Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

PC-BSD Day 1: extending the system

On this first day with PC-BSD I sat down to extend the system. For one, I was curious whether I could play my MP3 files out of the box and -if not- how easy it was to remedy that. Secondly, I wanted to install a program for offline blogging. While browsing the PBI directory I also found few programs that are positioned as graphical front-ends for the ports system. Since it was one of my remarks in the first article it made sense to have a look at those as well.

Give me the music
I keep some of MP3 files on a USB harddrive and PC-BSD had no problems recognizing and mounting it. It was immediately recognized by Amarok. Linux users might get used to the designation of the decive. No sdb, but da0s1. When I went to configure the music collection I was pleased to see the familiar /media/MOBILE designation in the tree.As as side remark: the icon set in Amarok doesn’t seem complete yet. There were quite a few blank icons.

However, I don’t look at music, I want to listen to it. Honestly, I was preparing myself to go online and find a howto for playing music files under FreeBSD or PC-BSD. But it simply works. Out of the box PC-BSD has support for MP3 and that was good way to start the day.

Going GUI on the ports collections
I found two PBI’ s that promised graphical frontends for the ports system. BPM (short for ” BSD Ports Manager) and KPorts. BPM immediately failed to start up, so I assume it is not compatible with PC-BSD 1.4. KPorts was more recent and didn’t disappoint me. It immediately gave back some instructions about needing three additional ports:


This kept me busy for a while. For one, what did I need to do to install this packages via the commandline. That was easy enough:

#pkg_add -r portupgrade
#pkg_add -r cvsup-without-gui
#pkg_add -r portaudit

In my (almost) complete innocence I gave the instruction #sudo pkg_add -r portupgrade, only to be warned that “jan” was not in the sudoers file and that my actions would be reported. The sudoers file is in /usr/local/etc/, but you need to be root to edit it. First I tried to login as root via the login screen (KDM?), but that was refused. Then I rebooted and looked for the option to boot to the commandline. I couldn’t find, but that could be my fault. Finally I just started to browse the menu. Ah, there it was, the root konsole. Another lesson learned: there is always an easier solution for your problem.

With the root konsole there wasn’t a need to edit the sudoers file, but I did it nonetheless (via visudo). I installed the three needed packages and restarted KPorts. You can fetch a completely new ports collection with the click of a button. And then nothing seems to happen. Until after a while you see “1%” in the progress. That was reminiscent of updating the portage tree under Sabayon Linux. It takes a long, long time.

One other method to update the ports collection is to use the commandline. I know, it’s not for the novice user, but after playing with Ubuntu for over a year I have come to appreciate the strength of the commandline. Plus it is often more verbose than the GUI packages. The FreeBSD online manual explained exactly what needed to be done. You simply run:
# cvsup -L 2 -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile

In my case I changed the server to one closer to home. While I am writing this the update is still running as it has been for more than an hour. Tomorrow is a good day to check whether I can use KPorts to install some more software.


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4 thoughts on “PC-BSD Day 1: extending the system

  1. Thanks for the review!

    Just a tip: on a terminal you can become root by typing “su” (it will ask for the password). The sudo thing was started by Ubuntu, but it’s not the standard in every other Linux/BSD/Unix system.


  2. @Luis: Well, the only thing Ubuntu did is make sudo the only way to use root, which can easily be changed. It has been around for quite a whlie in and of itself. Nonethless, I was coming to suggest su myself.

  3. FYI the ports tree can also be updated from the systems menu and it can also find the fastes server for you

  4. The fastest way is to use portsnap:

    portsnap fetch extract

    (getting ports tree the first time)

    portsnap fetch update

    (update existing tree)

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