Friday, January 2, 2015

FreeBSD on an Intel Bay Trail Motherboard

Recently, I acquired an Asrock Q1900b-ITX motherboard, featuring an onboard Celeron J1900 CPU. Unlike previous iterations of Atom motherboards, the latest Bay Trail generation is an excellent performer while consuming very little power (about 10Watts).

This motherboard will be used in the Aiolos Project and so it has to run FreeBSD. Sound and graphics are not required for this specific use, but of course I set out to find whether the board is usable for a FreeBSD desktop.

Before purchasing the motherboard, I searched the Internet on FreeBSD and Bay Trail. And sure enough, I found a post of someone that has successfully installed FreeBSD on the very similar Q1900-ITX. And while FreeBSD 9.2-RELEASE needed extra patches to work with it, it seemed 10.1-RELEASE would need no extra work.

After performing the initial base install (without a hitch), I tried playing an mp3 file with mplayer. The sound card was recognized by the system:

cat /dev/sndstat
Installed devices:
pcm0: <Realtek ALC662 (Analog)> (play/rec) default
pcm1: <Realtek ALC662 (Analog)> (play/rec)
pcm2: <Realtek ALC662 (Front Analog Headphones)> (play)
pcm3: <Intel (0x2882) (HDMI/DP 8ch)> (play)

However, mplayer would not play:

Audio device got stuck!

I tried changing the default sound device from pcm0 to pcm1 and pcm2 to no avail. But then I discovered this post with an interesting sysctl:


For sound to work, the following two commands have to be executed (as root):

sysctl dev.hdac.0.polling=1
sysctl hw.snd.default_unit=1 

For the settings to persist across reboots, enter the following lines in /etc/sysctl.conf:


This solves the sound problem once and for all!

Xorg Configuration


No matter what I tried, Xorg will only run in VESA mode. Using the current Intel driver (xf86-video-intel-2.21.15_5) in xorg.conf will give you a blank screen and unresponsive system. Running startx without a pre-generated xorg.conf file will use the VESA driver. I hope this will be fixed with a later version of the driver. Current linux distros have no problems with either sound or video on this board. And since you may ask, both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 perform very well on the Q1900b-ITX.

Happy New Year and happy FreeBSDing too!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Aiolos Cluster Project

To Aiolos Cluster Project είναι ένα σχολικό Beowulf Cluster (compute cluster), ένας υπερυπολογιστής που αποτελείται από αρκετά συνδεδεμένα μεταξύ τους κοινά μηχανήματα (PC). Για τη δημιουργία του θα χρησιμοποιηθούν μητρικές mini ITΧ (Atom - Pentium G - Celeron). Φυσικά θα τρέχει FreeBSD και θα χρησιμοποιεί την βιβλιοθήκη OpenMPI. Το ακόμα πιο εντυπωσιακό είναι ότι θα φτιαχτεί ως μια σχολική εργασία!
 Για περισσότερες λεπτομέρειες δείτε την Επίσημη Ιστοσελίδα του Aiolos Project.

Friday, November 14, 2014

FreeBSD 10.1-RELEASE LXDE VirtualBox Image

FreeBSD 10.1-RELEASE will be soon officially announced. Here is your chance to give it a quick and effortless try. Download a VirtualBox image file:

FreeBSD 10.1-RELEASE LXDE VirtualBox Image

Unzip it, and use the "Import Appliance" option of VirtualBox to add the contained .ova file. This image contains a standard FreeBSD 10.1-RELEASE install with an LXDE desktop, Chromium, mplayer, vlc and the slim login manager. Everything has been installed using pkg and the standard FreeBSD pkgng repository. You may continue adding more packages as you wish.

There are two accounts, root and user, both with a password of 1234 (which, you are of course, advised to change). And you should only use the user account to login to the GUI. User may also use sudo (already installed and configured).


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE Desktop Installation Guide

Here is a quick guide to installing a FreeBSD Desktop - No prior knowledge required!

Have you always wanted to experiment with FreeBSD? Do you need a guide to get quick results? Download our new FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE desktop installation ebook and you will soon be up and running! Includes the following topics:

  • Installing the Base System: Complete step by step installation with images
  • Updating the Base System: Use freebsd-update to get the latest fixes
  • Configuring pkg: Use packages of the new pkgng system to install software
  • Installing Basic Command Line Tools: Install and configure bash, sudo and other tools
  • Installing and Configuring the Xorg Server
  • Installing and Configuring the XFCE Desktop Environment
  • Installing Applications: Firefox, Chromium, Mplayer, Vlc, LibreOffice
  • Installing and Configuring Java and Flash plugins

Many other settings and configuration examples are provided. Some configuration files are available for download to avoid lengthy and error prone editing.

Download PDF: FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE: Base System to Desktop Environment

The LaTeX source of the guide is also available.

I'll be more than happy to receive your comments and questions.

Happy FreeBSDing!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE with Custom XFCE Packages

FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE has been released a while ago, and it is about time I get my custom version out to the wild! FreeBSD 10 brings on a whole new set of features, among them the new pkgng as the default packaging system. The custom ISO (download links below) will allow you to install an XFCE based desktop that includes lots of goodies for productivity, multimedia and Internet browsing:

The complete list of top level ports used in this compilation is available in the README-PKGNG file of the DVD, along with more detailed installation instructions. A VirtualBox image is also available.

Happy (desktop) FreeBSDing!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

FreeBSD 9.2-RELEASE with Custom XFCE pkgng-style Packages

Few years ago, I started a small (and now defunct) project to build Custom FreeBSD installation media with my own selection of mostly desktop packages. The purpose was twofold:
  • To create packages not normally provided by the FreeBSD Project in the installation DVD, such as the XFCE desktop environment
  • To create updated packages and installation media that could be used long after the initial official release and still be up to date.

This project was using the somewhat aged packaging system (commands like pkg_add, pkg_info etc) and the release process would integrate the custom packages to the sysinstall system of the installation DVD. You could then install them like the official packages, during the main installation.

From the beginning this project was plagued with several problems: the release process was lengthy and error prone. Sometimes the packages would fail to integrate properly with sysinstall (the system installer at that time). Testing was tedious and time consuming and package errors meant the whole build would have to be repeated, usually from scratch. Combine this with a rather modest build system, this whole thing was taking huge amounts of time while its output was rather low.

Fast forward to today: 9.2-RELEASE has pkgng, a whole new packaging system (although the older system is still the default). The new installer, bsdinstall only installs the base system and does not interfere with packages in any way (a good thing IMHO). Building packages for pkgng is a lot easier, using the ports-mgmt/poudriere tool. And I do have a little monster now: an i5 with 32GB of RAM that allows me to run ZFS on memory disk and complete both 32 and 64 bit build in a single day, with time to spare. Since the packages do not have to be integrated to the installer, as long as there are no build errors in poudriere, they will work without problems. Testing is a lot faster and easier.

Custom releases are back! Starting today with a DVD containing 9.2-RELEASE and a selection of packages for XFCE, desktop productivity, browsers, Xorg and much more:

The complete list of top level ports used in this compilation is available in the README-PKGNG file of the DVD, along with more detailed installation instructions. A preconfigured VirtualBox image is also available.

Happy (desktop) FreeBSDing!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ανακοίνωση Κυκλοφορίας: FreeBSD 9.2-RELEASE

Στις 30/09/2013, το FreeBSD Project ανακοίνωσε επίσημα την κυκλοφορία της έκδοσης 9.2-RELEASE. Το 9.2-RELEASE αποτελεί την πιο πρόσφατη έκδοση της πετυχημένης σειράς 9.Χ. Μπορείτε να διαβάσετε περισσότερα χαρακτηριστικά του στην ανακοίνωση έκδοσης:

FreeBSD 9.2 Release Announcement

Μπορείτε να κατεβάσετε οποιαδήποτε διαθέσιμη έκδοση του FreeBSD από κάποιο από τα πολλά mirror sites. To 9.2-RELEASE έχει ήδη εμφανιστεί στους FTP servers μεγάλων ελληνικών ISPs. Μπορείτε για παράδειγμα να το κατεβάσετε από την Otenet.

Διαβάστε άρθρα σχετικά με το λειτουργικό από το site του περιοδικού deltaHacker. Σύντομα θα διαθέσουμε και custom DVD εγκατάστασης με πακέτα τύπου pkgng για ένα πλήρως λειτουργικό XFCE desktop. Stay tuned!

Μπορείτε επίσης να επισκεφθείτε την Δικτυακή Τοποθεσία της Ελληνικής Κοινότητας FreeBSD

Kαλή εγκατάσταση!