Jesse Smith, an active PC-BSD user and creator of many PBIs, is working on a program that automates parts of the FreeBSD port to an 8.x PBI conversion process. If you would like to try his command line utility, check out his Make-A-PBI Sourceforge page. He’s open to feedback, bug reports, and patches–see the contact information at that website if you have any to submit. If there’s enough interest, he’ll submit the program to the FreeBSD ports collection.
For those of you interested in testing BBB (an open source VoIP web conferencing system similar to commercial applications such as Webex), I’ve written a how-to on setting it up on a FreeBSD or PC-BSD 8.1 system. When I get a chance, I’ll test it with webcamd and desktop sharing. Once better tested, we’ll see what we can do about getting a BSD version of BBB. Creating a port/PBI will be interesting due to the amount of configuration. It may be better suited as a warden inmate or a virtual image that someone can quickly download and deploy.
If you give the how-to a go, leave a comment if you run across any issues or have suggestions on streamlining the how-to or increasing its security settings. We’d also be interested in knowing if this is something you’d like to see installed with PC-BSD or as a separate PBI/inmate/image add-on.
We’re starting to fill in the TODO list for PC-BSD 9.0 and you can view the list here. As items are marked as DONE, we’ll note them on the blog.
Two items were recently completed by Kris and he has hyperlinked their associated “DONE” with their location in the code repository.
The first is to modify the installer to allow for file-system selection when doing auto-partitioning and making UFS+SUJ the default file-system. If you’re not familiar with UFS+SUJ, it is described as follows by FreeBSD committer Ivan Voras:
The venerable UFS has finally received integrated journalling. Earlier it was possible to use gjournal (in whose making I’ve actually participated in an roundabout way) but it was a bulk-data journalling effort, making no distinction between data and metadata, requiring a large journal. The SUJ mode is an addon to SoftUpdates, extending it to record a very small intent-log journal for the edge-cases where it required a (light version of) fsck. This development makes UFS a fully fsck-less file system in the common case.
The second is the creation of the new pc-controlpanel utility. This is a “system settings”-like application which makes it easy to manage PC-BSD. After running it as root once, you can access any of the other PC-BSD specific GUI configuration utilities, regardless of the desktop environment or window manager being used.
Late last week, Kris commited the PBI command line utilities that will go into 9.0. This post contains instructions for those who wish to give the commands a try (they work on 8.x) and how you can help with documentation, usage examples, and feature suggestions. If you like using Software Manager, don’t worry as that will still be in 9–these utilities are additional goodies for those comfortable with the command line and who are looking for a FreeBSD-like PBI command suite similar to pkg_add, pkg_info, etc.
To try out the utilities, cd to your home directory (or other suitable directory) and issue the following commands:
# svn co svn://svn.pcbsd.org/pcbsd/current/src-qt4/pbi-manager
# cd pbi-manager
# sh install.sh (as the superuser)
I’ve started some documentation to briefly describe what you get. Note that the documentation gives the 9.0 paths–for now, you’ll see the described files in your pbi-manager directory.
Currently there isn’t a test repository containing 9 PBIs so pbi_add –r won’t work unless you first create a PBI and pbi_update(1) won’t work until a newer version of the underlying port is made into a PBI. We’ll announce the availability of the test repository once it is up, which should be shortly after the 9.0 alpha snapshots become available. If you’re already familiar with how to create a PBI, give the pbi_create(1) command a go. If you’d like to try converting a port skeleton into a PBI, try pbi_makeport(1). The modules-examples/ directory contains examples for firefox and gimp so that you can compare the new module format to the old module format.
Here’s where you can help us out:
- we need real-world usage examples; if you want to help us write them on the wiki, leave a comment or hop onto #pcbsd on IRC freenode and we’ll make sure you get a wiki account. If you write a how-to on your website/blog/etc., let us know so we can refer other users to it.
- we need to let others know about the new functionality, especially FreeBSD users familiar with ports and packages. Feel free to blog/tweet/etc. your experiments!
- we will need people to become PBI creators so we have a great repository of software for when 9 is released.
- we need people to review and help edit these 2 pages: the PBI Manager section of the PC-BSD 9 Handbook and the PBI Module Builder Guide so that it contains instructions for both 8.x and 9.x formats and is easy for new PBI creators to follow.
- we need feature suggestions for the PBI command line tools. Is there something you can do with a pkg_* command that you can’t do with a pbi_* command? Is there something that would be really cool to do with PBIs that currently is not being done?
- we’ll need translators for the man pages. I’ll check to get an ETA on when they will be available in Pootle.
If these PBI tools interest you, we recommend that you join the pbi-dev mailing list as there will be much discussion on the new format and tools between now and the release of 9. If getting email from a list is not your thing, check out the gmane options for this list.
One of the new features coming in 9.0 is the ability to select and run multiple window managers, meaning you no longer have to like KDE to like PC-BSD
We do realize that we’re opening up a can of worms in that we’ll be discovering lots of bugs in various window managers and/or their FreeBSD implementation. This can be seen as a great opportunity to get these bugs fixed, improving the desktop experience for both FreeBSD and PC-BSD users. In order to do so, we’ll need your help, especially if you have used your favourite window manager on a non-BSD system and have noticed usability differences in the BSD implementation.
To coordinate this effort, we’ve setup a Testing forum which contains sub-forums for KDE, GNOME, XFCE, LXDE, Fluxbox, and General Testing for all other window managers. Please read the “README First” thread before posting a bug report to a forum and leave a comment if you have other helpful information that you think should be included in that README thread.
If you start a thread, you should use Thread Tools -> Subscribe to this Thread so that you will be notified of any responses to your post. Alternately, if you’re interested in keeping up with all the threads for a particular window manager, you can use Forum Tools -> Subscribe to this Forum. As you subscribe, you can choose to be notified immediately, daily, or weekly.
Our goal is to help find and fix as many bugs as possible before 9.0 is released some time next summer.
We did some testing on 3G modems at OLF and loading the u3g driver seems to do the trick (earlier versions of FreeBSD had a conflict between u3g and umass but this seems to be fixed now). You can load the driver by issuing this command as the superuser:
If you would like the driver to autoload at boot time, carefully add this line to /boot/loader.conf:
Lars Engels also provided a useful link containing an exhaustive list of APNs, usernames and passwords.
Please let us know if further configuration settings are required (i.e. which are currently not possible to do within the System Network Configuration utility) in order to get your modem to work.