Installing FreeBSD 7.2

As a friday night expedition, I decided to install FreeBSD on one of the old PC in the proximity of my desk. An Amd Athlon 2400+, 1GB mem, a cdr-drive and two 50G PATA disks. Should work, shouldn’t it?

For some reason the installdisk from the full CD set did not boot. At all. Reason unknown, but the situation persisted. OpenBSD ran like a charm, but OpenBSD wasn’t the intended goal for reasons I will not go into, at this point. Using the OpenBSD bootloader to boot from the CD also wasn’t an option as even OpenBSD found something wrong with the install cd. I was getting tired of the sh*t, so I tried one last thing: use the boot-only disk to do a network install. Guess what: no problem. At all. So, that took care of that. FreeBSD was running on the old box, I could login.

I wanted X to work, because I might actually decide to use BSD from some development I’m doing right now. But, setting up X is rather awkward. For some reason FreeBSD doesn’t accept that I have a normal keyboard and a simple mouse. X insists that the machine has a sysmouse. Hmm. Because of this insistence I did not have a mouse or a keyboard. But Ctrl-Alt-Del seemed to work ok, go figure.

Finally, I found an answer: add the following to /etc/rc.conf:
hald_enable=“YES”
dbus_enable=“YES“

What happens is that FreeBSD’s default X configuration (or xorg’s default config) wants to autoconfigure all input devices, but the default FreeBSD config does not enable the features to actually enable the autoconfiguration stuff.

That took a while and cost me some gray hairs, but that now works. Next step: getting nfs4 to properly work. It sort of worked, but the idmapd did not arrive at the proper ids. Looking further on the net, it was revealed that nfs4 was kinda, well, pushing up the daisies. It was no more than an abandoned carcass. Sigh. No lovely kerberos + nfsv4, but plain old insecure nfsv3.

Package management is a bit harsh, when you compare it to other package managers out there. At least pkg_add has an -r option to get stuff remote and it actually resolves dependencies. But there is no real equivalent for ”apt-cache search foo“, which is a bit of a nuisance since I like to search the package repository before building myself (I’m lazy, and totally fed up with dependency problems)

But now everything works, and the system is very fast. Faster than it used to be running other stuff, at least, that’s how it feels to me.