The PC-BSD 8.2 Handbook is now available through Amazon’s Kindle Store. The English version is already available for purchase at most of the Amazon country sites and the Indonesian version should be available sometime in the next 24 hours. We’ll add other translated versions as they become available. Purchase price is $4.99 USD and proceeds are used to help fund the development of PC-BSD.
I’m also working on an epub version so the Handbook can be available for other e-reader devices. I currently don’t have access to a device so will probably put out a call for testers once the formatting looks correct within Sigil (an open source epub editor).
On March 31, Stephen Nelson-Smith will be giving a remote presentation (via bigbluebutton) at this month’s CAPBUG meeting. Details for accessing the live presentation via your web browser will be announced before the event on the CAPBUG mailing list. The presentation will include a discussion on using pc-sysinstall to automate FreeBSD installations. Here is the presentation’s synopsis and presenter bio:
Although FreeBSD is in many ways one of the most advanced operating systems in the world, boasting access to a vast array of current, upstream software, and with ZFS and dtrace increasingly mature in the latest releases, it still has a reputation for being difficult to manage and automate, compared to Linux. This talk looks at system automation and configuration management strategies on FreeBSD, exploring unattended installs using the pc-sysinstall tool, system management using Opscode Chef, and options for running FreeBSD in the cloud.
Stephen Nelson-Smith is an experienced agile infrastructure consultant, UNIX system administrator and Ruby and Python programmer. As principal consultant at Atalanta Systems, he evangelises 21st century systems infrastructure, and specialises in system automation, monitoring, and the application of lean and XP-derived principles on the operations side of the business. A ruthlessly logical problem solver, powerful communicator, and enthusiastic mentor and motivator, his skills have been employed by household names such as Sony, Motorola, the AA, the Department of Education, and a host of young, technology-driven enterprises. A thought leader in the emerging infrastructure-as-code community, his blog agilesysadmin.net is essential reading for anyone building software today.
The latest testing snapshot for 9.0 is now available in various formats from the FTP server. Some notes on this snapshot:
- There was a failure on the i386 build server earlier this week, meaning there isn’t a 32 bit snapshot for this round of testing. The next testing snapshot will be available in both 32 and 64 bit versions in about 2 weeks.
- This is the first snapshot to contain the latest developments from the FreeBSD Xorg porting team. miwi@‘s notes on the state of this testing version of Xorg are here. All future snapshots will contain the testing version of Xorg, allowing PC-BSD testers to assist the porters in finding bugs so that they can be fixed and to help speed up the porting process.
- This snapshot also contains the new AppCafe. If no apps appear, wait a day or so as Kris is busy generating PBIs.
As always, let us know if you come across any bugs, either as a comment here or as a posting on the testing mailing list. The Handbook contains some instructions on becoming a tester.
Hans Petter Selasky has committed the new webcamd man pages which document the devices supported by the following V4L-DVB drivers: a800, af9005, af9015, anysee, au6610, b2c2, ce6230, cinergy, cxusb, dib0700, digitv, dtt200u, dtv5100, dw2102, ec168, friio, gl861, gp8psk, hdpvr, m920x, mr800, nova-t, opera1, s2255, siano, ttusb2, umt, uvc, vp702x, and vp7045. Due to the ports freeze, the package (version 0.1.20_1) was not available in time for FreeBSD/PC-BSD 8.2 release. You can get the latest man pages as follows:
1. if you have the latest version of the ports tree installed, run make deinstall && make reinstall within /usr/ports/multimedia/webcamd/ or run portmaster to upgrade webcamd.
2. grab the package from the Latest repository: fetch ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/packages-current/multimedia/webcamd-0.1.20.tbz (for 32 bit systems) or fetch ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/amd64/packages-current/multimedia/webcamd-0.1.20_1.tbz (for 64 bit systems). After fetching, run the command pkg_add webcamd* from the directory containing the fetched package. If webcamd is already installed, run pkg_delete –x webcamd first so that the new package will install.
If your device is listed but does not work or if it does work and is not listed, let us know the product name as well as its VendorID:ProductID so that we can add it to the man page (if it is missing) or figure out what the problem is if it does not work.
Kris Moore’s slides on the new PBI 9.0 format are available for download in PDF format.
Due to the recent events in Japan, Kris won’t be able to make this presentation at AsiaBSDCon as originally planned. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are in Japan.
The March issue of BSD Mag includes an article by Kris Moore on pages 14–15. The text of that article is reprinted here with permission:
Even though the release of PC-BSD 9.0 is still a little ways off in 2011, there has already been countless hours of work put into it, bringing many exciting new changes and features.
Probably the biggest and most noticeable change will be the ability to select from a variety of desktops/window mangers. Historically PC-BSD has only offered KDE, starting with version 3, and later version 4 as a users main desktop. While KDE still offers a very complete desktop environment, there are a large number of users who prefer to use an alternative on their system. This is often for a variety of reasons, such as size, speed, design, or just personal preference. In order to provide a more satisfactory desktop experience to a larger audience, starting in version 9.0, users will provided with a easy-to-use desktop selection screen, which will allow PC-BSD to be customized with the desktop packages of the users choice.
Currently some of the desktops being offered include KDE, GNOME, XFCE and LXDE. In addition to these desktops, some common packages are also offered for installation, such as NVIDIA drivers, HPLIP and MythTV. After an installation, sometimes a user may need to add or remove various packages and PC-BSD 9 provides a mechanism for this as well. By running the included System Manager tool, a user can quickly change the installed meta-pkgs again to their preference, by inserting the original DVD/USB media, or by installing from the Internet.
In order to accommodate this large shift from a single desktop environment, almost all of the PC-BSD management tools have had to either be fixed, or in some cases replaced entirely. Since most of the desktops have a variety of different configuration managers, or none at all, it was decided to create our own PC-BSD control panel, which could provide a consistent interface for common configuration tasks. From this new control panel, a user can easily perform tasks such as setting up networking, add/removing users, controlling the firewall, browsing & installing software (PBIs) and more.
This brings us to the last major change to PC-BSD 9, the PBI package management system. In previous releases of PC-BSD, the PBI system had been developed with QT/KDE and was tied into that particular desktop in many ways. However, with the possibility of a user not even having KDE installed on their system, this meant our PBI system would need to change as well. It was decided to re-implement the PBI format entirely as command-line applications, so that it would be agnostic to the particular desktop being used, as well as be able to function on traditional FreeBSD systems, which may not even have X11 installed.
Since the entire PBI format was going to be overhauled for 9, we have also taken the opportunity to enhance it with a number of new features. Since a PBI file includes all the required libraries/dependencies included within it, there is a potential for file duplication between applications. In order to reduce this from occurring, the revamped PBI format includes intelligent management of libraries, and is able to share identical copies between applications. We have also added other important features, such as repository management, digital signature verification, off-line repository browsing and more. All these features are available via a command-line interface for power-users, while a new GUI front-end provides users of previous PC-BSD versions with a familiar framework for management.
Even though PC-BSD 9 is still early in the development cycle, it has already undergone some dramatic changes, and is shaping up to be a large step forward for BSD on the desktop. Testers or curious users are welcome to follow the development of this release by watching our new blog.