Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

PC-BSD Day 2: Synchronicity

Going GUI on the ports collections (continued)

When I returned back home the entire ports collection had been downloaded. The only thing I needed to do in KPorts was to fetch a new index file. Once that was done the available collection of software increased to 17.586, which is a more interesting number that the 523 I started with. Time to install some software.

A closer look at KPorts

Kports is only vaguely reminiscent of Synaptic or Adept. If you want to compare it, you need to look at the graphical frontend for Portage that Sabayon Linux is using. PC-BSD-kports_1 The left panel contains the ports tree divided in various branches. That should be enough to browse through the packages. The right hand panel shows the detailed information about the package and it’s dependencies. When you click ?Install? KPorts will guide to a brief wizard. And then it stays quiet. That is, until you click on the Konsole icon. At that point the whole build process of the new package and it’s dependencies becomes visible.

PC-BSD-kports_2 PC-BSD-kports_3

The PBI based install of Abiword kind of failed on my system (it installed fine, but didn’t run), which made the installation of Abiword via KPorts he first experiment. Well, that was some adventure. The first list of dependencies was quite reasonable, but those dependencies had dependencies themselves and so the list of packages grew. Since each package was downloaded as source and had to be compiled it took ages. What I had forgotten is that Abiword is closely linked to Gnome Office and hence the need for a lot of Gnome related dependencies. I suspected that in the future things will fare better with Gnome based software, because most dependencies had been solved now.


Unfortunately, in the end I still had no Abiword. KPorts reported unresolvable conflicts and finished the attempt to install Abiword. I reverted to the commandline (#pkg_add -r abiword) which resulted in the error message that Abiword requires freebidi-0.10.8, while freebidi-0.10.9 was installed. Sigh…

Finally I tried to run the PBI package again (one never knows) and voila… it worked. Apparently the PBI version of Abiword was lacking some dependencies, which were resolved by the attempt to install it via KPorts.

Blogging and multimedia plugins?
The next attempt was to install Drivel. Drivel is an offline program to create blogposts. I thought this could be solved by a simple #pkg_add -r drivel. This attempt proved me wrong as to the Gnome related dependencies. The list accompanying Drivel seemed even longer than in the case of Abiword and it even included the gstreamer packages (good, bad and ugly). And Nautilus. My, oh my, what had I done….

This attempt to install Drivel also failed due to conflicts with packages. I started to wonder whether I did everything right with getting the ports collection. I went back to the update tab of KPorts. First I updated the ports collection (which was finished quite quickly), then I fetched a new index file and thirdly I ran the update PortsDB function. After that I tried again to install Drivel and that worked. I guess the previous update of the ports collection wasn’t completed.

The next step was to set up Drivel for use with my WordPress based blog. When you check the options there is no WordPress available. Drivel does cooperate with WordPress (even fetches the recent articles for you) when you select the Blogger 1.0 option and enter the complete URL to the XMLRPC.php file of your blog.

Synchronising Thunderbird: using the portable datafiles

I didn’t want to set up a completely new set of accounts for Thunderbird. I use various e-mail accounts and it is already complicated enough. The main storage for all data files is on my computer. Since I work under Windows at the office I have a complete suite of portable applications on a USB drive. Portable Thunderbird fetches all of my e-mail, but leaves the messages on the server. It is possible to point Thunderbird to a new location for it’s datafiles, but would it also work with my portable datafiles?

Redirecting Thunderbird to a new location isn’t that hard to do. You just have to go the profiles.ini file and change two lines. But where is the right folder? Under Ubuntu Linux it is a hidden folder with the name .mozilla-thunderbird. That folder is created once you run Thunderbird for the first time and add an account. Blindly following this experience I started Konquerer and selected the option to show the hidden files.

As you can see, it was quite similar to a regular /home/user directory under Ubuntu. One slight difference, as the folder for Thunderbird was named .thunderbird.


And there was the profiles.ini file. The lines we are concerned with are:


The second line directs Thunderbird to the folder phqxm89.default (or something similar) in the folder .thunderbird (hence IsRelative=1). In order for Thunderbird to start using a different folder we change it to the following:


In my case the last line became:

When you run Thunderbird after that it first checks the compatibility of the extensions. It worked ;-). To finish this I did the same for Firefox.


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6 thoughts on “PC-BSD Day 2: Synchronicity

  1. I have been a FreeBSD user myself for a long time. Because KDE is nothing for I will not use PC-BSD. Still I am wondering why people use Linux/BSD. I think it is only for the geeks and will be for a long time. You prove it yourself: PC-BSD is not for a beginner, so what is the point of using it?

  2. Interesting set of remarks and highly inconsistent as well. I may be mistaken, but isn’t KDE the default desktop for FreeBSD as well? Linux only fo the geeks? I guess you haven’t really been paying attention to what happens under Linux. And as for PC-BSD: I am just giving it a longer spin and see how I can work with it from day to day.

  3. To tell the truth. As FreeBSD user I tried almost every version of PC-BSD. Just to know what it is like. I even managed to install it on a USB flash drive.

    The goal of PC-BSD is to make BSD suitable for everyone. That is why they invented PBI’s. As the PBI repository contains dated PBI’s, not in every language, faulty BPI’s and there is a lot missing, you definately use the ports and/or packages.

    If you cannot manage it without ports and packages, then what is the advantage of PBI? They do not always work and are bulky (double size in MB or even more).

    That is my point.

  4. Fair enough and I see we agree on most points on what is not yet right with the PBI system. However, as I will point out in my day 6 report, the packages system is not flawless either (at least on my PC-BSD install) and then certain PBI’s came in handy.

    Maybe I make the wrong analogy here, but for now I prefer to compare PC-BSD to Ubuntu. PC-BSD aims at making FreeBSD more accessible to desktop users, where Ubuntu tried to do the same with Debian. It took Ubuntu some time to achieve that goal (and there is still some work to be done) and it will take PC-BSD some time. When I look at PBI’s from that perspective and see what has been done in the Linux world along there lines I am not optimistic. Matt Olander wrote that the aim is to work toward a ‘make PBI’ target for the ports system,which would greatly increase the availability of the PBI’s ( But it will take some time to get there. In the mean time I learn a lot about FreeBSD, as I did learn a lot about Debian while playing with Ubuntu.

  5. janstedehouder said:

    “Ruminations on the Digital Realm ”

    Rather try Linux Mint, it’s a “better Ubuntu”. 😉

    For the Ports you can add: duplicate libraries. PBI is not a good choice. Go to Ports.

  6. Sorry my janstedehouder quotation in my last post is an error. You must read: “It took Ubuntu some time to achieve that goal”

    I’m sorry for that.

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