FreeBSD 8.2 is scheduled to be released towards the end of January, meaning PC-BSD 8.2 will be released shortly thereafter. We’ve started a TODO list for PC-BSD 8.2 and expect this release to be mostly bug fixes and the most recent versions of KDE and the other software that comes with the PC-BSD operating system. Note that most of the new features coming in 9.0 (e.g. multiple desktops, new control panel, new PBI format, etc.) will not be in 8.2. However, Kris will backport the bug fixes that have been made to the System Network Configuration tool and the Disk partitioning screen of the installer so users can take advantage of those changes in 8.2.
There are several ways you can help with this release. We expect to have beta snapshots available in early December and will announce them when they are ready for download. If you have a spare system or virtual machine, install a beta version and let us know if you come across any problems. We’ll have full instructions for reporting bugs when the beta releases are announced.
Another way you can help is with the Handbook. Starting in 8.2, we plan to include a “release” of the Handbook with the operating system. We also hope to start on translated versions. While work has been steady on the Handbook, there are still many sections that need to be written and proofed for readability and usability. From the Handbook‘s preface:
This is the wiki area for the collaborative editing of the PC-BSD Users Handbook. The Handbook grows into a useful resource when users (meaning you!) contribute to it. You don’t have to write large sections of the Handbook in order to be a contributor. You also don’t need to have a lot of time on your hands. You simply have to create a login account in order to assist with any of the following tasks:
* proofread existing pages and fix any typos, grammos, or unclearly worded sections.
* add to sections containing missing, outdated, or incomplete content.
* update any screenshots that are out of date.
* every page has a Discussion tab. You can use this if you would like to suggest further information that should appear in that section of the Handbook.
* create a new section for content that is not yet covered in the Handbook. If you are not sure where to do this, ask on a semi-related Discussion tab.
We are emailed whenever edits are made and will contact you for clarification if an edit is unclear. You can also be notified when specified pages are edited–simply click the “my preferences” or “my watchlist” links whenever you are logged into the wiki.
Beginning with PC-BSD 8.2, the contents of the wiki will be generated into a “released” version of the Handbook that will be included with that PC-BSD release as well as made available in HTML and PDF formats. Once the Handbook is released, the wiki version will be updated to include changes being made to the next version of PC-BSD. This means that, over time, separate Handbooks will be available for each release. For those familiar with FreeBSD terminology, consider the wiki version of the Handbook to be “CURRENT” or “HEAD”.
Let us know if you are interested in translating the Handbook. We will “freeze” the Handbook during the RC phase of a release to give time for translation work.
If you’re using PC-BSD 8.1 and have a dialup or DSL modem, please review the Advanced Network Settings and PPPoE page of the PC-BSD Handbook as I don’t have access to a modem to test the settings. Please let us know if the device names are correct, if any required fields are missing, or if any of the text is unclear or needs more explanation. You can leave a comment here or make a wiki account and either start a discussion on the page’s Discussion tab or edit the page directly (we’ll see your edits).
We’re thinking of redesigning Section 5: Exploring PC-BSD of the Handbook. Currently, that section discusses these topics (note that the current text is several years old):
- 4.1 KDE Desktop
- Taskbar or KDE Panel
- System Tray
- Start menu
- File system
- Folder hierarchy
- Home Folder
- Mounting/Unmounting drives
We’re thinking of replacing most of this section into a “Performing Common Tasks on PC-BSD” section. If so, is any of the existing information useful (if so, we’ll keep it). Which common tasks would you like to see addressed by this section, which aren’t covered elsewhere in the Table of Contents?
The PC-BSD Users Handbook has been divided into sections and each page now allows navigation to the previous and next pages as well as back to the Table of Contents. This restructuring is more user-friendly; it also allows Handbook contributors to more easily see which content needs updating.
The goal is to have the Handbook complete by end of year so an HTML and PDF copy can be generated and included with PC-BSD 8.2 (due to be released in the January/February timeframe). If you would like to help us update the content, create a wiki account and subscribe to the docs mailing list.
If you see anything that is glaringly missing in the Table of Contents, please leave a comment.
There’s a discussion in the comments section of the Using VirtualBox post which brings up the question of how screenshots should be handled in the Handbook. What’s your opinion? Do you find it useful if:
- the screenshot shows the default values (what the user sees when they first access a menu or screen)
- the screenshot shows the desired value (e.g. what the users sees after they make the demonstrated configuration change)
- the screenshot includes a drop down menu selected (e.g. so the user sees some possible selection values)
While we’re on the topic of screenshots, do you find an image for each possible screen and/or configuration within a screen to be helpful or distracting? Is it useful to describe in detail every possible configuration option in a particular screen, or is that distracting?
Please leave your comments and suggestions. They will help greatly in fleshing out a design that is useful to PC-BSD users (our ultimate goal for the Handbook).