The Second Draft

By Ashton Wiersdorf

Write one to throw away.

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12 February 2020

FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi

I’m a FreeBSD guy. My first computer was a FreeBSD machine that my dad had running in a closet. I learned how to use Emacs as well as the command line on that black-screen white-text no-mouse interface. That’s how real programmers spend their childhood! 😎 😜

I’ve only heard good things about FreeBSD. While not known as particularly desktop-friendly (various Linux distros win here) I’ve heard tales of its rock-solid stability. I wanted to try running on FreeBSD again, just to see what all the fuss was about.

Installing

Installing was relatively straight forward. I followed the instructions here.

Once I got the card flashed (took about an hour) and booted, I reset the passwords for users root and freebsd. Note that at time of writing WiFi wasn’t supported; I had to hard-link an Ethernet cable. It found the connection without any trouble, so that was nice.

Initial Setup

Setting up the clock

https://www.freebsd.org/doc/handbook/network-ntp.html

The clock is necessary to start working with the ports. Set the config variables in /etc/rc.conf:

ntpd_enable=YES
ntpd_sync_on_start=YES  # This one might not be necessary

You should be able to just run this without rebooting. (I ended up rebooting, but I think I did things out of order.)

service ntpd start

Installing the port tree

https://www.freebsd.org/doc/handbook/ports-using.html

Run the following: (I think you can do this in any directory)

portsnap fetch
portsnap extract

Installing the critical tools: Emacs and Git

I tried going into /usr/ports/editors/emacs/ and running make install, but I must have had an option wrong because it tried installing… I think the entire X Windowing System. Yikes.

I gave up after about a day and instead ran pkg install emacs-nox and pkg install git; those ran pretty quickly.

tags: freebsd, - tools