Jun
06

6-only Version of PC-BSD 9.0 Available for World IPv6 Day">IPv6-only Version of PC-BSD 9.0 Available for World IPv6 Day

Earlier this year, iXsystems and the FreeBSD Foundation sponsored Bjoern Zeeb (a FreeBSD committer and recipient of the Itojun Service Award for his contributions to IPv6) to improve FreeBSD’s implementation of IPv6. That work included the creation of IPv6-only testing versions of both FreeBSD and PC-BSD in time for World IPv6 Day. As far as we know, the PC-BSD version is the first desktop operating system with a pure IPv6 kernel that does not rely on any IPv4 code. You can read the official press release on prweb.

The PC-BSD testing version is based on PC-BSD 9.0 and is available for download from North American and European mirrors. If you would like to try it out, you’ll find that it is as easy to install as any other PC-BSD snapshot. However, if you wish to connect to the Internet from your IPv6-only system, you will need access to an ISP or third-party service (such as tunnelbroker) that provides IPv6 addresses and a router capable of tunneling IPv6 traffic.

We hope to get as many testers as possible to report on any error messages that they encounter. We expect that some code, especially in third-party applications, won’t know how to deal with IPv6-only. As these errors are reported, they can be submitted to the correct committer to be fixed. Send your reports to the PC-BSD testing mailing list.

It should also be noted that the FreeBSD website and all of the PC-BSD infrastructure (website, forums, etc.) is IPv6 enabled with AAAA records. If you are participating in World IPv6 Day, be sure to visit the PC-BSD and FreeBSD websites!

Apr
01

Club “Needs to Change”

Sam Lin, a PC-BSD user who is active on the testing and translation lists, was recently interviewed by Chris Gardner, Farming and Technology Editor at the Waikato Times newspaper in New Zealand. His interview appeared on page C7 in the Technology section on February 5. The contents of the interview are posted here with permission:

A Waikato computer club whose members promote the use of the free Linux operating system are being told to broaden their horizons or fold.

The Waikato University-based Waikato Linux Users Group (WLUG) was founded in 1998 for users of the alternative to Microsoft’s Windows operating system, flavours of which are installed on more than 90 per cent of the world’s personal computers, and Apple’s iOS. Membership peaked at about 50, but has fallen in recent years to a 10th of that as it struggles to get enough together to hold a committee meeting.

Dr Shih-Min “Sam” Lin, of Waikato University’s honey research unit, who recently joined the committee, said the group almost folded last year as the half a dozen committee members were reluctant to take leadership roles.

There should be much more members than this in the user group,” he said. Dr Lin said WLUG had not been close enough to the mainstream user and was unorganised. WLUG’s monthly meetings on topics like macro programming for Open Office were “quite geeky or techy for the mainstream user”, he said. “It is doubtful if the community would last long without making any change.”

Dr Lin, who uses another free operating system called PC-BSD, said it was easy to find books on paid-for software, but there was little available in the free software market although there was plenty of support online. “This is where I think the user group can cut into the general public. If in the monthly meetings some useful user-firendly tutorials can be given, people would be intrigued and be willing to come. More people, more interaction, more discussion, more vitality and more fun.”

Dr Lin said the free software community was open to everyone, not just computer geeks, and modifying software to suit personal needs was sometimes as easy as adding a few words to a text file. “As a biological scientist I analyse my data of the research on honey with a Free License Open Source Software (FLOSS) called R, which is an internationally well-known statistical package of which one of the original developers is a New Zealander. I typeset my thesis and long document with a FLOSS called LaTeX which is very common among computer science/mathematical/statistical fields. I use GIMP to edit my photos, and I use Firefox to hunt on Trade Me.”

Dec
14

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.

Oct
07

Looking for Bordeaux Testers

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.

Aug
10

Many Doc Changes

Here is a summary of today’s many changes to the doc structure and Handbook.

docs​.pcbsd​.org has been retired as it was merely a collection of assorted links. If you’re looking for documentation, either click on the FAQS icon or the Handbook tab on the PC-BSD website.

Most of the content from the main page of the wiki has been moved into the Handbook. The following sections were integrated:

  • Using the Ports Console Jail
  • Working with FreeBSD Ports & Packages
  • Keeping PC-BSD Updated
  • Jail Management with The Warden
  • Setting up a PC-BSD Thin Client Server
  • Legacy PBI Access (deleted as no longer relevant)
  • Dual Booting
  • Reporting Bugs
  • Using the PC-SysInstall backend (scriptable installs)
  • Using the PBI Builder to make a PBI from a FreeBSD
  • PortPBI Module Builder Guide
  • PBI Request List

Several of these sections had their screenshots and text updated.

In particular, these Handbook sections had a first pass at updating their existing, out-of-date content:

There are bound to be broken links that I’ve missed, so please leave a comment as you find them. Please note that the entire Handbook is an active work in progress (changing hourly). There are some notes (IN CAPS so they stand out) on missing info and the Figures won’t be named and numbered until the content is more stable. The size of the figures will also be standardized once we figure out which size works best in a print layout.

If there is a specific section that you’re waiting to be updated (as you need that info) or if you have suggestions for sections that are missing but needed, leave a comment so they can be prioritized in the editing queue.

Aug
03

PC-BSD Users Handbook

Thanks to everyone who left comments regarding feature and documentation suggestions. Keep these coming so we can start prioritizing and integrating your suggestions.

Spending today going through the PC-BSD Users Handbook. The plan thus far is to read it through while addressing broken links, obviously outdated information (such as version numbers) and fixing grammatical errors. After the first pass-through, I’ll have a better idea of which sections need updated material and what documentation does not yet exist.

This is where you can help out, too. Have you gone to the Handbook to find out how to do something and couldn’t find it? Have you done something cool on your PC-BSD system that you think should be added to the Handbook? Are there some new features in 8.x that you haven’t found in the Handbook yet? Let us know! We’ll definitely need help with reviewing content and writing new content.

Besides leaving a comment here, you can also interact with us in more “real-time”. If you use IRC Freenode, hop into #pcbsd. Or start a conversation in the Facebook Group or LinkedIn Group.

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