We’re still in the process of porting the LXDE login manager which will be used in 9.0. Earlier versions of PC-BSD used KDE’s login manager which defaults to logging into KDE and also requires a lot of dependencies. LXDE’s version is much lighter weight, meaning that we will be able to provide CD versions of PC-BSD (currently, the dependencies required by KDM make the ISO too large to fit on a CD).
If you are testing alternate desktop environments using the current alpha snapshot, it still uses KDM. This means that you should not choose “auto-login” during the installation, or else KDM will attempt to log you into a non-existing KDE installation. In other words, your desktop will look pretty lousy. However, you should still be able to logout, click the session manager icon at the login screen (circle with lines through it located in lower left corner), select the desired window manager, and input your user account’s password.
We’ll also be clarifying the layout of the System Selection screen in the installer. MythTV isn’t a desktop environment, meaning you’ll get an error if you deselect everything else. If you want to give MythTV a go, select it as well as one of the desktops, such as KDE or GNOME.
If you find any bugs in the desktop environments, don’t forget to post them to the appropriate desktop forum.
Just a heads up if you choose the Network/Internet option in the System screen of yesterday’s alpha snapshot: you will need to manually enter the FTP location for your architecture:
64 bit: ftp://ftp.pcbsd.org/pub/snapshots/9-CURRENT-20101030/amd64/netinstall/
32 bit: ftp://ftp.pcbsd.org/pub/snapshots/9-CURRENT-20101030/i386/netinstall/
This section of the Handbook discusses network installations. Click the “Install from specified server” button which will allow you to input the FTP server name and directory path.
Kris has just announced that the first testing snapshot is available for download (both 32 and 64 bit versions). You can help us make 9.0 an awesome release by trying out the snapshots (there will be many between now and the first beta some time next spring) and providing feedback about any bugs you find. Since these are testing snapshots, it is recommended that you try them out on a spare system or using a virtual environment such as VirtualBox. If you’re planning on trying out all of the new desktop environments, you should use a virtual machine of at least 20 GB.
From the announcement:
I’m pleased to make available our first 9-Current alpha snapshot for you to begin playing with. This testing snapshot contains MANY new features and improvements that we plan on including in the eventual release of 9.0. However, by no means is this snapshot “feature complete” or to be considered stable. Expect to find bugs and things to change over the coming months as we refine features. Consider yourself warned!
With that being said, here’s a short list of some of the major changes from the 8.x series:
Ability to select system “meta-pkgs” at install / post-install time
This is a huge departure from previous PC-BSD releases. Now you will be able to customize your installed desktop easily, with various window managers such as KDE4, Gnome2, XFCE4, and LXDE. After installation, you can easily add / remove components of these meta-pkgs via the System Manager.
New PC-BSD Control Panel
Due to the new multiple desktop environment support, we have consolidated PC-BSD specific tools and utlities into a central location which can provide a consistent experience across window managers. When you first boot up, you will notice a new “Control Panel” icon on your desktop, which is your gateway to utilities such as Software Management, Network Config,
Firewall settings and more.
PBI format has been completely overhauled and reimplemented as CLI
Our servers are busy cranking out new 9 PBIs for testing, so you will not be able to download them via the Software Manager at the moment. However, you can download 9.0 PBIs which have successfully built directly from the 64-bit and 32-bit build servers
Installing a 9.x PBI is easy: simply double-click the .pbi file from your particular file-manager, or if that fails, use the “runpbi
the new pbi_* commands have associated man-pages, which should get you started exploring the new features.
Some of the new PBI9 features are digital signing, the ability to share identical libraries between applications, binary patch files, and more.
Code tree cleanup
Along with the new features mentioned, our code tree has been cleaned up, making it much easier to rebuild for testing and development. If you’ve installed the base-devel and kde-sdk meta-pkgs, you’ll have all the tools necessary to checkout the source, and do a rebuild of our PC-BSD specific tools using the instructions below:
# svn co svn://svn.pcbsd.org/pcbsd/current pcbsd-current
# cd pcbsd-current
Rebuilding the QT4 based gui tools can be done with this command:
# cd src-qt4 ; qmake-qt4 *.pro ; make install
Rebuilding the shell-based toolchain can be done with this command:
# cd src-sh ; make install
There are a couple of known issues with this snapshot. First, the networking utilities may not save your configuration to /etc/rc.conf properly. Checking out the source as described above and rebuilding the src-qt4 tools should fix this issue.
Also, the nvidia drivers included in this snapshot are currently from the 8.x series and will probably not function. We will be updating them in a future snapshot; in the meantime, please use the “nv” or “vesa’ drivers.
Reporting and Fixing Bugs
This snapshot is based upon FreeBSD 9-Current, and testers who find bugs in the base-system can help the FreeBSD team by reporting the issues using FreeBSD’s Gnats PR system. If this is your first PR, please read the instructions for Writing FreeBSD Problem Reports first.
Of course, detailed error reports are appreciated, and any patches to correct the target bug.
Download the Snapshots
The snapshots are currently available for download from our FTP site.
As part of the application process for Google Code-In, we’ve put together a list of tasks that are looking for people. We won’t know til November 5 if we’re eligible for this program–regardless, the list contains ongoing tasks that need your help.
If you’re interested in helping in the ongoing process of improving PC-BSD, browse through the list and let us know if you can assist with anything on the list. And, let us know if you think of something that needs doing that is not on the list.
At this week’s DevSummit prior to EuroBSDCon, we had discussions on how to improve communications between end-users (who use software and discover bugs and usability problems) and ports maintainers (who port software and fix bugs). It was agreed that it isn’t always easy for users to submit their feedback and get a response back. It is equally difficult for ports maintainers to find users willing to test new ports.
In response, we’ve created two new PC-BSD forums:
- Ports Requests: where users can request ports for software that is not currently ported to FreeBSD
- Ports Testers: where ports maintainers can put out calls for testers and receive user feedback
Please read the README file in each forum before posting a new thread. If you maintain a FreeBSD port or know any ports maintainers, help us spread the word about these new resources
Bordeaux is looking for PC-BSD and FreeBSD testers who are willing to write a review. From the Bordeaux website:
The Bordeaux Technology Group is a software services and development company specializing in Windows compatibility software. Users of Linux, FreeBSD, PC-BSD, Solaris, OpenSolaris and Mac OSX systems from time to time find themselves in the need to run specialized Windows software. The Bordeaux suite enables access to these programs and data in a seamless and low cost manner without requiring licensing of Microsoft Technology.
In return for the review, they will give the reviewer a free copy of Bordeaux and a link back to the review site. If you’re interested, check out this forum thread.