PC-BSD Status Update

I wanted to take this time to give you a status update on PC-BSD / TrueOS, and the direction going forward. As many of you know, we’ve been doing builds of 9.1-RELEASE and 9-STABLE as a “Rolling-Release”. Our new plan is to issue system and package updates on the following schedule:

– Update PKGNG repo on or about the 1st and 15th of the month.

– Update the PKGNG repo on or about the 5th and 20th of the month
– Issue a new “freebsd-update” patch on the 1st, which includes the latest –STABLE version

In addition to the rolling release, we also have some other cool new projects in the works. The first among these is our work to make ZFS the cornerstone of the PC-BSD/TrueOS experience. This will bring features such as ZFS “Boot-Environments”, including the ability to boot directly from them at the boot-loader. If you’ve not run boot-environments before, you will wonder how you survived without them. To accomplish this, we are going to be moving to the GRUB boot-loader, which now has ZFS support. The pbi-manager and Warden already have extensive ZFS support, and we will be enhancing our other utilities, such as “Life-Preserver” with ZFS features as well.

In addition to re-focusing on solely on ZFS as our default file-system, we have had to take a look at the feasibility of continuing with the i386 builds. As many of you know, ZFS is a 21st century operating system and doesn’t play nicely with the legacy i386 kernel / versions of FreeBSD. In addition over the past couple years, more and more of time-consuming issues we’ve encountered have been only on i386, partly due to the fact that most FreeBSD devs have already moved on to 64bit and also due to the quickly shrinking number of users / systems that still run i386. In order to make PC-BSD / TrueOS, secure, stable and timely, we’ve decided to drop the i386 builds going forward, and instead focus on a single 64bit architecture. This means the next editions of rolling-release and 9.2 onward will be 64bit only. If you are already on 64bit, then you won’t need to worry about anything. However if you are running i386 on your box you will need to consider moving it to the 64bit versions in the near future. If your hardware is less than 10 years old then most likely you will be able to do this without any difficulty.

For those helping us test the rolling-release now, I hope to have a new ISO + package set available in the next week or so, which includes the new GRUB boot-loader for Boot-Environments. I will post back details on how to manually setup / test this feature in the near future. Once these new features have stabilized a bit further, we will begin to issue general updates for users of the old 9.1-RELEASE from January to upgrade to 9.1 Rolling Release.

Kris Moore
PC-BSD Software


9.1 32bit users">Important Notice for PC-BSD 9.1 32bit users

A number of PC-BSD 32bit users have reported problems booting their
systems after applying the latest FreeBSD update patches. We have found the problem and will have a bugfix issued shortly. Once this bugfix is issued, you may then continue re-applying FreeBSD updates. If this has affected your system, you can fix it manually following the directions below.

NOTE: At this time it *only* seems to be hitting users of 9.1-Release on 32bit / i386.

Fixing the problem

If your system has run into this issue, and can no longer boot, you can fix it with the following steps:

1. Boot your 9.1-Release DVD / USB media to the installation screen

2. Right-click on the desktop to open “xterm”

3. Mount your PC-BSD partition:

# mount /dev/ada0s1a /mnt
(Replace “ada0s1” with the disk name / partition number)

4. Copy the original /boot/loader file
# cp /mnt/boot/loader.old /mnt/boot/loader

5. Unmount and reboot

# umount /mnt
# shutdown –r now


A fix named “Boot-loader — beastie” fix has been issued and is being updated to the mirrors as of April 9. Once the update is installed, it is safe to do the freebsd-update.

Since it takes time to sync to all of the mirrors, be sure that it downloads and installs before running freebsd-update.


2.0">What’s New in EasyPBI 2.0

Greetings! With EasyPBI 2.0 now available in the FreeBSD ports tree and as a PBI in the AppCafe, I was asked to highlight some of the new features in EasyPBI 2.0, and why you should want to start using it now.

The first new feature that comes to mind is relatively minor, but saves a fair amount of time if you use EasyPBI with any regularity. This is the ability to check when the last time you updated your system ports tree was, and to use portsnap (or svn if appropriate) to update it to the current version. This is easily available from the “System → Get FreeBSD Ports” menu option.

The second new feature is more of a significant overhaul rather than a brand new feature, and that is making the module editor a complete front-end to editing PBI modules. Previously, the editor allowed the user to view and change the most common options for PBI’s, and trying to use smart defaults for the rest. Now, while still recommending smart defaults, it makes all the settings and options for the module available to the user. The is extremely useful for loading modules from other people, as you can now see everything that the module has inside it, with nothing being “hidden” from EasyPBI inside any of the configuration files. This is easily shown with the new “Scripts” tab in the module editor that lets you read through or edit any custom installation scripts that might be in the module. Another example of this is the new functionality in the “XDG Entries” tab that lets you view/edit any of the desktop/menu entries without having to guess what is inside based upon the file name as with the previous versions. Oh, EasyPBI is also able to set up MIME type file associations for menu entries now, making that whole process very simple and no longer requiring that the user know how to write XML files for the different MIME types.

The last new feature that I want to highlight is one that will not be used very often, but has some very powerful possibilities associated with it. This feature is the ability to package non-port programs in the PBI format. What this option does is basically shift the burden of compiling the program and all its dependencies onto the user instead of using the FreeBSD ports framework. To make this work, the user will first have to setup a directory on his system in the exact format that he wants it to have inside the PBI (with lib/ bin/ share/ etc/ sub-directories as appropriate), as if the program got installed into this directory instead of on the base system. Once that is ready, you can then point EasyPBI at that directory, give it a version number and other program information, then have it all be packaged up as a PBI. This will require a bit more “advanced” usage since you will have to setup external-links and desktop/menu entries for the application yourself (since EasyPBI relies on the FreeBSD ports framework for recommendations), but this ability has a lot of very powerful implications. For instance, it should now allow program developers who wish to distribute special closed-source versions of their software to still make use of the PBI format for simple installations and consistent runtime dependencies by their clients. While this next example was not what the PBI format was originally designed for, I could also see this also being used by device manufacturers to release additional closed-source drivers or FreeBSD kernel modules for their devices. This would provide a simple way to distribute and install these drivers without requiring the system users to have extensive knowledge of the FreeBSD system structure or go through the pain of compiling and loading kernel modules on their own.

These are just some of the new features of EasyPBI 2.0 that I think users will appreciate the most. If you have some “killer” feature that you would like to see in the upcoming versions of EasyPBI, please let me know! I can be found on the PC-BSD PBI developers mailing list[1], or you can send me an email directly[2].

[1] http://​lists​.pcbsd​.org/​m​a​i​l​m​a​n​/​l​i​s​t​i​nfo

[2] ken (at) pcbsd (dot) org


Call for Testers: Network Manager

We’re looking for testers for Control Panel -> Network Manager. In particular, we need feedback from those who use 3G or PPP to connect. We’ve gotten feedback from several non-native English speakers who are new to BSD networking that the 3G/PPP tab doesn’t work “out of the box” and would like to resolve any connection issues in time for 9.1. If you use 3G or ppp and had to manually edit ppp.conf in order to connect, please send your config and any feedback on how to improve this tab to the testing mailing list. The current documentation on this tab is here.

Also, an option was recently added to make it easier to connect to networks where the wireless router hides its SSID. If you would like to test this change, you can compile the new version by running the following commands as the superuser. These commands require that the Development-Qt and Development-VCS packages are first installed from Control Panel -> System Manager -> System Packages -> Development.

svn co svn://svn.pcbsd.org/pcbsd/current/src-qt4
cd src-qt4/pc-netmanager/
qmake-qt4 *.pro
make install

When finished, launch Control Panel -> Network Configuration with an attached/enabled wireless device. The “Add Hidden” button, shown in the Figure, should now allow you to add the SSID for the hidden router.


Haiku Contest

Show us your creativity/humor/love for FreeBSD and PC-BSD by submitting an original haiku poem. Here at iXsystems we always love hearing what you have to say, and what better way to celebrate the upcoming PC-BSD 9.0 release than indulging in some creative writing? We’ll gladly give away a PC-BSD shirt to the winner, and immortalize his/her haiku up on our Facebook and Google+ sites.


  1. Entry must be in haiku form (5,7,5 syllables) and written in comprehensible English in order to be considered.
  2. Multiple entries are welcome, but only one entry per person can win. A single good entry will stand out more than numerous similar ones.
  3. Entry should be FreeBSD or PC-BSD related in order to be considered.
  4. By submitting an entry, you agree to let iXsystems reproduce your work for promotional purposes and that it is your own original work.

Prize: A PC-BSD Isotope T-shirt plus misc FreeBSD swag items. (Total ARV: $30)

Contest starts: Dec 19th, 12:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time

Contest ends: Dec 30th, 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time

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