Author Archive


Webcamd Now Has Many Man Pages

Webcamd is a port of the Video4Linux USB webcam and DVB drivers into userspace. It’s been available as a FreeBSD port since January and comes installed with PC-BSD. When Hans Petter Selasky ported these drivers he knew there “were a lot of them, probably many hundreds”. However, it was hard to quantify exactly how many existed and exactly what hardware was supported as this information is scattered throughout thousands of src files and dozens of websites and wiki pages (possibly containing incomplete or outdated information).

It took a while to research what hardware is (in theory) supported by the various drivers; in doing so, I ended up with a spreadsheet that currently contains 1396 entries. That information was used to create 46 man pages (45 driver man pages and 1 for webcamd itself) which have now been added to the port. If you already have webcamd installed and are comfortable updating FreeBSD ports, you can upgrade to the latest version of webcamd. If you’re using PC-BSD, you can wait for next month’s 8.2 release as the latest version of webcamd will be installed with it. Or, if you’re impatient and want to check out the man pages now, you can uninstall the current version and install the new version as the superuser:

pkg_delete -x webcamd && pkg_add -rf webcamd

Once you have the latest version of webcamd, try these commands to see which man pages interest you:

makewhatis /usr/local/man
apropos webcamd | more

The driver man pages contain the VendorID:ProductIDs of previously documented known devices. To determine the ID of a device, use one of the following commands on either a FreeBSD or PC-BSD system:

usbconfig dump_all_config_desc | grep vendor (if the device is an inserted USB device)

Here is an example for when I insert a USB camera:

usbconfig dump_all_config_desc | grep vendor
ugen3.3: product 0x0991 vendor 0x046d at usbus3, cfg=0 md=HOST spd=HIGH (480Mbps) pwr=ON

I could then quickly check to see if that ID is known to be supported from the webcamd man pages:

cd /usr/local/man/man4/
gzcat * | grep “046d:0991″

Since I just get my prompt back, support for this particular device isn’t currently documented, so I’ll check just the VendorID:

gzcat * | grep “046d”

This will provide an ordered list of all known to be working Logitech products. From the list, the last documented ID is 046d:08dd.

I know that the information from existing resources is out-of-date. You can help to improve the man pages by letting us know the VendorID:ProductID of any cameras that work for you and which currently aren’t listed in the man pages. Also, if you come across an ID that is supposed to work but does not, please send us the details so we can update that information in the man pages.

For now, leave a comment or send me an email with the information about the device. If it turns out to be useful to do so, we’ll throw up a wiki page where needed changes can be posted and addressed.


Are You Interested in Helping to Translate the Handbook?

We’ve installed the page translation feature on the wiki that is used to develop the PC-BSD Handbook. If you’re interested in becoming a translator for the Handbook, please ping me on #pcbsd IRC freenode or by email so your wiki logon can be added to the translators group. This is the first time we’ve used this feature on mediawiki so if you have experience using this feature we’d love to hear from you as you can help us reduce our learning curve and streamline the process for translating pages.

The wiki will be a busy place as we gear up for publishing a version of the Handbook to be released with 8.2. We can use assistance in the following areas:

  • experimenting with the new PDF creator extension–this one has been a bit of a nightmare to install and configure and we hope to have it ready to use by end of this week. In theory, it should make it easier to visualize what the finished Handbook will look like. It is also supposed to allow any user to create a customized PDF containing just the pages of the Handbook that interest them.
  • reviewing the content, filling in any missing or incomplete portions, and checking for typos, grammos, unclear sections.
  • comparing the content of the Handbook to the 8.2 snapshots to ensure the content and screenshots accurately reflect what an 8.2 user would see on their PC-BSD system.
  • beginning the translations of the Handbook

Do You Use IBus or SCIM?

If so, the Input Methods section of the Handbook needs your help!

We would like this section of the handbook to include practical information from users such as how to use IBus and what applications are useful. While we’re on the topic, are there any applications in the ports collection that you find you have to install because they aren’t included with PC-BSD? Let us know and we’ll see about either including them with the system or rolling them into a PBI. We could also use screenshots from working systems so that users can better understand input methods.

You can edit this wiki page directly. We’ll see your changes and can tidy them up so don’t feel that you have to be a good writer in order to contribute. Alternately, you can use this page’s discussion tab to leave notes on what you think should be included on this page.


New PBIs: Wings3D, Poedit, Kid3, and OpenTaxSolver

The following PBIs are now available through Software Manager:

Wings3D: an open source polygon mesh modeler inspired by Nendo. It allows you to intuitively build a 3D mesh and even assign materials to it.

Poedit: a cross-platform gettext catalogs (.po files) editor. It is built with wxWidgets toolkit and can run on any platform supported by it. It aims to provide a more convenient approach to editing catalogs than launching vi and editing the file by hand.

Kid3: an application to edit the ID3v1 and ID3v2 tags in MP3 files in an efficient way. Also tags in Ogg/Vorbis and FLAC files are supported.

OpenTaxSolver: a free program for calculating Tax Form entries and tax-owed or refund-due, such as US Federal or State personal income taxes. An optional graphical front-end, OTS_GUI, has been added. Preliminary versions for Canada and the United Kingdom were posted in previous years and may be updated with help from volunteers.

Thanks to Rick Richard, Sam Lin and Joachim Holzwarth for creating these PBIs.


New PBIs: Calibre, GL-117, and PSPP

The following PBIs are now available through Software Manager:

Calibre: a complete e-library solution that includes library management, format conversion, news feeds to ebook conversion, e-book reader sync features, and an integrated e-book viewer.

GL-117: an action flight simulator. Enter the Eagle Squadron and succeed in several challanging missions leading though different landscapes. Five predefined levels of video quality and an amount of viewing ranges let you perfectly adjust the game to the performance of your system.

PSPP: a program for statistical analysis of sampled data. It interprets commands in the SPSS language and produces tabular output in ASCII or PostScript format.

Thanks to Jesse Smith for creating these PBIs and to bsdaddict and abik for requesting them.


First 8.2 Snapshot is Available for Testing

Kris Moore has announced that the first snapshot for 8.2 is available for testing:

The first snapshot of 8-STABLE, which will eventually become 8.2 has now been uploaded to our FTP server.

This snapshot is based upon FreeBSD 8.2-PRERELEASE, and includes KDE 4.5.3. It also contains a number of bugfixes backported from the 9 series, specifically to the installer and network management GUI. You can review the backport commits on the 8.2 TODO list.

Known Issues:

Using the “GPT” option during installation will give an error at boot, which I’m currently working on fixing.

Please feel free to give the snapshot a whirl, and report any bugs you find back to the testing list. Instructions for becoming a good beta tester can be found in this section of the Handbook.

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