in /boot/loader.conf: # vi /boot/loader.conf ----------------------------------------- hw.psm.synaptics_support="1"

OpenBox Installation

Install openbox and other software from the ports collection: # cd /usr/ports/x11-wm/openbox # make install clean

obconf helps installing new themes: # cd /usr/ports/x11-wm/obconf # make install clean

obmenu is a menu editor designed for openbox. I don't particularly use it but I install it just in case when I need to use it: # cd /usr/ports/x11-wm/obmenu # make install clean

lxappearance is a GUI GTK theme switcher, GTK deals with the contents of a window, icons, background window color (but not the title bar - use obconf for that): # cd /usr/ports/x11-themes/lxappearance # make install clean

Tint2 is highly customizable, lightweight panels and taskbars: # cd /usr/ports/x11/tint # make install clean

conky is a free, light-weight system monitor for X, that displays any information on your desktop. Conky is licensed under the GPL and runs on Linux and BSD: # cd /usr/ports/sysutils/conky # make install clean

nitrogen is a fast and lightweight desktop background browser and setter for X windows: # cd /usr/ports/sysutils/nitrogen # make install clean

Sudo (su "do") allows a system administrator to delegate authority to give certain users (or groups of users) the ability to run some (or all) commands as root or another user while providing an audit trail of the commands and their arguments.: # cd /usr/ports/security/sudo # make install clean

rxvt-unicode is a terminal emulator: # cd /usr/ports/x11/rxvt-unicode # make install clean

Edit .xinitrc to start openbox-session: $ cat > ~/.xinitrc exec openbox-session ^D

Now follow my another post, Openbox: Customizing to My Liking

Voilà! Here is a screenshot of my new system: FreeBSD_OpenBox

That's all!


    • ubyt3m3

      That command will not show anything. In fact, it’s waiting for your inputs. After “cat > ~/.xinitrc”, you’d need to type:
      exec openbox-session
      “^D” means Ctrl+D to end your input. That’ll save “exec openbox-session” in the .xinitrc file.
      Hope this helps.

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