Using FreeBSD as Desktop OS

Sensucht94

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Hi !
Is it possible to install OpenIndiana without the default DE, or did you just disabled the DE and installed E22?
Sure it is, at least last time I tried; in addition, installation can be carried out either manually from CLI (not recommended), or using guided installer, again, either through classical Solaris 'Text Installer', or from X, following the GUI install wizard. In all those cases you should be able to choose to install desktop or not.

I just installed the whole thing with Text installer, then refreshed hipster IPS publisher (the official repo) and installed E22 from it (openbox, awesome-wm, notion-3 are available too), keeping MATE as fallback. Obviously if you have LightDM or XDM services enabled, you'll have to add Enlightenement to .xprofile or .xsession respectively.

What package repositories are you using?
I was using hipster (default), hipster-emcumbered (providing stuff built with libmp3lame support, such as ffmpeg, vlc, audacity, rithmbox, mpd) and localhostoih from the SFE community database, nowadays practically providing Libreoffice and Wine32 only, which is a pity, given that since a couple of years ago SFE repo crawled with fresh software...I remember thousands of packages built for OpenIndiana and Solaris. If you ever tried OpenSolaris back in its days, you'd know how many packages, including games, were available on the Blastwave community repo, which SFE was forked from.

The only way to achieve a more diverse software availability on OI, is using Joyent's pkgsrc binaris for Illumos, which - god bless pkgsrc - adds tons of more packages (e.g. i3, XFCE, Darktable, Firefox Quantum) and works shamelessly on OI.

Yet, I see OI development is progressively slowing down, to the point they contribution is become clone to insignificant in the Illumos world; and as I mentioned above, SFE repo is dying. That's way I've moved completely to Tribblix meanwhile: simple, lightweight, old-school distribution, installs automatically in 2 minutes with a sh script, reminds a lot NetBSD and Slackware; uses classic SVR4 packages, grouped in overlays (meta-packages) to easily manage through its zap() utility; supports IA-32, SPARC64 as well as UFS-root too, all things which are rare nowadays in Illumos. Tribblix software availability is at least 2x than OI; additionally, a pkgsrc bootstrap is pre-configured as a zap overlay. There's also a tool, named ips2svr4, to convert Solaris IPS packages to SVR4 format.

zap is an awesome util, in the way it can perform major system upgrades and can manage zones; oh, and the Tribblix variant named OmniTribblix allows building LX Zones.

Last but not least, the creator wrote several useful managment tools in java (see tribblix-tools overlay)

It's sad to admit that while OI was migrating userland from python 2.7 to 3.5, Tribblix was moving to python3.7 already

Anyway, this is Tribblix 0m20.5 with CDE 2.30_1 running on my Pentium 4 Netburst from 2000, UFS root

52d783f33dc57283.png
 

mefizto

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Hi Sensucht94,

thank you very much for your detailed answer. Based on it, I found both the Text Install and the Minimal Install. I have OnmiOSce running on one of my servers and have been experimenting with OI on my laptop, but would prefer a different WM/DE.

I am rather surprised about your conclusion regarding OI, I have been following it for a while and my impression is that after a long lull when Alasdair Lumsden resigned, the development resumed.

I had also found Triblix, but as I understand it is a one person affair, so I am concerned about a longer term viability. However, based on your recommendation, I will try it.

Since you are knowledgeable about Solaris, do you think that from a long term perspective it might be possible to use OmniOSce as a base and use pkgsrc? BTW, it seems like John Marino (marino) is also a Solaris fan, but currently his work on (Solaris) ravenports slowed.

This may already be rather off-topic, so if you agree and would be willing to answer, you may do so via pm.

Kindest regards,

M
 

pyret

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I have used Solaris for my job for over 15 years.

OpenIndiana is a very polished desktop system, but there are only a few developers working on it, and they release a new ISO only once or twice a year. I'm uncertain how often they pull in illumos updates, but probably only on ISO releases.

OmniOSce was taken over by Andy Fiddaman who uses it for Citrus IT, and Tobias Oetiker who developed MRTG and RRDTOOL among other software. It is actively maintained and they are active on Gitter.

SmartOS was developed by Joyent and is really a hypervisor only. A new release is published every 2 weeks and Joyent engineers actively watch the mailing list and provide support via email. It is excellent and Joyent has moved to FreeBSD's bhyve to replace KVM. You can run almost any x86-based operating system (I had Plan 9, 9front, OS/2 via eComstation and ArcaOS, running) on SmartOS.

XStreamOS was developed and maintained by Sonicle, an Italian company. July 1, 2017 was the last release, so I'm uncertain of its status, but appears to have stalled. I had it installed and it was excellent, and surpassed OI as a desktop OS.

I still have the original OpenSolaris release on DVD, as well as SXCE (Solaris Express Community Edition aka Project Nevada) which preceded OpenSolaris (codename by Sun was Project Indiana).
 

Sensucht94

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I am rather surprised about your conclusion regarding OI, I have been following it for a while and my impression is that after a long lull when Alasdair Lumsden resigned, the development resumed.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still fond of OpenIndiana: it is the true OpenSolaris spiritual descendant (like probably SmartOS is SXCE's), still keeping it Nimbus UI alive, pushing towards Solaris desktop usage, maintaining SunStudio12.1 in base in spite of Illumos adoption of GCC. OI's devs are very knowledgeable, but also prone to provide entry-level support. Yet it's about ~5 truly active maintainers we're speaking, and they clearly have not much time to spend on OI. I'll admit that some of the recent changes, like KVM zones, GCC8, Rust, KPTI/FPU fixes, MATE 1.2, represented great achievements, but to me it's clear that OI nowadays is out of fashion, and illumos-joyent branch, is where serious development is currently at; Tribblix at least tries to keep up with new additions


PS: you surely know more than me; it's true I've been in and out Solaris for nearly 10 years now, but I'm just an passionate amateur,not even a tech guy
 

mefizto

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Hi Sensucht94,

thank you again for the answer. Yes, the Joynet appears to be the most active, see pyret rundown. Alas, it appears to be a RAM based hypervisor.

PS: you surely know more than me; it's true I've been in and out Solaris for nearly 10 years now, but I'm just an passionate amateur,not even a tech guy
Ha, ha, you could not be more wrong. ;-)

Kindest regards,

M
 

AlexanderProphet

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This is really interesting. I have two questions:
1) Are Solaris and its descendants likely to support similar hardware to FreeBSD? I’m particularly concerned about my D-Link USB WiFi dongle (i think the driver is called “rum”-something).
2) Do Solaris’ descendants have authoritarian community codes of conduct like the new Linux one? It would be lovely to use an OS that doesn’t have a freaking worldview attached to it.
 

pyret

Member

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This is really interesting. I have two questions:
1) Are Solaris and its descendants likely to support similar hardware to FreeBSD? I’m particularly concerned about my D-Link USB WiFi dongle (i think the driver is called “rum”-something).
2) Do Solaris’ descendants have authoritarian community codes of conduct like the new Linux one? It would be lovely to use an OS that doesn’t have a freaking worldview attached to it.
1. Wifi adapters are supported by drivers in illumos and third-party drivers from the Free NIC project
2. No.
 

mefizto

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Hi AlexanderProphet,

I can only speak from my limited experience, perhaps pyret will be able to provide more details.

Re 1: I have OmniOSce running on a SUPERMICRO MBD-X9SCM-F-O as a headless server, which previously ran FreeBSD. All of the motherboard hardware works. I switched due to problems with SMB, the in-kernel CIFS/SMB implementation appears to be superior.
I had previous version of OI installed on ThinkPad R61, where everything except card-reader worked out-of-the-box.

From my search, some drivers are/have been adopted from FreeBSD.

Re 2: I have not read anything like that.

Here are a few interesting links:
https://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/solaris-opensolaris-20/initial-omnios-impressions-by-a-bsd-user-4175626757/page2.html
https://geekblood.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/installing-x11-and-a-desktop-environment-on-omnios/

Kindest regards,

M
 

Sensucht94

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SmartOS was developed by Joyent and is really a hypervisor only. A new release is published every 2 weeks and Joyent engineers actively watch the mailing list and provide support via email. It is excellent and Joyent has moved to FreeBSD's bhyve to replace KVM. You can run almost any x86-based operating system (I had Plan 9, 9front, OS/2 via eComstation and ArcaOS, running) on SmartOS
SmartOS is such a nice piece of software. I have several Linux distros, including Alpine (musl), bootstrapped on LX Zones on. SmartOS bhyve VM running on my FreeBSD/amd64 box

XStreamOS was developed and maintained by Sonicle, an Italian company. July 1, 2017 was the last release, so I'm uncertain of its status, but appears to have stalled. I had it installed and it was excellent, and surpassed OI as a desktop OS
I'm very concerned about XStreamOS too, I agree on it faring better than anything else as an Illumos desktop. My first Illumos distribution to tell the truth, and I like the conservative Unixist approach and the xstreamos-illumos branch, compared with illumos-gate and illumos-joyent, which progressively integrated many GNUisms.
As an Italian, I saw Sonicle personally in Milan. As far as I can tell, it's still selling XStreamNAS and their other server products; probably they just lost interest in the desktop development, given the abysmal userbase. IIRC, last time someone from Sonicle posted on illumos-devel ML, he said they were trying to port Apache OpenOffice

I still have the original OpenSolaris release on DVD, as well as SXCE (Solaris Express Community Edition aka Project Nevada) which preceded OpenSolaris (codename by Sun was Project Indiana).
I still have OSol 2008.05 CD-ROM too; my first experience ever with *nix, I was 14, bought it preloaded on a Toshiba Tecra M10

I don't know if you ever heard about it, but you forgot to mention another cool Illumos project, with is v9os
, another one-man initiative, small SPARC64-only server-oriented Solaris (no direct relationship with OpenSXCE AFAIK, unlike Tribblix/sparc)

The there's the very young and experimental Unleashed OS, more or less a R&Dproject with the aim of porting BSD technologies to SunOS 5.11
 

Sensucht94

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Are Solaris and its descendants likely to support similar hardware to FreeBSD?
Desktop hardware support hasn't received great updates since Illumos forked. Intel DRM is supported up to Haswell, Nvidia GPUs have binary drivers, no Radeon support. WiFi NICs support is ancient.

That said Illumos runs smoothly on 2 laptops of mine, but you have to stay with ~7 years old hardware at least
 

knightjp

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I'm quite impressed with FreeBSD 12. From all the reviews I'm reading, it seems that FreeBSD 12 has become easier to configure and use as a desktop (according to the reviewers). I know I've tried getting FreeBSD 11 running on my computer in attempts to switch to FreeBSD.
Looking closely at my requirements, at work, I'm forced to use Windows and At home, my preference as always been MacOS. I notice that I should be able to get everything at home on FreeBSD. I'm not tied solely to proprietary software. I use VLC for playing my videos over a network on Linux Server, I use Firefox and Brave browser for web browsing and streaming youtube.
In my past experiences with FreeBSD installations, I did have issues which I believe could easily be resolved. In the past I attempted to build a desktop using OpenBox. The main issues were trying to do things that I think most of us take for granted like Automounting a USB or External Hard Drive when you plug it in, Notifications, etc..
I guessing that by using KDE5 I will have most of these resolved. Don't really know considering the last time I tried to install FreeBSD, there was an issue where all the pkg install was timing out all the time. No clue what was the issue since there was no issue with my internet. In the end, I gave up and went back to my trusty High Sierra installation.

All in all, I'm looking for a fully featured desktop like what I would get with MacOS. So far MacOS does everything I need with the exception of theming.

Another thing that I would like to know about before moving over to FreeBSD, how does one get the same functionality of the Apple Ecosystem in FreeBSD? I like the way that data, etc is shared in between my iOS devices and my desktop computer. I know I will loose much of that in the move, but is there a way to recreate it using other alternative apps?
 

Beastie7

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Another thing that I would like to know about before moving over to FreeBSD, how does one get the same functionality of the Apple Ecosystem in FreeBSD?
I've been tip-toeing my way into a FreeBSD-only environment as well. I do intend on purchasing another new T480 soon as my daily driver + Game Dev machine.

In terms of functionality - are we talking iCloud sync? I've come to find that NextCloud will resolve most (if not all) of my syncing needs - albeit you may have to manage your own servers. If you don't want to manage your own servers - i've read ProtonMail + SpiderOak is a great service combo you can subscribe to. In fact, first party iOS apps (Mail, contacts, calendars, etc) have support for custom IMAP/CardDav/CalDav accounts so you don't re-learn new apps.

In terms of all first party utilities (ie. Disk utility, activity monitor, Time Machine, etc) in macOS - FreeBSD already provides most of those in base - although via CLI so you may want to brush up on your shell-fu. If you prefer GUI alternatives - there's many Qt or GTK (eek!) apps in our 'app store' - ports! :)

My only gripe is lack of Netflix support, and a few content creation apps.
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

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knightjp I've been using FreeBSD as my desktop for 16 years. So do many others. I don't understand the problem.
My only gripe is lack of Netflix support
That's Netflix' problem, not FreeBSD's. Actually, it's Google's problem for them to fix cause they won't make Vine work.
 

knightjp

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My only gripe is lack of Netflix support, and a few content creation apps.
Quite interesting since I heard that Netflix uses FreeBSD as the base for its servers, etc.

In terms of functionality - are we talking iCloud sync? I've come to find that NextCloud will resolve most (if not all) of my syncing needs - albeit you may have to manage your own servers. If you don't want to manage your own servers - i've read ProtonMail + SpiderOak is a great service combo you can subscribe to. In fact, first party iOS apps (Mail, contacts, calendars, etc) have support for custom IMAP/CardDav/CalDav accounts so you don't re-learn new apps.

In terms of all first party utilities (ie. Disk utility, activity monitor, Time Machine, etc) in macOS - FreeBSD already provides most of those in base - although via CLI so you may want to brush up on your shell-fu. If you prefer GUI alternatives - there's many Qt or GTK (eek!) apps in our 'app store' - ports! :)
Interesting... I will look into those. To be honest, I don't use much of iCloud storage etc.. I only like the features that update contacts, notes, calendars. The trouble with some solutions, we never know when the servers will be shut down, etc.
 

Beastie7

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That's Netflix' problem, not FreeBSD's. Actually, it's Google's problem for them to fix cause they won't make Vine work.
No fault to FreeBSD - but the matter that is the problem exists for me. Could you go into detail about the Vine work?

What about Netflix on Firefox?

Quite interesting since I heard that Netflix uses FreeBSD as the base for its servers, etc.
Yeah. I don't understand. FreeBSD drives most of their business - one would think they'd provide support for it.
 

Spartrekus

Daemon

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I know FreeBSD is a very stable OS . I want to use it as Desktop OS (with some GUI) . How do I do that..?
I use FreeBSD for its stability. I used it on Pi since some time, and it is highly stable.
I fear Linux for its networking layer for professional use, which not as reliable as all *BSD*, incl. FreeBSD.
Robust = BSD. Years of experience and very stable, reliable, and free as freedom.

Desktop with icewm is cool, nice stable, and never ever clashed a single time. Just positive feedbacks.

For RPI3b, no support yet, but it might happen at some point in several years.
 

knightjp

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knightjp I've been using FreeBSD as my desktop for 16 years. So do many others. I don't understand the problem.
I'm sure you're well versed with the whole system, but I'm mostly a novice. I was mostly talking about the stuff that we take for granted in modern Operating systems like, auto-mounting external drives, good notifications, fonts aliasing, etc...
I'm pretty sure that I will be able to learn how to do stuff, but it will take some time.
I would like to know how to build a really good desktop using OpenBox that has all the modern features without me having to use KDE5.
 

Sevendogsbsd

Aspiring Daemon

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Building a desktop that will do all of those things is certainly possible but you hit on the key: will take some time. The OS does not hold your hand like OSX, Windows or Linux, but the things you describe can be achieved. You will not find the level of integration like you see on iOS or OSX, but to be fair, no other OS has this level of integration. Not an Apple fan so not touting them, just stating my experience.

Be patient, ask questions and in the end, you will have a rock solid, stable OS that does what you need, or mostly anyway :).
 

Beastie7

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I'm sure you're well versed with the whole system, but I'm mostly a novice. I was mostly talking about the stuff that we take for granted in modern Operating systems like, auto-mounting external drives, good notifications, fonts aliasing, etc...
I'm pretty sure that I will be able to learn how to do stuff, but it will take some time.
I would like to know how to build a really good desktop using OpenBox that has all the modern features without me having to use KDE5.
I cannot recommend vermadens desktop guide enough. It goes over setup and configuration of building your desktop - with brief explanations of what components do. Don't get discouraged by the multitude of steps either - it's crazy simple.

For a WM system notification daemon - have a look at sysutils/dunst.
 

Ogis

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Automounting a USB or External Hard Drive when you plug it in
I can recommend an ingeniously simple program called dsbmd. Here is official site. You can install it as package, or compile it by yourself. And here is forum thread.
Notifications
Just use Dunst. You can install it as package, or compile it by yourself. Dunst is a highly configurable and lightweight notification-daemon: The only thing it displays is a colored box with unformatted text. The whole notification specification (non-optional parts and the "body" capability) is supported as long as it fits into this look & feel. Dunst is designed to fit nicely into minimalistic windowmanagers.
 

PMc

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knightjp I've been using FreeBSD as my desktop for 16 years. So do many others. I don't understand the problem.
Maybe You never used a Mac? ;)

The main feature a Mac provides is that you don't have to configure an OS and tools and applications, you can straightaway start your creative work - graphics, music, whatever. You don't have to know much about a computer and OS; everything you need is on the GUI.
And thats what they charge their price for, and there is a customer base who is willing to pay.

If that weren't the case, there were no market for these machines, because on the OS level they are just Berkeley (well, almost) - actually anybody could have done this by taking e.g. FreeBSD and putting no-brainer GUI and apps onto it, but the Mac guys were the ones who did (and made the money).

So, yes, I understand the problem. The expectations of a typical Mac user, concerning the ease of configuration, are a lot higher than those of a typical FreeBSD user. Many FreeBSD users love to do the configuration, love to adjust the /etc/rc.conf, to look for the proper applications, configure them properly, and have The Power To Serve under their own discrete control. (Some even love to go into the code and hack it.)

For my taste, the things that have changed during the mentioned 16 years are not very significant (and sometimes annoying) - I need the hardware drivers properly working, office-suite, browser and (something like) vlc compileable, and that's it. For a Mac user they are essential (and probably not yet enough).
 

Sevendogsbsd

Aspiring Daemon

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So...the reason, at least MY reasons I use FreeBSD as a desktop are I have complete control over it and it is open source. This:
The main feature a Mac provides is that you don't have to configure an OS and tools and applications, you can straightaway start your creative work - graphics, music, whatever.
is precisely the reason I do NOT use commercial operating systems, especially OSX. Not that OSX is bad, but I refuse to be sucked into that entire landscape/infrastructure. I always felt like I was forced to work with blinders on when I had a Mac: I could do zilch to it, it had to be the way Apple wanted it to be, not me.

Maybe if I were a professional photographer or musician I would be forced to use either a Mac or (shudder) Windows, but I am not. Everything I need to do for my personal workstation: edit and organize photos, write (documents and LaTeX), manage finances, play games, write code, I can do on my FreeBSD workstation.

I absolutely love that FreeBSD is simple and has not gotten caught up in an extreme technology race like some other OS's. Every piece of hardware I have works perfectly. The only exception is the OS reading my phone, but that is solvable.

I was a Mac user for 3 or 4 years and dropped the platform because I could no longer stand being so confined, nor being forced to do things the way Apple wanted.

I am extremely passionate about open source: it has been my primary means of computing for 20 years and computing is my life. Geeky? Yes, but it's my calling :)
 
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