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Old 30th April 2010
laconic laconic is offline
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Default NetBSD as a workstation OS

I'm planning to test NetBSD as a workstation OS on my home computer (primarily on my old laptop, but possibly also on my newer home desktop machine).

One particular problem I seem to reacll from my previous attempts to install NetBSD was that that I had trouble accessing ext2 formatted removable media. So how do you manage your removable media on NetBSD? What filesystem do you prefer for removable media?

Do you have any advices for someone who would like to try NetBSD as a workstation OS on a home computer?
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Old 30th April 2010
shep shep is offline
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I'm not trying to discourage you but of the 3 major BSDs, NetBSD seems to take the most work. Particulary to set up a one of the major desktops. You will learn
alot in the process but success is not likely to come on your first attempt. A
lot depends on the source of packages you use (pkgsrc vs precompiled binaries).


Most removable media (thumb driver, flash cards) does not come ext2 formatted but msdos (msdosfs) formated. Usually a mid level user can be reformat the media to ext2. NetBSD should support the ext2 filesystem as well as msdosfs.

I am not sure what your goal is but if you want to get your feet wet with a BSD
I would recommend OpenBSD as being the easiest. The FAQ is accurate, succinct and up to date.
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Old 30th April 2010
laconic laconic is offline
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The advantage of NetBSD that I'm particularly interested in is that pkgsrc includes an up-to-date version of the LyX document processing program, which is compatible with the LyX version that I have used in some Linux distros. The versions of LyX that are available in FreeBSD and OpenBSD are older, and not compatible with the LyX documents that I have written in Linux.

I'd rather continue using Linux because that's what I'm used to, but the recent changes in Xorg break the graphical interface on my old laptop (although the older versions of Xorg worked just fine). The problem seems to be related to the close integration with the Linux framebuffer console and the newly introduced Intel Linux KMS, so I thought perhaps a BSD system might be worth a try because BSD's don't use a similar framebuffer console as Linux distros.

I need to study this issue a bit more. Perhaps I'll find that NetBSD suits my needs, or perhaps it doesn't. There are also a couple of other aspects where I suspect NetBSD might excel in comparison to the Linux systems I've used so far -- like leaving the system alone for several months and still being able to upgrade applications without any major breakages.

But my main concern is currently to see if I can make NetBSD work as a workstation OS with a graphical interface. And that's why I asked for NetBSD users who actually use this operating system as a workstation OS to share their experiences.
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Old 30th April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laconic View Post
But my main concern is currently to see if I can make NetBSD work as a workstation OS with a graphical interface. And that's why I asked for NetBSD users who actually use this operating system as a workstation OS to share their experiences.
That is depens on your graphics card mostly (if there are accelerated 2D drivers availabe).
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Old 30th April 2010
shep shep is offline
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I have set up NetBSD with XFCE4 and one of the problems I recall was the choice
of Xorg. You can use the sets that come with the install CD or install a modular Xorg. Google for 'modular xorg NetBSD wiki' for more on this.

Your post indicates you will pull LyX from pkgsrc so I would install the Modular
Xorg from the same version of pkgsrc.

I'm running Arch linux and recall that there are alot of on wikis on how to disable KMS. Xorg 1.8 just went into testing in Arch Linux.

Another thought. I'm not familiar with LyX but Slackware has version 1.6.3 in the SlackBuilds page. I have had some sucess editing the build scripts to newer versions. This may be one way to get an new version of LyX with an older Xorg.
http://www.slackbuilds.org/repository/13.0/office/

Last edited by shep; 30th April 2010 at 02:11 PM. Reason: another thought
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Old 30th April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laconic View Post
Do you have any advices for someone who would like to try NetBSD as a workstation OS on a home computer?
My advice is just "go for it" and see if you can be happy with it. I've been ramping up my NetBSD usage, as an alternative to Linux, over the last 6-12 months or so. It's at the point now I can use them almost interchangeably for most things. But your situation won't be the same as mine, so you really have to try it out and not be discouraged by teething problems because there will be lots. As far as difficulty relative to OpenBSD, I don't know, I'd have said they were similar but YMMV.

Quote:
So how do you manage your removable media on NetBSD? What filesystem do you prefer for removable media?
I use DOS vfat or whatever, but that's because I use the flash drive to download large amounts (OS and package upgrades) from the local library where Bill's OS rules the roost. Your requirements will very likely be different.
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Old 30th April 2010
laconic laconic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vermaden View Post
That is depens on your graphics card mostly (if there are accelerated 2D drivers availabe).
The graphics controller on the old laptop is Intel 82830M. I seem to recall that you need to recompile the NetBSD kernel to get the the best performance out of Intel graphics controllers.
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Old 30th April 2010
laconic laconic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shep View Post
I have set up NetBSD with XFCE4 and one of the problems I recall was the choice
of Xorg. You can use the sets that come with the install CD or install a modular Xorg. Google for 'modular xorg NetBSD wiki' for more on this.
Hmm... I'd rather use the version of Xorg that comes with the default install, but I'll check out the wiki page if it doesn't work. I don't have too much time to work on my NetBSD installation over this weekend, but I'm going to work on it a bit more perhaps sometime next week. Thanks for the tips, though.
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Old 30th April 2010
laconic laconic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdOp View Post
My advice is just "go for it" and see if you can be happy with it. I've been ramping up my NetBSD usage, as an alternative to Linux, over the last 6-12 months or so. It's at the point now I can use them almost interchangeably for most things.
OK, that sounds promising.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IdOp View Post
I use DOS vfat or whatever, but that's because I use the flash drive to download large amounts (OS and package upgrades) from the local library where Bill's OS rules the roost. Your requirements will very likely be different.
Yea, I thought vfat might be the way to go with NetBSD. Then you can use the superb mtools program. But using vfat you'll lose some file permissions and you'll have to set them again manually, which is not really cool. So vfat has its upsides, but it has downsides as well.

I seem to recall that NetBSD doesn't support some newer features in ext2, so you need to be careful in formatting removable drives as ext2 if you want to make sure that NetBSD can read them. I think I read about this in NetBSD documetation, but that was years ago. I'll have another look when I get some free time.
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Old 30th April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laconic View Post
I seem to recall that NetBSD doesn't support some newer features in ext2, so you need to be careful in formatting removable drives as ext2 if you want to make sure that NetBSD can read them. I think I read about this in NetBSD documetation, but that was years ago. I'll have another look when I get some free time.
Why should NetBSD support ext2 at all? If you want to use ext2 use Linux.

Speaking of LyX I hope you know that much that LyX is just WYSIWYM for TeX. Official TeX distribution for Unix is TeXLive. Current TeXLive release is 2009. Since TeXLive release cycle is one year you are not going to see new release until December 2010. While I concede that NetBSD port of TeXLive is far more granular than OpenBSD port bare in mind that OpenBSD was second OS after Debian to have TeXLive. The OpenBSD port is current (2009) and exceptionally well maintained. If you need to use TeX you will have to live with GNU bloat anyway so you might as well install whole 1 GB of non-sense even though it is possible to install just core which is the size of teTeX and just manually add what you need.

As of LyX port of OpenBSD I can say just one thing. LyX uses Qt 4.5 libraries.
Qt 4.xxx requires GCC version of 4.xxx or above. GCC 4.xxx doesn't compile on OpenBSD due to bugs. Hence you can not have Qt 4.xxx on OpenBSD and in turn you can not have KDE 4.xxx nor LyX in OpenBSD.

GCC upstream has never been interested in OpenBSD patches. They are interested only in supporting Linux. OpenBSD community at this point has completely given up on GCC and we are eagerly awaiting PCC. Fortunately unlike GCC bloat PCC is C only compiler so it can not compile C++ code used for Qt. I am not aware that there is much concern about that in OpenBSD community as there is little love for C++ anyway.


Speaking of FreeBSD you are right. TeXLive is not officially ported to FreeBSD even though there are some unofficial ports circulating. At this point it looks like FreeBSD will never get TeXLive port. All complains regarding TeXLive on FreeBSD should be sent to professor Hiroci Sato of Tokio university who have single-handedly killed TeX on FreeBSD.


Cheers,
OKO
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Old 30th April 2010
laconic laconic is offline
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Quote:
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Why should NetBSD support ext2 at all? If you want to use ext2 use Linux.
That's what I've been doing so far. And that's why I have two external hard drives formatted in ext2, which contain backups of all my important data. So it would be really nice if I could just mount these external hard drives on a NetBSD system and copy some of the files from the external hard disk to a NetBSD system. Can you see how that might become useful?

I find it kind of weird that *BSD systems and Linux don't seem to be in talking terms. Mounting Linux file systems on a *BSD system is difficult, and Linux seems to have equally poor support for the BSD ufs/ffs file systems. These are all FOSS, which means that the source code is available for everyone, so it's a bit of a mystery to me why BSD and Linux cannot exchange files more easily.
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Old 30th April 2010
J65nko J65nko is offline
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From my OpenBSD amd64 box
Code:
$ ls -l /sbin/newfs*
-r-xr-xr-x  2 root  bin  193656 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/newfs
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin  160888 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/newfs_ext2fs
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin  177272 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/newfs_msdos

$ ls -l /sbin/mount*
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin  148600 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin   87160 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_cd9660
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin   83064 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_ext2fs
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin   83064 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_ffs
-r-xr-xr-x  2 root  bin  193656 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_mfs
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin  201848 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_msdos
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin  185464 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_nfs
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin   83064 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_nnpfs
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin   87160 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_ntfs
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin  210040 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_portal
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin   83064 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_procfs
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin   83064 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_udf
-r-xr-xr-x  2 root  bin  410744 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mount_vnd
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  bin  312440 Apr  4 00:45 /sbin/mountd
Re: Linux inability to deal with FFS

The BSDs already have great problem reading each other filesystems, due to incompatibilities in the disklabel format.
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Old 30th April 2010
laconic laconic is offline
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Hmm... I did some brief Scroogle searches and got two hits that might be of interest:

(1): How to share an EXT2 partition with Linux
http://wiki.netbsd.se/How_to_share_a...ion_with_Linux

It says you should avoid the dir_index and large_file attributes, so be careful with using that e2fsck.

(2): How to mount FFS partition under Linux
http://wiki.netbsd.se/How_to_mount_F...on_under_Linux

Write support seems to be rather precarious, so let's be careful out there.
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Old 1st May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oko View Post
As of LyX port of OpenBSD I can say just one thing. LyX uses Qt 4.5 libraries.
Qt 4.xxx requires GCC version of 4.xxx or above. GCC 4.xxx doesn't compile on OpenBSD due to bugs. Hence you can not have Qt 4.xxx on OpenBSD and in turn you can not have KDE 4.xxx nor LyX in OpenBSD.

GCC upstream has never been interested in OpenBSD patches. They are interested only in supporting Linux. OpenBSD community at this point has completely given up on GCC and we are eagerly awaiting PCC. Fortunately unlike GCC bloat PCC is C only compiler so it can not compile C++ code used for Qt. I am not aware that there is much concern about that in OpenBSD community as there is little love for C++ anyway.
GCC 4.x is actually in the source tree and in the ports tree, if you read recent commits you can see some work is being made for the system to compile to with GCC4 (...4.2.x branch, as newer releases are now GPLv3 licenced).

PCC is more of a long term solution, and right now, that's pretty much stalled right now.. as some significant work remains, unfortunately.
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Old 1st May 2010
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@ laconic: Thanks for the links from wiki.netbsd.se. I use ro mount of FFS under Linux all the time without problem. (Never tried rw.)

I learned about -I 128 and no journal the hard way, but didn't know about ^dir_index. Maybe that can fix a problem I'm having with NetBSD's fsck_ext2fs; will have to look into it sometime.
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Old 2nd May 2010
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I managed to install NetBSD 5.0.2 (i386), and xfce4 with the Xorg from the default install seems to work on my old laptop, but the graphics performance is not very good. Following shep's suggestion, I have read the NetBSD wiki page about installing modular Xorg from pkgsrc, and that seems to be the best way to speed up the graphics performance. Also compiling the kernel with drm support for the Intel graphics chip seems to be necessary to get full graphics acceleration.

That requires some extra effort, but I'll try it when I have more free time to tinker with that laptop. The NetBSD Guide has nice tips about setting up wscons (setting TERM to wsvt25) and xfce4 (with rpcbind, famd, dbus and hal), that I didn't know before. I also tried installing binary packages with the pkgin program, which worked as advertised.

So, my initial impression of NetBSD as a candidate OS for my old laptop is positive, but I'll need to see yet if the modular Xorg and drm support for the Intel graphics chip in kernel will speed up the graphics performance before I'll make the final decision.
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Old 3rd May 2010
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Default NetBSD desktop project

Back in Feb 2009 the NetBSD Desktop Project was announced, but it seems to have gone quiet. Well, I've not seen anything come out of this

Announcement: http://mail-index.netbsd.org/current...msg007841.html
NetBSD Desktop Project: http://wiki.netbsd.se/Desktop_Project

(apologies for the malformated links, but this is because I'm not allowed to post links)
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