FreeBSD Handbook

The FreeBSD Documentation Project

Welcome to FreeBSD! This handbook covers the installation and day to day use of FreeBSD 5.5-RELEASE and FreeBSD 6.2-RELEASE. This manual is a work in progress and is the work of many individuals. As such, some sections may become dated and require updating. If you are interested in helping out with this project, send email to the FreeBSD documentation project mailing list. The latest version of this document is always available from the FreeBSD web site (previous versions of this handbook can be obtained from It may also be downloaded in a variety of formats and compression options from the FreeBSD FTP server or one of the numerous mirror sites. If you would prefer to have a hard copy of the handbook, you can purchase one at the FreeBSD Mall. You may also want to search the handbook.

Redistribution and use in source (SGML DocBook) and 'compiled' forms (SGML, HTML, PDF, PostScript, RTF and so forth) with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

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  2. Redistributions in compiled form (transformed to other DTDs, converted to PDF, PostScript, RTF and other formats) must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.


FreeBSD is a registered trademark of the FreeBSD Foundation.

3Com and HomeConnect are registered trademarks of 3Com Corporation.

3ware and Escalade are registered trademarks of 3ware Inc.

ARM is a registered trademark of ARM Limited.

Adaptec is a registered trademark of Adaptec, Inc.

Adobe, Acrobat, Acrobat Reader, and PostScript are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

Apple, AirPort, FireWire, Mac, Macintosh, Mac OS, Quicktime, and TrueType are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc., registered in the United States and other countries.

Corel and WordPerfect are trademarks or registered trademarks of Corel Corporation and/or its subsidiaries in Canada, the United States and/or other countries.

Sound Blaster is a trademark of Creative Technology Ltd. in the United States and/or other countries.

CVSup is a registered trademark of John D. Polstra.

Heidelberg, Helvetica, Palatino, and Times Roman are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in the U.S. and other countries.

IBM, AIX, EtherJet, Netfinity, OS/2, PowerPC, PS/2, S/390, and ThinkPad are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both.

IEEE, POSIX, and 802 are registered trademarks of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. in the United States.

Intel, Celeron, EtherExpress, i386, i486, Itanium, Pentium, and Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.

Intuit and Quicken are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc., or one of its subsidiaries, in the United States and other countries.

Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.

LSI Logic, AcceleRAID, eXtremeRAID, MegaRAID and Mylex are trademarks or registered trademarks of LSI Logic Corp.

M-Systems and DiskOnChip are trademarks or registered trademarks of M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers, Ltd.

Macromedia, Flash, and Shockwave are trademarks or registered trademarks of Macromedia, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries.

Microsoft, IntelliMouse, MS-DOS, Outlook, Windows, Windows Media and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

Netscape and the Netscape Navigator are registered trademarks of Netscape Communications Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.

GateD and NextHop are registered and unregistered trademarks of NextHop in the U.S. and other countries.

Motif, OSF/1, and UNIX are registered trademarks and IT DialTone and The Open Group are trademarks of The Open Group in the United States and other countries.

Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation.

PowerQuest and PartitionMagic are registered trademarks of PowerQuest Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

RealNetworks, RealPlayer, and RealAudio are the registered trademarks of RealNetworks, Inc.

Red Hat, RPM, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Red Hat, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

SAP, R/3, and mySAP are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP AG in Germany and in several other countries all over the world.

Sun, Sun Microsystems, Java, Java Virtual Machine, JavaServer Pages, JDK, JRE, JSP, JVM, Netra, Solaris, StarOffice, Sun Blade, Sun Enterprise, Sun Fire, SunOS, and Ultra are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

Symantec and Ghost are registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation in the United States and other countries.

MATLAB is a registered trademark of The MathWorks, Inc.

SpeedTouch is a trademark of Thomson.

U.S. Robotics and Sportster are registered trademarks of U.S. Robotics Corporation.

VMware is a trademark of VMware, Inc.

Waterloo Maple and Maple are trademarks or registered trademarks of Waterloo Maple Inc.

Mathematica is a registered trademark of Wolfram Research, Inc.

XFree86 is a trademark of The XFree86 Project, Inc.

Ogg Vorbis and Xiph.Org are trademarks of Xiph.Org.

Many of the designations used by manufacturers and sellers to distinguish their products are claimed as trademarks. Where those designations appear in this document, and the FreeBSD Project was aware of the trademark claim, the designations have been followed by the “™” or the “®” symbol.

Table of Contents
I. Getting Started
1 Introduction
1.1 Synopsis
1.2 Welcome to FreeBSD!
1.3 About the FreeBSD Project
2 Installing FreeBSD
2.1 Synopsis
2.2 Hardware Requirements
2.3 Pre-installation Tasks
2.4 Starting the Installation
2.5 Introducing Sysinstall
2.6 Allocating Disk Space
2.7 Choosing What to Install
2.8 Choosing Your Installation Media
2.9 Committing to the Installation
2.10 Post-installation
2.11 Troubleshooting
2.12 Advanced Installation Guide
2.13 Preparing Your Own Installation Media
3 UNIX Basics
3.1 Synopsis
3.2 Virtual Consoles and Terminals
3.3 Permissions
3.4 Directory Structure
3.5 Disk Organization
3.6 Mounting and Unmounting File Systems
3.7 Processes
3.8 Daemons, Signals, and Killing Processes
3.9 Shells
3.10 Text Editors
3.11 Devices and Device Nodes
3.12 Binary Formats
3.13 For More Information
4 Installing Applications: Packages and Ports
4.1 Synopsis
4.2 Overview of Software Installation
4.3 Finding Your Application
4.4 Using the Packages System
4.5 Using the Ports Collection
4.6 Post-installation Activities
4.7 Dealing with Broken Ports
5 The X Window System
5.1 Synopsis
5.2 Understanding X
5.3 Installing X11
5.4 X11 Configuration
5.5 Using Fonts in X11
5.6 The X Display Manager
5.7 Desktop Environments
II. Common Tasks
6 Desktop Applications
6.1 Synopsis
6.2 Browsers
6.3 Productivity
6.4 Document Viewers
6.5 Finance
6.6 Summary
7 Multimedia
7.1 Synopsis
7.2 Setting Up the Sound Card
7.3 MP3 Audio
7.4 Video Playback
7.5 Setting Up TV Cards
7.6 Image Scanners
8 Configuring the FreeBSD Kernel
8.1 Synopsis
8.2 Why Build a Custom Kernel?
8.3 Building and Installing a Custom Kernel
8.4 The Configuration File
8.5 If Something Goes Wrong
9 Printing
9.1 Synopsis
9.2 Introduction
9.3 Basic Setup
9.4 Advanced Printer Setup
9.5 Using Printers
9.6 Alternatives to the Standard Spooler
9.7 Troubleshooting
10 Linux Binary Compatibility
10.1 Synopsis
10.2 Installation
10.3 Installing Mathematica®
10.4 Installing Maple
10.5 Installing MATLAB®
10.6 Installing Oracle®
10.7 Installing SAP® R/3®
10.8 Advanced Topics
III. System Administration
11 Configuration and Tuning
11.1 Synopsis
11.2 Initial Configuration
11.3 Core Configuration
11.4 Application Configuration
11.5 Starting Services
11.6 Configuring the cron Utility
11.7 Using rc under FreeBSD
11.8 Setting Up Network Interface Cards
11.9 Virtual Hosts
11.10 Configuration Files
11.11 Tuning with sysctl
11.12 Tuning Disks
11.13 Tuning Kernel Limits
11.14 Adding Swap Space
11.15 Power and Resource Management
11.16 Using and Debugging FreeBSD ACPI
12 The FreeBSD Booting Process
12.1 Synopsis
12.2 The Booting Problem
12.3 The Boot Manager and Boot Stages
12.4 Kernel Interaction During Boot
12.5 Device Hints
12.6 Init: Process Control Initialization
12.7 Shutdown Sequence
13 Users and Basic Account Management
13.1 Synopsis
13.2 Introduction
13.3 The Superuser Account
13.4 System Accounts
13.5 User Accounts
13.6 Modifying Accounts
13.7 Limiting Users
13.8 Groups
14 Security
14.1 Synopsis
14.2 Introduction
14.3 Securing FreeBSD
14.4 DES, Blowfish, MD5, and Crypt
14.5 One-time Passwords
14.6 TCP Wrappers
14.7 KerberosIV
14.8 Kerberos5
14.9 OpenSSL
14.10 VPN over IPsec
14.11 OpenSSH
14.12 File System Access Control Lists
14.13 Monitoring Third Party Security Issues
14.14 FreeBSD Security Advisories
14.15 Process Accounting
15 Jails
15.1 Synopsis
15.2 Terms Related to Jails
15.3 Introduction
15.4 Creating and Controlling Jails
15.5 Fine Tuning and Administration
15.6 Application of Jails
16 Mandatory Access Control
16.1 Synopsis
16.2 Key Terms in this Chapter
16.3 Explanation of MAC
16.4 Understanding MAC Labels
16.5 Planning the Security Configuration
16.6 Module Configuration
16.7 The MAC bsdextended Module
16.8 The MAC ifoff Module
16.9 The MAC portacl Module
16.10 The MAC partition Module
16.11 The MAC Multi-Level Security Module
16.12 The MAC Biba Module
16.13 The MAC LOMAC Module
16.14 Nagios in a MAC Jail
16.15 User Lock Down
16.16 Troubleshooting the MAC Framework
17 Security Event Auditing
17.1 Synopsis
17.2 Key Terms in this Chapter
17.3 Installing Audit Support
17.4 Audit Configuration
17.5 Administering the Audit Subsystem
18 Storage
18.1 Synopsis
18.2 Device Names
18.3 Adding Disks
18.4 RAID
18.5 USB Storage Devices
18.6 Creating and Using Optical Media (CDs)
18.7 Creating and Using Optical Media (DVDs)
18.8 Creating and Using Floppy Disks
18.9 Creating and Using Data Tapes
18.10 Backups to Floppies
18.11 Backup Strategies
18.12 Backup Basics
18.13 Network, Memory, and File-Backed File Systems
18.14 File System Snapshots
18.15 File System Quotas
18.16 Encrypting Disk Partitions
18.17 Encrypting Swap Space
19 GEOM: Modular Disk Transformation Framework
19.1 Synopsis
19.2 GEOM Introduction
19.3 RAID0 - Striping
19.4 RAID1 - Mirroring
19.5 GEOM Gate Network Devices
19.6 Labeling Disk Devices
19.7 UFS Journaling Through GEOM
20 The Vinum Volume Manager
20.1 Synopsis
20.2 Disks Are Too Small
20.3 Access Bottlenecks
20.4 Data Integrity
20.5 Vinum Objects
20.6 Some Examples
20.7 Object Naming
20.8 Configuring Vinum
20.9 Using Vinum for the Root Filesystem
21 Virtualization
21.1 Synopsis
21.2 FreeBSD as a Guest OS
21.3 FreeBSD as a Host OS
22 Localization - I18N/L10N Usage and Setup
22.1 Synopsis
22.2 The Basics
22.3 Using Localization
22.4 Compiling I18N Programs
22.5 Localizing FreeBSD to Specific Languages
23 The Cutting Edge
23.1 Synopsis
23.3 Synchronizing Your Source
23.4 Rebuilding “world”
23.5 Tracking for Multiple Machines
IV. Network Communication
24 Serial Communications
24.1 Synopsis
24.2 Introduction
24.3 Terminals
24.4 Dial-in Service
24.5 Dial-out Service
24.6 Setting Up the Serial Console
25 PPP and SLIP
25.1 Synopsis
25.2 Using User PPP
25.3 Using Kernel PPP
25.4 Troubleshooting PPP Connections
25.5 Using PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE)
25.6 Using PPP over ATM (PPPoA)
25.7 Using SLIP
26 Electronic Mail
26.1 Synopsis
26.2 Using Electronic Mail
26.3 sendmail Configuration
26.4 Changing Your Mail Transfer Agent
26.5 Troubleshooting
26.6 Advanced Topics
26.7 SMTP with UUCP
26.8 Setting Up to Send Only
26.9 Using Mail with a Dialup Connection
26.10 SMTP Authentication
26.11 Mail User Agents
26.12 Using fetchmail
26.13 Using procmail
27 Network Servers
27.1 Synopsis
27.2 The inetd “Super-Server”
27.3 Network File System (NFS)
27.4 Network Information System (NIS/YP)
27.5 Automatic Network Configuration (DHCP)
27.6 Domain Name System (DNS)
27.7 Apache HTTP Server
27.8 File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
27.9 File and Print Services for Microsoft Windows clients (Samba)
27.10 Clock Synchronization with NTP
28 Firewalls
28.1 Introduction
28.2 Firewall Concepts
28.3 Firewall Packages
28.4 The OpenBSD Packet Filter (PF) and ALTQ
28.5 The IPFILTER (IPF) Firewall
28.6 IPFW
29 Advanced Networking
29.1 Synopsis
29.2 Gateways and Routes
29.3 Wireless Networking
29.4 Bluetooth
29.5 Bridging
29.6 Link Aggregation and Failover
29.7 Diskless Operation
29.8 ISDN
29.9 Network Address Translation
29.10 Parallel Line IP (PLIP)
29.11 IPv6
29.12 Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)
29.13 Common Access Redundancy Protocol (CARP)
V. Appendices
A. Obtaining FreeBSD
A.1 CDROM and DVD Publishers
A.2 FTP Sites
A.3 Anonymous CVS
A.4 Using CTM
A.5 Using CVSup
A.6 Using Portsnap
A.7 CVS Tags
A.8 AFS Sites
A.9 rsync Sites
B. Bibliography
B.1 Books & Magazines Specific to FreeBSD
B.2 Users' Guides
B.3 Administrators' Guides
B.4 Programmers' Guides
B.5 Operating System Internals
B.6 Security Reference
B.7 Hardware Reference
B.8 UNIX History
B.9 Magazines and Journals
C. Resources on the Internet
C.1 Mailing Lists
C.2 Usenet Newsgroups
C.3 World Wide Web Servers
C.4 Email Addresses
C.5 Shell Accounts
D. PGP Keys
D.1 Officers
D.2 Core Team Members
D.3 Developers
FreeBSD Glossary
List of Tables
2-1. Sample Device Inventory
2-2. Partition Layout for First Disk
2-3. Partition Layout for Subsequent Disks
2-4. FreeBSD 5.X and 6.X ISO Image Names and Meanings
3-1. Disk Device Codes
18-1. Physical Disk Naming Conventions
20-1. Vinum Plex Organizations
24-1. DB-25 to DB-25 Null-Modem Cable
24-2. DB-9 to DB-9 Null-Modem Cable
24-3. DB-9 to DB-25 Null-Modem Cable
24-4. Signal Names
29-1. Wiring a Parallel Cable for Networking
29-2. Reserved IPv6 addresses
List of Figures
2-1. FreeBSD Boot Loader Menu
2-2. Typical Device Probe Results
2-3. Selecting Country Menu
2-4. Select Sysinstall Exit
2-5. Selecting Usage from Sysinstall Main Menu
2-6. Selecting Documentation Menu
2-7. Sysinstall Documentation Menu
2-8. Sysinstall Main Menu
2-9. Sysinstall Keymap Menu
2-10. Sysinstall Main Menu
2-11. Sysinstall Options
2-12. Begin Standard Installation
2-13. Select Drive for FDisk
2-14. Typical Fdisk Partitions before Editing
2-15. Fdisk Partition Using Entire Disk
2-16. Sysinstall Boot Manager Menu
2-17. Exit Select Drive
2-18. Sysinstall Disklabel Editor
2-19. Sysinstall Disklabel Editor with Auto Defaults
2-20. Free Space for Root Partition
2-21. Edit Root Partition Size
2-22. Choose the Root Partition Type
2-23. Choose the Root Mount Point
2-24. Sysinstall Disklabel Editor
2-25. Choose Distributions
2-26. Confirm Distributions
2-27. Choose Installation Media
2-28. Selecting an Ethernet Device
2-29. Set Network Configuration for ed0
2-30. Editing inetd.conf
2-31. Default Anonymous FTP Configuration
2-32. Edit the FTP Welcome Message
2-33. Editing exports
2-34. System Console Configuration Options
2-35. Screen Saver Options
2-36. Screen Saver Timeout
2-37. System Console Configuration Exit
2-38. Select Your Region
2-39. Select Your Country
2-40. Select Your Time Zone
2-41. Select Mouse Protocol Type
2-42. Set Mouse Protocol
2-43. Configure Mouse Port
2-44. Setting the Mouse Port
2-45. Enable the Mouse Daemon
2-46. Test the Mouse Daemon
2-47. Select Package Category
2-48. Select Packages
2-49. Install Packages
2-50. Confirm Package Installation
2-51. Select User
2-52. Add User Information
2-53. Exit User and Group Management
2-54. Exit Install
2-55. Network Configuration Upper-level
2-56. Select a default MTA
2-57. Ntpdate Configuration
2-58. Network Configuration Lower-level
20-1. Concatenated Organization
20-2. Striped Organization
20-3. RAID-5 Organization
20-4. A Simple Vinum Volume
20-5. A Mirrored Vinum Volume
20-6. A Striped Vinum Volume
20-7. A Mirrored, Striped Vinum Volume
List of Examples
2-1. Using an Existing Partition Unchanged
2-2. Shrinking an Existing Partition
3-1. Sample Disk, Slice, and Partition Names
3-2. Conceptual Model of a Disk
4-1. Downloading a Package Manually and Installing It Locally
11-1. Creating a Swapfile on FreeBSD
12-1. boot0 Screenshot
12-2. boot2 Screenshot
12-3. An Insecure Console in /etc/ttys
13-1. Adding a user on FreeBSD
13-2. rmuser Interactive Account Removal
13-3. Interactive chpass by Superuser
13-4. Interactive chpass by Normal User
13-5. Changing Your Password
13-6. Changing Another User's Password as the Superuser
13-7. Adding a Group Using pw(8)
13-8. Adding Somebody to a Group Using pw(8)
13-9. Using id(1) to Determine Group Membership
14-1. Using SSH to Create a Secure Tunnel for SMTP
18-1. Using dump over ssh
18-2. Using dump over ssh with RSH set
18-3. A Script for Creating a Bootable Floppy
18-4. Using mdconfig to Mount an Existing File System Image
18-5. Creating a New File-Backed Disk with mdconfig
18-6. Configure and Mount a File-Backed Disk with mdmfs
18-7. Creating a New Memory-Based Disk with mdconfig
18-8. Creating a New Memory-Based Disk with mdmfs
24-1. Adding Terminal Entries to /etc/ttys
26-1. Configuring the sendmail Access Database
26-2. Mail Aliases
26-3. Example Virtual Domain Mail Map
27-1. Reloading the inetd configuration file
27-2. Mounting an Export with amd
29-1. LACP aggregation with a Cisco switch
29-2. Failover mode
29-3. Branch Office or Home Network
29-4. Head Office or Other LAN
A-1. Checking Out Something from -CURRENT (ls(1)):
A-2. Using SSH to check out the src/ tree:
A-3. Checking Out the Version of ls(1) in the 6-STABLE Branch:
A-4. Creating a List of Changes (as Unified Diffs) to ls(1)
A-5. Finding Out What Other Module Names Can Be Used:


Intended Audience

The FreeBSD newcomer will find that the first section of this book guides the user through the FreeBSD installation process and gently introduces the concepts and conventions that underpin UNIX®. Working through this section requires little more than the desire to explore, and the ability to take on board new concepts as they are introduced.

Once you have traveled this far, the second, far larger, section of the Handbook is a comprehensive reference to all manner of topics of interest to FreeBSD system administrators. Some of these chapters may recommend that you do some prior reading, and this is noted in the synopsis at the beginning of each chapter.

For a list of additional sources of information, please see Appendix B.

Changes from the Second Edition

This third edition is the culmination of over two years of work by the dedicated members of the FreeBSD Documentation Project. The following are the major changes in this new edition:

Changes from the First Edition

The second edition was the culmination of over two years of work by the dedicated members of the FreeBSD Documentation Project. The following were the major changes in this edition:

Organization of This Book

This book is split into five logically distinct sections. The first section, Getting Started, covers the installation and basic usage of FreeBSD. It is expected that the reader will follow these chapters in sequence, possibly skipping chapters covering familiar topics. The second section, Common Tasks, covers some frequently used features of FreeBSD. This section, and all subsequent sections, can be read out of order. Each chapter begins with a succinct synopsis that describes what the chapter covers and what the reader is expected to already know. This is meant to allow the casual reader to skip around to find chapters of interest. The third section, System Administration, covers administration topics. The fourth section, Network Communication, covers networking and server topics. The fifth section contains appendices of reference information.

Chapter 1, Introduction

Introduces FreeBSD to a new user. It describes the history of the FreeBSD Project, its goals and development model.

Chapter 2, Installation

Walks a user through the entire installation process. Some advanced installation topics, such as installing through a serial console, are also covered.

Chapter 3, UNIX Basics

Covers the basic commands and functionality of the FreeBSD operating system. If you are familiar with Linux or another flavor of UNIX then you can probably skip this chapter.

Chapter 4, Installing Applications

Covers the installation of third-party software with both FreeBSD's innovative “Ports Collection” and standard binary packages.

Chapter 5, The X Window System

Describes the X Window System in general and using X11 on FreeBSD in particular. Also describes common desktop environments such as KDE and GNOME.

Chapter 6, Desktop Applications

Lists some common desktop applications, such as web browsers and productivity suites, and describes how to install them on FreeBSD.

Chapter 7, Multimedia

Shows how to set up sound and video playback support for your system. Also describes some sample audio and video applications.

Chapter 8, Configuring the FreeBSD Kernel

Explains why you might need to configure a new kernel and provides detailed instructions for configuring, building, and installing a custom kernel.

Chapter 9, Printing

Describes managing printers on FreeBSD, including information about banner pages, printer accounting, and initial setup.

Chapter 10, Linux Binary Compatibility

Describes the Linux compatibility features of FreeBSD. Also provides detailed installation instructions for many popular Linux applications such as Oracle, SAP R/3, and Mathematica®.

Chapter 11, Configuration and Tuning

Describes the parameters available for system administrators to tune a FreeBSD system for optimum performance. Also describes the various configuration files used in FreeBSD and where to find them.

Chapter 12, Booting Process

Describes the FreeBSD boot process and explains how to control this process with configuration options.

Chapter 13, Users and Basic Account Management

Describes the creation and manipulation of user accounts. Also discusses resource limitations that can be set on users and other account management tasks.

Chapter 14, Security

Describes many different tools available to help keep your FreeBSD system secure, including Kerberos, IPsec and OpenSSH.

Chapter 15, Jails

Describes the jails framework, and the improvements of jails over the traditional chroot support of FreeBSD.

Chapter 16, Mandatory Access Control

Explains what Mandatory Access Control (MAC) is and how this mechanism can be used to secure a FreeBSD system.

Chapter 17, Security Event Auditing

Describes what FreeBSD Event Auditing is, how it can be installed, configured, and how audit trails can be inspected or monitored.

Chapter 18, Storage

Describes how to manage storage media and filesystems with FreeBSD. This includes physical disks, RAID arrays, optical and tape media, memory-backed disks, and network filesystems.

Chapter 19, GEOM

Describes what the GEOM framework in FreeBSD is and how to configure various supported RAID levels.

Chapter 20, Vinum

Describes how to use Vinum, a logical volume manager which provides device-independent logical disks, and software RAID-0, RAID-1 and RAID-5.

Chapter 21, Virtualization

Describes what virtualization systems offer, and how they can be used with FreeBSD.

Chapter 22, Localization

Describes how to use FreeBSD in languages other than English. Covers both system and application level localization.

Chapter 23, The Cutting Edge

Explains the differences between FreeBSD-STABLE, FreeBSD-CURRENT, and FreeBSD releases. Describes which users would benefit from tracking a development system and outlines that process.

Chapter 24, Serial Communications

Explains how to connect terminals and modems to your FreeBSD system for both dial in and dial out connections.

Chapter 25, PPP and SLIP

Describes how to use PPP, SLIP, or PPP over Ethernet to connect to remote systems with FreeBSD.

Chapter 26, Electronic Mail

Explains the different components of an email server and dives into simple configuration topics for the most popular mail server software: sendmail.

Chapter 27, Network Servers

Provides detailed instructions and example configuration files to set up your FreeBSD machine as a network filesystem server, domain name server, network information system server, or time synchronization server.

Chapter 28, Firewalls

Explains the philosophy behind software-based firewalls and provides detailed information about the configuration of the different firewalls available for FreeBSD.

Chapter 29, Advanced Networking

Describes many networking topics, including sharing an Internet connection with other computers on your LAN, advanced routing topics, wireless networking, Bluetooth, ATM, IPv6, and much more.

Appendix A, Obtaining FreeBSD

Lists different sources for obtaining FreeBSD media on CDROM or DVD as well as different sites on the Internet that allow you to download and install FreeBSD.

Appendix B, Bibliography

This book touches on many different subjects that may leave you hungry for a more detailed explanation. The bibliography lists many excellent books that are referenced in the text.

Appendix C, Resources on the Internet

Describes the many forums available for FreeBSD users to post questions and engage in technical conversations about FreeBSD.

Appendix D, PGP Keys

Lists the PGP fingerprints of several FreeBSD Developers.

Conventions used in this book

To provide a consistent and easy to read text, several conventions are followed throughout the book.

Typographic Conventions


An italic font is used for filenames, URLs, emphasized text, and the first usage of technical terms.


A monospaced font is used for error messages, commands, environment variables, names of ports, hostnames, user names, group names, device names, variables, and code fragments.


A bold font is used for applications, commands, and keys.

User Input

Keys are shown in bold to stand out from other text. Key combinations that are meant to be typed simultaneously are shown with `+' between the keys, such as:


Meaning the user should type the Ctrl, Alt, and Del keys at the same time.

Keys that are meant to be typed in sequence will be separated with commas, for example:

Ctrl+X, Ctrl+S

Would mean that the user is expected to type the Ctrl and X keys simultaneously and then to type the Ctrl and S keys simultaneously.


Examples starting with E:\> indicate a MS-DOS® command. Unless otherwise noted, these commands may be executed from a “Command Prompt” window in a modern Microsoft Windows environment.

E:\> tools\fdimage floppies\kern.flp A:

Examples starting with # indicate a command that must be invoked as the superuser in FreeBSD. You can login as root to type the command, or login as your normal account and use su(1) to gain superuser privileges.

# dd if=kern.flp of=/dev/fd0

Examples starting with % indicate a command that should be invoked from a normal user account. Unless otherwise noted, C-shell syntax is used for setting environment variables and other shell commands.

% top


The book you are holding represents the efforts of many hundreds of people around the world. Whether they sent in fixes for typos, or submitted complete chapters, all the contributions have been useful.

Several companies have supported the development of this document by paying authors to work on it full-time, paying for publication, etc. In particular, BSDi (subsequently acquired by Wind River Systems) paid members of the FreeBSD Documentation Project to work on improving this book full time leading up to the publication of the first printed edition in March 2000 (ISBN 1-57176-241-8). Wind River Systems then paid several additional authors to make a number of improvements to the print-output infrastructure and to add additional chapters to the text. This work culminated in the publication of the second printed edition in November 2001 (ISBN 1-57176-303-1). In 2003-2004, FreeBSD Mall, Inc, paid several contributors to improve the Handbook in preparation for the third printed edition.

I. Getting Started

This part of the FreeBSD Handbook is for users and administrators who are new to FreeBSD. These chapters:

  • Introduce you to FreeBSD.

  • Guide you through the installation process.

  • Teach you UNIX basics and fundamentals.

  • Show you how to install the wealth of third party applications available for FreeBSD.

  • Introduce you to X, the UNIX windowing system, and detail how to configure a desktop environment that makes you more productive.

We have tried to keep the number of forward references in the text to a minimum so that you can read this section of the Handbook from front to back with the minimum page flipping required.

Chapter 1 Introduction

Restructured, reorganized, and parts rewritten by Jim Mock.

1.1 Synopsis

Thank you for your interest in FreeBSD! The following chapter covers various aspects of the FreeBSD Project, such as its history, goals, development model, and so on.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • How FreeBSD relates to other computer operating systems.

  • The history of the FreeBSD Project.

  • The goals of the FreeBSD Project.

  • The basics of the FreeBSD open-source development model.

  • And of course: where the name “FreeBSD” comes from.

1.2 Welcome to FreeBSD!

FreeBSD is a 4.4BSD-Lite based operating system for Intel (x86 and Itanium®), AMD64, Alpha™, Sun UltraSPARC® computers. Ports to other architectures are also underway. You can also read about the history of FreeBSD, or the current release. If you are interested in contributing something to the Project (code, hardware, funding), see the Contributing to FreeBSD article.

1.2.1 What Can FreeBSD Do?

FreeBSD has many noteworthy features. Some of these are:

  • Preemptive multitasking with dynamic priority adjustment to ensure smooth and fair sharing of the computer between applications and users, even under the heaviest of loads.

  • Multi-user facilities which allow many people to use a FreeBSD system simultaneously for a variety of things. This means, for example, that system peripherals such as printers and tape drives are properly shared between all users on the system or the network and that individual resource limits can be placed on users or groups of users, protecting critical system resources from over-use.

  • Strong TCP/IP networking with support for industry standards such as SCTP, DHCP, NFS, NIS, PPP, SLIP, IPsec, and IPv6. This means that your FreeBSD machine can interoperate easily with other systems as well as act as an enterprise server, providing vital functions such as NFS (remote file access) and email services or putting your organization on the Internet with WWW, FTP, routing and firewall (security) services.

  • Memory protection ensures that applications (or users) cannot interfere with each other. One application crashing will not affect others in any way.

  • FreeBSD is a 32-bit operating system (64-bit on the Alpha, Itanium, AMD64, and UltraSPARC) and was designed as such from the ground up.

  • The industry standard X Window System (X11R7) provides a graphical user interface (GUI) for the cost of a common VGA card and monitor and comes with full sources.

  • Binary compatibility with many programs built for Linux, SCO, SVR4, BSDI and NetBSD.

  • Thousands of ready-to-run applications are available from the FreeBSD ports and packages collection. Why search the net when you can find it all right here?

  • Thousands of additional and easy-to-port applications are available on the Internet. FreeBSD is source code compatible with most popular commercial UNIX systems and thus most applications require few, if any, changes to compile.

  • Demand paged virtual memory and “merged VM/buffer cache” design efficiently satisfies applications with large appetites for memory while still maintaining interactive response to other users.

  • SMP support for machines with multiple CPUs.

  • A full complement of C, C++, and Fortran development tools. Many additional languages for advanced research and development are also available in the ports and packages collection.

  • Source code for the entire system means you have the greatest degree of control over your environment. Why be locked into a proprietary solution at the mercy of your vendor when you can have a truly open system?

  • Extensive online documentation.

  • And many more!

FreeBSD is based on the 4.4BSD-Lite release from Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) at the University of California at Berkeley, and carries on the distinguished tradition of BSD systems development. In addition to the fine work provided by CSRG, the FreeBSD Project has put in many thousands of hours in fine tuning the system for maximum performance and reliability in real-life load situations. As many of the commercial giants struggle to field PC operating systems with such features, performance and reliability, FreeBSD can offer them now!

The applications to which FreeBSD can be put are truly limited only by your own imagination. From software development to factory automation, inventory control to azimuth correction of remote satellite antennae; if it can be done with a commercial UNIX product then it is more than likely that you can do it with FreeBSD too! FreeBSD also benefits significantly from literally thousands of high quality applications developed by research centers and universities around the world, often available at little to no cost. Commercial applications are also available and appearing in greater numbers every day.

Because the source code for FreeBSD itself is generally available, the system can also be customized to an almost unheard of degree for special applications or projects, and in ways not generally possible with operating systems from most major commercial vendors. Here is just a sampling of some of the applications in which people are currently using FreeBSD:

  • Internet Services: The robust TCP/IP networking built into FreeBSD makes it an ideal platform for a variety of Internet services such as:

    • FTP servers

    • World Wide Web servers (standard or secure [SSL])

    • IPv4 and IPv6 routing

    • Firewalls and NAT (“IP masquerading”) gateways

    • Electronic Mail servers

    • USENET News or Bulletin Board Systems

    • And more...

    With FreeBSD, you can easily start out small with an inexpensive 386 class PC and upgrade all the way up to a quad-processor Xeon with RAID storage as your enterprise grows.

  • Education: Are you a student of computer science or a related engineering field? There is no better way of learning about operating systems, computer architecture and networking than the hands on, under the hood experience that FreeBSD can provide. A number of freely available CAD, mathematical and graphic design packages also make it highly useful to those whose primary interest in a computer is to get other work done!

  • Research: With source code for the entire system available, FreeBSD is an excellent platform for research in operating systems as well as other branches of computer science. FreeBSD's freely available nature also makes it possible for remote groups to collaborate on ideas or shared development without having to worry about special licensing agreements or limitations on what may be discussed in open forums.

  • Networking: Need a new router? A name server (DNS)? A firewall to keep people out of your internal network? FreeBSD can easily turn that unused 386 or 486 PC sitting in the corner into an advanced router with sophisticated packet-filtering capabilities.

  • X Window workstation: FreeBSD is a fine choice for an inexpensive X terminal solution, using the freely available X11 server. Unlike an X terminal, FreeBSD allows many applications to be run locally if desired, thus relieving the burden on a central server. FreeBSD can even boot “diskless”, making individual workstations even cheaper and easier to administer.

  • Software Development: The basic FreeBSD system comes with a full complement of development tools including the renowned GNU C/C++ compiler and debugger.

FreeBSD is available in both source and binary form on CDROM, DVD, and via anonymous FTP. Please see Appendix A for more information about obtaining FreeBSD.

1.2.2 Who Uses FreeBSD?

FreeBSD is used to power some of the biggest sites on the Internet, including:

and many more.

1.3 About the FreeBSD Project

The following section provides some background information on the project, including a brief history, project goals, and the development model of the project.

1.3.1 A Brief History of FreeBSD

Contributed by Jordan Hubbard.

The FreeBSD project had its genesis in the early part of 1993, partially as an outgrowth of the “Unofficial 386BSD Patchkit” by the patchkit's last 3 coordinators: Nate Williams, Rod Grimes and myself.

Our original goal was to produce an intermediate snapshot of 386BSD in order to fix a number of problems with it that the patchkit mechanism just was not capable of solving. Some of you may remember the early working title for the project being “386BSD 0.5” or “386BSD Interim” in reference to that fact.

386BSD was Bill Jolitz's operating system, which had been up to that point suffering rather severely from almost a year's worth of neglect. As the patchkit swelled ever more uncomfortably with each passing day, we were in unanimous agreement that something had to be done and decided to assist Bill by providing this interim “cleanup” snapshot. Those plans came to a rude halt when Bill Jolitz suddenly decided to withdraw his sanction from the project without any clear indication of what would be done instead.

It did not take us long to decide that the goal remained worthwhile, even without Bill's support, and so we adopted the name “FreeBSD”, coined by David Greenman. Our initial objectives were set after consulting with the system's current users and, once it became clear that the project was on the road to perhaps even becoming a reality, I contacted Walnut Creek CDROM with an eye toward improving FreeBSD's distribution channels for those many unfortunates without easy access to the Internet. Walnut Creek CDROM not only supported the idea of distributing FreeBSD on CD but also went so far as to provide the project with a machine to work on and a fast Internet connection. Without Walnut Creek CDROM's almost unprecedented degree of faith in what was, at the time, a completely unknown project, it is quite unlikely that FreeBSD would have gotten as far, as fast, as it has today.

The first CDROM (and general net-wide) distribution was FreeBSD 1.0, released in December of 1993. This was based on the 4.3BSD-Lite (“Net/2”) tape from U.C. Berkeley, with many components also provided by 386BSD and the Free Software Foundation. It was a fairly reasonable success for a first offering, and we followed it with the highly successful FreeBSD 1.1 release in May of 1994.

Around this time, some rather unexpected storm clouds formed on the horizon as Novell and U.C. Berkeley settled their long-running lawsuit over the legal status of the Berkeley Net/2 tape. A condition of that settlement was U.C. Berkeley's concession that large parts of Net/2 were “encumbered” code and the property of Novell, who had in turn acquired it from AT&T some time previously. What Berkeley got in return was Novell's “blessing” that the 4.4BSD-Lite release, when it was finally released, would be declared unencumbered and all existing Net/2 users would be strongly encouraged to switch. This included FreeBSD, and the project was given until the end of July 1994 to stop shipping its own Net/2 based product. Under the terms of that agreement, the project was allowed one last release before the deadline, that release being FreeBSD

FreeBSD then set about the arduous task of literally re-inventing itself from a completely new and rather incomplete set of 4.4BSD-Lite bits. The “Lite” releases were light in part because Berkeley's CSRG had removed large chunks of code required for actually constructing a bootable running system (due to various legal requirements) and the fact that the Intel port of 4.4 was highly incomplete. It took the project until November of 1994 to make this transition, at which point it released FreeBSD 2.0 to the net and on CDROM (in late December). Despite being still more than a little rough around the edges, the release was a significant success and was followed by the more robust and easier to install FreeBSD 2.0.5 release in June of 1995.

We released FreeBSD 2.1.5 in August of 1996, and it appeared to be popular enough among the ISP and commercial communities that another release along the 2.1-STABLE branch was merited. This was FreeBSD, released in February 1997 and capping the end of mainstream development on 2.1-STABLE. Now in maintenance mode, only security enhancements and other critical bug fixes will be done on this branch (RELENG_2_1_0).

FreeBSD 2.2 was branched from the development mainline (“-CURRENT”) in November 1996 as the RELENG_2_2 branch, and the first full release (2.2.1) was released in April 1997. Further releases along the 2.2 branch were done in the summer and fall of '97, the last of which (2.2.8) appeared in November 1998. The first official 3.0 release appeared in October 1998 and spelled the beginning of the end for the 2.2 branch.

The tree branched again on Jan 20, 1999, leading to the 4.0-CURRENT and 3.X-STABLE branches. From 3.X-STABLE, 3.1 was released on February 15, 1999, 3.2 on May 15, 1999, 3.3 on September 16, 1999, 3.4 on December 20, 1999, and 3.5 on June 24, 2000, which was followed a few days later by a minor point release update to 3.5.1, to incorporate some last-minute security fixes to Kerberos. This will be the final release in the 3.X branch.

There was another branch on March 13, 2000, which saw the emergence of the 4.X-STABLE branch. There have been several releases from it so far: 4.0-RELEASE was introduced in March 2000, and the last 4.11-RELEASE came out in January 2005.

The long-awaited 5.0-RELEASE was announced on January 19, 2003. The culmination of nearly three years of work, this release started FreeBSD on the path of advanced multiprocessor and application thread support and introduced support for the UltraSPARC and ia64 platforms. This release was followed by 5.1 in June of 2003. The last 5.X release from the -CURRENT branch was 5.2.1-RELEASE, introduced in February 2004.

The RELENG_5 branch, created in August 2004, was followed by 5.3-RELEASE, which marked the beginning of the 5-STABLE branch releases. The most recent 5.5-RELEASE came out in May 2006. There will be no additional releases from the RELENG_5 branch.

The tree was branched again in July 2005, this time for RELENG_6. 6.0-RELEASE, the first release of the 6.X branch, was released in November 2005. The most recent 6.2-RELEASE came out in Jan 2007. There will be additional releases from the RELENG_6 branch.

For now, long-term development projects continue to take place in the 7.X-CURRENT (trunk) branch, and SNAPshot releases of 7.X on CDROM (and, of course, on the net) are continually made available from the snapshot server as work progresses.

1.3.2 FreeBSD Project Goals

Contributed by Jordan Hubbard.

The goals of the FreeBSD Project are to provide software that may be used for any purpose and without strings attached. Many of us have a significant investment in the code (and project) and would certainly not mind a little financial compensation now and then, but we are definitely not prepared to insist on it. We believe that our first and foremost “mission” is to provide code to any and all comers, and for whatever purpose, so that the code gets the widest possible use and provides the widest possible benefit. This is, I believe, one of the most fundamental goals of Free Software and one that we enthusiastically support.

That code in our source tree which falls under the GNU General Public License (GPL) or Library General Public License (LGPL) comes with slightly more strings attached, though at least on the side of enforced access rather than the usual opposite. Due to the additional complexities that can evolve in the commercial use of GPL software we do, however, prefer software submitted under the more relaxed BSD copyright when it is a reasonable option to do so.

1.3.3 The FreeBSD Development Model

Contributed by Satoshi Asami.

The development of FreeBSD is a very open and flexible process, being literally built from the contributions of hundreds of people around the world, as can be seen from our list of contributors. FreeBSD's development infrastructure allow these hundreds of developers to collaborate over the Internet. We are constantly on the lookout for new developers and ideas, and those interested in becoming more closely involved with the project need simply contact us at the FreeBSD technical discussions mailing list. The FreeBSD announcements mailing list is also available to those wishing to make other FreeBSD users aware of major areas of work.

Useful things to know about the FreeBSD project and its development process, whether working independently or in close cooperation:

The CVS repository

The central source tree for FreeBSD is maintained by CVS (Concurrent Versions System), a freely available source code control tool that comes bundled with FreeBSD. The primary CVS repository resides on a machine in Santa Clara CA, USA from where it is replicated to numerous mirror machines throughout the world. The CVS tree, which contains the -CURRENT and -STABLE trees, can all be easily replicated to your own machine as well. Please refer to the Synchronizing your source tree section for more information on doing this.

The committers list

The committers are the people who have write access to the CVS tree, and are authorized to make modifications to the FreeBSD source (the term “committer” comes from the cvs(1) commit command, which is used to bring new changes into the CVS repository). The best way of making submissions for review by the committers list is to use the send-pr(1) command. If something appears to be jammed in the system, then you may also reach them by sending mail to the FreeBSD committer's mailing list.

The FreeBSD core team

The FreeBSD core team would be equivalent to the board of directors if the FreeBSD Project were a company. The primary task of the core team is to make sure the project, as a whole, is in good shape and is heading in the right directions. Inviting dedicated and responsible developers to join our group of committers is one of the functions of the core team, as is the recruitment of new core team members as others move on. The current core team was elected from a pool of committer candidates in July 2006. Elections are held every 2 years.

Some core team members also have specific areas of responsibility, meaning that they are committed to ensuring that some large portion of the system works as advertised. For a complete list of FreeBSD developers and their areas of responsibility, please see the Contributors List

Note: Most members of the core team are volunteers when it comes to FreeBSD development and do not benefit from the project financially, so “commitment” should also not be misconstrued as meaning “guaranteed support.” The “board of directors” analogy above is not very accurate, and it may be more suitable to say that these are the people who gave up their lives in favor of FreeBSD against their better judgement!

Outside contributors

Last, but definitely not least, the largest group of developers are the users themselves who provide feedback and bug fixes to us on an almost constant basis. The primary way of keeping in touch with FreeBSD's more non-centralized development is to subscribe to the FreeBSD technical discussions mailing list where such things are discussed. See Appendix C for more information about the various FreeBSD mailing lists.

The FreeBSD Contributors List is a long and growing one, so why not join it by contributing something back to FreeBSD today?

Providing code is not the only way of contributing to the project; for a more complete list of things that need doing, please refer to the FreeBSD Project web site.

In summary, our development model is organized as a loose set of concentric circles. The centralized model is designed for the convenience of the users of FreeBSD, who are provided with an easy way of tracking one central code base, not to keep potential contributors out! Our desire is to present a stable operating system with a large set of coherent application programs that the users can easily install and use -- this model works very well in accomplishing that.

All we ask of those who would join us as FreeBSD developers is some of the same dedication its current people have to its continued success!

1.3.4 The Current FreeBSD Release

FreeBSD is a freely available, full source 4.4BSD-Lite based release for Intel i386™, i486™, Pentium®, Pentium Pro, Celeron®, Pentium II, Pentium III, Pentium 4 (or compatible), Xeon™, DEC Alpha and Sun UltraSPARC based computer systems. It is based primarily on software from U.C. Berkeley's CSRG group, with some enhancements from NetBSD, OpenBSD, 386BSD, and the Free Software Foundation.

Since our release of FreeBSD 2.0 in late 1994, the performance, feature set, and stability of FreeBSD has improved dramatically. The largest change is a revamped virtual memory system with a merged VM/file buffer cache that not only increases performance, but also reduces FreeBSD's memory footprint, making a 5 MB configuration a more acceptable minimum. Other enhancements include full NIS client and server support, transaction TCP support, dial-on-demand PPP, integrated DHCP support, an improved SCSI subsystem, ISDN support, support for ATM, FDDI, Fast and Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbit) adapters, improved support for the latest Adaptec controllers, and many thousands of bug fixes.

In addition to the base distributions, FreeBSD offers a ported software collection with thousands of commonly sought-after programs. At the time of this printing, there were over 17,000 ports! The list of ports ranges from http (WWW) servers, to games, languages, editors, and almost everything in between. The entire Ports Collection requires approximately 440 MB of storage, all ports being expressed as “deltas” to their original sources. This makes it much easier for us to update ports, and greatly reduces the disk space demands made by the older 1.0 Ports Collection. To compile a port, you simply change to the directory of the program you wish to install, type make install, and let the system do the rest. The full original distribution for each port you build is retrieved dynamically off the CDROM or a local FTP site, so you need only enough disk space to build the ports you want. Almost every port is also provided as a pre-compiled “package”, which can be installed with a simple command (pkg_add) by those who do not wish to compile their own ports from source. More information on packages and ports can be found in Chapter 4.

A number of additional documents which you may find very helpful in the process of installing and using FreeBSD may now also be found in the /usr/share/doc directory on any recent FreeBSD machine. You may view the locally installed manuals with any HTML capable browser using the following URLs:

You can also view the master (and most frequently updated) copies at

Chapter 2 Installing FreeBSD

Restructured, reorganized, and parts rewritten by Jim Mock. The sysinstall walkthrough, screenshots, and general copy by Randy Pratt.

2.1 Synopsis

FreeBSD is provided with a text-based, easy to use installation program called sysinstall. This is the default installation program for FreeBSD, although vendors are free to provide their own installation suite if they wish. This chapter describes how to use sysinstall to install FreeBSD.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • How to create the FreeBSD installation disks.

  • How FreeBSD refers to, and subdivides, your hard disks.

  • How to start sysinstall.

  • The questions sysinstall will ask you, what they mean, and how to answer them.

Before reading this chapter, you should:

  • Read the supported hardware list that shipped with the version of FreeBSD you are installing, and verify that your hardware is supported.

Note: In general, these installation instructions are written for i386 (“PC compatible”) architecture computers. Where applicable, instructions specific to other platforms (for example, Alpha) will be listed. Although this guide is kept as up to date as possible, you may find minor differences between the installer and what is shown here. It is suggested that you use this chapter as a general guide rather than a literal installation manual.

2.2 Hardware Requirements

2.2.1 Minimal Configuration

The minimal configuration to install FreeBSD varies with the FreeBSD version and the hardware architecture.

Information about the minimal configuration is available in the Installation Notes on the Release Information page of the FreeBSD web site. A summary of this information is given in the following sections. Depending on the method you choose to install FreeBSD, you may also need a floppy drive, a supported CDROM drive, and in some case a network adapter. This will be covered by the Section 2.3.7. FreeBSD/i386 and FreeBSD/pc98

Both FreeBSD/i386 and FreeBSD/pc98 require a 486 or better processor and at least 24 MB of RAM. You will need at least 150 MB of free hard drive space for the most minimal installation.

Note: In case of old configurations, most of time, getting more RAM and more hard drive space is more important than getting a faster processor. FreeBSD/alpha

To install FreeBSD/alpha, you will need a supported platform (see Section 2.2.2) and a dedicated disk for FreeBSD. It is not possible to share a disk with another operating system at this time. This disk will need to be attached to a SCSI controller which is supported by the SRM firmware or an IDE disk assuming the SRM in your machine supports booting from IDE disks.

You will need the SRM console firmware for your platform. In some cases, it is possible to switch between AlphaBIOS (or ARC) firmware and SRM. In others it will be necessary to download new firmware from the vendor's Web site.

Note: Support for the Alpha was removed beginning with FreeBSD 7.0. The FreeBSD 6.X series of releases is the last containing support for this architecture. FreeBSD/amd64 Architecture

There are two classes of processors capable of running FreeBSD/amd64. The first are AMD64 processors, including the AMD Athlon™64, AMD Athlon64-FX, AMD Opteron™ or better processors.

The second class of processors that can use FreeBSD/amd64 includes those using the Intel® EM64T architecture. Examples of these processors include the Intel Core™ 2 Duo, Quad, and Extreme processor families and the Intel Xeon 3000, 5000, and 7000 sequences of processors.

If you have a machine based on an nVidia nForce3 Pro-150, you must use the BIOS setup to disable the IO APIC. If you do not have an option to do this, you will likely have to disable ACPI instead. There are bugs in the Pro-150 chipset that we have not found a workaround for yet. FreeBSD/sparc64

To install FreeBSD/sparc64, you will need a supported platform (see Section 2.2.2).

You will need a dedicated disk for FreeBSD/sparc64. It is not possible to share a disk with another operating system at this time.

2.2.2 Supported Hardware

A list of supported hardware is provided with each FreeBSD release in the FreeBSD Hardware Notes. This document can usually be found in a file named HARDWARE.TXT, in the top-level directory of a CDROM or FTP distribution or in sysinstall's documentation menu. It lists, for a given architecture, what hardware devices are known to be supported by each release of FreeBSD. Copies of the supported hardware list for various releases and architectures can also be found on the Release Information page of the FreeBSD Web site.

2.3 Pre-installation Tasks

2.3.1 Inventory Your Computer

Before installing FreeBSD you should attempt to inventory the components in your computer. The FreeBSD installation routines will show you the components (hard disks, network cards, CDROM drives, and so forth) with their model number and manufacturer. FreeBSD will also attempt to determine the correct configuration for these devices, which includes information about IRQ and IO port usage. Due to the vagaries of PC hardware this process is not always completely successful, and you may need to correct FreeBSD's determination of your configuration.

If you already have another operating system installed, such as Windows or Linux, it is a good idea to use the facilities provided by those operating systems to see how your hardware is already configured. If you are not sure what settings an expansion card is using, you may find it printed on the card itself. Popular IRQ numbers are 3, 5, and 7, and IO port addresses are normally written as hexadecimal numbers, such as 0x330.

We recommend you print or write down this information before installing FreeBSD. It may help to use a table, like this:

Table 2-1. Sample Device Inventory

Device Name IRQ IO port(s) Notes
First hard disk N/A N/A 40 GB, made by Seagate, first IDE master
CDROM N/A N/A First IDE slave
Second hard disk N/A N/A 20 GB, made by IBM, second IDE master
First IDE controller 14 0x1f0  
Network card N/A N/A Intel 10/100
Modem N/A N/A 3Com® 56K faxmodem, on COM1

Once the inventory of the components in your computer is done, you have to check if they match the hardware requirements of the FreeBSD release you want to install.

2.3.2 Backup Your Data

If the computer you will be installing FreeBSD on contains valuable data, then ensure you have it backed up, and that you have tested the backups before installing FreeBSD. The FreeBSD installation routine will prompt you before writing any data to your disk, but once that process has started it cannot be undone.

2.3.3 Decide Where to Install FreeBSD

If you want FreeBSD to use your entire hard disk, then there is nothing more to concern yourself with at this point -- you can skip this section.

However, if you need FreeBSD to co-exist with other operating systems then you need to have a rough understanding of how data is laid out on the disk, and how this affects you. Disk Layouts for FreeBSD/i386

A PC disk can be divided into discrete chunks. These chunks are called partitions. Since FreeBSD internally also has partitions, the naming can become confusing very quickly, therefore these disk chunks are referred to as disk slices or simply slices in FreeBSD itself. For example, the FreeBSD utility fdisk which operates on the PC disk partitions, refers to slices instead of partitions. By design, the PC only supports four partitions per disk. These partitions are called primary partitions. To work around this limitation and allow more than four partitions, a new partition type was created, the extended partition. A disk may contain only one extended partition. Special partitions, called logical partitions, can be created inside this extended partition.

Each partition has a partition ID, which is a number used to identify the type of data on the partition. FreeBSD partitions have the partition ID of 165.

In general, each operating system that you use will identify partitions in a particular way. For example, DOS, and its descendants, like Windows, assign each primary and logical partition a drive letter, starting with C:.

FreeBSD must be installed into a primary partition. FreeBSD can keep all its data, including any files that you create, on this one partition. However, if you have multiple disks, then you can create a FreeBSD partition on all, or some, of them. When you install FreeBSD, you must have one partition available. This might be a blank partition that you have prepared, or it might be an existing partition that contains data that you no longer care about.

If you are already using all the partitions on all your disks, then you will have to free one of them for FreeBSD using the tools provided by the other operating systems you use (e.g., fdisk on DOS or Windows).

If you have a spare partition then you can use that. However, you may need to shrink one or more of your existing partitions first.

A minimal installation of FreeBSD takes as little as 100 MB of disk space. However, that is a very minimal install, leaving almost no space for your own files. A more realistic minimum is 250 MB without a graphical environment, and 350 MB or more if you want a graphical user interface. If you intend to install a lot of third-party software as well, then you will need more space.

You can use a commercial tool such as PartitionMagic®, or a free tool such as GParted, to resize your partitions and make space for FreeBSD. The tools directory on the CDROM contains two free software tools which can carry out this task, namely FIPS and PResizer. Documentation for both of these is available in the same directory. FIPS, PResizer, and PartitionMagic can resize FAT16 and FAT32 partitions -- used in MS-DOS through Windows ME. Both PartitionMagic and GParted are known to work on NTFS. GParted is available on a number of Live CD Linux distributions, such as SystemRescueCD.

Problems have been reported resizing Microsoft Vista partitions. Having a Vista installation CDROM handy when attempting such an operation is recommended. As with all such disk maintenance tasks, a current set of backups is also strongly advised.

Warning: Incorrect use of these tools can delete the data on your disk. Be sure that you have recent, working backups before using them.

Example 2-1. Using an Existing Partition Unchanged

Suppose that you have a computer with a single 4 GB disk that already has a version of Windows installed, and you have split the disk into two drive letters, C: and D:, each of which is 2 GB in size. You have 1 GB of data on C:, and 0.5 GB of data on D:.

This means that your disk has two partitions on it, one per drive letter. You can copy all your existing data from D: to C:, which will free up the second partition, ready for FreeBSD.

Example 2-2. Shrinking an Existing Partition

Suppose that you have a computer with a single 4 GB disk that already has a version of Windows installed. When you installed Windows you created one large partition, giving you a C: drive that is 4 GB in size. You are currently using 1.5 GB of space, and want FreeBSD to have 2 GB of space.

In order to install FreeBSD you will need to either:

  1. Backup your Windows data, and then reinstall Windows, asking for a 2 GB partition at install time.

  2. Use one of the tools such as PartitionMagic, described above, to shrink your Windows partition. Disk Layouts for the Alpha

You will need a dedicated disk for FreeBSD on the Alpha. It is not possible to share a disk with another operating system at this time. Depending on the specific Alpha machine you have, this disk can either be a SCSI disk or an IDE disk, as long as your machine is capable of booting from it.

Following the conventions of the Digital / Compaq manuals all SRM input is shown in uppercase. SRM is case insensitive.

To find the names and types of disks in your machine, use the SHOW DEVICE command from the SRM console prompt:

>>>SHOW DEVICE dka0. DKA0 TOSHIBA CD-ROM XM-57 3476 dkc0.0.0.1009.0 DKC0 RZ1BB-BS 0658 dkc100.1.0.1009.0 DKC100 SEAGATE ST34501W 0015 dva0. DVA0 ewa0. EWA0 00-00-F8-75-6D-01 pkc0.7.0.1009.0 PKC0 SCSI Bus ID 7 5.27 pqa0. PQA0 PCI EIDE pqb0. PQB0 PCI EIDE

This example is from a Digital Personal Workstation 433au and shows three disks attached to the machine. The first is a CDROM drive called DKA0 and the other two are disks and are called DKC0 and DKC100 respectively.

Disks with names of the form DKx are SCSI disks. For example DKA100 refers to a SCSI disk with SCSI target ID 1 on the first SCSI bus (A), whereas DKC300 refers to a SCSI disk with SCSI ID 3 on the third SCSI bus (C). Devicename PKx refers to the SCSI host bus adapter. As seen in the SHOW DEVICE output SCSI CDROM drives are treated as any other SCSI hard disk drive.

IDE disks have names similar to DQx, while PQx is the associated IDE controller.

2.3.4 Collect Your Network Configuration Details

If you intend to connect to a network as part of your FreeBSD installation (for example, if you will be installing from an FTP site or an NFS server), then you need to know your network configuration. You will be prompted for this information during the installation so that FreeBSD can connect to the network to complete the install. Connecting to an Ethernet Network or Cable/DSL Modem

If you connect to an Ethernet network, or you have an Internet connection using an Ethernet adapter via cable or DSL, then you will need the following information:

  1. IP address

  2. IP address of the default gateway

  3. Hostname

  4. DNS server IP addresses

  5. Subnet Mask

If you do not know this information, then ask your system administrator or service provider. They may say that this information is assigned automatically, using DHCP. If so, make a note of this. Connecting Using a Modem

If you dial up to an ISP using a regular modem then you can still install FreeBSD over the Internet, it will just take a very long time.

You will need to know:

  1. The phone number to dial for your ISP

  2. The COM: port your modem is connected to

  3. The username and password for your ISP account

2.3.5 Check for FreeBSD Errata

Although the FreeBSD project strives to ensure that each release of FreeBSD is as stable as possible, bugs do occasionally creep into the process. On very rare occasions those bugs affect the installation process. As these problems are discovered and fixed, they are noted in the FreeBSD Errata, which is found on the FreeBSD web site. You should check the errata before installing to make sure that there are no late-breaking problems which you should be aware of.

Information about all the releases, including the errata for each release, can be found on the release information section of the FreeBSD web site.

2.3.6 Obtain the FreeBSD Installation Files

The FreeBSD installation process can install FreeBSD from files located in any of the following places:

Local Media

  • A CDROM or DVD

  • A DOS partition on the same computer

  • A SCSI or QIC tape

  • Floppy disks


  • An FTP site, going through a firewall, or using an HTTP proxy, as necessary

  • An NFS server

  • A dedicated parallel or serial connection

If you have purchased FreeBSD on CD or DVD then you already have everything you need, and should proceed to the next section (Section 2.3.7).

If you have not obtained the FreeBSD installation files you should skip ahead to Section 2.13 which explains how to prepare to install FreeBSD from any of the above. After reading that section, you should come back here, and read on to Section 2.3.7.

2.3.7 Prepare the Boot Media

The FreeBSD installation process is started by booting your computer into the FreeBSD installer--it is not a program you run within another operating system. Your computer normally boots using the operating system installed on your hard disk, but it can also be configured to use a “bootable” floppy disk. Most modern computers can also boot from a CDROM in the CDROM drive.

Tip: If you have FreeBSD on CDROM or DVD (either one you purchased or you prepared yourself), and your computer allows you to boot from the CDROM or DVD (typically a BIOS option called “Boot Order” or similar), then you can skip this section. The FreeBSD CDROM and DVD images are bootable and can be used to install FreeBSD without any other special preparation.

To create boot floppy images, follow these steps:

  1. Acquire the Boot Floppy Images

    The boot disks are available on your installation media in the floppies/ directory, and can also be downloaded from the floppies directory,<arch>/<version>-RELEASE/floppies/. Replace <arch> and <version> with the architecture and the version number which you want to install, respectively. For example, the boot floppy images for FreeBSD/i386 6.2-RELEASE are available from

    The floppy images have a .flp extension. The floppies/ directory contains a number of different images, and the ones you will need to use depends on the version of FreeBSD you are installing, and in some cases, the hardware you are installing to. In most cases you will need four floppies, boot.flp, kern1.flp, kern2.flp, and kern3.flp. Check README.TXT in the same directory for the most up to date information about these floppy images.

    Important: Your FTP program must use binary mode to download these disk images. Some web browsers have been known to use text (or ASCII) mode, which will be apparent if you cannot boot from the disks.

  2. Prepare the Floppy Disks

    You must prepare one floppy disk per image file you had to download. It is imperative that these disks are free from defects. The easiest way to test this is to format the disks for yourself. Do not trust pre-formatted floppies. The format utility in Windows will not tell about the presence of bad blocks, it simply marks them as “bad” and ignores them. It is advised that you use brand new floppies if choosing this installation route.

    Important: If you try to install FreeBSD and the installation program crashes, freezes, or otherwise misbehaves, one of the first things to suspect is the floppies. Try writing the floppy image files to new disks and try again.

  3. Write the Image Files to the Floppy Disks

    The .flp files are not regular files you copy to the disk. They are images of the complete contents of the disk. This means that you cannot simply copy files from one disk to another. Instead, you must use specific tools to write the images directly to the disk.

    If you are creating the floppies on a computer running MS-DOS/Windows, then we provide a tool to do this called fdimage.

    If you are using the floppies from the CDROM, and your CDROM is the E: drive, then you would run this:

    E:\> tools\fdimage floppies\boot.flp A:

    Repeat this command for each .flp file, replacing the floppy disk each time, being sure to label the disks with the name of the file that you copied to them. Adjust the command line as necessary, depending on where you have placed the .flp files. If you do not have the CDROM, then fdimage can be downloaded from the tools directory on the FreeBSD FTP site.

    If you are writing the floppies on a UNIX system (such as another FreeBSD system) you can use the dd(1) command to write the image files directly to disk. On FreeBSD, you would run:

    # dd if=boot.flp of=/dev/fd0

    On FreeBSD, /dev/fd0 refers to the first floppy disk (the A: drive). /dev/fd1 would be the B: drive, and so on. Other UNIX variants might have different names for the floppy disk devices, and you will need to check the documentation for the system as necessary.

You are now ready to start installing FreeBSD.

2.4 Starting the Installation

Important: By default, the installation will not make any changes to your disk(s) until you see the following message:

Last Chance: Are you SURE you want continue the installation? If you're running this on a disk with data you wish to save then WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO MAKE PROPER BACKUPS before proceeding! We can take no responsibility for lost disk contents!

The install can be exited at any time prior to the final warning without changing the contents of the hard drive. If you are concerned that you have configured something incorrectly you can just turn the computer off before this point, and no damage will be done.

2.4.1 Booting Booting for the i386

  1. Start with your computer turned off.

  2. Turn on the computer. As it starts it should display an option to enter the system set up menu, or BIOS, commonly reached by keys like F2, F10, Del, or Alt+S. Use whichever keystroke is indicated on screen. In some cases your computer may display a graphic while it starts. Typically, pressing Esc will dismiss the graphic and allow you to see the necessary messages.

  3. Find the setting that controls which devices the system boots from. This is usually labeled as the “Boot Order” and commonly shown as a list of devices, such as Floppy, CDROM, First Hard Disk, and so on.

    If you needed to prepare boot floppies, then make sure that the floppy disk is selected. If you are booting from the CDROM then make sure that that is selected instead. In case of doubt, you should consult the manual that came with your computer, and/or its motherboard.

    Make the change, then save and exit. The computer should now restart.

  4. If you needed to prepare boot floppies, as described in Section 2.3.7, then one of them will be the first boot disc, probably the one containing boot.flp. Put this disc in your floppy drive.

    If you are booting from CDROM, then you will need to turn on the computer, and insert the CDROM at the first opportunity.

    If your computer starts up as normal and loads your existing operating system, then either:

    1. The disks were not inserted early enough in the boot process. Leave them in, and try restarting your computer.

    2. The BIOS changes earlier did not work correctly. You should redo that step until you get the right option.

    3. Your particular BIOS does not support booting from the desired media.

  5. FreeBSD will start to boot. If you are booting from CDROM you will see a display similar to this (version information omitted):

    Booting from CD-Rom... CD Loader 1.2 Building the boot loader arguments Looking up /BOOT/LOADER... Found Relocating the loader and the BTX Starting the BTX loader BTX loader 1.00 BTX version is 1.01 Console: internal video/keyboard BIOS CD is cd0 BIOS drive C: is disk0 BIOS drive D: is disk1 BIOS 639kB/261120kB available memory FreeBSD/i386 bootstrap loader, Revision 1.1 Loading /boot/defaults/loader.conf /boot/kernel/kernel text=0x64daa0 data=0xa4e80+0xa9e40 syms=[0x4+0x6cac0+0x4+0x88e9d] \

    If you are booting from floppy disc, you will see a display similar to this (version information omitted):

    Booting from Floppy... Uncompressing ... done BTX loader 1.00 BTX version is 1.01 Console: internal video/keyboard BIOS drive A: is disk0 BIOS drive C: is disk1 BIOS 639kB/261120kB available memory FreeBSD/i386 bootstrap loader, Revision 1.1 Loading /boot/defaults/loader.conf /kernel text=0x277391 data=0x3268c+0x332a8 | Insert disk labelled "Kernel floppy 1" and press any key...

    Follow these instructions by removing the boot.flp disc, insert the kern1.flp disc, and press Enter. Boot from first floppy; when prompted, insert the other disks as required.

  6. Whether you booted from floppy or CDROM, the boot process will then get to the FreeBSD boot loader menu:

    Figure 2-1. FreeBSD Boot Loader Menu

    Either wait ten seconds, or press Enter. Booting for the Alpha

  1. Start with your computer turned off.

  2. Turn on the computer and wait for a boot monitor prompt.

  3. If you needed to prepare boot floppies, as described in Section 2.3.7 then one of them will be the first boot disc, probably the one containing boot.flp. Put this disc in your floppy drive and type the following command to boot the disk (substituting the name of your floppy drive if necessary):

    >>>BOOT DVA0 -FLAGS '' -FILE ''

    If you are booting from CDROM, insert the CDROM into the drive and type the following command to start the installation (substituting the name of the appropriate CDROM drive if necessary):

    >>>BOOT DKA0 -FLAGS '' -FILE ''
  4. FreeBSD will start to boot. If you are booting from a floppy disc, at some point you will see the message:

    Insert disk labelled "Kernel floppy 1" and press any key...

    Follow these instructions by removing the boot.flp disc, insert the kern1.flp disc, and press Enter.

  5. Whether you booted from floppy or CDROM, the boot process will then get to this point:

    Hit [Enter] to boot immediately, or any other key for command prompt. Booting [kernel] in 9 seconds... _

    Either wait ten seconds, or press Enter. This will then launch the kernel configuration menu. Booting for Sparc64®

Most Sparc64® systems are set up to boot automatically from disk. To install FreeBSD, you need to boot over the network or from a CDROM, which requires you to break into the PROM (OpenFirmware).

To do this, reboot the system, and wait until the boot message appears. It depends on the model, but should look about like:

Sun Blade 100 (UltraSPARC-IIe), Keyboard Present Copyright 1998-2001 Sun Microsystems, Inc. All rights reserved. OpenBoot 4.2, 128 MB memory installed, Serial #51090132. Ethernet address 0:3:ba:b:92:d4, Host ID: 830b92d4.

If your system proceeds to boot from disk at this point, you need to press L1+A or Stop+A on the keyboard, or send a BREAK over the serial console (using for example ~# in tip(1) or cu(1)) to get to the PROM prompt. It looks like this:

ok (1) ok {0} (2)
This is the prompt used on systems with just one CPU.
This is the prompt used on SMP systems, the digit indicates the number of the active CPU.

At this point, place the CDROM into your drive, and from the PROM prompt, type boot cdrom.

2.4.2 Reviewing the Device Probe Results

The last few hundred lines that have been displayed on screen are stored and can be reviewed.

To review the buffer, press Scroll Lock. This turns on scrolling in the display. You can then use the arrow keys, or PageUp and PageDown to view the results. Press Scroll Lock again to stop scrolling.

Do this now, to review the text that scrolled off the screen when the kernel was carrying out the device probes. You will see text similar to Figure 2-2, although the precise text will differ depending on the devices that you have in your computer.

Figure 2-2. Typical Device Probe Results

avail memory = 253050880 (247120K bytes) Preloaded elf kernel "kernel" at 0xc0817000. Preloaded mfs_root "/mfsroot" at 0xc0817084. md0: Preloaded image </mfsroot> 4423680 bytes at 0xc03ddcd4 md1: Malloc disk Using $PIR table, 4 entries at 0xc00fde60 npx0: <math processor> on motherboard npx0: INT 16 interface pcib0: <Host to PCI bridge> on motherboard pci0: <PCI bus> on pcib0 pcib1:<VIA 82C598MVP (Apollo MVP3) PCI-PCI (AGP) bridge> at device 1.0 on pci0 pci1: <PCI bus> on pcib1 pci1: <Matrox MGA G200 AGP graphics accelerator> at 0.0 irq 11 isab0: <VIA 82C586 PCI-ISA bridge> at device 7.0 on pci0 isa0: <iSA bus> on isab0 atapci0: <VIA 82C586 ATA33 controller> port 0xe000-0xe00f at device 7.1 on pci0 ata0: at 0x1f0 irq 14 on atapci0 ata1: at 0x170 irq 15 on atapci0 uhci0 <VIA 83C572 USB controller> port 0xe400-0xe41f irq 10 at device 7.2 on pci 0 usb0: <VIA 83572 USB controller> on uhci0 usb0: USB revision 1.0 uhub0: VIA UHCI root hub, class 9/0, rev 1.00/1.00, addr1 uhub0: 2 ports with 2 removable, self powered pci0: <unknown card> (vendor=0x1106, dev=0x3040) at 7.3 dc0: <ADMtek AN985 10/100BaseTX> port 0xe800-0xe8ff mem 0xdb000000-0xeb0003ff ir q 11 at device 8.0 on pci0 dc0: Ethernet address: 00:04:5a:74:6b:b5 miibus0: <MII bus> on dc0 ukphy0: <Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface> on miibus0 ukphy0: 10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto ed0: <NE2000 PCI Ethernet (RealTek 8029)> port 0xec00-0xec1f irq 9 at device 10. 0 on pci0 ed0 address 52:54:05:de:73:1b, type NE2000 (16 bit) isa0: too many dependant configs (8) isa0: unexpected small tag 14 orm0: <Option ROM> at iomem 0xc0000-0xc7fff on isa0 fdc0: <NEC 72065B or clone> at port 0x3f0-0x3f5,0x3f7 irq 6 drq2 on isa0 fdc0: FIFO enabled, 8 bytes threshold fd0: <1440-KB 3.5'' drive> on fdc0 drive 0 atkbdc0: <Keyboard controller (i8042)> at port 0x60,0x64 on isa0 atkbd0: <AT Keyboard> flags 0x1 irq1 on atkbdc0 kbd0 at atkbd0 psm0: <PS/2 Mouse> irq 12 on atkbdc0 psm0: model Generic PS/@ mouse, device ID 0 vga0: <Generic ISA VGA> at port 0x3c0-0x3df iomem 0xa0000-0xbffff on isa0 sc0: <System console> at flags 0x100 on isa0 sc0: VGA <16 virtual consoles, flags=0x300> sio0 at port 0x3f8-0x3ff irq 4 flags 0x10 on isa0 sio0: type 16550A sio1 at port 0x2f8-0x2ff irq 3 on isa0 sio1: type 16550A ppc0: <Parallel port> at port 0x378-0x37f irq 7 on isa0 pppc0: SMC-like chipset (ECP/EPP/PS2/NIBBLE) in COMPATIBLE mode ppc0: FIFO with 16/16/15 bytes threshold plip0: <PLIP network interface> on ppbus0 ad0: 8063MB <IBM-DHEA-38451> [16383/16/63] at ata0-master UDMA33 acd0: CD-RW <LITE-ON LTR-1210B> at ata1-slave PIO4 Mounting root from ufs:/dev/md0c /stand/sysinstall running as init on vty0

Check the probe results carefully to make sure that FreeBSD found all the devices you expected. If a device was not found, then it will not be listed. A custom kernel allows you to add in support for devices which are not in the GENERIC kernel, such as sound cards.

For FreeBSD 6.2 and later, after the procedure of device probing, you will see Figure 2-3. Use the arrow key to choose a country, region, or group. Then press Enter, it will set your country and keymap easily. It is also easy to exit the sysinstall program and start over again.

Figure 2-3. Selecting Country Menu

Figure 2-4. Select Sysinstall Exit

Use the arrow keys to select Exit Install from the Main Install Screen menu. The following message will display:

User Confirmation Requested Are you sure you wish to exit? The system will reboot (be sure to remove any floppies/CDs/DVDs from the drives). [ Yes ] No

The install program will start again if the CDROM is left in the drive and [ Yes ] is selected.

If you are booting from floppies it will be necessary to remove the boot.flp floppy before rebooting.

2.5 Introducing Sysinstall

The sysinstall utility is the installation application provided by the FreeBSD Project. It is console based and is divided into a number of menus and screens that you can use to configure and control the installation process.

The sysinstall menu system is controlled by the arrow keys, Enter, Tab, Space, and other keys. A detailed description of these keys and what they do is contained in sysinstall's usage information.

To review this information, ensure that the Usage entry is highlighted and that the [Select] button is selected, as shown in Figure 2-5, then press Enter.

The instructions for using the menu system will be displayed. After reviewing them, press Enter to return to the Main Menu.

Figure 2-5. Selecting Usage from Sysinstall Main Menu

2.5.1 Selecting the Documentation Menu

From the Main Menu, select Doc with the arrow keys and press Enter.

Figure 2-6. Selecting Documentation Menu

This will display the Documentation Menu.

Figure 2-7. Sysinstall Documentation Menu

It is important to read the documents provided.

To view a document, select it with the arrow keys and press Enter. When finished reading a document, pressing Enter will return to the Documentation Menu.

To return to the Main Installation Menu, select Exit with the arrow keys and press Enter.

2.5.2 Selecting the Keymap Menu

To change the keyboard mapping, use the arrow keys to select Keymap from the menu and press Enter. This is only required if you are using a non-standard or non-US keyboard.

Figure 2-8. Sysinstall Main Menu

A different keyboard mapping may be chosen by selecting the menu item using up/down arrow keys and pressing Space. Pressing Space again will unselect the item. When finished, choose the [ OK ] using the arrow keys and press Enter.

Only a partial list is shown in this screen representation. Selecting [ Cancel ] by pressing Tab will use the default keymap and return to the Main Install Menu.

Figure 2-9. Sysinstall Keymap Menu

2.5.3 Installation Options Screen

Select Options and press Enter.

Figure 2-10. Sysinstall Main Menu

Figure 2-11. Sysinstall Options

The default values are usually fine for most users and do not need to be changed. The release name will vary according to the version being installed.

The description of the selected item will appear at the bottom of the screen highlighted in blue. Notice that one of the options is Use Defaults to reset all values to startup defaults.

Press F1 to read the help screen about the various options.

Pressing Q will return to the Main Install menu.

2.5.4 Begin a Standard Installation

The Standard installation is the option recommended for those new to UNIX or FreeBSD. Use the arrow keys to select Standard and then press Enter to start the installation.

Figure 2-12. Begin Standard Installation

2.6 Allocating Disk Space

Your first task is to allocate disk space for FreeBSD, and label that space so that sysinstall can prepare it. In order to do this you need to know how FreeBSD expects to find information on the disk.

2.6.1 BIOS Drive Numbering

Before you install and configure FreeBSD on your system, there is an important subject that you should be aware of, especially if you have multiple hard drives.

In a PC running a BIOS-dependent operating system such as MS-DOS or Microsoft Windows, the BIOS is able to abstract the normal disk drive order, and the operating system goes along with the change. This allows the user to boot from a disk drive other than the so-called “primary master”. This is especially convenient for some users who have found that the simplest and cheapest way to keep a system backup is to buy an identical second hard drive, and perform routine copies of the first drive to the second drive using Ghost® or XCOPY . Then, if the first drive fails, or is attacked by a virus, or is scribbled upon by an operating system defect, he can easily recover by instructing the BIOS to logically swap the drives. It is like switching the cables on the drives, but without having to open the case.

More expensive systems with SCSI controllers often include BIOS extensions which allow the SCSI drives to be re-ordered in a similar fashion for up to seven drives.

A user who is accustomed to taking advantage of these features may become surprised when the results with FreeBSD are not as expected. FreeBSD does not use the BIOS, and does not know the “logical BIOS drive mapping”. This can lead to very perplexing situations, especially when drives are physically identical in geometry, and have also been made as data clones of one another.

When using FreeBSD, always restore the BIOS to natural drive numbering before installing FreeBSD, and then leave it that way. If you need to switch drives around, then do so, but do it the hard way, and open the case and move the jumpers and cables.

2.6.2 Creating Slices Using FDisk

Note: No changes you make at this point will be written to the disk. If you think you have made a mistake and want to start again you can use the menus to exit sysinstall and try again or press U to use the Undo option. If you get confused and can not see how to exit you can always turn your computer off.

After choosing to begin a standard installation in sysinstall you will be shown this message:

Message In the next menu, you will need to set up a DOS-style ("fdisk") partitioning scheme for your hard disk. If you simply wish to devote all disk space to FreeBSD (overwriting anything else that might be on the disk(s) selected) then use the (A)ll command to select the default partitioning scheme followed by a (Q)uit. If you wish to allocate only free space to FreeBSD, move to a partition marked "unused" and use the (C)reate command. [ OK ] [ Press enter or space ]

Press Enter as instructed. You will then be shown a list of all the hard drives that the kernel found when it carried out the device probes. Figure 2-13 shows an example from a system with two IDE disks. They have been called ad0 and ad2.

Figure 2-13. Select Drive for FDisk

You might be wondering why ad1 is not listed here. Why has it been missed?

Consider what would happen if you had two IDE hard disks, one as the master on the first IDE controller, and one as the master on the second IDE controller. If FreeBSD numbered these as it found them, as ad0 and ad1 then everything would work.

But if you then added a third disk, as the slave device on the first IDE controller, it would now be ad1, and the previous ad1 would become ad2. Because device names (such as ad1s1a) are used to find filesystems, you may suddenly discover that some of your filesystems no longer appear correctly, and you would need to change your FreeBSD configuration.

To work around this, the kernel can be configured to name IDE disks based on where they are, and not the order in which they were found. With this scheme the master disk on the second IDE controller will always be ad2, even if there are no ad0 or ad1 devices.

This configuration is the default for the FreeBSD kernel, which is why this display shows ad0 and ad2. The machine on which this screenshot was taken had IDE disks on both master channels of the IDE controllers, and no disks on the slave channels.

You should select the disk on which you want to install FreeBSD, and then press [ OK ]. FDisk will start, with a display similar to that shown in Figure 2-14.

The FDisk display is broken into three sections.

The first section, covering the first two lines of the display, shows details about the currently selected disk, including its FreeBSD name, the disk geometry, and the total size of the disk.

The second section shows the slices that are currently on the disk, where they start and end, how large they are, the name FreeBSD gives them, and their description and sub-type. This example shows two small unused slices, which are artifacts of disk layout schemes on the PC. It also shows one large FAT slice, which almost certainly appears as C: in MS-DOS / Windows, and an extended slice, which may contain other drive letters for MS-DOS / Windows.

The third section shows the commands that are available in FDisk.

Figure 2-14. Typical Fdisk Partitions before Editing

What you do now will depend on how you want to slice up your disk.

If you want to use FreeBSD for the entire disk (which will delete all the other data on this disk when you confirm that you want sysinstall to continue later in the installation process) then you can press A, which corresponds to the Use Entire Disk option. The existing slices will be removed, and replaced with a small area flagged as unused (again, an artifact of PC disk layout), and then one large slice for FreeBSD. If you do this, then you should select the newly created FreeBSD slice using the arrow keys, and press S to mark the slice as being bootable. The screen will then look very similar to Figure 2-15. Note the A in the Flags column, which indicates that this slice is active, and will be booted from.

If you will be deleting an existing slice to make space for FreeBSD then you should select the slice using the arrow keys, and then press D. You can then press C, and be prompted for size of slice you want to create. Enter the appropriate figure and press Enter. The default value in this box represents the largest possible slice you can make, which could be the largest contiguous block of unallocated space or the size of the entire hard disk.

If you have already made space for FreeBSD (perhaps by using a tool such as PartitionMagic) then you can press C to create a new slice. Again, you will be prompted for the size of slice you would like to create.

Figure 2-15. Fdisk Partition Using Entire Disk

When finished, press Q. Your changes will be saved in sysinstall, but will not yet be written to disk.

2.6.3 Install a Boot Manager

You now have the option to install a boot manager. In general, you should choose to install the FreeBSD boot manager if:

  • You have more than one drive, and have installed FreeBSD onto a drive other than the first one.

  • You have installed FreeBSD alongside another operating system on the same disk, and you want to choose whether to start FreeBSD or the other operating system when you start the computer.

If FreeBSD is going to be the only operating system on this machine, installed on the first hard disk, then the Standard boot manager will suffice. Choose None if you are using a third-party boot manager capable of booting FreeBSD.

Make your choice and press Enter.

Figure 2-16. Sysinstall Boot Manager Menu

The help screen, reached by pressing F1, discusses the problems that can be encountered when trying to share the hard disk between operating systems.

2.6.4 Creating Slices on Another Drive

If there is more than one drive, it will return to the Select Drives screen after the boot manager selection. If you wish to install FreeBSD on to more than one disk, then you can select another disk here and repeat the slice process using FDisk.

Important: If you are installing FreeBSD on a drive other than your first, then the FreeBSD boot manager needs to be installed on both drives.

Figure 2-17. Exit Select Drive

The Tab key toggles between the last drive selected, [ OK ], and [ Cancel ].

Press the Tab once to toggle to the [ OK ], then press Enter to continue with the installation.

2.6.5 Creating Partitions Using Disklabel

You must now create some partitions inside each slice that you have just created. Remember that each partition is lettered, from a through to h, and that partitions b, c, and d have conventional meanings that you should adhere to.

Certain applications can benefit from particular partition schemes, especially if you are laying out partitions across more than one disk. However, for this, your first FreeBSD installation, you do not need to give too much thought to how you partition the disk. It is more important that you install FreeBSD and start learning how to use it. You can always re-install FreeBSD to change your partition scheme when you are more familiar with the operating system.

This scheme features four partitions--one for swap space, and three for filesystems.

Table 2-2. Partition Layout for First Disk

Partition Filesystem Size Description
a / 128 MB This is the root filesystem. Every other filesystem will be mounted somewhere under this one. 128 MB is a reasonable size for this filesystem. You will not be storing too much data on it, as a regular FreeBSD install will put about 40 MB of data here. The remaining space is for temporary data, and also leaves expansion space if future versions of FreeBSD need more space in /.
b N/A 2-3 x RAM

The system's swap space is kept on the b partition. Choosing the right amount of swap space can be a bit of an art. A good rule of thumb is that your swap space should be two or three times as much as the available physical memory (RAM). You should also have at least 64 MB of swap, so if you have less than 32 MB of RAM in your computer then set the swap amount to 64 MB.

If you have more than one disk then you can put swap space on each disk. FreeBSD will then use each disk for swap, which effectively speeds up the act of swapping. In this case, calculate the total amount of swap you need (e.g., 128 MB), and then divide this by the number of disks you have (e.g., two disks) to give the amount of swap you should put on each disk, in this example, 64 MB of swap per disk.

e /var 256 MB The /var directory contains files that are constantly varying; log files, and other administrative files. Many of these files are read-from or written-to extensively during FreeBSD's day-to-day running. Putting these files on another filesystem allows FreeBSD to optimize the access of these files without affecting other files in other directories that do not have the same access pattern.
f /usr Rest of disk All your other files will typically be stored in /usr and its subdirectories.

If you will be installing FreeBSD on to more than one disk then you must also create partitions in the other slices that you configured. The easiest way to do this is to create two partitions on each disk, one for the swap space, and one for a filesystem.

Table 2-3. Partition Layout for Subsequent Disks

Partition Filesystem Size Description
b N/A See description As already discussed, you can split swap space across each disk. Even though the a partition is free, convention dictates that swap space stays on the b partition.
e /diskn Rest of disk The rest of the disk is taken up with one big partition. This could easily be put on the a partition, instead of the e partition. However, convention says that the a partition on a slice is reserved for the filesystem that will be the root (/) filesystem. You do not have to follow this convention, but sysinstall does, so following it yourself makes the installation slightly cleaner. You can choose to mount this filesystem anywhere; this example suggests that you mount them as directories /diskn, where n is a number that changes for each disk. But you can use another scheme if you prefer.

Having chosen your partition layout you can now create it using sysinstall. You will see this message:

Message Now, you need to create BSD partitions inside of the fdisk partition(s) just created. If you have a reasonable amount of disk space (200MB or more) and don't have any special requirements, simply use the (A)uto command to allocate space automatically. If you have more specific needs or just don't care for the layout chosen by (A)uto, press F1 for more information on manual layout. [ OK ] [ Press enter or space ]

Press Enter to start the FreeBSD partition editor, called Disklabel.

Figure 2-18 shows the display when you first start Disklabel. The display is divided in to three sections.

The first few lines show the name of the disk you are currently working on, and the slice that contains the partitions you are creating (at this point Disklabel calls this the Partition name rather than slice name). This display also shows the amount of free space within the slice; that is, space that was set aside in the slice, but that has not yet been assigned to a partition.

The middle of the display shows the partitions that have been created, the name of the filesystem that each partition contains, their size, and some options pertaining to the creation of the filesystem.

The bottom third of the screen shows the keystrokes that are valid in Disklabel.

Figure 2-18. Sysinstall Disklabel Editor

Disklabel can automatically create partitions for you and assign them default sizes. Try this now, by Pressing A. You will see a display similar to that shown in Figure 2-19. Depending on the size of the disk you are using, the defaults may or may not be appropriate. This does not matter, as you do not have to accept the defaults.

Note: The default partitioning assigns the /tmp directory its own partition instead of being part of the / partition. This helps avoid filling the / partition with temporary files.

Figure 2-19. Sysinstall Disklabel Editor with Auto Defaults

If you choose to not use the default partitions and wish to replace them with your own, use the arrow keys to select the first partition, and press D to delete it. Repeat this to delete all the suggested partitions.

To create the first partition (a, mounted as / -- root), make sure the proper disk slice at the top of the screen is selected and press C. A dialog box will appear prompting you for the size of the new partition (as shown in Figure 2-20). You can enter the size as the number of disk blocks you want to use, or as a number followed by either M for megabytes, G for gigabytes, or C for cylinders.

Note: Beginning with FreeBSD 5.X, users can: select UFS2 (which is default on FreeBSD 5.1 and above) using the Custom Newfs (Z) option, create labels with Auto Defaults and modify them with the Custom Newfs option or add -O 2 during the regular creation period. Do not forget to add -U for SoftUpdates if you use the Custom Newfs option!

Figure 2-20. Free Space for Root Partition

The default size shown will create a partition that takes up the rest of the slice. If you are using the partition sizes described in the earlier example, then delete the existing figure using Backspace, and then type in 128M, as shown in Figure 2-21. Then press [ OK ].

Figure 2-21. Edit Root Partition Size

Having chosen the partition's size you will then be asked whether this partition will contain a filesystem or swap space. The dialog box is shown in Figure 2-22. This first partition will contain a filesystem, so check that FS is selected and press Enter.

Figure 2-22. Choose the Root Partition Type

Finally, because you are creating a filesystem, you must tell Disklabel where the filesystem is to be mounted. The dialog box is shown in Figure 2-23. The root filesystem's mount point is /, so type /, and then press Enter.

Figure 2-23. Choose the Root Mount Point

The display will then update to show you the newly created partition. You should repeat this procedure for the other partitions. When you create the swap partition, you will not be prompted for the filesystem mount point, as swap partitions are never mounted. When you create the final partition, /usr, you can leave the suggested size as is, to use the rest of the slice.

Your final FreeBSD DiskLabel Editor screen will appear similar to Figure 2-24, although your values chosen may be different. Press Q to finish.

Figure 2-24. Sysinstall Disklabel Editor

2.7 Choosing What to Install

2.7.1 Select the Distribution Set

Deciding which distribution set to install will depend largely on the intended use of the system and the amount of disk space available. The predefined options range from installing the smallest possible configuration to everything. Those who are new to UNIX and/or FreeBSD should almost certainly select one of these canned options. Customizing a distribution set is typically for the more experienced user.

Press F1 for more information on the distribution set options and what they contain. When finished reviewing the help, pressing Enter will return to the Select Distributions Menu.

If a graphical user interface is desired then a distribution set that is preceded by an X should be chosen. The configuration of the X server and selection of a default desktop must be done after the installation of FreeBSD. More information regarding the configuration of a X server can be found in Chapter 5.

Xorg is the default version of X11 that is installed.

If compiling a custom kernel is anticipated, select an option which includes the source code. For more information on why a custom kernel should be built or how to build a custom kernel, see Chapter 8.

Obviously, the most versatile system is one that includes everything. If there is adequate disk space, select All as shown in Figure 2-25 by using the arrow keys and press Enter. If there is a concern about disk space consider using an option that is more suitable for the situation. Do not fret over the perfect choice, as other distributions can be added after installation.

Figure 2-25. Choose Distributions

2.7.2 Installing the Ports Collection

After selecting the desired distribution, an opportunity to install the FreeBSD Ports Collection is presented. The ports collection is an easy and convenient way to install software. The Ports Collection does not contain the source code necessary to compile the software. Instead, it is a collection of files which automates the downloading, compiling and installation of third-party software packages. Chapter 4 discusses how to use the ports collection.

The installation program does not check to see if you have adequate space. Select this option only if you have adequate hard disk space. As of FreeBSD 6.2, the FreeBSD Ports Collection takes up about 440 MB of disk space. You can safely assume a larger value for more recent versions of FreeBSD.

User Confirmation Requested Would you like to install the FreeBSD ports collection? This will give you ready access to over 17,000 ported software packages, at a cost of around 440 MB of disk space when "clean" and possibly much more than that if a lot of the distribution tarballs are loaded (unless you have the extra CDs from a FreeBSD CD/DVD distribution available and can mount it on /cdrom, in which case this is far less of a problem). The Ports Collection is a very valuable resource and well worth having on your /usr partition, so it is advisable to say Yes to this option. For more information on the Ports Collection & the latest ports, visit: [ Yes ] No

Select [ Yes ] with the arrow keys to install the Ports Collection or [ No ] to skip this option. Press Enter to continue. The Choose Distributions menu will redisplay.

Figure 2-26. Confirm Distributions

If satisfied with the options, select Exit with the arrow keys, ensure that [ OK ] is highlighted, and pressing Enter to continue.

2.8 Choosing Your Installation Media

If Installing from a CDROM or DVD, use the arrow keys to highlight Install from a FreeBSD CD/DVD. Ensure that [ OK ] is highlighted, then press Enter to proceed with the installation.

For other methods of installation, select the appropriate option and follow the instructions.

Press F1 to display the Online Help for installation media. Press Enter to return to the media selection menu.

Figure 2-27. Choose Installation Media

FTP Installation Modes: There are three FTP installation modes you can choose from: active FTP, passive FTP, or via a HTTP proxy.

FTP Active: Install from an FTP server

This option will make all FTP transfers use “Active” mode. This will not work through firewalls, but will often work with older FTP servers that do not support passive mode. If your connection hangs with passive mode (the default), try active!

FTP Passive: Install from an FTP server through a firewall

This option instructs sysinstall to use “Passive” mode for all FTP operations. This allows the user to pass through firewalls that do not allow incoming connections on random TCP ports.

FTP via a HTTP proxy: Install from an FTP server through a http proxy

This option instructs sysinstall to use the HTTP protocol (like a web browser) to connect to a proxy for all FTP operations. The proxy will translate the requests and send them to the FTP server. This allows the user to pass through firewalls that do not allow FTP at all, but offer a HTTP proxy. In this case, you have to specify the proxy in addition to the FTP server.

For a proxy FTP server, you should usually give the name of the server you really want as a part of the username, after an “@” sign. The proxy server then “fakes” the real server. For example, assuming you want to install from, using the proxy FTP server, listening on port 1234.

In this case, you go to the options menu, set the FTP username to, and the password to your email address. As your installation media, you specify FTP (or passive FTP, if the proxy supports it), and the URL

Since /pub/FreeBSD from is proxied under, you are able to install from that machine (which will fetch the files from as your installation requests them).

2.9 Committing to the Installation

The installation can now proceed if desired. This is also the last chance for aborting the installation to prevent changes to the hard drive.

User Confirmation Requested Last Chance! Are you SURE you want to continue the installation? If you're running this on a disk with data you wish to save then WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO MAKE PROPER BACKUPS before proceeding! We can take no responsibility for lost disk contents! [ Yes ] No

Select [ Yes ] and press Enter to proceed.

The installation time will vary according to the distribution chosen, installation media, and the speed of the computer. There will be a series of messages displayed indicating the status.

The installation is complete when the following message is displayed:

Message Congratulations! You now have FreeBSD installed on your system. We will now move on to the final configuration questions. For any option you do not wish to configure, simply select No. If you wish to re-enter this utility after the system is up, you may do so by typing: /usr/sbin/sysinstall. [ OK ] [ Press enter or space ]

Press Enter to proceed with post-installation configurations.

Selecting [ No ] and pressing Enter will abort the installation so no changes will be made to your system. The following message will appear:

Message Installation complete with some errors. You may wish to scroll through the debugging messages on VTY1 with the scroll-lock feature. You can also choose "No" at the next prompt and go back into the installation menus to retry whichever operations have failed. [ OK ]

This message is generated because nothing was installed. Pressing Enter will return to the Main Installation Menu to exit the installation.

2.10 Post-installation

Configuration of various options follows the successful installation. An option can be configured by re-entering the configuration options before booting the new FreeBSD system or after installation using sysinstall (/stand/sysinstall in FreeBSD versions older than 5.2) and selecting Configure.

2.10.1 Network Device Configuration

If you previously configured PPP for an FTP install, this screen will not display and can be configured later as described above.

For detailed information on Local Area Networks and configuring FreeBSD as a gateway/router refer to the Advanced Networking chapter.

User Confirmation Requested Would you like to configure any Ethernet or SLIP/PPP network devices? [ Yes ] No

To configure a network device, select [ Yes ] and press Enter. Otherwise, select [ No ] to continue.

Figure 2-28. Selecting an Ethernet Device

Select the interface to be configured with the arrow keys and press Enter.

User Confirmation Requested Do you want to try IPv6 configuration of the interface? Yes [ No ]

In this private local area network, the current Internet type protocol (IPv4) was sufficient and [ No ] was selected with the arrow keys and Enter pressed.

If you are connected to an existing IPv6 network with an RA server, then choose [ Yes ] and press Enter. It will take several seconds to scan for RA servers.

User Confirmation Requested Do you want to try DHCP configuration of the interface? Yes [ No ]

If DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is not required select [ No ] with the arrow keys and press Enter.

Selecting [ Yes ] will execute dhclient, and if successful, will fill in the network configuration information automatically. Refer to Section 27.5 for more information.

The following Network Configuration screen shows the configuration of the Ethernet device for a system that will act as the gateway for a Local Area Network.

Figure 2-29. Set Network Configuration for ed0

Use Tab to select the information fields and fill in appropriate information:


The fully-qualified hostname, such as in this case.


The name of the domain that your machine is in, such as for this case.

IPv4 Gateway

IP address of host forwarding packets to non-local destinations. You must fill this in if the machine is a node on the network. Leave this field blank if the machine is the gateway to the Internet for the network. The IPv4 Gateway is also known as the default gateway or default route.

Name server

IP address of your local DNS server. There is no local DNS server on this private local area network so the IP address of the provider's DNS server ( was used.

IPv4 address

The IP address to be used for this interface was


The address block being used for this local area network is - with a netmask of

Extra options to ifconfig

Any interface-specific options to ifconfig you would like to add. There were none in this case.

Use Tab to select [ OK ] when finished and press Enter.

User Confirmation Requested Would you like to Bring Up the ed0 interface right now? [ Yes ] No

Choosing [ Yes ] and pressing Enter will bring the machine up on the network and be ready for use. However, this does not accomplish much during installation, since the machine still needs to be rebooted.

2.10.2 Configure Gateway

User Confirmation Requested Do you want this machine to function as a network gateway? [ Yes ] No

If the machine will be acting as the gateway for a local area network and forwarding packets between other machines then select [ Yes ] and press Enter. If the machine is a node on a network then select [ No ] and press Enter to continue.

2.10.3 Configure Internet Services

User Confirmation Requested Do you want to configure inetd and the network services that it provides? Yes [ No ]

If [ No ] is selected, various services such telnetd will not be enabled. This means that remote users will not be able to telnet into this machine. Local users will still be able to access remote machines with telnet.

These services can be enabled after installation by editing /etc/inetd.conf with your favorite text editor. See Section 27.2.1 for more information.

Select [ Yes ] if you wish to configure these services during install. An additional confirmation will display:

User Confirmation Requested The Internet Super Server (inetd) allows a number of simple Internet services to be enabled, including finger, ftp and telnetd. Enabling these services may increase risk of security problems by increasing the exposure of your system. With this in mind, do you wish to enable inetd? [ Yes ] No

Select [ Yes ] to continue.

User Confirmation Requested inetd(8) relies on its configuration file, /etc/inetd.conf, to determine which of its Internet services will be available. The default FreeBSD inetd.conf(5) leaves all services disabled by default, so they must be specifically enabled in the configuration file before they will function, even once inetd(8) is enabled. Note that services for IPv6 must be separately enabled from IPv4 services. Select [Yes] now to invoke an editor on /etc/inetd.conf, or [No] to use the current settings. [ Yes ] No

Selecting [ Yes ] will allow adding services by deleting the # at the beginning of a line.

Figure 2-30. Editing inetd.conf

After adding the desired services, pressing Esc will display a menu which will allow exiting and saving the changes.

2.10.4 Enabling SSH login

User Confirmation Requested Would you like to enable SSH login? Yes [ No ]

Selecting [ Yes ] will enable sshd(8), the daemon program for OpenSSH. This will allow secure remote access to your machine. For more information about OpenSSH see Section 14.11.

2.10.5 Anonymous FTP

User Confirmation Requested Do you want to have anonymous FTP access to this machine? Yes [ No ] Deny Anonymous FTP

Selecting the default [ No ] and pressing Enter will still allow users who have accounts with passwords to use FTP to access the machine. Allow Anonymous FTP

Anyone can access your machine if you elect to allow anonymous FTP connections. The security implications should be considered before enabling this option. For more information about security see Chapter 14.

To allow anonymous FTP, use the arrow keys to select [ Yes ] and press Enter. An additionnal confirmation will display:

User Confirmation Requested Anonymous FTP permits un-authenticated users to connect to the system FTP server, if FTP service is enabled. Anonymous users are restricted to a specific subset of the file system, and the default configuration provides a drop-box incoming directory to which uploads are permitted. You must separately enable both inetd(8), and enable ftpd(8) in inetd.conf(5) for FTP services to be available. If you did not do so earlier, you will have the opportunity to enable inetd(8) again later. If you want the server to be read-only you should leave the upload directory option empty and add the -r command-line option to ftpd(8) in inetd.conf(5) Do you wish to continue configuring anonymous FTP? [ Yes ] No

This message informs you that the FTP service will also have to be enabled in /etc/inetd.conf if you want to allow anonymous FTP connections, see Section 2.10.3. Select [ Yes ] and press Enter to continue; the following screen will display:

Figure 2-31. Default Anonymous FTP Configuration

Use Tab to select the information fields and fill in appropriate information:


The user ID you wish to assign to the anonymous FTP user. All files uploaded will be owned by this ID.


Which group you wish the anonymous FTP user to be in.


String describing this user in /etc/passwd.

FTP Root Directory

Where files available for anonymous FTP will be kept.

Upload Subdirectory

Where files uploaded by anonymous FTP users will go.

The FTP root directory will be put in /var by default. If you do not have enough room there for the anticipated FTP needs, the /usr directory could be used by setting the FTP root directory to /usr/ftp.

When you are satisfied with the values, press Enter to continue.

User Confirmation Requested Create a welcome message file for anonymous FTP users? [ Yes ] No

If you select [ Yes ] and press Enter, an editor will automatically start allowing you to edit the message.

Figure 2-32. Edit the FTP Welcome Message

This is a text editor called ee. Use the instructions to change the message or change the message later using a text editor of your choice. Note the file name/location at the bottom of the editor screen.

Press Esc and a pop-up menu will default to a) leave editor. Press Enter to exit and continue. Press Enter again to save changes if you made any.

2.10.6 Configure Network File System

Network File System (NFS) allows sharing of files across a network. A machine can be configured as a server, a client, or both. Refer to Section 27.3 for a more information. NFS Server

User Confirmation Requested Do you want to configure this machine as an NFS server? Yes [ No ]

If there is no need for a Network File System server, select [ No ] and press Enter.

If [ Yes ] is chosen, a message will pop-up indicating that the exports file must be created.

Message Operating as an NFS server means that you must first configure an /etc/exports file to indicate which hosts are allowed certain kinds of access to your local filesystems. Press [Enter] now to invoke an editor on /etc/exports [ OK ]

Press Enter to continue. A text editor will start allowing the exports file to be created and edited.

Figure 2-33. Editing exports

Use the instructions to add the actual exported filesystems now or later using a text editor of your choice. Note the file name/location at the bottom of the editor screen.

Press Esc and a pop-up menu will default to a) leave editor. Press Enter to exit and continue. NFS Client

The NFS client allows your machine to access NFS servers.

User Confirmation Requested Do you want to configure this machine as an NFS client? Yes [ No ]

With the arrow keys, select [ Yes ] or [ No ] as appropriate and press Enter.

2.10.7 System Console Settings

There are several options available to customize the system console.

User Confirmation Requested Would you like to customize your system console settings? [ Yes ] No

To view and configure the options, select [ Yes ] and press Enter.

Figure 2-34. System Console Configuration Options

A commonly used option is the screen saver. Use the arrow keys to select Saver and then press Enter.

Figure 2-35. Screen Saver Options

Select the desired screen saver using the arrow keys and then press Enter. The System Console Configuration menu will redisplay.

The default time interval is 300 seconds. To change the time interval, select Saver again. At the Screen Saver Options menu, select Timeout using the arrow keys and press Enter. A pop-up menu will appear:

Figure 2-36. Screen Saver Timeout

The value can be changed, then select [ OK ] and press Enter to return to the System Console Configuration menu.

Figure 2-37. System Console Configuration Exit

Selecting Exit and pressing Enter will continue with the post-installation configurations.

2.10.8 Setting the Time Zone

Setting the time zone for your machine will allow it to automatically correct for any regional time changes and perform other time zone related functions properly.

The example shown is for a machine located in the Eastern time zone of the United States. Your selections will vary according to your geographical location.

User Confirmation Requested Would you like to set this machine's time zone now? [ Yes ] No

Select [ Yes ] and press Enter to set the time zone.

User Confirmation Requested Is this machine's CMOS clock set to UTC? If it is set to local time or you don't know, please choose NO here! Yes [ No ]

Select [ Yes ] or [ No ] according to how the machine's clock is configured and press Enter.

Figure 2-38. Select Your Region

The appropriate region is selected using the arrow keys and then pressing Enter.

Figure 2-39. Select Your Country

Select the appropriate country using the arrow keys and press Enter.

Figure 2-40. Select Your Time Zone

The appropriate time zone is selected using the arrow keys and pressing Enter.

Confirmation Does the abbreviation 'EDT' look reasonable? [ Yes ] No

Confirm the abbreviation for the time zone is correct. If it looks okay, press Enter to continue with the post-installation configuration.

2.10.9 Linux Compatibility

User Confirmation Requested Would you like to enable Linux binary compatibility? [ Yes ] No

Selecting [ Yes ] and pressing Enter will allow running Linux software on FreeBSD. The install will add the appropriate packages for Linux compatibility.

If installing by FTP, the machine will need to be connected to the Internet. Sometimes a remote ftp site will not have all the distributions like the Linux binary compatibility. This can be installed later if necessary.

2.10.10 Mouse Settings

This option will allow you to cut and paste text in the console and user programs with a 3-button mouse. If using a 2-button mouse, refer to manual page, moused(8), after installation for details on emulating the 3-button style. This example depicts a non-USB mouse configuration (such as a PS/2 or COM port mouse):

User Confirmation Requested Does this system have a PS/2, serial, or bus mouse? [ Yes ] No

Select [ Yes ] for a PS/2, serial or bus mouse, or [ No ] for a USB mouse and press Enter.

Figure 2-41. Select Mouse Protocol Type

Use the arrow keys to select Type and press Enter.

Figure 2-42. Set Mouse Protocol

The mouse used in this example is a PS/2 type, so the default Auto was appropriate. To change protocol, use the arrow keys to select another option. Ensure that [ OK ] is highlighted and press Enter to exit this menu.

Figure 2-43. Configure Mouse Port

Use the arrow keys to select Port and press Enter.

Figure 2-44. Setting the Mouse Port

This system had a PS/2 mouse, so the default PS/2 was appropriate. To change the port, use the arrow keys and then press Enter.

Figure 2-45. Enable the Mouse Daemon

Last, use the arrow keys to select Enable, and press Enter to enable and test the mouse daemon.

Figure 2-46. Test the Mouse Daemon

Move the mouse around the screen and verify the cursor shown responds properly. If it does, select [ Yes ] and press Enter. If not, the mouse has not been configured correctly -- select [ No ] and try using different configuration options.

Select Exit with the arrow keys and press Enter to return to continue with the post-installation configuration.

2.10.11 Install Packages

Packages are pre-compiled binaries and are a convenient way to install software.

Installation of one package is shown for purposes of illustration. Additional packages can also be added at this time if desired. After installation sysinstall can be used to add additional packages.

User Confirmation Requested The FreeBSD package collection is a collection of hundreds of ready-to-run applications, from text editors to games to WEB servers and more. Would you like to browse the collection now? [ Yes ] No

Selecting [ Yes ] and pressing Enter will be followed by the Package Selection screens:

Figure 2-47. Select Package Category

Only packages on the current installation media are available for installation at any given time.

All packages available will be displayed if All is selected or you can select a particular category. Highlight your selection with the arrow keys and press Enter.

A menu will display showing all the packages available for the selection made:

Figure 2-48. Select Packages

The bash shell is shown selected. Select as many as desired by highlighting the package and pressing the Space key. A short description of each package will appear in the lower left corner of the screen.

Pressing the Tab key will toggle between the last selected package, [ OK ], and [ Cancel ].

When you have finished marking the packages for installation, press Tab once to toggle to the [ OK ] and press Enter to return to the Package Selection menu.

The left and right arrow keys will also toggle between [ OK ] and [ Cancel ]. This method can also be used to select [ OK ] and press Enter to return to the Package Selection menu.

Figure 2-49. Install Packages

Use the Tab and arrow keys to select [ Install ] and press Enter. You will then need to confirm that you want to install the packages:

Figure 2-50. Confirm Package Installation

Selecting [ OK ] and pressing Enter will start the package installation. Installing messages will appear until completed. Make note if there are any error messages.

The final configuration continues after packages are installed. If you end up not selecting any packages, and wish to return to the final configuration, select Install anyways.

2.10.12 Add Users/Groups

You should add at least one user during the installation so that you can use the system without being logged in as root. The root partition is generally small and running applications as root can quickly fill it. A bigger danger is noted below:

User Confirmation Requested Would you like to add any initial user accounts to the system? Adding at least one account for yourself at this stage is suggested since working as the "root" user is dangerous (it is easy to do things which adversely affect the entire system). [ Yes ] No

Select [ Yes ] and press Enter to continue with adding a user.

Figure 2-51. Select User

Select User with the arrow keys and press Enter.

Figure 2-52. Add User Information

The following descriptions will appear in the lower part of the screen as the items are selected with Tab to assist with entering the required information:

Login ID

The login name of the new user (mandatory).


The numerical ID for this user (leave blank for automatic choice).


The login group name for this user (leave blank for automatic choice).


The password for this user (enter this field with care!).

Full name

The user's full name (comment).

Member groups

The groups this user belongs to (i.e. gets access rights for).

Home directory

The user's home directory (leave blank for default).

Login shell

The user's login shell (leave blank for default, e.g. /bin/sh).

The login shell was changed from /bin/sh to /usr/local/bin/bash to use the bash shell that was previously installed as a package. Do not try to use a shell that does not exist or you will not be able to login. The most common shell used in the BSD-world is the C shell, which can be indicated as /bin/tcsh.

The user was also added to the wheel group to be able to become a superuser with root privileges.

When you are satisfied, press [ OK ] and the User and Group Management menu will redisplay:

Figure 2-53. Exit User and Group Management

Groups can also be added at this time if specific needs are known. Otherwise, this may be accessed through using sysinstall (/stand/sysinstall in FreeBSD versions older than 5.2) after installation is completed.

When you are finished adding users, select Exit with the arrow keys and press Enter to continue the installation.

2.10.13 Set the root Password

Message Now you must set the system manager's password. This is the password you'll use to log in as "root". [ OK ] [ Press enter or space ]

Press Enter to set the root password.

The password will need to be typed in twice correctly. Needless to say, make sure you have a way of finding the password if you forget. Notice that the password you type in is not echoed, nor are asterisks displayed.

New password: Retype new password :

The installation will continue after the password is successfully entered.

2.10.14 Exiting Install

If you need to configure additional network services or any other configuration, you can do it at this point or after installation with sysinstall (/stand/sysinstall in FreeBSD versions older than 5.2).

User Confirmation Requested Visit the general configuration menu for a chance to set any last options? Yes [ No ]

Select [ No ] with the arrow keys and press Enter to return to the Main Installation Menu.

Figure 2-54. Exit Install

Select [X Exit Install] with the arrow keys and press Enter. You will be asked to confirm exiting the installation:

User Confirmation Requested Are you sure you wish to exit? The system will reboot (be sure to remove any floppies/CDs/DVDs from the drives). [ Yes ] No

Select [ Yes ] and remove the floppy if booting from the floppy. The CDROM drive is locked until the machine starts to reboot. The CDROM drive is then unlocked and the disk can be removed from drive (quickly).

The system will reboot so watch for any error messages that may appear, see Section 2.10.16 for more details.

2.10.15 Configure Additional Network Services

Contributed by Tom Rhodes.

Configuring network services can be a daunting task for new users if they lack previous knowledge in this area. Networking, including the Internet, is critical to all modern operating systems including FreeBSD; as a result, it is very useful to have some understanding FreeBSD's extensive networking capabilities. Doing this during the installation will ensure users have some understanding of the various services available to them.

Network services are programs that accept input from anywhere on the network. Every effort is made to make sure these programs will not do anything “harmful”. Unfortunately, programmers are not perfect and through time there have been cases where bugs in network services have been exploited by attackers to do bad things. It is important that you only enable the network services you know that you need. If in doubt it is best if you do not enable a network service until you find out that you do need it. You can always enable it later by re-running sysinstall or by using the features provided by the /etc/rc.conf file.

Selecting the Networking option will display a menu similar to the one below:

Figure 2-55. Network Configuration Upper-level

The first option, Interfaces, was previously covered during the Section 2.10.1, thus this option can safely be ignored.

Selecting the AMD option adds support for the BSD automatic mount utility. This is usually used in conjunction with the NFS protocol (see below) for automatically mounting remote file systems. No special configuration is required here.

Next in line is the AMD Flags option. When selected, a menu will pop up for you to enter specific AMD flags. The menu already contains a set of default options:

-a /.amd_mnt -l syslog /host /etc/ /net /etc/

The -a option sets the default mount location which is specified here as /.amd_mnt. The -l option specifies the default log file; however, when syslogd is used all log activity will be sent to the system log daemon. The /host directory is used to mount an exported file system from a remote host, while /net directory is used to mount an exported file system from an IP address. The /etc/ file defines the default options for AMD exports.

The Anon FTP option permits anonymous FTP connections. Select this option to make this machine an anonymous FTP server. Be aware of the security risks involved with this option. Another menu will be displayed to explain the security risks and configuration in depth.

The Gateway configuration menu will set the machine up to be a gateway as explained previously. This can be used to unset the Gateway option if you accidentally selected it during the installation process.

The Inetd option can be used to configure or completely disable the inetd(8) daemon as discussed above.

The Mail option is used to configure the system's default MTA or Mail Transfer Agent. Selecting this option will bring up the following menu:

Figure 2-56. Select a default MTA

Here you are offered a choice as to which MTA to install and set as the default. An MTA is nothing more than a mail server which delivers email to users on the system or the Internet.

Selecting Sendmail will install the popular sendmail server which is the FreeBSD default. The Sendmail local option will set sendmail to be the default MTA, but disable its ability to receive incoming email from the Internet. The other options here, Postfix and Exim act similar to Sendmail. They both deliver email; however, some users prefer these alternatives to the sendmail MTA.

After selecting an MTA, or choosing not to select an MTA, the network configuration menu will appear with the next option being NFS client.

The NFS client option will configure the system to communicate with a server via NFS. An NFS server makes file systems available to other machines on the network via the NFS protocol. If this is a stand-alone machine, this option can remain unselected. The system may require more configuration later; see Section 27.3 for more information about client and server configuration.

Below that option is the NFS server option, permitting you to set the system up as an NFS server. This adds the required information to start up the RPC remote procedure call services. RPC is used to coordinate connections between hosts and programs.

Next in line is the Ntpdate option, which deals with time synchronization. When selected, a menu like the one below shows up:

Figure 2-57. Ntpdate Configuration

From this menu, select the server which is the closest to your location. Selecting a close one will make the time synchronization more accurate as a server further from your location may have more connection latency.

The next option is the PCNFSD selection. This option will install the net/pcnfsd package from the Ports Collection. This is a useful utility which provides NFS authentication services for systems which are unable to provide their own, such as Microsoft's MS-DOS operating system.

Now you must scroll down a bit to see the other options:

Figure 2-58. Network Configuration Lower-level

The rpcbind(8), rpc.statd(8), and rpc.lockd(8) utilities are all used for Remote Procedure Calls (RPC). The rpcbind utility manages communication between NFS servers and clients, and is required for NFS servers to operate correctly. The rpc.statd daemon interacts with the rpc.statd daemon on other hosts to provide status monitoring. The reported status is usually held in the /var/db/statd.status file. The next option listed here is the rpc.lockd option, which, when selected, will provide file locking services. This is usually used with rpc.statd to monitor what hosts are requesting locks and how frequently they request them. While these last two options are marvelous for debugging, they are not required for NFS servers and clients to operate correctly.

As you progress down the list the next item here is Routed, which is the routing daemon. The routed(8) utility manages network routing tables, discovers multicast routers, and supplies a copy of the routing tables to any physically connected host on the network upon request. This is mainly used for machines which act as a gateway for the local network. When selected, a menu will be presented requesting the default location of the utility. The default location is already defined for you and can be selected with the Enter key. You will then be presented with yet another menu, this time asking for the flags you wish to pass on to routed. The default is -q and it should already appear on the screen.

Next in line is the Rwhod option which, when selected, will start the rwhod(8) daemon during system initialization. The rwhod utility broadcasts system messages across the network periodically, or collects them when in “consumer” mode. More information can be found in the ruptime(1) and rwho(1) manual pages.

The next to the last option in the list is for the sshd(8) daemon. This is the secure shell server for OpenSSH and it is highly recommended over the standard telnet and FTP servers. The sshd server is used to create a secure connection from one host to another by using encrypted connections.

Finally there is the TCP Extensions option. This enables the TCP Extensions defined in RFC 1323 and RFC 1644. While on many hosts this can speed up connections, it can also cause some connections to be dropped. It is not recommended for servers, but may be beneficial for stand alone machines.

Now that you have configured the network services, you can scroll up to the very top item which is X Exit and continue on to the next configuration item or simply exit sysinstall in selecting X Exit twice then [X Exit Install].

2.10.16 FreeBSD Bootup FreeBSD/i386 Bootup

If everything went well, you will see messages scroll off the screen and you will arrive at a login prompt. You can view the content of the messages by pressing Scroll-Lock and using PgUp and PgDn. Pressing Scroll-Lock again will return to the prompt.

The entire message may not display (buffer limitation) but it can be viewed from the command line after logging in by typing dmesg at the prompt.

Login using the username/password you set during installation (rpratt, in this example). Avoid logging in as root except when necessary.

Typical boot messages (version information omitted):

Copyright (c) 1992-2002 The FreeBSD Project. Copyright (c) 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Timecounter "i8254" frequency 1193182 Hz CPU: AMD-K6(tm) 3D processor (300.68-MHz 586-class CPU) Origin = "AuthenticAMD" Id = 0x580 Stepping = 0 Features=0x8001bf<FPU,VME,DE,PSE,TSC,MSR,MCE,CX8,MMX> AMD Features=0x80000800<SYSCALL,3DNow!> real memory = 268435456 (262144K bytes) config> di sn0 config> di lnc0 config> di le0 config> di ie0 config> di fe0 config> di cs0 config> di bt0 config> di aic0 config> di aha0 config> di adv0 config> q avail memory = 256311296 (250304K bytes) Preloaded elf kernel "kernel" at 0xc0491000. Preloaded userconfig_script "/boot/kernel.conf" at 0xc049109c. md0: Malloc disk Using $PIR table, 4 entries at 0xc00fde60 npx0: <math processor> on motherboard npx0: INT 16 interface pcib0: <Host to PCI bridge> on motherboard pci0: <PCI bus> on pcib0 pcib1: <VIA 82C598MVP (Apollo MVP3) PCI-PCI (AGP) bridge> at device 1.0 on pci0 pci1: <PCI bus> on pcib1 pci1: <Matrox MGA G200 AGP graphics accelerator> at 0.0 irq 11 isab0: <VIA 82C586 PCI-ISA bridge> at device 7.0 on pci0 isa0: <ISA bus> on isab0 atapci0: <VIA 82C586 ATA33 controller> port 0xe000-0xe00f at device 7.1 on pci0 ata0: at 0x1f0 irq 14 on atapci0 ata1: at 0x170 irq 15 on atapci0 uhci0: <VIA 83C572 USB controller> port 0xe400-0xe41f irq 10 at device 7.2 on pci0 usb0: <VIA 83C572 USB controller> on uhci0 usb0: USB revision 1.0 uhub0: VIA UHCI root hub, class 9/0, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1 uhub0: 2 ports with 2 removable, self powered chip1: <VIA 82C586B ACPI interface> at device 7.3 on pci0 ed0: <NE2000 PCI Ethernet (RealTek 8029)> port 0xe800-0xe81f irq 9 at device 10.0 on pci0 ed0: address 52:54:05:de:73:1b, type NE2000 (16 bit) isa0: too many dependant configs (8) isa0: unexpected small tag 14 fdc0: <NEC 72065B or clone> at port 0x3f0-0x3f5,0x3f7 irq 6 drq 2 on isa0 fdc0: FIFO enabled, 8 bytes threshold fd0: <1440-KB 3.5" drive> on fdc0 drive 0 atkbdc0: <keyboard controller (i8042)> at port 0x60-0x64 on isa0 atkbd0: <AT Keyboard> flags 0x1 irq 1 on atkbdc0 kbd0 at atkbd0 psm0: <PS/2 Mouse> irq 12 on atkbdc0 psm0: model Generic PS/2 mouse, device ID 0 vga0: <Generic ISA VGA> at port 0x3c0-0x3df iomem 0xa0000-0xbffff on isa0 sc0: <System console> at flags 0x1 on isa0 sc0: VGA <16 virtual consoles, flags=0x300> sio0 at port 0x3f8-0x3ff irq 4 flags 0x10 on isa0 sio0: type 16550A sio1 at port 0x2f8-0x2ff irq 3 on isa0 sio1: type 16550A ppc0: <Parallel port> at port 0x378-0x37f irq 7 on isa0 ppc0: SMC-like chipset (ECP/EPP/PS2/NIBBLE) in COMPATIBLE mode ppc0: FIFO with 16/16/15 bytes threshold ppbus0: IEEE1284 device found /NIBBLE Probing for PnP devices on ppbus0: plip0: <PLIP network interface> on ppbus0 lpt0: <Printer> on ppbus0 lpt0: Interrupt-driven port ppi0: <Parallel I/O> on ppbus0 ad0: 8063MB <IBM-DHEA-38451> [16383/16/63] at ata0-master using UDMA33 ad2: 8063MB <IBM-DHEA-38451> [16383/16/63] at ata1-master using UDMA33 acd0: CDROM <DELTA OTC-H101/ST3 F/W by OIPD> at ata0-slave using PIO4 Mounting root from ufs:/dev/ad0s1a swapon: adding /dev/ad0s1b as swap device Automatic boot in progress... /dev/ad0s1a: FILESYSTEM CLEAN; SKIPPING CHECKS /dev/ad0s1a: clean, 48752 free (552 frags, 6025 blocks, 0.9% fragmentation) /dev/ad0s1f: FILESYSTEM CLEAN; SKIPPING CHECKS /dev/ad0s1f: clean, 128997 free (21 frags, 16122 blocks, 0.0% fragmentation) /dev/ad0s1g: FILESYSTEM CLEAN; SKIPPING CHECKS /dev/ad0s1g: clean, 3036299 free (43175 frags, 374073 blocks, 1.3% fragmentation) /dev/ad0s1e: filesystem CLEAN; SKIPPING CHECKS /dev/ad0s1e: clean, 128193 free (17 frags, 16022 blocks, 0.0% fragmentation) Doing initial network setup: hostname. ed0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> mtu 1500 inet netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast inet6 fe80::5054::5ff::fede:731b%ed0 prefixlen 64 tentative scopeid 0x1 ether 52:54:05:de:73:1b lo0: flags=8049<UP,LOOPBACK,RUNNING,MULTICAST> mtu 16384 inet6 fe80::1%lo0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x8 inet6 ::1 prefixlen 128 inet netmask 0xff000000 Additional routing options: IP gateway=YES TCP keepalive=YES routing daemons:. additional daemons: syslogd. Doing additional network setup:. Starting final network daemons: creating ssh RSA host key Generating public/private rsa1 key pair. Your identification has been saved in /etc/ssh/ssh_host_key. Your public key has been saved in /etc/ssh/ The key fingerprint is: cd:76:89:16:69:0e:d0:6e:f8:66:d0:07:26:3c:7e:2d creating ssh DSA host key Generating public/private dsa key pair. Your identification has been saved in /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key. Your public key has been saved in /etc/ssh/ The key fingerprint is: f9:a1:a9:47:c4:ad:f9:8d:52:b8:b8:ff:8c:ad:2d:e6 setting ELF ldconfig path: /usr/lib /usr/lib/compat /usr/X11R6/lib /usr/local/lib a.out ldconfig path: /usr/lib/aout /usr/lib/compat/aout /usr/X11R6/lib/aout starting standard daemons: inetd cron sshd usbd sendmail. Initial rc.i386 initialization:. rc.i386 configuring syscons: blank_time screensaver moused. Additional ABI support: linux. Local package initialization:. Additional TCP options:. FreeBSD/i386 ( (ttyv0) login: rpratt Password:

Generating the RSA and DSA keys may take some time on slower machines. This happens only on the initial boot-up of a new installation. Subsequent boots will be faster.

If the X server has been configured and a Default Desktop chosen, it can be started by typing startx at the command line. FreeBSD/alpha Bootup

Once the install procedure has finished, you will be able to start FreeBSD by typing something like this to the SRM prompt:


This instructs the firmware to boot the specified disk. To make FreeBSD boot automatically in the future, use these commands:


The boot messages will be similar (but not identical) to those produced by FreeBSD booting on the i386.

2.10.17 FreeBSD Shutdown

It is important to properly shutdown the operating system. Do not just turn off power. First, become a superuser by typing su at the command line and entering the root password. This will work only if the user is a member of the wheel group. Otherwise, login as root and use shutdown -h now.

The operating system has halted. Please press any key to reboot.

It is safe to turn off the power after the shutdown command has been issued and the message “Please press any key to reboot” appears. If any key is pressed instead of turning off the power switch, the system will reboot.

You could also use the Ctrl+Alt+Del key combination to reboot the system, however this is not recommended during normal operation.

2.11 Troubleshooting

The following section covers basic installation troubleshooting, such as common problems people have reported. There are also a few questions and answers for people wishing to dual-boot FreeBSD with MS-DOS or Windows.

2.11.1 What to Do If Something Goes Wrong

Due to various limitations of the PC architecture, it is impossible for probing to be 100% reliable, however, there are a few things you can do if it fails.

Check the Hardware Notes document for your version of FreeBSD to make sure your hardware is supported.

If your hardware is supported and you still experience lock-ups or other problems, you will need to build a custom kernel. This will allow you to add in support for devices which are not present in the GENERIC kernel. The kernel on the boot disks is configured assuming that most hardware devices are in their factory default configuration in terms of IRQs, IO addresses, and DMA channels. If your hardware has been reconfigured, you will most likely need to edit the kernel configuration and recompile to tell FreeBSD where to find things.

It is also possible that a probe for a device not present will cause a later probe for another device that is present to fail. In that case, the probes for the conflicting driver(s) should be disabled.

Note: Some installation problems can be avoided or alleviated by updating the firmware on various hardware components, most notably the motherboard. The motherboard firmware may also be referred to as BIOS and most of the motherboard or computer manufactures have a website where the upgrades and upgrade information may be located.

Most manufacturers strongly advise against upgrading the motherboard BIOS unless there is a good reason for doing so, which could possibly be a critical update of sorts. The upgrade process can go wrong, causing permanent damage to the BIOS chip.

2.11.2 Using MS-DOS® and Windows® File Systems

At this time, FreeBSD does not support file systems compressed with the Double Space™ application. Therefore the file system will need to be uncompressed before FreeBSD can access the data. This can be done by running the Compression Agent located in the Start> Programs > System Tools menu.

FreeBSD can support MS-DOS file systems (sometimes called FAT file systems). The mount_msdosfs(8) command grafts such file systems onto the existing directory hierarchy, allowing the file system's contents to be accessed. mount_msdosfs(8) is not usually invoked directly; instead, it is called by the system through a line in /etc/fstab or by a call to the mount(8) utility with the appropriate parameters.

A typical line in /etc/fstab is:

/dev/ad0sN /dos msdosfs rw 0 0

Note: The /dos directory must already exist for this to work. For details about the format of /etc/fstab, see fstab(5).

A typicall call to mount(8) for a MS-DOS file system looks like:

# mount -t msdosfs /dev/ad0s1 /mnt

In this example, the MS-DOS file system is located on the first partition of the primary hard disk. Your situation may be different, check the output from the dmesg, and mount commands. They should produce enough information to give an idea of the partition layout.

Note: FreeBSD may number disk slices (that is, MS-DOS partitions) differently than other operating systems. In particular, extended MS-DOS partitions are usually given higher slice numbers than primary MS-DOS partitions. The fdisk(8) utility can help determine which slices belong to FreeBSD and which belong to other operating systems.

NTFS partitions can also be mounted in a similar manner using the mount_ntfs(8) command.

2.11.3 Troubleshooting Questions and Answers My system hangs while probing hardware during boot, or it behaves strangely during install, or the floppy drive is not probed. I go to boot from the hard disk for the first time after installing FreeBSD, the kernel loads and probes my hardware, but stops with messages like: I go to boot from the hard disk for the first time after installing FreeBSD, but the Boot Manager prompt just prints F? at the boot menu each time but the boot will not go any further. The system finds my ed(4) network card, but I keep getting device timeout errors. My system hangs while probing hardware during boot, or it behaves strangely during install, or the floppy drive is not probed.

FreeBSD 5.0 and above makes extensive use of the system ACPI service on the i386, amd64 and ia64 platforms to aid in system configuration if it is detected during boot. Unfortunately, some bugs still exist in both the ACPI driver and within system motherboards and BIOS. The use of ACPI can be disabled by setting the hint.acpi.0.disabled hint in the third stage boot loader:

set hint.acpi.0.disabled="1"

This is reset each time the system is booted, so it is necessary to add hint.acpi.0.disabled="1" to the file /boot/loader.conf. More information about the boot loader can be found in Section 12.1. I go to boot from the hard disk for the first time after installing FreeBSD, the kernel loads and probes my hardware, but stops with messages like:

changing root device to ad1s1a panic: cannot mount root

What is wrong? What can I do?

What is this bios_drive:interface(unit,partition)kernel_name thing that is displayed with the boot help?

There is a longstanding problem in the case where the boot disk is not the first disk in the system. The BIOS uses a different numbering scheme to FreeBSD, and working out which numbers correspond to which is difficult to get right.

In the case where the boot disk is not the first disk in the system, FreeBSD can need some help finding it. There are two common situations here, and in both of these cases, you need to tell FreeBSD where the root filesystem is. You do this by specifying the BIOS disk number, the disk type and the FreeBSD disk number for that type.

The first situation is where you have two IDE disks, each configured as the master on their respective IDE busses, and wish to boot FreeBSD from the second disk. The BIOS sees these as disk 0 and disk 1, while FreeBSD sees them as ad0 and ad2.

FreeBSD is on BIOS disk 1, of type ad and the FreeBSD disk number is 2, so you would say:


Note that if you have a slave on the primary bus, the above is not necessary (and is effectively wrong).

The second situation involves booting from a SCSI disk when you have one or more IDE disks in the system. In this case, the FreeBSD disk number is lower than the BIOS disk number. If you have two IDE disks as well as the SCSI disk, the SCSI disk is BIOS disk 2, type da and FreeBSD disk number 0, so you would say:


To tell FreeBSD that you want to boot from BIOS disk 2, which is the first SCSI disk in the system. If you only had one IDE disk, you would use 1: instead.

Once you have determined the correct values to use, you can put the command exactly as you would have typed it in the /boot.config file using a standard text editor. Unless instructed otherwise, FreeBSD will use the contents of this file as the default response to the boot: prompt. I go to boot from the hard disk for the first time after installing FreeBSD, but the Boot Manager prompt just prints F? at the boot menu each time but the boot will not go any further.

The hard disk geometry was set incorrectly in the partition editor when you installed FreeBSD. Go back into the partition editor and specify the actual geometry of your hard disk. You must reinstall FreeBSD again from the beginning with the correct geometry.

If you are failing entirely in figuring out the correct geometry for your machine, here is a tip: Install a small DOS partition at the beginning of the disk and install FreeBSD after that. The install program will see the DOS partition and try to infer the correct geometry from it, which usually works.

The following tip is no longer recommended, but is left here for reference:

If you are setting up a truly dedicated FreeBSD server or workstation where you do not care for (future) compatibility with DOS, Linux or another operating system, you also have got the option to use the entire disk (A in the partition editor), selecting the non-standard option where FreeBSD occupies the entire disk from the very first to the very last sector. This will leave all geometry considerations aside, but is somewhat limiting unless you're never going to run anything other than FreeBSD on a disk. The system finds my ed(4) network card, but I keep getting device timeout errors.

Your card is probably on a different IRQ from what is specified in the /boot/device.hints file. The ed(4) driver does not use the “soft” configuration by default (values entered using EZSETUP in DOS), but it will use the software configuration if you specify -1 in the hints for the interface.

Either move the jumper on the card to a hard configuration setting (altering the kernel settings if necessary), or specify the IRQ as -1 by setting the hint hint.ed.0.irq="-1" This will tell the kernel to use the soft configuration.

Another possibility is that your card is at IRQ 9, which is shared by IRQ 2 and frequently a cause of problems (especially when you have a VGA card using IRQ 2!). You should not use IRQ 2 or 9 if at all possible.

2.12 Advanced Installation Guide

Contributed by Valentino Vaschetto.

This section describes how to install FreeBSD in exceptional cases.

2.12.1 Installing FreeBSD on a System without a Monitor or Keyboard

This type of installation is called a “headless install”, because the machine that you are trying to install FreeBSD on either does not have a monitor attached to it, or does not even have a VGA output. How is this possible you ask? Using a serial console. A serial console is basically using another machine to act as the main display and keyboard for a system. To do this, just follow the steps to create installation floppies, explained in Section 2.3.7.

To modify these floppies to boot into a serial console, follow these steps:

  1. Enabling the Boot Floppies to Boot into a Serial Console

    If you were to boot into the floppies that you just made, FreeBSD would boot into its normal install mode. We want FreeBSD to boot into a serial console for our install. To do this, you have to mount the boot.flp floppy onto your FreeBSD system using the mount(8) command.

    # mount /dev/fd0 /mnt

    Now that you have the floppy mounted, you must change into the /mnt directory:

    # cd /mnt

    Here is where you must set the floppy to boot into a serial console. You have to make a file called boot.config containing /boot/loader -h. All this does is pass a flag to the bootloader to boot into a serial console.

    # echo "/boot/loader -h" > boot.config

    Now that you have your floppy configured correctly, you must unmount the floppy using the umount(8) command:

    # cd / # umount /mnt

    Now you can remove the floppy from the floppy drive.

  2. Connecting Your Null-modem Cable

    You now need to connect a null-modem cable between the two machines. Just connect the cable to the serial ports of the 2 machines. A normal serial cable will not work here, you need a null-modem cable because it has some of the wires inside crossed over.

  3. Booting Up for the Install

    It is now time to go ahead and start the install. Put the boot.flp floppy in the floppy drive of the machine you are doing the headless install on, and power on the machine.

  4. Connecting to Your Headless Machine

    Now you have to connect to that machine with cu(1):

    # cu -l /dev/cuad0

    On FreeBSD 5.X, use /dev/cuaa0 instead of /dev/cuad0.

That's it! You should now be able to control the headless machine through your cu session. It will ask you to put in the kern1.flp, and then it will come up with a selection of what kind of terminal to use. Select the FreeBSD color console and proceed with your install!

2.13 Preparing Your Own Installation Media

Note: To prevent repetition, “FreeBSD disc” in this context means a FreeBSD CDROM or DVD that you have purchased or produced yourself.

There may be some situations in which you need to create your own FreeBSD installation media and/or source. This might be physical media, such as a tape, or a source that sysinstall can use to retrieve the files, such as a local FTP site, or an MS-DOS partition.

For example:

  • You have many machines connected to your local network, and one FreeBSD disc. You want to create a local FTP site using the contents of the FreeBSD disc, and then have your machines use this local FTP site instead of needing to connect to the Internet.

  • You have a FreeBSD disc, and FreeBSD does not recognize your CD/DVD drive, but MS-DOS/Windows does. You want to copy the FreeBSD installation files to a DOS partition on the same computer, and then install FreeBSD using those files.

  • The computer you want to install on does not have a CD/DVD drive or a network card, but you can connect a “Laplink-style” serial or parallel cable to a computer that does.

  • You want to create a tape that can be used to install FreeBSD.

2.13.1 Creating an Installation CDROM

As part of each release, the FreeBSD project makes available at least two CDROM images (“ISO images”) per supported architecture. These images can be written (“burned”) to CDs if you have a CD writer, and then used to install FreeBSD. If you have a CD writer, and bandwidth is cheap, then this is the easiest way to install FreeBSD.

  1. Download the Correct ISO Images

    The ISO images for each release can be downloaded from or the closest mirror. Substitute arch and version as appropriate.

    That directory will normally contain the following images:

    Table 2-4. FreeBSD 5.X and 6.X ISO Image Names and Meanings

    Filename Contains
    version-RELEASE-arch-bootonly.iso Everything you need to boot into a FreeBSD kernel and start the installation interface. The installable files have to be pulled over FTP or some other supported source.
    version-RELEASE-arch-disc1.iso Everything you need to install FreeBSD and a “live filesystem”, which is used in conjunction with the “Repair” facility in sysinstall.
    version-RELEASE-arch-disc2.iso FreeBSD documentation (prior to FreeBSD 6.2) and as many third-party packages as would fit on the disc.
    version-RELEASE-arch-docs.iso FreeBSD documentation (for FreeBSD 6.2 and later).

    You must download one of either the bootonly ISO image (if available), or the image of disc one. Do not download both of them, since the disc one image contains everything that the bootonly ISO image contains.

    Use the bootonly ISO if Internet access is cheap for you. It will let you install FreeBSD, and you can then install third-party packages by downloading them using the ports/packages system (see Chapter 4) as necessary.

    Use the image of disc one if you want to install a FreeBSD release and want a reasonable selection of third-party packages on the disc as well.

    The additional disc images are useful, but not essential, especially if you have high-speed access to the Internet.

  2. Write the CDs

    You must then write the CD images to disc. If you will be doing this on another FreeBSD system then see Section 18.6 for more information (in particular, Section 18.6.3 and Section 18.6.4).

    If you will be doing this on another platform then you will need to use whatever utilities exist to control your CD writer on that platform. The images provided are in the standard ISO format, which many CD writing applications support.

Note: If you are interested in building a customized release of FreeBSD, please see the Release Engineering Article.

2.13.2 Creating a Local FTP Site with a FreeBSD Disc

FreeBSD discs are laid out in the same way as the FTP site. This makes it very easy for you to create a local FTP site that can be used by other machines on your network when installing FreeBSD.

  1. On the FreeBSD computer that will host the FTP site, ensure that the CDROM is in the drive, and mounted on /cdrom.

    # mount /cdrom
  2. Create an account for anonymous FTP in /etc/passwd. Do this by editing /etc/passwd using vipw(8) and adding this line:

  3. Ensure that the FTP service is enabled in /etc/inetd.conf.

Anyone with network connectivity to your machine can now chose a media type of FTP and type in ftp://your machine after picking “Other” in the FTP sites menu during the install.

Note: If the boot media (floppy disks, usually) for your FTP clients is not precisely the same version as that provided by the local FTP site, then sysinstall will not let you complete the installation. If the versions are not similar and you want to override this, you must go into the Options menu and change distribution name to any.

Warning: This approach is OK for a machine that is on your local network, and that is protected by your firewall. Offering up FTP services to other machines over the Internet (and not your local network) exposes your computer to the attention of crackers and other undesirables. We strongly recommend that you follow good security practices if you do this.

2.13.3 Creating Installation Floppies

If you must install from floppy disk (which we suggest you do not do), either due to unsupported hardware or simply because you insist on doing things the hard way, you must first prepare some floppies for the installation.

At a minimum, you will need as many 1.44 MB floppies as it takes to hold all the files in the base (base distribution) directory. If you are preparing the floppies from DOS, then they must be formatted using the MS-DOS FORMAT command. If you are using Windows, use Explorer to format the disks (right-click on the A: drive, and select “Format”).

Do not trust factory pre-formatted floppies. Format them again yourself, just to be sure. Many problems reported by our users in the past have resulted from the use of improperly formatted media, which is why we are making a point of it now.

If you are creating the floppies on another FreeBSD machine, a format is still not a bad idea, though you do not need to put a DOS filesystem on each floppy. You can use the bsdlabel and newfs commands to put a UFS filesystem on them instead, as the following sequence of commands (for a 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy) illustrates:

# fdformat -f 1440 fd0.1440 # bsdlabel -w fd0.1440 floppy3 # newfs -t 2 -u 18 -l 1 -i 65536 /dev/fd0

Then you can mount and write to them like any other filesystem.

After you have formatted the floppies, you will need to copy the files to them. The distribution files are split into chunks conveniently sized so that five of them will fit on a conventional 1.44 MB floppy. Go through all your floppies, packing as many files as will fit on each one, until you have all of the distributions you want packed up in this fashion. Each distribution should go into a subdirectory on the floppy, e.g.: a:\base\base.aa, a:\base\base.ab, and so on.

Important: The base.inf file also needs to go on the first floppy of the base set since it is read by the installation program in order to figure out how many additional pieces to look for when fetching and concatenating the distribution.

Once you come to the Media screen during the install process, select Floppy and you will be prompted for the rest.

2.13.4 Installing from an MS-DOS Partition

To prepare for an installation from an MS-DOS partition, copy the files from the distribution into a directory called freebsd in the root directory of the partition. For example, c:\freebsd. The directory structure of the CDROM or FTP site must be partially reproduced within this directory, so we suggest using the DOS xcopy command if you are copying it from a CD. For example, to prepare for a minimal installation of FreeBSD:

C:\> md c:\freebsd C:\> xcopy e:\bin c:\freebsd\bin\ /s C:\> xcopy e:\manpages c:\freebsd\manpages\ /s

Assuming that C: is where you have free space and E: is where your CDROM is mounted.

If you do not have a CDROM drive, you can download the distribution from Each distribution is in its own directory; for example, the base distribution can be found in the 6.2/base/ directory.

For as many distributions you wish to install from an MS-DOS partition (and you have the free space for), install each one under c:\freebsd -- the BIN distribution is the only one required for a minimum installation.

2.13.5 Creating an Installation Tape

Installing from tape is probably the easiest method, short of an online FTP install or CDROM install. The installation program expects the files to be simply tarred onto the tape. After getting all of the distribution files you are interested in, simply tar them onto the tape:

# cd /freebsd/distdir # tar cvf /dev/rwt0 dist1 ... dist2

When you perform the installation, you should make sure that you leave enough room in some temporary directory (which you will be allowed to choose) to accommodate the full contents of the tape you have created. Due to the non-random access nature of tapes, this method of installation requires quite a bit of temporary storage.

Note: When starting the installation, the tape must be in the drive before booting from the boot floppy. The installation probe may otherwise fail to find it.

2.13.6 Before Installing over a Network

There are three types of network installations available. Ethernet (a standard Ethernet controller), Serial port (SLIP or PPP), or Parallel port (PLIP (laplink cable)).

For the fastest possible network installation, an Ethernet adapter is always a good choice! FreeBSD supports most common PC Ethernet cards; a table of supported cards (and their required settings) is provided in the Hardware Notes for each release of FreeBSD. If you are using one of the supported PCMCIA Ethernet cards, also be sure that it is plugged in before the laptop is powered on! FreeBSD does not, unfortunately, currently support hot insertion of PCMCIA cards during installation.

You will also need to know your IP address on the network, the netmask value for your address class, and the name of your machine. If you are installing over a PPP connection and do not have a static IP, fear not, the IP address can be dynamically assigned by your ISP. Your system administrator can tell you which values to use for your particular network setup. If you will be referring to other hosts by name rather than IP address, you will also need a name server and possibly the address of a gateway (if you are using PPP, it is your provider's IP address) to use in talking to it. If you want to install by FTP via a HTTP proxy, you will also need the proxy's address. If you do not know the answers to all or most of these questions, then you should really probably talk to your system administrator or ISP before trying this type of installation.

The SLIP support is rather primitive, and limited primarily to hard-wired links, such as a serial cable running between a laptop computer and another computer. The link should be hard-wired as the SLIP installation does not currently offer a dialing capability; that facility is provided with the PPP utility, which should be used in preference to SLIP whenever possible.

If you are using a modem, then PPP is almost certainly your only choice. Make sure that you have your service provider's information handy as you will need to know it fairly early in the installation process.

If you use PAP or CHAP to connect your ISP (in other words, if you can connect to the ISP in Windows without using a script), then all you will need to do is type in dial at the ppp prompt. Otherwise, you will need to know how to dial your ISP using the “AT commands” specific to your modem, as the PPP dialer provides only a very simple terminal emulator. Please refer to the user-ppp handbook and FAQ entries for further information. If you have problems, logging can be directed to the screen using the command set log local ....

If a hard-wired connection to another FreeBSD (2.0-R or later) machine is available, you might also consider installing over a “laplink” parallel port cable. The data rate over the parallel port is much higher than what is typically possible over a serial line (up to 50 kbytes/sec), thus resulting in a quicker installation. Before Installing via NFS

The NFS installation is fairly straight-forward. Simply copy the FreeBSD distribution files you want onto an NFS server and then point the NFS media selection at it.

If this server supports only “privileged port” (as is generally the default for Sun workstations), you will need to set the option NFS Secure in the Options menu before installation can proceed.

If you have a poor quality Ethernet card which suffers from very slow transfer rates, you may also wish to toggle the NFS Slow flag.

In order for NFS installation to work, the server must support subdir mounts, for example, if your FreeBSD 6.2 distribution directory lives on: ziggy:/usr/archive/stuff/FreeBSD, then ziggy will have to allow the direct mounting of /usr/archive/stuff/FreeBSD, not just /usr or /usr/archive/stuff.

In FreeBSD's /etc/exports file, this is controlled by the -alldirs options. Other NFS servers may have different conventions. If you are getting “permission denied” messages from the server, then it is likely that you do not have this enabled properly.

Chapter 3 UNIX Basics

Rewritten by Chris Shumway.

3.1 Synopsis

The following chapter will cover the basic commands and functionality of the FreeBSD operating system. Much of this material is relevant for any UNIX-like operating system. Feel free to skim over this chapter if you are familiar with the material. If you are new to FreeBSD, then you will definitely want to read through this chapter carefully.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • How to use the “virtual consoles” of FreeBSD.

  • How UNIX file permissions work along with understanding file flags in FreeBSD.

  • The default FreeBSD file system layout.

  • The FreeBSD disk organization.

  • How to mount and unmount file systems.

  • What processes, daemons, and signals are.

  • What a shell is, and how to change your default login environment.

  • How to use basic text editors.

  • What devices and device nodes are.

  • What binary format is used under FreeBSD.

  • How to read manual pages for more information.

3.2 Virtual Consoles and Terminals

FreeBSD can be used in various ways. One of them is typing commands to a text terminal. A lot of the flexibility and power of a UNIX operating system is readily available at your hands when using FreeBSD this way. This section describes what “terminals” and “consoles” are, and how you can use them in FreeBSD.

3.2.1 The Console

If you have not configured FreeBSD to automatically start a graphical environment during startup, the system will present you with a login prompt after it boots, right after the startup scripts finish running. You will see something similar to:

Additional ABI support:. Local package initialization:. Additional TCP options:. Fri Sep 20 13:01:06 EEST 2002 FreeBSD/i386 ( (ttyv0) login:

The messages might be a bit different on your system, but you will see something similar. The last two lines are what we are interested in right now. The second last line reads:

FreeBSD/i386 ( (ttyv0)

This line contains some bits of information about the system you have just booted. You are looking at a “FreeBSD” console, running on an Intel or compatible processor of the x86 architecture[1]. The name of this machine (every UNIX machine has a name) is, and you are now looking at its system console--the ttyv0 terminal.

Finally, the last line is always:


This is the part where you are supposed to type in your “username” to log into FreeBSD. The next section describes how you can do this.

3.2.2 Logging into FreeBSD

FreeBSD is a multiuser, multiprocessing system. This is the formal description that is usually given to a system that can be used by many different people, who simultaneously run a lot of programs on a single machine.

Every multiuser system needs some way to distinguish one “user” from the rest. In FreeBSD (and all the UNIX-like operating systems), this is accomplished by requiring that every user must “log into” the system before being able to run programs. Every user has a unique name (the “username”) and a personal, secret key (the “password”). FreeBSD will ask for these two before allowing a user to run any programs.

Right after FreeBSD boots and finishes running its startup scripts[2], it will present you with a prompt and ask for a valid username:


For the sake of this example, let us assume that your username is john. Type john at this prompt and press Enter. You should then be presented with a prompt to enter a “password”:

login: john Password:

Type in john's password now, and press Enter. The password is not echoed! You need not worry about this right now. Suffice it to say that it is done for security reasons.

If you have typed your password correctly, you should by now be logged into FreeBSD and ready to try out all the available commands.

You should see the MOTD or message of the day followed by a command prompt (a #, $, or % character). This indicates you have successfully logged into FreeBSD.

3.2.3 Multiple Consoles

Running UNIX commands in one console is fine, but FreeBSD can run many programs at once. Having one console where commands can be typed would be a bit of a waste when an operating system like FreeBSD can run dozens of programs at the same time. This is where “virtual consoles” can be very helpful.

FreeBSD can be configured to present you with many different virtual consoles. You can switch from one of them to any other virtual console by pressing a couple of keys on your keyboard. Each console has its own different output channel, and FreeBSD takes care of properly redirecting keyboard input and monitor output as you switch from one virtual console to the next.

Special key combinations have been reserved by FreeBSD for switching consoles[3]. You can use Alt-F1, Alt-F2, through Alt-F8 to switch to a different virtual console in FreeBSD.

As you are switching from one console to the next, FreeBSD takes care of saving and restoring the screen output. The result is an “illusion” of having multiple “virtual” screens and keyboards that you can use to type commands for FreeBSD to run. The programs that you launch on one virtual console do not stop running when that console is not visible. They continue running when you have switched to a different virtual console.

3.2.4 The /etc/ttys File

The default configuration of FreeBSD will start up with eight virtual consoles. This is not a hardwired setting though, and you can easily customize your installation to boot with more or fewer virtual consoles. The number and settings of the virtual consoles are configured in the /etc/ttys file.

You can use the /etc/ttys file to configure the virtual consoles of FreeBSD. Each uncommented line in this file (lines that do not start with a # character) contains settings for a single terminal or virtual console. The default version of this file that ships with FreeBSD configures nine virtual consoles, and enables eight of them. They are the lines that start with ttyv:

# name getty type status comments # ttyv0 "/usr/libexec/getty Pc" cons25 on secure # Virtual terminals ttyv1 "/usr/libexec/getty Pc" cons25 on secure ttyv2 "/usr/libexec/getty Pc" cons25 on secure ttyv3 "/usr/libexec/getty Pc" cons25 on secure ttyv4 "/usr/libexec/getty Pc" cons25 on secure ttyv5 "/usr/libexec/getty Pc" cons25 on secure ttyv6 "/usr/libexec/getty Pc" cons25 on secure ttyv7 "/usr/libexec/getty Pc" cons25 on secure ttyv8 "/usr/X11R6/bin/xdm -nodaemon" xterm off secure

For a detailed description of every column in this file and all the options you can use to set things up for the virtual consoles, consult the ttys(5) manual page.

3.2.5 Single User Mode Console

A detailed description of what “single user mode” is can be found in Section 12.6.2. It is worth noting that there is only one console when you are running FreeBSD in single user mode. There are no virtual consoles available. The settings of the single user mode console can also be found in the /etc/ttys file. Look for the line that starts with console:

# name getty type status comments # # If console is marked "insecure", then init will ask for the root password # when going to single-user mode. console none unknown off secure

Note: As the comments above the console line indicate, you can edit this line and change secure to insecure. If you do that, when FreeBSD boots into single user mode, it will still ask for the root password.

Be careful when changing this to insecure. If you ever forget the root password, booting into single user mode is a bit involved. It is still possible, but it might be a bit hard for someone who is not very comfortable with the FreeBSD booting process and the programs involved.

3.2.6 Changing Console Video Modes

The FreeBSD console default video mode may be adjusted to 1024x768, 1280x1024, or any other size supported by your graphics chip and monitor. To use a different video mode, you first must recompile your kernel and include two additional options:

options VESA options SC_PIXEL_MODE

Once the kernel has been recompiled with these two options, you can then determine what video modes are supported by your hardware by using the vidcontrol(1) utility. To get a list of supported video modes issue the following:

# vidcontrol -i mode

The output of this command is a list of video modes that are supported by your hardware. You can then choose to use a new video mode by passing it to vidcontrol(1) in a root console:

# vidcontrol MODE_279

If the new video mode is acceptable, it can be permanently set on boot by setting it in the /etc/rc.conf file:


3.3 Permissions

FreeBSD, being a direct descendant of BSD UNIX, is based on several key UNIX concepts. The first and most pronounced is that FreeBSD is a multi-user operating system. The system can handle several users all working simultaneously on completely unrelated tasks. The system is responsible for properly sharing and managing requests for hardware devices, peripherals, memory, and CPU time fairly to each user.

Because the system is capable of supporting multiple users, everything the system manages has a set of permissions governing who can read, write, and execute the resource. These permissions are stored as three octets broken into three pieces, one for the owner of the file, one for the group that the file belongs to, and one for everyone else. This numerical representation works like this:

Value Permission Directory Listing
0 No read, no write, no execute ---
1 No read, no write, execute --x
2 No read, write, no execute -w-
3 No read, write, execute -wx
4 Read, no write, no execute r--
5 Read, no write, execute r-x
6 Read, write, no execute rw-
7 Read, write, execute rwx

You can use the -l command line argument to ls(1) to view a long directory listing that includes a column with information about a file's permissions for the owner, group, and everyone else. For example, a ls -l in an arbitrary directory may show:

% ls -l total 530 -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 512 Sep 5 12:31 myfile -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 512 Sep 5 12:31 otherfile -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 7680 Sep 5 12:31 email.txt ...

Here is how the first column of ls -l is broken up:


The first (leftmost) character tells if this file is a regular file, a directory, a special character device, a socket, or any other special pseudo-file device. In this case, the - indicates a regular file. The next three characters, rw- in this example, give the permissions for the owner of the file. The next three characters, r--, give the permissions for the group that the file belongs to. The final three characters, r--, give the permissions for the rest of the world. A dash means that the permission is turned off. In the case of this file, the permissions are set so the owner can read and write to the file, the group can read the file, and the rest of the world can only read the file. According to the table above, the permissions for this file would be 644, where each digit represents the three parts of the file's permission.

This is all well and good, but how does the system control permissions on devices? FreeBSD actually treats most hardware devices as a file that programs can open, read, and write data to just like any other file. These special device files are stored on the /dev directory.

Directories are also treated as files. They have read, write, and execute permissions. The executable bit for a directory has a slightly different meaning than that of files. When a directory is marked executable, it means it can be traversed into, that is, it is possible to “cd” (change directory) into it. This also means that within the directory it is possible to access files whose names are known (subject, of course, to the permissions on the files themselves).

In particular, in order to perform a directory listing, read permission must be set on the directory, whilst to delete a file that one knows the name of, it is necessary to have write and execute permissions to the directory containing the file.

There are more permission bits, but they are primarily used in special circumstances such as setuid binaries and sticky directories. If you want more information on file permissions and how to set them, be sure to look at the chmod(1) manual page.

3.3.1 Symbolic Permissions

Contributed by Tom Rhodes.

Symbolic permissions, sometimes referred to as symbolic expressions, use characters in place of octal values to assign permissions to files or directories. Symbolic expressions use the syntax of (who) (action) (permissions), where the following values are available:

Option Letter Represents
(who) u User
(who) g Group owner
(who) o Other
(who) a All (“world”)
(action) + Adding permissions
(action) - Removing permissions
(action) = Explicitly set permissions
(permissions) r Read
(permissions) w Write
(permissions) x Execute
(permissions) t Sticky bit
(permissions) s Set UID or GID

These values are used with the chmod(1) command just like before, but with letters. For an example, you could use the following command to block other users from accessing FILE:

% chmod go= FILE

A comma separated list can be provided when more than one set of changes to a file must be made. For example the following command will remove the group and “world” write permission on FILE, then it adds the execute permissions for everyone:

% chmod go-w,a+x FILE

3.3.2 FreeBSD File Flags

Contributed by Tom Rhodes.

In addition to file permissions discussed previously, FreeBSD supports the use of “file flags.” These flags add an additional level of security and control over files, but not directories.

These file flags add an additional level of control over files, helping to ensure that in some cases not even the root can remove or alter files.

File flags are altered by using the chflags(1) utility, using a simple interface. For example, to enable the system undeletable flag on the file file1, issue the following command:

# chflags sunlink file1

And to disable the system undeletable flag, simply issue the previous command with “no” in front of the sunlink. Observe:

# chflags nosunlink file1

To view the flags of this file, use the ls(1) command with the -lo flags:

# ls -lo file1

The output should look like the following:

-rw-r--r-- 1 trhodes trhodes sunlnk 0 Mar 1 05:54 file1

Several flags may only added or removed to files by the root user. In other cases, the file owner may set these flags. It is recommended that administrators read over the chflags(1) and chflags(2) manual pages for more information.

3.4 Directory Structure

The FreeBSD directory hierarchy is fundamental to obtaining an overall understanding of the system. The most important concept to grasp is that of the root directory, “/”. This directory is the first one mounted at boot time and it contains the base system necessary to prepare the operating system for multi-user operation. The root directory also contains mount points for other file systems that are mounted during the transition to multi-user operation.

A mount point is a directory where additional file systems can be grafted onto a parent file system (usually the root file system). This is further described in Section 3.5. Standard mount points include /usr, /var, /tmp, /mnt, and /cdrom. These directories are usually referenced to entries in the file /etc/fstab. /etc/fstab is a table of various file systems and mount points for reference by the system. Most of the file systems in /etc/fstab are mounted automatically at boot time from the script rc(8) unless they contain the noauto option. Details can be found in Section 3.6.1.

A complete description of the file system hierarchy is available in hier(7). For now, a brief overview of the most common directories will suffice.

Directory Description
/ Root directory of the file system.
/bin/ User utilities fundamental to both single-user and multi-user environments.
/boot/ Programs and configuration files used during operating system bootstrap.
/boot/defaults/ Default bootstrapping configuration files; see loader.conf(5).
/dev/ Device nodes; see intro(4).
/etc/ System configuration files and scripts.
/etc/defaults/ Default system configuration files; see rc(8).
/etc/mail/ Configuration files for mail transport agents such as sendmail(8).
/etc/namedb/ named configuration files; see named(8).
/etc/periodic/ Scripts that are run daily, weekly, and monthly, via cron(8); see periodic(8).
/etc/ppp/ ppp configuration files; see ppp(8).
/mnt/ Empty directory commonly used by system administrators as a temporary mount point.
/proc/ Process file system; see procfs(5), mount_procfs(8).
/rescue/ Statically linked programs for emergency recovery; see rescue(8).
/root/ Home directory for the root account.
/sbin/ System programs and administration utilities fundamental to both single-user and multi-user environments.
/tmp/ Temporary files. The contents of /tmp are usually NOT preserved across a system reboot. A memory-based file system is often mounted at /tmp. This can be automated using the tmpmfs-related variables of rc.conf(5) (or with an entry in /etc/fstab; see mdmfs(8)).
/usr/ The majority of user utilities and applications.
/usr/bin/ Common utilities, programming tools, and applications.
/usr/include/ Standard C include files.
/usr/lib/ Archive libraries.
/usr/libdata/ Miscellaneous utility data files.
/usr/libexec/ System daemons & system utilities (executed by other programs).
/usr/local/ Local executables, libraries, etc. Also used as the default destination for the FreeBSD ports framework. Within /usr/local, the general layout sketched out by hier(7) for /usr should be used. Exceptions are the man directory, which is directly under /usr/local rather than under /usr/local/share, and the ports documentation is in share/doc/port.
/usr/obj/ Architecture-specific target tree produced by building the /usr/src tree.
/usr/ports The FreeBSD Ports Collection (optional).
/usr/sbin/ System daemons & system utilities (executed by users).
/usr/share/ Architecture-independent files.
/usr/src/ BSD and/or local source files.
/usr/X11R6/ X11R6 distribution executables, libraries, etc (optional).
/var/ Multi-purpose log, temporary, transient, and spool files. A memory-based file system is sometimes mounted at /var. This can be automated using the varmfs-related variables of rc.conf(5) (or with an entry in /etc/fstab; see mdmfs(8)).
/var/log/ Miscellaneous system log files.
/var/mail/ User mailbox files.
/var/spool/ Miscellaneous printer and mail system spooling directories.
/var/tmp/ Temporary files. The files are usually preserved across a system reboot, unless /var is a memory-based file system.
/var/yp NIS maps.

3.5 Disk Organization

The smallest unit of organization that FreeBSD uses to find files is the filename. Filenames are case-sensitive, which means that readme.txt and README.TXT are two separate files. FreeBSD does not use the extension (.txt) of a file to determine whether the file is a program, or a document, or some other form of data.

Files are stored in directories. A directory may contain no files, or it may contain many hundreds of files. A directory can also contain other directories, allowing you to build up a hierarchy of directories within one another. This makes it much easier to organize your data.

Files and directories are referenced by giving the file or directory name, followed by a forward slash, /, followed by any other directory names that are necessary. If you have directory foo, which contains directory bar, which contains the file readme.txt, then the full name, or path to the file is foo/bar/readme.txt.

Directories and files are stored in a file system. Each file system contains exactly one directory at the very top level, called the root directory for that file system. This root directory can then contain other directories.

So far this is probably similar to any other operating system you may have used. There are a few differences; for example, MS-DOS uses \ to separate file and directory names, while Mac OS® uses :.

FreeBSD does not use drive letters, or other drive names in the path. You would not write c:/foo/bar/readme.txt on FreeBSD.

Instead, one file system is designated the root file system. The root file system's root directory is referred to as /. Every other file system is then mounted under the root file system. No matter how many disks you have on your FreeBSD system, every directory appears to be part of the same disk.

Suppose you have three file systems, called A, B, and C. Each file system has one root directory, which contains two other directories, called A1, A2 (and likewise B1, B2 and C1, C2).

Call A the root file system. If you used the ls command to view the contents of this directory you would see two subdirectories, A1 and A2. The directory tree looks like this:

A file system must be mounted on to a directory in another file system. So now suppose that you mount file system B on to the directory A1. The root directory of B replaces A1, and the directories in B appear accordingly:

Any files that are in the B1 or B2 directories can be reached with the path /A1/B1 or /A1/B2 as necessary. Any files that were in /A1 have been temporarily hidden. They will reappear if B is unmounted from A.

If B had been mounted on A2 then the diagram would look like this:

and the paths would be /A2/B1 and /A2/B2 respectively.

File systems can be mounted on top of one another. Continuing the last example, the C file system could be mounted on top of the B1 directory in the B file system, leading to this arrangement:

Or C could be mounted directly on to the A file system, under the A1 directory:

If you are familiar with MS-DOS, this is similar, although not identical, to the join command.

This is not normally something you need to concern yourself with. Typically you create file systems when installing FreeBSD and decide where to mount them, and then never change them unless you add a new disk.

It is entirely possible to have one large root file system, and not need to create any others. There are some drawbacks to this approach, and one advantage.

Benefits of Multiple File Systems

  • Different file systems can have different mount options. For example, with careful planning, the root file system can be mounted read-only, making it impossible for you to inadvertently delete or edit a critical file. Separating user-writable file systems, such as /home, from other file systems also allows them to be mounted nosuid; this option prevents the suid/guid bits on executables stored on the file system from taking effect, possibly improving security.

  • FreeBSD automatically optimizes the layout of files on a file system, depending on how the file system is being used. So a file system that contains many small files that are written frequently will have a different optimization to one that contains fewer, larger files. By having one big file system this optimization breaks down.

  • FreeBSD's file systems are very robust should you lose power. However, a power loss at a critical point could still damage the structure of the file system. By splitting your data over multiple file systems it is more likely that the system will still come up, making it easier for you to restore from backup as necessary.

Benefit of a Single File System

  • File systems are a fixed size. If you create a file system when you install FreeBSD and give it a specific size, you may later discover that you need to make the partition bigger. This is not easily accomplished without backing up, recreating the file system with the new size, and then restoring the backed up data.

    Important: FreeBSD features the growfs(8) command, which makes it possible to increase the size of file system on the fly, removing this limitation.

File systems are contained in partitions. This does not have the same meaning as the common usage of the term partition (for example, MS-DOS partition), because of FreeBSD's UNIX heritage. Each partition is identified by a letter from a through to h. Each partition can contain only one file system, which means that file systems are often described by either their typical mount point in the file system hierarchy, or the letter of the partition they are contained in.

FreeBSD also uses disk space for swap space. Swap space provides FreeBSD with virtual memory. This allows your computer to behave as though it has much more memory than it actually does. When FreeBSD runs out of memory it moves some of the data that is not currently being used to the swap space, and moves it back in (moving something else out) when it needs it.

Some partitions have certain conventions associated with them.

Partition Convention
a Normally contains the root file system
b Normally contains swap space
c Normally the same size as the enclosing slice. This allows utilities that need to work on the entire slice (for example, a bad block scanner) to work on the c partition. You would not normally create a file system on this partition.
d Partition d used to have a special meaning associated with it, although that is now gone and d may work as any normal partition.

Each partition-that-contains-a-file-system is stored in what FreeBSD calls a slice. Slice is FreeBSD's term for what the common call partitions, and again, this is because of FreeBSD's UNIX background. Slices are numbered, starting at 1, through to 4.

Slice numbers follow the device name, prefixed with an s, starting at 1. So “da0s1” is the first slice on the first SCSI drive. There can only be four physical slices on a disk, but you can have logical slices inside physical slices of the appropriate type. These extended slices are numbered starting at 5, so “ad0s5” is the first extended slice on the first IDE disk. These devices are used by file systems that expect to occupy a slice.

Slices, “dangerously dedicated” physical drives, and other drives contain partitions, which are represented as letters from a to h. This letter is appended to the device name, so “da0a” is the a partition on the first da drive, which is “dangerously dedicated”. “ad1s3e” is the fifth partition in the third slice of the second IDE disk drive.

Finally, each disk on the system is identified. A disk name starts with a code that indicates the type of disk, and then a number, indicating which disk it is. Unlike slices, disk numbering starts at 0. Common codes that you will see are listed in Table 3-1.

When referring to a partition FreeBSD requires that you also name the slice and disk that contains the partition, and when referring to a slice you must also refer to the disk name. Thus, you refer to a partition by listing the disk name, s, the slice number, and then the partition letter. Examples are shown in Example 3-1.

Example 3-2 shows a conceptual model of the disk layout that should help make things clearer.

In order to install FreeBSD you must first configure the disk slices, then create partitions within the slice you will use for FreeBSD, and then create a file system (or swap space) in each partition, and decide where that file system will be mounted.

Table 3-1. Disk Device Codes

Code Meaning
ad ATAPI (IDE) disk
da SCSI direct access disk
fd Floppy disk

Example 3-1. Sample Disk, Slice, and Partition Names

Name Meaning
ad0s1a The first partition (a) on the first slice (s1) on the first IDE disk (ad0).
da1s2e The fifth partition (e) on the second slice (s2) on the second SCSI disk (da1).

Example 3-2. Conceptual Model of a Disk

This diagram shows FreeBSD's view of the first IDE disk attached to the system. Assume that the disk is 4 GB in size, and contains two 2 GB slices (MS-DOS partitions). The first slice contains a MS-DOS disk, C:, and the second slice contains a FreeBSD installation. This example FreeBSD installation has three data partitions, and a swap partition.

The three partitions will each hold a file system. Partition a will be used for the root file system, e for the /var directory hierarchy, and f for the /usr directory hierarchy.

3.6 Mounting and Unmounting File Systems

The file system is best visualized as a tree, rooted, as it were, at /. /dev, /usr, and the other directories in the root directory are branches, which may have their own branches, such as /usr/local, and so on.

There are various reasons to house some of these directories on separate file systems. /var contains the directories log/, spool/, and various types of temporary files, and as such, may get filled up. Filling up the root file system is not a good idea, so splitting /var from / is often favorable.

Another common reason to contain certain directory trees on other file systems is if they are to be housed on separate physical disks, or are separate virtual disks, such as Network File System mounts, or CDROM drives.

3.6.1 The fstab File

During the boot process, file systems listed in /etc/fstab are automatically mounted (unless they are listed with the noauto option).

The /etc/fstab file contains a list of lines of the following format:

device /mount-point fstype options dumpfreq passno

A device name (which should exist), as explained in Section 18.2.


A directory (which should exist), on which to mount the file system.


The file system type to pass to mount(8). The default FreeBSD file system is ufs.


Either rw for read-write file systems, or ro for read-only file systems, followed by any other options that may be needed. A common option is noauto for file systems not normally mounted during the boot sequence. Other options are listed in the mount(8) manual page.


This is used by dump(8) to determine which file systems require dumping. If the field is missing, a value of zero is assumed.


This determines the order in which file systems should be checked. File systems that should be skipped should have their passno set to zero. The root file system (which needs to be checked before everything else) should have its passno set to one, and other file systems' passno should be set to values greater than one. If more than one file systems have the same passno then fsck(8) will attempt to check file systems in parallel if possible.

Consult the fstab(5) manual page for more information on the format of the /etc/fstab file and the options it contains.

3.6.2 The mount Command

The mount(8) command is what is ultimately used to mount file systems.

In its most basic form, you use:

# mount device mountpoint

There are plenty of options, as mentioned in the mount(8) manual page, but the most common are:

Mount Options


Mount all the file systems listed in /etc/fstab. Except those marked as “noauto”, excluded by the -t flag, or those that are already mounted.


Do everything except for the actual mount system call. This option is useful in conjunction with the -v flag to determine what mount(8) is actually trying to do.


Force the mount of an unclean file system (dangerous), or forces the revocation of write access when downgrading a file system's mount status from read-write to read-only.


Mount the file system read-only. This is identical to using the ro (rdonly for FreeBSD versions older than 5.2) argument to the -o option.

-t fstype

Mount the given file system as the given file system type, or mount only file systems of the given type, if given the -a option.

“ufs” is the default file system type.


Update mount options on the file system.


Be verbose.


Mount the file system read-write.

The -o option takes a comma-separated list of the options, including the following:


Do not allow execution of binaries on this file system. This is also a useful security option.


Do not interpret setuid or setgid flags on the file system. This is also a useful security option.

3.6.3 The umount Command

The umount(8) command takes, as a parameter, one of a mountpoint, a device name, or the -a or -A option.

All forms take -f to force unmounting, and -v for verbosity. Be warned that -f is not generally a good idea. Forcibly unmounting file systems might crash the computer or damage data on the file system.

-a and -A are used to unmount all mounted file systems, possibly modified by the file system types listed after -t. -A, however, does not attempt to unmount the root file system.

3.7 Processes

FreeBSD is a multi-tasking operating system. This means that it seems as though more than one program is running at once. Each program running at any one time is called a process. Every command you run will start at least one new process, and there are a number of system processes that run all the time, keeping the system functional.

Each process is uniquely identified by a number called a process ID, or PID, and, like files, each process also has one owner and group. The owner and group information is used to determine what files and devices the process can open, using the file permissions discussed earlier. Most processes also have a parent process. The parent process is the process that started them. For example, if you are typing commands to the shell then the shell is a process, and any commands you run are also processes. Each process you run in this way will have your shell as its parent process. The exception to this is a special process called init(8). init is always the first process, so its PID is always 1. init is started automatically by the kernel when FreeBSD starts.

Two commands are particularly useful to see the processes on the system, ps(1) and top(1). The ps command is used to show a static list of the currently running processes, and can show their PID, how much memory they are using, the command line they were started with, and so on. The top command displays all the running processes, and updates the display every few seconds, so that you can interactively see what your computer is doing.

By default, ps only shows you the commands that are running and are owned by you. For example:

% ps PID TT STAT TIME COMMAND 298 p0 Ss 0:01.10 tcsh 7078 p0 S 2:40.88 xemacs mdoc.xsl (xemacs-21.1.14) 37393 p0 I 0:03.11 xemacs freebsd.dsl (xemacs-21.1.14) 48630 p0 S 2:50.89 /usr/local/lib/netscape-linux/ 48730 p0 IW 0:00.00 (dns helper) (navigator-linux-) 72210 p0 R+ 0:00.00 ps 390 p1 Is 0:01.14 tcsh 7059 p2 Is+ 1:36.18 /usr/local/bin/mutt -y 6688 p3 IWs 0:00.00 tcsh 10735 p4 IWs 0:00.00 tcsh 20256 p5 IWs 0:00.00 tcsh 262 v0 IWs 0:00.00 -tcsh (tcsh) 270 v0 IW+ 0:00.00 /bin/sh /usr/X11R6/bin/startx -- -bpp 16 280 v0 IW+ 0:00.00 xinit /home/nik/.xinitrc -- -bpp 16 284 v0 IW 0:00.00 /bin/sh /home/nik/.xinitrc 285 v0 S 0:38.45 /usr/X11R6/bin/sawfish

As you can see in this example, the output from ps(1) is organized into a number of columns. PID is the process ID discussed earlier. PIDs are assigned starting from 1, go up to 99999, and wrap around back to the beginning when you run out (a PID is not reassigned if it is already in use). The TT column shows the tty the program is running on, and can safely be ignored for the moment. STAT shows the program's state, and again, can be safely ignored. TIME is the amount of time the program has been running on the CPU--this is usually not the elapsed time since you started the program, as most programs spend a lot of time waiting for things to happen before they need to spend time on the CPU. Finally, COMMAND is the command line that was used to run the program.

ps(1) supports a number of different options to change the information that is displayed. One of the most useful sets is auxww. a displays information about all the running processes, not just your own. u displays the username of the process' owner, as well as memory usage. x displays information about daemon processes, and ww causes ps(1) to display the full command line for each process, rather than truncating it once it gets too long to fit on the screen.

The output from top(1) is similar. A sample session looks like this:

% top last pid: 72257; load averages: 0.13, 0.09, 0.03 up 0+13:38:33 22:39:10 47 processes: 1 running, 46 sleeping CPU states: 12.6% user, 0.0% nice, 7.8% system, 0.0% interrupt, 79.7% idle Mem: 36M Active, 5256K Inact, 13M Wired, 6312K Cache, 15M Buf, 408K Free Swap: 256M Total, 38M Used, 217M Free, 15% Inuse PID USERNAME PRI NICE SIZE RES STATE TIME WCPU CPU COMMAND 72257 nik 28 0 1960K 1044K RUN 0:00 14.86% 1.42% top 7078 nik 2 0 15280K 10960K select 2:54 0.88% 0.88% xemacs-21.1.14 281 nik 2 0 18636K 7112K select 5:36 0.73% 0.73% XF86_SVGA 296 nik 2 0 3240K 1644K select 0:12 0.05% 0.05% xterm 48630 nik 2 0 29816K 9148K select 3:18 0.00% 0.00% navigator-linu 175 root 2 0 924K 252K select 1:41 0.00% 0.00% syslogd 7059 nik 2 0 7260K 4644K poll 1:38 0.00% 0.00% mutt ...

The output is split into two sections. The header (the first five lines) shows the PID of the last process to run, the system load averages (which are a measure of how busy the system is), the system uptime (time since the last reboot) and the current time. The other figures in the header relate to how many processes are running (47 in this case), how much memory and swap space has been taken up, and how much time the system is spending in different CPU states.

Below that are a series of columns containing similar information to the output from ps(1). As before you can see the PID, the username, the amount of CPU time taken, and the command that was run. top(1) also defaults to showing you the amount of memory space taken by the process. This is split into two columns, one for total size, and one for resident size--total size is how much memory the application has needed, and the resident size is how much it is actually using at the moment. In this example you can see that Netscape® has required almost 30 MB of RAM, but is currently only using 9 MB.

top(1) automatically updates this display every two seconds; this can be changed with the s option.

3.8 Daemons, Signals, and Killing Processes

When you run an editor it is easy to control the editor, tell it to load files, and so on. You can do this because the editor provides facilities to do so, and because the editor is attached to a terminal. Some programs are not designed to be run with continuous user input, and so they disconnect from the terminal at the first opportunity. For example, a web server spends all day responding to web requests, it normally does not need any input from you. Programs that transport email from site to site are another example of this class of application.

We call these programs daemons. Daemons were characters in Greek mythology: neither good or evil, they were little attendant spirits that, by and large, did useful things for mankind, much like the web servers and mail servers of today do useful things. This is why the BSD mascot has, for a long time, been the cheerful-looking daemon with sneakers and a pitchfork.

There is a convention to name programs that normally run as daemons with a trailing “d”. BIND is the Berkeley Internet Name Domain, but the actual program that executes is called named; the Apache web server program is called httpd; the line printer spooling daemon is lpd and so on. This is a convention, not a hard and fast rule; for example, the main mail daemon for the Sendmail application is called sendmail, and not maild, as you might imagine.

Sometimes you will need to communicate with a daemon process. One way to do so is to send it (or any other running process), what is known as a signal. There are a number of different signals that you can send--some of them have a specific meaning, others are interpreted by the application, and the application's documentation will tell you how that application interprets signals. You can only send a signal to a process that you own. If you send a signal to someone else's process with kill(1) or kill(2), permission will be denied. The exception to this is the root user, who can send signals to everyone's processes.

FreeBSD will also send applications signals in some cases. If an application is badly written, and tries to access memory that it is not supposed to, FreeBSD sends the process the Segmentation Violation signal (SIGSEGV). If an application has used the alarm(3) system call to be alerted after a period of time has elapsed then it will be sent the Alarm signal (SIGALRM), and so on.

Two signals can be used to stop a process, SIGTERM and SIGKILL. SIGTERM is the polite way to kill a process; the process can catch the signal, realize that you want it to shut down, close any log files it may have open, and generally finish whatever it is doing at the time before shutting down. In some cases a process may even ignore SIGTERM if it is in the middle of some task that can not be interrupted.

SIGKILL can not be ignored by a process. This is the “I do not care what you are doing, stop right now” signal. If you send SIGKILL to a process then FreeBSD will stop that process there and then[4].

The other signals you might want to use are SIGHUP, SIGUSR1, and SIGUSR2. These are general purpose signals, and different applications will do different things when they are sent.

Suppose that you have changed your web server's configuration file--you would like to tell the web server to re-read its configuration. You could stop and restart httpd, but this would result in a brief outage period on your web server, which may be undesirable. Most daemons are written to respond to the SIGHUP signal by re-reading their configuration file. So instead of killing and restarting httpd you would send it the SIGHUP signal. Because there is no standard way to respond to these signals, different daemons will have different behavior, so be sure and read the documentation for the daemon in question.

Signals are sent using the kill(1) command, as this example shows.

Sending a Signal to a Process

This example shows how to send a signal to inetd(8). The inetd configuration file is /etc/inetd.conf, and inetd will re-read this configuration file when it is sent SIGHUP.

  1. Find the process ID of the process you want to send the signal to. Do this using ps(1) and grep(1). The grep(1) command is used to search through output, looking for the string you specify. This command is run as a normal user, and inetd(8) is run as root, so the ax options must be given to ps(1).

    % ps -ax | grep inetd 198 ?? IWs 0:00.00 inetd -wW

    So the inetd(8) PID is 198. In some cases the grep inetd command might also appear in this output. This is because of the way ps(1) has to find the list of running processes.

  2. Use kill(1) to send the signal. Because inetd(8) is being run by root you must use su(1) to become root first.

    % su Password: # /bin/kill -s HUP 198

    In common with most UNIX commands, kill(1) will not print any output if it is successful. If you send a signal to a process that you do not own then you will see “kill: PID: Operation not permitted”. If you mistype the PID you will either send the signal to the wrong process, which could be bad, or, if you are lucky, you will have sent the signal to a PID that is not currently in use, and you will see “kill: PID: No such process”.

    Why Use /bin/kill?: Many shells provide the kill command as a built in command; that is, the shell will send the signal directly, rather than running /bin/kill. This can be very useful, but different shells have a different syntax for specifying the name of the signal to send. Rather than try to learn all of them, it can be simpler just to use the /bin/kill ... command directly.

Sending other signals is very similar, just substitute TERM or KILL in the command line as necessary.

Important: Killing random process on the system can be a bad idea. In particular, init(8), process ID 1, is very special. Running /bin/kill -s KILL 1 is a quick way to shutdown your system. Always double check the arguments you run kill(1) with before you press Return.

3.9 Shells

In FreeBSD, a lot of everyday work is done in a command line interface called a shell. A shell's main job is to take commands from the input channel and execute them. A lot of shells also have built in functions to help with everyday tasks such as file management, file globbing, command line editing, command macros, and environment variables. FreeBSD comes with a set of shells, such as sh, the Bourne Shell, and tcsh, the improved C-shell. Many other shells are available from the FreeBSD Ports Collection, such as zsh and bash.

Which shell do you use? It is really a matter of taste. If you are a C programmer you might feel more comfortable with a C-like shell such as tcsh. If you have come from Linux or are new to a UNIX command line interface you might try bash. The point is that each shell has unique properties that may or may not work with your preferred working environment, and that you have a choice of what shell to use.

One common feature in a shell is filename completion. Given the typing of the first few letters of a command or filename, you can usually have the shell automatically complete the rest of the command or filename by hitting the Tab key on the keyboard. Here is an example. Suppose you have two files called foobar and You want to delete So what you would type on the keyboard is: rm fo[Tab].[Tab].

The shell would print out rm foo[BEEP].bar.

The [BEEP] is the console bell, which is the shell telling me it was unable to totally complete the filename because there is more than one match. Both foobar and start with fo, but it was able to complete to foo. If you type in ., then hit Tab again, the shell would be able to fill in the rest of the filename for you.

Another feature of the shell is the use of environment variables. Environment variables are a variable/key pair stored in the shell's environment space. This space can be read by any program invoked by the shell, and thus contains a lot of program configuration. Here is a list of common environment variables and what they mean:

Variable Description
USER Current logged in user's name.
PATH Colon-separated list of directories to search for binaries.
DISPLAY Network name of the X11 display to connect to, if available.
SHELL The current shell.
TERM The name of the user's type of terminal. Used to determine the capabilities of the terminal.
TERMCAP Database entry of the terminal escape codes to perform various terminal functions.
OSTYPE Type of operating system. e.g., FreeBSD.
MACHTYPE The CPU architecture that the system is running on.
EDITOR The user's preferred text editor.
PAGER The user's preferred text pager.
MANPATH Colon-separated list of directories to search for manual pages.

Setting an environment variable differs somewhat from shell to shell. For example, in the C-Style shells such as tcsh and csh, you would use setenv to set environment variables. Under Bourne shells such as sh and bash, you would use export to set your current environment variables. For example, to set or modify the EDITOR environment variable, under csh or tcsh a command like this would set EDITOR to /usr/local/bin/emacs:

% setenv EDITOR /usr/local/bin/emacs

Under Bourne shells:

% export EDITOR="/usr/local/bin/emacs"

You can also make most shells expand the environment variable by placing a $ character in front of it on the command line. For example, echo $TERM would print out whatever $TERM is set to, because the shell expands $TERM and passes it on to echo.

Shells treat a lot of special characters, called meta-characters as special representations of data. The most common one is the * character, which represents any number of characters in a filename. These special meta-characters can be used to do filename globbing. For example, typing in echo * is almost the same as typing in ls because the shell takes all the files that match * and puts them on the command line for echo to see.

To prevent the shell from interpreting these special characters, they can be escaped from the shell by putting a backslash (\) character in front of them. echo $TERM prints whatever your terminal is set to. echo \$TERM prints $TERM as is.

3.9.1 Changing Your Shell

The easiest way to change your shell is to use the chsh command. Running chsh will place you into the editor that is in your EDITOR environment variable; if it is not set, you will be placed in vi. Change the “Shell:” line accordingly.

You can also give chsh the -s option; this will set your shell for you, without requiring you to enter an editor. For example, if you wanted to change your shell to bash, the following should do the trick:

% chsh -s /usr/local/bin/bash

Note: The shell that you wish to use must be present in the /etc/shells file. If you have installed a shell from the ports collection, then this should have been done for you already. If you installed the shell by hand, you must do this.

For example, if you installed bash by hand and placed it into /usr/local/bin, you would want to:

# echo "/usr/local/bin/bash" >> /etc/shells

Then rerun chsh.

3.10 Text Editors

A lot of configuration in FreeBSD is done by editing text files. Because of this, it would be a good idea to become familiar with a text editor. FreeBSD comes with a few as part of the base system, and many more are available in the Ports Collection.

The easiest and simplest editor to learn is an editor called ee, which stands for easy editor. To start ee, one would type at the command line ee filename where filename is the name of the file to be edited. For example, to edit /etc/rc.conf, type in ee /etc/rc.conf. Once inside of ee, all of the commands for manipulating the editor's functions are listed at the top of the display. The caret ^ character represents the Ctrl key on the keyboard, so ^e expands to the key combination Ctrl+e. To leave ee, hit the Esc key, then choose leave editor. The editor will prompt you to save any changes if the file has been modified.

FreeBSD also comes with more powerful text editors such as vi as part of the base system, while other editors, like Emacs and vim, are part of the FreeBSD Ports Collection (editors/emacs and editors/vim). These editors offer much more functionality and power at the expense of being a little more complicated to learn. However if you plan on doing a lot of text editing, learning a more powerful editor such as vim or Emacs will save you much more time in the long run.

3.11 Devices and Device Nodes

A device is a term used mostly for hardware-related activities in a system, including disks, printers, graphics cards, and keyboards. When FreeBSD boots, the majority of what FreeBSD displays are devices being detected. You can look through the boot messages again by viewing /var/run/dmesg.boot.

For example, acd0 is the first IDE CDROM drive, while kbd0 represents the keyboard.

Most of these devices in a UNIX operating system must be accessed through special files called device nodes, which are located in the /dev directory.

3.11.1 Creating Device Nodes

When adding a new device to your system, or compiling in support for additional devices, new device nodes must be created. DEVFS (DEVice File System)

The device file system, or DEVFS, provides access to kernel's device namespace in the global file system namespace. Instead of having to create and modify device nodes, DEVFS maintains this particular file system for you.

See the devfs(5) manual page for more information.

3.12 Binary Formats

To understand why FreeBSD uses the elf(5) format, you must first know a little about the three currently “dominant” executable formats for UNIX:

  • a.out(5)

    The oldest and “classic” UNIX object format. It uses a short and compact header with a magic number at the beginning that is often used to characterize the format (see a.out(5) for more details). It contains three loaded segments: .text, .data, and .bss plus a symbol table and a string table.

  • COFF

    The SVR3 object format. The header now comprises a section table, so you can have more than just .text, .data, and .bss sections.

  • elf(5)

    The successor to COFF, featuring multiple sections and 32-bit or 64-bit possible values. One major drawback: ELF was also designed with the assumption that there would be only one ABI per system architecture. That assumption is actually quite incorrect, and not even in the commercial SYSV world (which has at least three ABIs: SVR4, Solaris, SCO) does it hold true.

    FreeBSD tries to work around this problem somewhat by providing a utility for branding a known ELF executable with information about the ABI it is compliant with. See the manual page for brandelf(1) for more information.

FreeBSD comes from the “classic” camp and used the a.out(5) format, a technology tried and proven through many generations of BSD releases, until the beginning of the 3.X branch. Though it was possible to build and run native ELF binaries (and kernels) on a FreeBSD system for some time before that, FreeBSD initially resisted the “push” to switch to ELF as the default format. Why? Well, when the Linux camp made their painful transition to ELF, it was not so much to flee the a.out executable format as it was their inflexible jump-table based shared library mechanism, which made the construction of shared libraries very difficult for vendors and developers alike. Since the ELF tools available offered a solution to the shared library problem and were generally seen as “the way forward” anyway, the migration cost was accepted as necessary and the transition made. FreeBSD's shared library mechanism is based more closely on Sun's SunOS™ style shared library mechanism and, as such, is very easy to use.

So, why are there so many different formats?

Back in the dim, dark past, there was simple hardware. This simple hardware supported a simple, small system. a.out was completely adequate for the job of representing binaries on this simple system (a PDP-11). As people ported UNIX from this simple system, they retained the a.out format because it was sufficient for the early ports of UNIX to architectures like the Motorola 68k, VAXen, etc.

Then some bright hardware engineer decided that if he could force software to do some sleazy tricks, then he would be able to shave a few gates off the design and allow his CPU core to run faster. While it was made to work with this new kind of hardware (known these days as RISC), a.out was ill-suited for this hardware, so many formats were developed to get to a better performance from this hardware than the limited, simple a.out format could offer. Things like COFF, ECOFF, and a few obscure others were invented and their limitations explored before things seemed to settle on ELF.

In addition, program sizes were getting huge and disks (and physical memory) were still relatively small so the concept of a shared library was born. The VM system also became more sophisticated. While each one of these advancements was done using the a.out format, its usefulness was stretched more and more with each new feature. In addition, people wanted to dynamically load things at run time, or to junk parts of their program after the init code had run to save in core memory and swap space. Languages became more sophisticated and people wanted code called before main automatically. Lots of hacks were done to the a.out format to allow all of these things to happen, and they basically worked for a time. In time, a.out was not up to handling all these problems without an ever increasing overhead in code and complexity. While ELF solved many of these problems, it would be painful to switch from the system that basically worked. So ELF had to wait until it was more painful to remain with a.out than it was to migrate to ELF.

However, as time passed, the build tools that FreeBSD derived their build tools from (the assembler and loader especially) evolved in two parallel trees. The FreeBSD tree added shared libraries and fixed some bugs. The GNU folks that originally wrote these programs rewrote them and added simpler support for building cross compilers, plugging in different formats at will, and so on. Since many people wanted to build cross compilers targeting FreeBSD, they were out of luck since the older sources that FreeBSD had for as and ld were not up to the task. The new GNU tools chain (binutils) does support cross compiling, ELF, shared libraries, C++ extensions, etc. In addition, many vendors are releasing ELF binaries, and it is a good thing for FreeBSD to run them.

ELF is more expressive than a.out and allows more extensibility in the base system. The ELF tools are better maintained, and offer cross compilation support, which is important to many people. ELF may be a little slower than a.out, but trying to measure it can be difficult. There are also numerous details that are different between the two in how they map pages, handle init code, etc. None of these are very important, but they are differences. In time support for a.out will be moved out of the GENERIC kernel, and eventually removed from the kernel once the need to run legacy a.out programs is past.

3.13 For More Information

3.13.1 Manual Pages

The most comprehensive documentation on FreeBSD is in the form of manual pages. Nearly every program on the system comes with a short reference manual explaining the basic operation and various arguments. These manuals can be viewed with the man command. Use of the man command is simple:

% man command

command is the name of the command you wish to learn about. For example, to learn more about ls command type:

% man ls

The online manual is divided up into numbered sections:

  1. User commands.

  2. System calls and error numbers.

  3. Functions in the C libraries.

  4. Device drivers.

  5. File formats.

  6. Games and other diversions.

  7. Miscellaneous information.

  8. System maintenance and operation commands.

  9. Kernel developers.

In some cases, the same topic may appear in more than one section of the online manual. For example, there is a chmod user command and a chmod() system call. In this case, you can tell the man command which one you want by specifying the section:

% man 1 chmod

This will display the manual page for the user command chmod. References to a particular section of the online manual are traditionally placed in parenthesis in written documentation, so chmod(1) refers to the chmod user command and chmod(2) refers to the system call.

This is fine if you know the name of the command and simply wish to know how to use it, but what if you cannot recall the command name? You can use man to search for keywords in the command descriptions by using the -k switch:

% man -k mail

With this command you will be presented with a list of commands that have the keyword “mail” in their descriptions. This is actually functionally equivalent to using the apropos command.

So, you are looking at all those fancy commands in /usr/bin but do not have the faintest idea what most of them actually do? Simply do:

% cd /usr/bin % man -f *


% cd /usr/bin % whatis *

which does the same thing.

3.13.2 GNU Info Files

FreeBSD includes many applications and utilities produced by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). In addition to manual pages, these programs come with more extensive hypertext documents called info files which can be viewed with the info command or, if you installed emacs, the info mode of emacs.

To use the info(1) command, simply type:

% info

For a brief introduction, type h. For a quick command reference, type ?.

Chapter 4 Installing Applications: Packages and Ports

4.1 Synopsis

FreeBSD is bundled with a rich collection of system tools as part of the base system. However, there is only so much one can do before needing to install an additional third-party application to get real work done. FreeBSD provides two complementary technologies for installing third-party software on your system: the FreeBSD Ports Collection (for installing from source), and packages (for installing from pre-built binaries). Either method may be used to install the newest version of your favorite applications from local media or straight off the network.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • How to install third-party binary software packages.

  • How to build third-party software from source by using the ports collection.

  • How to remove previously installed packages or ports.

  • How to override the default values that the ports collection uses.

  • How to find the appropriate software package.

  • How to upgrade your applications.

4.2 Overview of Software Installation

If you have used a UNIX system before you will know that the typical procedure for installing third-party software goes something like this:

  1. Download the software, which might be distributed in source code format, or as a binary.

  2. Unpack the software from its distribution format (typically a tarball compressed with compress(1), gzip(1), or bzip2(1)).

  3. Locate the documentation (perhaps an INSTALL or README file, or some files in a doc/ subdirectory) and read up on how to install the software.

  4. If the software was distributed in source format, compile it. This may involve editing a Makefile, or running a configure script, and other work.

  5. Test and install the software.

And that is only if everything goes well. If you are installing a software package that was not deliberately ported to FreeBSD you may even have to go in and edit the code to make it work properly.

Should you want to, you can continue to install software the “traditional” way with FreeBSD. However, FreeBSD provides two technologies which can save you a lot of effort: packages and ports. At the time of writing, over 17,000 third-party applications have been made available in this way.

For any given application, the FreeBSD package for that application is a single file which you must download. The package contains pre-compiled copies of all the commands for the application, as well as any configuration files or documentation. A downloaded package file can be manipulated with FreeBSD package management commands, such as pkg_add(1), pkg_delete(1), pkg_info(1), and so on. Installing a new application can be carried out with a single command.

A FreeBSD port for an application is a collection of files designed to automate the process of compiling an application from source code.

Remember that there are a number of steps you would normally carry out if you compiled a program yourself (downloading, unpacking, patching, compiling, installing). The files that make up a port contain all the necessary information to allow the system to do this for you. You run a handful of simple commands and the source code for the application is automatically downloaded, extracted, patched, compiled, and installed for you.

In fact, the ports system can also be used to generate packages which can later be manipulated with pkg_add and the other package management commands that will be introduced shortly.

Both packages and ports understand dependencies. Suppose you want to install an application that depends on a specific library being installed. Both the application and the library have been made available as FreeBSD ports and packages. If you use the pkg_add command or the ports system to add the application, both will notice that the library has not been installed, and automatically install the library first.

Given that the two technologies are quite similar, you might be wondering why FreeBSD bothers with both. Packages and ports both have their own strengths, and which one you use will depend on your own preference.

Package Benefits

  • A compressed package tarball is typically smaller than the compressed tarball containing the source code for the application.

  • Packages do not require any additional compilation. For large applications, such as Mozilla, KDE, or GNOME this can be important, particularly if you are on a slow system.

  • Packages do not require any understanding of the process involved in compiling software on FreeBSD.

Ports Benefits

  • Packages are normally compiled with conservative options, because they have to run on the maximum number of systems. By installing from the port, you can tweak the compilation options to (for example) generate code that is specific to a Pentium 4 or Athlon processor.

  • Some applications have compile-time options relating to what they can and cannot do. For example, Apache can be configured with a wide variety of different built-in options. By building from the port you do not have to accept the default options, and can set them yourself.

    In some cases, multiple packages will exist for the same application to specify certain settings. For example, Ghostscript is available as a ghostscript package and a ghostscript-nox11 package, depending on whether or not you have installed an X11 server. This sort of rough tweaking is possible with packages, but rapidly becomes impossible if an application has more than one or two different compile-time options.

  • The licensing conditions of some software distributions forbid binary distribution. They must be distributed as source code.

  • Some people do not trust binary distributions. At least with source code, you can (in theory) read through it and look for potential problems yourself.

  • If you have local patches, you will need the source in order to apply them.

  • Some people like having code around, so they can read it if they get bored, hack it, borrow from it (license permitting, of course), and so on.

To keep track of updated ports, subscribe to the FreeBSD ports mailing list and the FreeBSD ports bugs mailing list.

Warning: Before installing any application, you should check for security issues related to your application.

You can also install ports-mgmt/portaudit which will automatically check all installed applications for known vulnerabilities; a check will be also performed before any port build. Meanwhile, you can use the command portaudit -F -a after you have installed some packages.

The remainder of this chapter will explain how to use packages and ports to install and manage third-party software on FreeBSD.

4.3 Finding Your Application

Before you can install any applications you need to know what you want, and what the application is called.

FreeBSD's list of available applications is growing all the time. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to find what you want:

  • The FreeBSD web site maintains an up-to-date searchable list of all the available applications, at The ports are divided into categories, and you may either search for an application by name (if you know it), or see all the applications available in a category.

  • Dan Langille maintains FreshPorts, at FreshPorts tracks changes to the applications in the ports tree as they happen, allows you to “watch” one or more ports, and can send you email when they are updated.

  • If you do not know the name of the application you want, try using a site like FreshMeat ( to find an application, then check back at the FreeBSD site to see if the application has been ported yet.

  • If you know the exact name of the port, but just need to find out which category it is in, you can use the whereis(1) command. Simply type whereis file, where file is the program you want to install. If it is found on your system, you will be told where it is, as follows:

    # whereis lsof lsof: /usr/ports/sysutils/lsof

    This tells us that lsof (a system utility) can be found in the /usr/ports/sysutils/lsof directory.

  • Yet another way to find a particular port is by using the Ports Collection's built-in search mechanism. To use the search feature, you will need to be in the /usr/ports directory. Once in that directory, run make search name=program-name where program-name is the name of the program you want to find. For example, if you were looking for lsof:

    # cd /usr/ports # make search name=lsof Port: lsof-4.56.4 Path: /usr/ports/sysutils/lsof Info: Lists information about open files (similar to fstat(1)) Maint: Index: sysutils B-deps: R-deps:

    The part of the output you want to pay particular attention to is the “Path:” line, since that tells you where to find the port. The other information provided is not needed in order to install the port, so it will not be covered here.

    For more in-depth searching you can also use make search key=string where string is some text to search for. This searches port names, comments, descriptions and dependencies and can be used to find ports which relate to a particular subject if you do not know the name of the program you are looking for.

    In both of these cases, the search string is case-insensitive. Searching for “LSOF” will yield the same results as searching for “lsof”.

4.4 Using the Packages System

Contributed by Chern Lee.

4.4.1 Installing a Package

You can use the pkg_add(1) utility to install a FreeBSD software package from a local file or from a server on the network.

Example 4-1. Downloading a Package Manually and Installing It Locally

# ftp -a Connected to 220 FTP server (Version 6.00LS) ready. 331 Guest login ok, send your email address as password. 230- 230- This machine is in Vienna, VA, USA, hosted by Verio. 230- Questions? E-mail 230- 230- 230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply. Remote system type is UNIX. Using binary mode to transfer files. ftp> cd /pub/FreeBSD/ports/packages/sysutils/ 250 CWD command successful. ftp> get lsof-4.56.4.tgz local: lsof-4.56.4.tgz remote: lsof-4.56.4.tgz 200 PORT command successful. 150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for 'lsof-4.56.4.tgz' (92375 bytes). 100% |**************************************************| 92375 00:00 ETA 226 Transfer complete. 92375 bytes received in 5.60 seconds (16.11 KB/s) ftp> exit # pkg_add lsof-4.56.4.tgz

If you do not have a source of local packages (such as a FreeBSD CD-ROM set) then it will probably be easier to use the -r option to pkg_add(1). This will cause the utility to automatically determine the correct object format and release and then fetch and install the package from an FTP site.

# pkg_add -r lsof

The example above would download the correct package and add it without any further user intervention. If you want to specify an alternative FreeBSD Packages Mirror, instead of the main distribution site, you have to set the PACKAGESITE environment variable accordingly, to override the default settings. pkg_add(1) uses fetch(3) to download the files, which honors various environment variables, including FTP_PASSIVE_MODE, FTP_PROXY, and FTP_PASSWORD. You may need to set one or more of these if you are behind a firewall, or need to use an FTP/HTTP proxy. See fetch(3) for the complete list. Note that in the example above lsof is used instead of lsof-4.56.4. When the remote fetching feature is used, the version number of the package must be removed. pkg_add(1) will automatically fetch the latest version of the application.

Note: pkg_add(1) will download the latest version of your application if you are using FreeBSD-CURRENT or FreeBSD-STABLE. If you run a -RELEASE version, it will grab the version of the package that was built with your release. It is possible to change this behavior by overriding PACKAGESITE. For example, if you run a FreeBSD 5.4-RELEASE system, by default pkg_add(1) will try to fetch packages from If you want to force pkg_add(1) to download FreeBSD 5-STABLE packages, set PACKAGESITE to

Package files are distributed in .tgz and .tbz formats. You can find them at, or on the FreeBSD CD-ROM distribution. Every CD on the FreeBSD 4-CD set (and the PowerPak, etc.) contains packages in the /packages directory. The layout of the packages is similar to that of the /usr/ports tree. Each category has its own directory, and every package can be found within the All directory.

The directory structure of the package system matches the ports layout; they work with each other to form the entire package/port system.

4.4.2 Managing Packages

pkg_info(1) is a utility that lists and describes the various packages installed.

# pkg_info cvsup-16.1 A general network file distribution system optimized for CV docbook-1.2 Meta-port for the different versions of the DocBook DTD ...

pkg_version(1) is a utility that summarizes the versions of all installed packages. It compares the package version to the current version found in the ports tree.

# pkg_version cvsup = docbook = ...

The symbols in the second column indicate the relative age of the installed version and the version available in the local ports tree.

Symbol Meaning
= The version of the installed package matches the one found in the local ports tree.
< The installed version is older than the one available in the ports tree.
> The installed version is newer than the one found in the local ports tree. (The local ports tree is probably out of date.)
? The installed package cannot be found in the ports index. (This can happen, for instance, if an installed port is removed from the Ports Collection or renamed.)
* There are multiple versions of the package.

4.4.3 Deleting a Package

To remove a previously installed software package, use the pkg_delete(1) utility.

# pkg_delete xchat-1.7.1

Note that pkg_delete(1) requires the full package name and number; the above command would not work if xchat was given instead of xchat-1.7.1. It is, however, easy to use pkg_version(1) to find the version of the installed package. You could instead simply use a wildcard:

# pkg_delete xchat\*

in this case, all packages whose names start with xchat will be deleted.

4.4.4 Miscellaneous

All package information is stored within the /var/db/pkg directory. The installed file list and descriptions of each package can be found within files in this directory.

4.5 Using the Ports Collection

The following sections provide basic instructions on using the Ports Collection to install or remove programs from your system. The detailed description of available make targets and environment variables is available in ports(7).

4.5.1 Obtaining the Ports Collection

Before you can install ports, you must first obtain the Ports Collection--which is essentially a set of Makefiles, patches, and description files placed in /usr/ports.

When installing your FreeBSD system, sysinstall asked if you would like to install the Ports Collection. If you chose no, you can follow these instructions to obtain the ports collection:

CVSup Method

This is a quick method for getting and keeping your copy of the Ports Collection up to date using CVSup. If you want to learn more about CVSup, see Using CVSup.

Note: The csup utility is a rewrite of the CVSup software in C and is available in FreeBSD 6.2 or later. You can use csup that is included in the base install and skip step #1 and then substitute the cvsup command with csup. For older releases, you can still install csup via the net/csup port/package.

Make sure /usr/ports is empty before you run CVSup for the first time! If you already have the Ports Collection present, obtained from another source, CVSup will not prune removed patch files.

  1. Install the net/cvsup-without-gui package:

    # pkg_add -r cvsup-without-gui

    See CVSup Installation (Section A.5.2) for more details.

  2. Run cvsup:

    # cvsup -L 2 -h /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile

    Change to a CVSup server near you. See CVSup Mirrors (Section A.5.7) for a complete listing of mirror sites.

    Note: One may want to use his own ports-supfile, for example to avoid the need of passing the CVSup server on the command line.

    1. In this case, as root, copy /usr/share/examples/cvsup/ports-supfile to a new location, such as /root or your home directory.

    2. Edit ports-supfile.

    3. Change to a CVSup server near you. See CVSup Mirrors (Section A.5.7) for a complete listing of mirror sites.

    4. And now to run cvsup, use the following:

      # cvsup -L 2 /root/ports-supfile
  3. Running the cvsup(1) command later will download and apply all the recent changes to your Ports Collection, except actually rebuilding the ports for your own system.

Portsnap Method

Portsnap is an alternative system for distributing the Ports Collection. It was first included in FreeBSD 6.0. On older systems, you can install it from ports-mgmt/portsnap package:

# pkg_add -r portsnap

Please refer to Using Portsnap for a detailed description of all Portsnap features.

  1. Since FreeBSD 6.1-RELEASE and with recent versions of the Portsnap port or package, you can safely skip this step. The /usr/ports will be created automatically at first use of the portsnap(8) command. With previous versions of Portsnap, you will have to create an empty directory /usr/ports if it does not exists:

    # mkdir /usr/ports
  2. Download a compressed snapshot of the Ports Collection into /var/db/portsnap. You can disconnect from the Internet after this step, if you wish.

    # portsnap fetch
  3. If you are running Portsnap for the first time, extract the snapshot into /usr/ports:

    # portsnap extract

    If you already have a populated /usr/ports and you are just updating, run the following command instead:

    # portsnap update

Sysinstall Method

This method involves using sysinstall to install the Ports Collection from the installation media. Note that the old copy of Ports Collection from the date of the release will be installed. If you have Internet access, you should always use one of the methods mentioned above.

  1. As root, run sysinstall (/stand/sysinstall in FreeBSD versions older than 5.2) as shown below:

    # sysinstall
  2. Scroll down and select Configure, press Enter.

  3. Scroll down and select Distributions, press Enter.

  4. Scroll down to ports, press Space.

  5. Scroll up to Exit, press Enter.

  6. Select your desired installation media, such as CDROM, FTP, and so on.

  7. Scroll up to Exit and press Enter.

  8. Press X to exit sysinstall.

4.5.2 Installing Ports

The first thing that should be explained when it comes to the Ports Collection is what is actually meant by a “skeleton”. In a nutshell, a port skeleton is a minimal set of files that tell your FreeBSD system how to cleanly compile and install a program. Each port skeleton includes:

  • A Makefile. The Makefile contains various statements that specify how the application should be compiled and where it should be installed on your system.

  • A distinfo file. This file contains information about the files that must be downloaded to build the port, and their checksums (using md5(1) and sha256(1)), to verify that files have not been corrupted during the download.

  • A files directory. This directory contains patches to make the program compile and install on your FreeBSD system. Patches are basically small files that specify changes to particular files. They are in plain text format, and basically say “Remove line 10” or “Change line 26 to this ...”. Patches are also known as “diffs” because they are generated by the diff(1) program.

    This directory may also contain other files used to build the port.

  • A pkg-descr file. This is a more detailed, often multiple-line, description of the program.

  • A pkg-plist file. This is a list of all the files that will be installed by the port. It also tells the ports system what files to remove upon deinstallation.

Some ports have other files, such as pkg-message. The ports system uses these files to handle special situations. If you want more details on these files, and on ports in general, check out the FreeBSD Porter's Handbook.

The port includes instructions on how to build source code, but does not include the actual source code. You can get the source code from a CD-ROM or from the Internet. Source code is distributed in whatever manner the software author desires. Frequently this is a tarred and gzipped file, but it might be compressed with some other tool or even uncompressed. The program source code, whatever form it comes in, is called a “distfile”. The two methods for installing a FreeBSD port are described below.

Note: You must be logged in as root to install ports.

Warning: Before installing any port, you should be sure to have an up-to-date Ports Collection and you should check for security issues related to your port.

A security vulnerabilities check can be automatically done by portaudit before any new application installation. This tool can be found in the Ports Collection (ports-mgmt/portaudit). Consider running portaudit -F before installing a new port, to fetch the current vulnerabilities database. A security audit and an update of the database will be performed during the daily security system check. For more information read the portaudit(1) and periodic(8) manual pages.

The Ports Collection makes an assumption that you have a working Internet connection. If you do not, you will need to put a copy of the distfile into /usr/ports/distfiles manually.

To begin, change to the directory for the port you want to install:

# cd /usr/ports/sysutils/lsof

Once inside the lsof directory, you will see the port skeleton. The next step is to compile, or “build”, the port. This is done by simply typing make at the prompt. Once you have done so, you should see something like this:

# make >> lsof_4.57D.freebsd.tar.gz doesn't seem to exist in /usr/ports/distfiles/. >> Attempting to fetch from ===> Extracting for lsof-4.57 ... [extraction output snipped] ... >> Checksum OK for lsof_4.57D.freebsd.tar.gz. ===> Patching for lsof-4.57 ===> Applying FreeBSD patches for lsof-4.57 ===> Configuring for lsof-4.57 ... [configure output snipped] ... ===> Building for lsof-4.57 ... [compilation output snipped] ... #

Notice that once the compile is complete you are returned to your prompt. The next step is to install the port. In order to install it, you simply need to tack one word onto the make command, and that word is install:

# make install ===> Installing for lsof-4.57 ... [installation output snipped] ... ===> Generating temporary packing list ===> Compressing manual pages for lsof-4.57 ===> Registering installation for lsof-4.57 ===> SECURITY NOTE: This port has installed the following binaries which execute with increased privileges. #

Once you are returned to your prompt, you should be able to run the application you just installed. Since lsof is a program that runs with increased privileges, a security warning is shown. During the building and installation of ports, you should take heed of any other warnings that may appear.

It is a good idea to delete the working subdirectory, which contains all the temporary files used during compilation. Not only does it consume valuable disk space, but it would also cause problems later when upgrading to the newer version of the port.

# make clean ===> Cleaning for lsof-4.57 #

Note: You can save two extra steps by just running make install clean instead of make, make install and make clean as three separate steps.

Note: Some shells keep a cache of the commands that are available in the directories listed in the PATH environment variable, to speed up lookup operations for the executable file of these commands. If you are using one of these shells, you might have to use the rehash command after installing a port, before the newly installed commands can be used. This command will work for shells like tcsh. Use the hash -r command for shells like sh. Look at the documentation for your shell for more information.

Some third-party DVD-ROM products such as the FreeBSD Toolkit from the FreeBSD Mall contain distfiles. They can be used with the Ports Collection. Mount the DVD-ROM on /cdrom. If you use a different mount point, set CD_MOUNTPTS make variable. The needed distfiles will be automatically used if they are present on the disk.

Note: Please be aware that the licenses of a few ports do not allow for inclusion on the CD-ROM. This could be because a registration form needs to be filled out before downloading or redistribution is not allowed, or for another reason. If you wish to install a port not included on the CD-ROM, you will need to be online in order to do so.

The ports system uses fetch(1) to download the files, which honors various environment variables, including FTP_PASSIVE_MODE, FTP_PROXY, and FTP_PASSWORD. You may need to set one or more of these if you are behind a firewall, or need to use an FTP/HTTP proxy. See fetch(3) for the complete list.

For users which cannot be connected all the time, the make fetch option is provided. Just run this command at the top level directory (/usr/ports) and the required files will be downloaded for you. This command will also work in the lower level categories, for example: /usr/ports/net. Note that if a port depends on libraries or other ports this will not fetch the distfiles of those ports too. Replace fetch with fetch-recursive if you want to fetch all the dependencies of a port too.

Note: You can build all the ports in a category or as a whole by running make in the top level directory, just like the aforementioned make fetch method. This is dangerous, however, as some ports cannot co-exist. In other cases, some ports can install two different files with the same filename.

In some rare cases, users may need to acquire the tarballs from a site other than the MASTER_SITES (the location where files are downloaded from). You can override the MASTER_SITES option with the following command:

# cd /usr/ports/directory # make MASTER_SITE_OVERRIDE= \ fetch

In this example we change the MASTER_SITES option to

Note: Some ports allow (or even require) you to provide build options which can enable/disable parts of the application which are unneeded, certain security options, and other customizations. A few which come to mind are www/mozilla, security/gpgme, and mail/sylpheed-claws. A message will be displayed when options such as these are available. Overriding the Default Ports Directories

Sometimes it is useful (or mandatory) to use a different working and target directory. The WRKDIRPREFIX and PREFIX variables can override the default directories. For example:

# make WRKDIRPREFIX=/usr/home/example/ports install

will compile the port in /usr/home/example/ports and install everything under /usr/local.

# make PREFIX=/usr/home/example/local install

will compile it in /usr/ports and install it in /usr/home/example/local.

And of course,

# make WRKDIRPREFIX=../ports PREFIX=../local install

will combine the two (it is too long to completely write on this page, but it should give you the general idea).

Alternatively, these variables can also be set as part of your environment. Read the manual page for your shell for instructions on doing so. Dealing with imake

Some ports that use imake (a part of the X Window System) do not work well with PREFIX, and will insist on installing under /usr/X11R6. Similarly, some Perl ports ignore PREFIX and install in the Perl tree. Making these ports respect PREFIX is a difficult or impossible job. Reconfiguring Ports

When building certain ports, you may be presented with a ncurses-based menu from which you can select certain build options. It is not uncommon for users to wish to revisit this menu to add, remove, or change these options after a port has been built. There are many ways to do this. One option is to go into the directory containing the port and type make config, which will simply present the menu again with the same options selected. Another option is to use make showconfig which will show you all the configuration options for the port. Yet another option is to execute make rmconfig which will remove all selected options and allow you to start over. All of these options, and others, are explained in great detail in in the man page for ports(7).

4.5.3 Removing Installed Ports

Now that you know how to install ports, you are probably wondering how to remove them, just in case you install one and later on decide that you installed the wrong port. We will remove our previous example (which was lsof for those of you not paying attention). Ports are being removed exactly the same as the packages (discussed in the Packages section), using the pkg_delete(1) command:

# pkg_delete lsof-4.57

4.5.4 Upgrading Ports

First, list outdated ports that have a newer version available in the Ports Collection with the pkg_version(1) command:

# pkg_version -v /usr/ports/UPDATING

Once you have updated your Ports Collection, before attempting a port upgrade, you should check /usr/ports/UPDATING. This file describes various issues and additional steps users may encounter and need to perform when updating a port, including such things as file format changes, changes in locations of configuration files, or other such incompatibilities with previous versions.

If UPDATING contradicts something you read here, UPDATING takes precedence. Upgrading Ports using Portupgrade

The portupgrade utility is designed to easily upgrade installed ports. It is available from the ports-mgmt/portupgrade port. Install it like any other port, using the make install clean command:

# cd /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/portupgrade # make install clean

Scan the list of installed ports with the pkgdb -F command and fix all the inconsistencies it reports. It is a good idea to do this regularly, before every upgrade.

When you run portupgrade -a, portupgrade will begin to upgrade all the outdated ports installed on your system. Use the -i flag if you want to be asked for confirmation of every individual upgrade.

# portupgrade -ai

If you want to upgrade only a certain application, not all available ports, use portupgrade pkgname. Include the -R flag if portupgrade should first upgrade all the ports required by the given application.

# portupgrade -R firefox

To use packages instead of ports for installation, provide -P flag. With this option portupgrade searches the local directories listed in PKG_PATH, or fetches packages from remote site if it is not found locally. If packages can not be found locally or fetched remotely, portupgrade will use ports. To avoid using ports, specify -PP.

# portupgrade -PP gnome2

To just fetch distfiles (or packages, if -P is specified) without building or installing anything, use -F. For further information see portupgrade(1). Upgrading Ports using Portmanager

Portmanager is another utility for easy upgrading of installed ports. It is available from the ports-mgmt/portmanager port:

# cd /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/portmanager # make install clean

All the installed ports can be upgraded using this simple command:

# portmanager -u

You can add the -ui flag to get asked for confirmation of every step Portmanager will perform. Portmanager can also be used to install new ports on the system. Unlike the usual make install clean command, it will upgrade all the dependencies prior to building and installing the selected port.

# portmanager x11/gnome2

If there are any problems regarding the dependencies for the selected port, you can use Portmanager to rebuild all of them in the correct order. Once finished, the problematic port will be rebuilt too.

# portmanager graphics/gimp -f

For further information see portmanager(1).

4.5.5 Ports and Disk Space

Using the Ports Collection will use up disk space over time. After building and installing software from the ports, you should always remember to clean up the temporary work directories using the make clean command. You can sweep the whole Ports Collection with the following command:

# portsclean -C

You will accumulate a lot of old source distribution files in the distfiles directory over time. You can remove them by hand, or you can use the following command to delete all the distfiles that are no longer referenced by any ports:

# portsclean -D

Or to remove all distfiles not referenced by any port currently installed on your system:

# portsclean -DD

Note: The portsclean utility is part of the portupgrade suite.

Do not forget to remove the installed ports once you no longer need them. A nice tool to help automate this task is available from the ports-mgmt/pkg_cutleaves port.

4.6 Post-installation Activities

After installing a new application you will normally want to read any documentation it may have included, edit any configuration files that are required, ensure that the application starts at boot time (if it is a daemon), and so on.

The exact steps you need to take to configure each application will obviously be different. However, if you have just installed a new application and are wondering “What now?” these tips might help:

  • Use pkg_info(1) to find out which files were installed, and where. For example, if you have just installed FooPackage version 1.0.0, then this command

    # pkg_info -L foopackage-1.0.0 | less

    will show all the files installed by the package. Pay special attention to files in man/ directories, which will be manual pages, etc/ directories, which will be configuration files, and doc/, which will be more comprehensive documentation.

    If you are not sure which version of the application was just installed, a command like this

    # pkg_info | grep -i foopackage

    will find all the installed packages that have foopackage in the package name. Replace foopackage in your command line as necessary.

  • Once you have identified where the application's manual pages have been installed, review them using man(1). Similarly, look over the sample configuration files, and any additional documentation that may have been provided.

  • If the application has a web site, check it for additional documentation, frequently asked questions, and so forth. If you are not sure of the web site address it may be listed in the output from

    # pkg_info foopackage-1.0.0

    A WWW: line, if present, should provide a URL for the application's web site.

  • Ports that should start at boot (such as Internet servers) will usually install a sample script in /usr/local/etc/rc.d. You should review this script for correctness and edit or rename it if needed. See Starting Services for more information.

4.7 Dealing with Broken Ports

If you come across a port that does not work for you, there are a few things you can do, including:

  1. Find out if there is a fix pending for the port in the Problem Report database. If so, you may be able to use the proposed fix.

  2. Ask the maintainer of the port for help. Type make maintainer or read the Makefile to find the maintainer's email address. Remember to include the name and version of the port (send the $FreeBSD: line from the Makefile) and the output leading up to the error when you email the maintainer.

    Note: Some ports are not maintained by an individual but instead by a mailing list. Many, but not all, of these addresses look like . Please take this into account when phrasing your questions.

    In particular, ports shown as maintained by are actually not maintained by anyone. Fixes and support, if any, come from the general community who subscribe to that mailing list. More volunteers are always needed!

    If you do not get a response, you can use send-pr(1) to submit a bug report (see Writing FreeBSD Problem Reports).

  3. Fix it! The Porter's Handbook includes detailed information on the “Ports” infrastructure so that you can fix the occasional broken port or even submit your own!

  4. Grab the package from an FTP site near you. The “master” package collection is on in the packages directory, but be sure to check your local mirror first! These are more likely to work than trying to compile from source and are a lot faster as well. Use the pkg_add(1) program to install the package on your system.

Chapter 5 The X Window System

Updated for X.Org's X11 server by Ken Tom and Marc Fonvieille.

5.1 Synopsis

FreeBSD uses X11 to provide users with a powerful graphical user interface. X11 is a freely available version of the X Window System that is implemented in both Xorg and XFree86 (and other software packages not discussed here). FreeBSD versions up to and including FreeBSD 5.2.1-RELEASE will find the default installation to be XFree86, the X11 server released by The XFree86 Project, Inc. As of FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE, the default and official flavor of X11 was changed to Xorg, the X11 server developed by the X.Org Foundation under a license very similar to the one used by FreeBSD. Commercial X servers for FreeBSD are also available.

This chapter will cover the installation and configuration of X11 with emphasis on Xorg 7.2 release. For information about configuring XFree86 (i.e. on older releases of FreeBSD where XFree86 was the default X11 distribution) or previous releases of Xorg, it is always possible to refer to archived versions of the FreeBSD Handbook at

For more information on the video hardware that X11 supports, check the Xorg web site.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • The various components of the X Window System, and how they interoperate.

  • How to install and configure X11.

  • How to install and use different window managers.

  • How to use TrueType® fonts in X11.

  • How to set up your system for graphical logins (XDM).

Before reading this chapter, you should:

  • Know how to install additional third-party software (Chapter 4).

5.2 Understanding X

Using X for the first time can be somewhat of a shock to someone familiar with other graphical environments, such as Microsoft Windows or Mac OS.

While it is not necessary to understand all of the details of various X components and how they interact, some basic knowledge makes it possible to take advantage of X's strengths.

5.2.1 Why X?

X is not the first window system written for UNIX, but it is the most popular of them. X's original development team had worked on another window system prior to writing X. That system's name was “W” (for “Window”). X was just the next letter in the Roman alphabet.

X can be called “X”, “X Window System”, “X11”, and a number of other terms. You may find that using the term “X Windows” to describe X11 can be offensive to some people; for a bit more insight on this, see X(7).

5.2.2 The X Client/Server Model

X was designed from the beginning to be network-centric, and adopts a “client-server” model.

In the X model, the “X server” runs on the computer that has the keyboard, monitor, and mouse attached. The server's responsibility includes tasks such as managing the display, handling input from the keyboard and mouse, and so on. Each X application (such as XTerm, or Netscape) is a “client”. A client sends messages to the server such as “Please draw a window at these coordinates”, and the server sends back messages such as “The user just clicked on the OK button”.

In a home or small office environment, the X server and the X clients commonly run on the same computer. However, it is perfectly possible to run the X server on a less powerful desktop computer, and run X applications (the clients) on, say, the powerful and expensive machine that serves the office. In this scenario the communication between the X client and server takes place over the network.

This confuses some people, because the X terminology is exactly backward to what they expect. They expect the “X server” to be the big powerful machine down the hall, and the “X client” to be the machine on their desk.

It is important to remember that the X server is the machine with the monitor and keyboard, and the X clients are the programs that display the windows.

There is nothing in the protocol that forces the client and server machines to be running the same operating system, or even to be running on the same type of computer. It is certainly possible to run an X server on Microsoft Windows or Apple's Mac OS, and there are various free and commercial applications available that do exactly that.

5.2.3 The Window Manager

The X design philosophy is much like the UNIX design philosophy, “tools, not policy”. This means that X does not try to dictate how a task is to be accomplished. Instead, tools are provided to the user, and it is the user's responsibility to decide how to use those tools.

This philosophy extends to X not dictating what windows should look like on screen, how to move them around with the mouse, what keystrokes should be used to move between windows (i.e., Alt+Tab, in the case of Microsoft Windows), what the title bars on each window should look like, whether or not they have close buttons on them, and so on.

Instead, X delegates this responsibility to an application called a “Window Manager”. There are dozens of window managers available for X: AfterStep, Blackbox, ctwm, Enlightenment, fvwm, Sawfish, twm, Window Maker, and more. Each of these window managers provides a different look and feel; some of them support “virtual desktops”; some of them allow customized keystrokes to manage the desktop; some have a “Start” button or similar device; some are “themeable”, allowing a complete change of look-and-feel by applying a new theme. These window managers, and many more, are available in the x11-wm category of the Ports Collection.

In addition, the KDE and GNOME desktop environments both have their own window managers which integrate with the desktop.

Each window manager also has a different configuration mechanism; some expect configuration file written by hand, others feature GUI tools for most of the configuration tasks; at least one (Sawfish) has a configuration file written in a dialect of the Lisp language.

Focus Policy: Another feature the window manager is responsible for is the mouse “focus policy”. Every windowing system needs some means of choosing a window to be actively receiving keystrokes, and should visibly indicate which window is active as well.

A familiar focus policy is called “click-to-focus”. This is the model utilized by Microsoft Windows, in which a window becomes active upon receiving a mouse click.

X does not support any particular focus policy. Instead, the window manager controls which window has the focus at any one time. Different window managers will support different focus methods. All of them support click to focus, and the majority of them support several others.

The most popular focus policies are:


The window that is under the mouse pointer is the window that has the focus. This may not necessarily be the window that is on top of all the other windows. The focus is changed by pointing at another window, there is no need to click in it as well.


This policy is a small extension to focus-follows-mouse. With focus-follows-mouse, if the mouse is moved over the root window (or background) then no window has the focus, and keystrokes are simply lost. With sloppy-focus, focus is only changed when the cursor enters a new window, and not when exiting the current window.


The active window is selected by mouse click. The window may then be “raised”, and appear in front of all other windows. All keystrokes will now be directed to this window, even if the cursor is moved to another window.

Many window managers support other policies, as well as variations on these. Be sure to consult the documentation for the window manager itself.

5.2.4 Widgets

The X approach of providing tools and not policy extends to the widgets seen on screen in each application.

“Widget” is a term for all the items in the user interface that can be clicked or manipulated in some way; buttons, check boxes, radio buttons, icons, lists, and so on. Microsoft Windows calls these “controls”.

Microsoft Windows and Apple's Mac OS both have a very rigid widget policy. Application developers are supposed to ensure that their applications share a common look and feel. With X, it was not considered sensible to mandate a particular graphical style, or set of widgets to adhere to.

As a result, do not expect X applications to have a common look and feel. There are several popular widget sets and variations, including the original Athena widget set from MIT, Motif® (on which the widget set in Microsoft Windows was modeled, all bevelled edges and three shades of grey), OpenLook, and others.

Most newer X applications today will use a modern-looking widget set, either Qt, used by KDE, or GTK+, used by the GNOME project. In this respect, there is some convergence in look-and-feel of the UNIX desktop, which certainly makes things easier for the novice user.

5.3 Installing X11

Xorg is the default X11 implementation for FreeBSD. Xorg is the X server of the open source X Window System implementation released by the X.Org Foundation. Xorg is based on the code of XFree86 4.4RC2 and X11R6.6. The version of Xorg currently available in the FreeBSD Ports Collection is 7.2.

To build and install Xorg from the Ports Collection:

# cd /usr/ports/x11/xorg # make install clean

Note: To build Xorg in its entirety, be sure to have at least 4 GB of free space available.

Alternatively, X11 can be installed directly from packages. Binary packages to use with pkg_add(1) tool are also available for X11. When the remote fetching feature of pkg_add(1) is used, the version number of the package must be removed. pkg_add(1) will automatically fetch the latest version of the application.

So to fetch and install the package of Xorg, simply type:

# pkg_add -r xorg

Note: The examples above will install the complete X11 distribution including the servers, clients, fonts etc. Separate packages and ports of X11 are also available.

The rest of this chapter will explain how to configure X11, and how to set up a productive desktop environment.

5.4 X11 Configuration

Contributed by Christopher Shumway.

5.4.1 Before Starting

Before configuration of X11 the following information about the target system is needed:

  • Monitor specifications

  • Video Adapter chipset

  • Video Adapter memory

The specifications for the monitor are used by X11 to determine the resolution and refresh rate to run at. These specifications can usually be obtained from the documentation that came with the monitor or from the manufacturer's website. There are two ranges of numbers that are needed, the horizontal scan rate and the vertical synchronization rate.

The video adapter's chipset defines what driver module X11 uses to talk to the graphics hardware. With most chipsets, this can be automatically determined, but it is still useful to know in case the automatic detection does not work correctly.

Video memory on the graphic adapter determines the resolution and color depth which the system can run at. This is important to know so the user knows the limitations of the system.

5.4.2 Configuring X11

As of version 7.3, Xorg can often work without any configuration file by simply typing at prompt:

% startx

If this does not work, or if the default configuration is not acceptable, then X11 must be configured manually. Configuration of X11 is a multi-step process. The first step is to build an initial configuration file. As the super user, simply run:

# Xorg -configure

This will generate an X11 configuration skeleton file in the /root directory called (whether you su(1) or do a direct login affects the inherited supervisor $HOME directory variable). The X11 program will attempt to probe the graphics hardware on the system and write a configuration file to load the proper drivers for the detected hardware on the target system.

The next step is to test the existing configuration to verify that Xorg can work with the graphics hardware on the target system. To perform this task, type:

# Xorg -config

If a black and grey grid and an X mouse cursor appear, the configuration was successful. To exit the test, just press Ctrl+Alt+Backspace simultaneously.

Note: If the mouse does not work, you will need to first configure it before proceeding. See Section 2.10.10 in the FreeBSD install chapter.

Next, tune the configuration file to taste. Open the file in a text editor such as emacs(1) or ee(1). First, add the frequencies for the target system's monitor. These are usually expressed as a horizontal and vertical synchronization rate. These values are added to the file under the "Monitor" section:

Section "Monitor" Identifier "Monitor0" VendorName "Monitor Vendor" ModelName "Monitor Model" HorizSync 30-107 VertRefresh 48-120 EndSection

The HorizSync and VertRefresh keywords may be missing in the configuration file. If they are, they need to be added, with the correct horizontal synchronization rate placed after the HorizSync keyword and the vertical synchronization rate after the VertRefresh keyword. In the example above the target monitor's rates were entered.

X allows DPMS (Energy Star) features to be used with capable monitors. The xset(1) program controls the time-outs and can force standby, suspend, or off modes. If you wish to enable DPMS features for your monitor, you must add the following line to the monitor section:

Option "DPMS"

While the configuration file is still open in an editor, select the default resolution and color depth desired. This is defined in the "Screen" section:

Section "Screen" Identifier "Screen0" Device "Card0" Monitor "Monitor0" DefaultDepth 24 SubSection "Display" Viewport 0 0 Depth 24 Modes "1024x768" EndSubSection EndSection

The DefaultDepth keyword describes the color depth to run at by default. This can be overridden with the -depth command line switch to Xorg(1). The Modes keyword describes the resolution to run at for the given color depth. Note that only VESA standard modes are supported as defined by the target system's graphics hardware. In the example above, the default color depth is twenty-four bits per pixel. At this color depth, the accepted resolution is 1024 by 768 pixels.

Finally, write the configuration file and test it using the test mode given above.

Note: One of the tools available to assist you during troubleshooting process are the X11 log files, which contain information on each device that the X11 server attaches to. Xorg log file names are in the format of /var/log/Xorg.0.log. The exact name of the log can vary from Xorg.0.log to Xorg.8.log and so forth.

If all is well, the configuration file needs to be installed in a common location where Xorg(1) can find it. This is typically /etc/X11/xorg.conf or /usr/local/etc/X11/xorg.conf.

# cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf

The X11 configuration process is now complete. Xorg may be now started with the startx(1) utility. The X11 server may also be started with the use of xdm(1).

Note: There is also a graphical configuration tool, xorgcfg(1), which comes with the X11 distribution. It allows you to interactively define your configuration by choosing the appropriate drivers and settings. This program can be invoked from the console, by typing the command xorgcfg -textmode. For more details, refer to the xorgcfg(1) manual page.

Alternatively, there is also a tool called xorgconfig(1). This program is a console utility that is less user friendly, but it may work in situations where the other tools do not.

5.4.3 Advanced Configuration Topics Configuration with Intel® i810 Graphics Chipsets

Configuration with Intel i810 integrated chipsets requires the agpgart AGP programming interface for X11 to drive the card. See the agp(4) driver manual page for more information.

This will allow configuration of the hardware as any other graphics board. Note on systems without the agp(4) driver compiled in the kernel, trying to load the module with kldload(8) will not work. This driver has to be in the kernel at boot time through being compiled in or using /boot/loader.conf. Adding a Widescreen Flatpanel to the Mix

This section assumes a bit of advanced configuration knowledge. If attempts to use the standard configuration tools above have not resulted in a working configuration, there is information enough in the log files to be of use in getting the setup working. Use of a text editor will be necessary.

Current widescreen (WSXGA, WSXGA+, WUXGA, WXGA, WXGA+, formats support 16:10 and 10:9 formats or aspect ratios that can be problematic. Examples of some common screen resolutions for 16:10 aspect ratios are:

  • 2560x1600

  • 1920x1200

  • 1680x1050

  • 1440x900

  • 1280x800

At some point, it will be as easy as adding one of these resolutions as a possible Mode in the Section "Screen" as such:

Section "Screen" Identifier "Screen0" Device "Card0" Monitor "Monitor0" DefaultDepth 24 SubSection "Display" Viewport 0 0 Depth 24 Modes "1680x1050" EndSubSection EndSection

Xorg is smart enough to pull the resolution information from the widescreen via I2C/DDC information so it knows what the monitor can handle as far as frequencies and resolutions.

If those ModeLines do not exist in the drivers, one might need to give Xorg a little hint. Using /var/log/Xorg.0.log one can extract enough information to manually create a ModeLine that will work. Simply look for information resembling this:

(II) MGA(0): Supported additional Video Mode: (II) MGA(0): clock: 146.2 MHz Image Size: 433 x 271 mm (II) MGA(0): h_active: 1680 h_sync: 1784 h_sync_end 1960 h_blank_end 2240 h_border: 0 (II) MGA(0): v_active: 1050 v_sync: 1053 v_sync_end 1059 v_blanking: 1089 v_border: 0 (II) MGA(0): Ranges: V min: 48 V max: 85 Hz, H min: 30 H max: 94 kHz, PixClock max 170 MHz

This information is called EDID information. Creating a ModeLine from this is just a matter of putting the numbers in the correct order:

ModeLine <name> <clock> <4 horiz. timings> <4 vert. timings>

So that the ModeLine in Section "Monitor" for this example would look like this:

Section "Monitor" Identifier "Monitor1" VendorName "Bigname" ModelName "BestModel" ModeLine "1680x1050" 146.2 1680 1784 1960 2240 1050 1053 1059 1089 Option "DPMS" EndSection

Now having completed these simple editing steps, X should start on your new widescreen monitor.

5.5 Using Fonts in X11

Contributed by Murray Stokely.

5.5.1 Type1 Fonts

The default fonts that ship with X11 are less than ideal for typical desktop publishing applications. Large presentation fonts show up jagged and unprofessional looking, and small fonts in Netscape are almost completely unintelligible. However, there are several free, high quality Type1 (PostScript®) fonts available which can be readily used with X11. For instance, the URW font collection (x11-fonts/urwfonts) includes high quality versions of standard type1 fonts (Times Roman®, Helvetica®, Palatino® and others). The Freefonts collection (x11-fonts/freefonts) includes many more fonts, but most of them are intended for use in graphics software such as the Gimp, and are not complete enough to serve as screen fonts. In addition, X11 can be configured to use TrueType fonts with a minimum of effort. For more details on this, see the X(7) manual page or the section on TrueType fonts.

To install the above Type1 font collections from the ports collection, run the following commands:

# cd /usr/ports/x11-fonts/urwfonts # make install clean

And likewise with the freefont or other collections. To have the X server detect these fonts, add an appropriate line to the X server configuration file (/etc/X11/xorg.conf), which reads:

FontPath "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/URW/"

Alternatively, at the command line in the X session run:

% xset fp+ /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/URW % xset fp rehash

This will work but will be lost when the X session is closed, unless it is added to the startup file (~/.xinitrc for a normal startx session, or ~/.xsession when logging in through a graphical login manager like XDM). A third way is to use the new /usr/local/etc/fonts/local.conf file: see the section on anti-aliasing.

5.5.2 TrueType® Fonts

Xorg has built in support for rendering TrueType fonts. There are two different modules that can enable this functionality. The freetype module is used in this example because it is more consistent with the other font rendering back-ends. To enable the freetype module just add the following line to the "Module" section of the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file.

Load "freetype"

Now make a directory for the TrueType fonts (for example, /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/TrueType) and copy all of the TrueType fonts into this directory. Keep in mind that TrueType fonts cannot be directly taken from a Macintosh®; they must be in UNIX/MS-DOS/Windows format for use by X11. Once the files have been copied into this directory, use ttmkfdir to create a fonts.dir file, so that the X font renderer knows that these new files have been installed. ttmkfdir is available from the FreeBSD Ports Collection as x11-fonts/ttmkfdir.

# cd /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/TrueType # ttmkfdir -o fonts.dir

Now add the TrueType directory to the font path. This is just the same as described above for Type1 fonts, that is, use

% xset fp+ /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/TrueType % xset fp rehash

or add a FontPath line to the xorg.conf file.

That's it. Now Netscape, Gimp, StarOffice, and all of the other X applications should now recognize the installed TrueType fonts. Extremely small fonts (as with text in a high resolution display on a web page) and extremely large fonts (within StarOffice) will look much better now.

5.5.3 Anti-Aliased Fonts

Updated by Joe Marcus Clarke.

Anti-aliasing has been available in X11 since XFree86 4.0.2. However, font configuration was cumbersome before the introduction of XFree86 4.3.0. Beginning with XFree86 4.3.0, all fonts in X11 that are found in /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/ and ~/.fonts/ are automatically made available for anti-aliasing to Xft-aware applications. Not all applications are Xft-aware, but many have received Xft support. Examples of Xft-aware applications include Qt 2.3 and higher (the toolkit for the KDE desktop), GTK+ 2.0 and higher (the toolkit for the GNOME desktop), and Mozilla 1.2 and higher.

In order to control which fonts are anti-aliased, or to configure anti-aliasing properties, create (or edit, if it already exists) the file /usr/local/etc/fonts/local.conf. Several advanced features of the Xft font system can be tuned using this file; this section describes only some simple possibilities. For more details, please see fonts-conf(5).

This file must be in XML format. Pay careful attention to case, and make sure all tags are properly closed. The file begins with the usual XML header followed by a DOCTYPE definition, and then the <fontconfig> tag:

<?xml version="1.0"?> <!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd"> <fontconfig>

As previously stated, all fonts in /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/ as well as ~/.fonts/ are already made available to Xft-aware applications. If you wish to add another directory outside of these two directory trees, add a line similar to the following to /usr/local/etc/fonts/local.conf:


After adding new fonts, and especially new font directories, you should run the following command to rebuild the font caches:

# fc-cache -f

Anti-aliasing makes borders slightly fuzzy, which makes very small text more readable and removes “staircases” from large text, but can cause eyestrain if applied to normal text. To exclude font sizes smaller than 14 point from anti-aliasing, include these lines:

<match target="font"> <test name="size" compare="less"> <double>14</double> </test> <edit name="antialias" mode="assign"> <bool>false</bool> </edit> </match> <match target="font"> <test name="pixelsize" compare="less" qual="any"> <double>14</double> </test> <edit mode="assign" name="antialias"> <bool>false</bool> </edit> </match>

Spacing for some monospaced fonts may also be inappropriate with anti-aliasing. This seems to be an issue with KDE, in particular. One possible fix for this is to force the spacing for such fonts to be 100. Add the following lines:

<match target="pattern" name="family"> <test qual="any" name="family"> <string>fixed</string> </test> <edit name="family" mode="assign"> <string>mono</string> </edit> </match> <match target="pattern" name="family"> <test qual="any" name="family"> <string>console</string> </test> <edit name="family" mode="assign"> <string>mono</string> </edit> </match>

(this aliases the other common names for fixed fonts as "mono"), and then add:

<match target="pattern" name="family"> <test qual="any" name="family"> <string>mono</string> </test> <edit name="spacing" mode="assign"> <int>100</int> </edit> </match>

Certain fonts, such as Helvetica, may have a problem when anti-aliased. Usually this manifests itself as a font that seems cut in half vertically. At worst, it may cause applications such as Mozilla to crash. To avoid this, consider adding the following to local.conf:

<match target="pattern" name="family"> <test qual="any" name="family"> <string>Helvetica</string> </test> <edit name="family" mode="assign"> <string>sans-serif</string> </edit> </match>

Once you have finished editing local.conf make sure you end the file with the </fontconfig> tag. Not doing this will cause your changes to be ignored.

The default font set that comes with X11 is not very desirable when it comes to anti-aliasing. A much better set of default fonts can be found in the x11-fonts/bitstream-vera port. This port will install a /usr/local/etc/fonts/local.conf file if one does not exist already. If the file does exist, the port will create a /usr/local/etc/fonts/local.conf-vera file. Merge the contents of this file into /usr/local/etc/fonts/local.conf, and the Bitstream fonts will automatically replace the default X11 Serif, Sans Serif, and Monospaced fonts.

Finally, users can add their own settings via their personal .fonts.conf files. To do this, each user should simply create a ~/.fonts.conf. This file must also be in XML format.

One last point: with an LCD screen, sub-pixel sampling may be desired. This basically treats the (horizontally separated) red, green and blue components separately to improve the horizontal resolution; the results can be dramatic. To enable this, add the line somewhere in the local.conf file:

<match target="font"> <test qual="all" name="rgba"> <const>unknown</const> </test> <edit name="rgba" mode="assign"> <const>rgb</const> </edit> </match>

Note: Depending on the sort of display, rgb may need to be changed to bgr, vrgb or vbgr: experiment and see which works best.

Anti-aliasing should be enabled the next time the X server is started. However, programs must know how to take advantage of it. At present, the Qt toolkit does, so the entire KDE environment can use anti-aliased fonts. GTK+ and GNOME can also be made to use anti-aliasing via the “Font” capplet (see Section for details). By default, Mozilla 1.2 and greater will automatically use anti-aliasing. To disable this, rebuild Mozilla with the -DWITHOUT_XFT flag.

5.6 The X Display Manager

Contributed by Seth Kingsley.

5.6.1 Overview

The X Display Manager (XDM) is an optional part of the X Window System that is used for login session management. This is useful for several types of situations, including minimal “X Terminals”, desktops, and large network display servers. Since the X Window System is network and protocol independent, there are a wide variety of possible configurations for running X clients and servers on different machines connected by a network. XDM provides a graphical interface for choosing which display server to connect to, and entering authorization information such as a login and password combination.

Think of XDM as providing the same functionality to the user as the getty(8) utility (see Section 24.3.2 for details). That is, it performs system logins to the display being connected to and then runs a session manager on behalf of the user (usually an X window manager). XDM then waits for this program to exit, signaling that the user is done and should be logged out of the display. At this point, XDM can display the login and display chooser screens for the next user to login.

5.6.2 Using XDM

The XDM daemon program is located in /usr/local/bin/xdm. This program can be run at any time as root and it will start managing the X display on the local machine. If XDM is to be run every time the machine boots up, a convenient way to do this is by adding an entry to /etc/ttys. For more information about the format and usage of this file, see Section There is a line in the default /etc/ttys file for running the XDM daemon on a virtual terminal:

ttyv8 "/usr/local/bin/xdm -nodaemon" xterm off secure

By default this entry is disabled; in order to enable it change field 5 from off to on and restart init(8) using the directions in Section The first field, the name of the terminal this program will manage, is ttyv8. This means that XDM will start running on the 9th virtual terminal.

5.6.3 Configuring XDM

The XDM configuration directory is located in /usr/local/lib/X11/xdm. In this directory there are several files used to change the behavior and appearance of XDM. Typically these files will be found:

File Description
Xaccess Client authorization ruleset.
Xresources Default X resource values.
Xservers List of remote and local displays to manage.
Xsession Default session script for logins.
Xsetup_* Script to launch applications before the login interface.
xdm-config Global configuration for all displays running on this machine.
xdm-errors Errors generated by the server program.
xdm-pid The process ID of the currently running XDM.

Also in this directory are a few scripts and programs used to set up the desktop when XDM is running. The purpose of each of these files will be briefly described. The exact syntax and usage of all of these files is described in xdm(1).

The default configuration is a simple rectangular login window with the hostname of the machine displayed at the top in a large font and “Login:” and “Password:” prompts below. This is a good starting point for changing the look and feel of XDM screens. Xaccess

The protocol for connecting to XDM-controlled displays is called the X Display Manager Connection Protocol (XDMCP). This file is a ruleset for controlling XDMCP connections from remote machines. It is ignored unless the xdm-config is changed to listen for remote connections. By default, it does not allow any clients to connect. Xresources

This is an application-defaults file for the display chooser and login screens. In it, the appearance of the login program can be modified. The format is identical to the app-defaults file described in the X11 documentation. Xservers

This is a list of the remote displays the chooser should provide as choices. Xsession

This is the default session script for XDM to run after a user has logged in. Normally each user will have a customized session script in ~/.xsession that overrides this script. Xsetup_*

These will be run automatically before displaying the chooser or login interfaces. There is a script for each display being used, named Xsetup_ followed by the local display number (for instance Xsetup_0). Typically these scripts will run one or two programs in the background such as xconsole. xdm-config

This contains settings in the form of app-defaults that are applicable to every display that this installation manages. xdm-errors

This contains the output of the X servers that XDM is trying to run. If a display that XDM is trying to start hangs for some reason, this is a good place to look for error messages. These messages are also written to the user's ~/.xsession-errors file on a per-session basis.

5.6.4 Running a Network Display Server

In order for other clients to connect to the display server, you must edit the access control rules and enable the connection listener. By default these are set to conservative values. To make XDM listen for connections, first comment out a line in the xdm-config file:

! SECURITY: do not listen for XDMCP or Chooser requests ! Comment out this line if you want to manage X terminals with xdm DisplayManager.requestPort: 0

and then restart XDM. Remember that comments in app-defaults files begin with a “!” character, not the usual “#”. More strict access controls may be desired -- look at the example entries in Xaccess, and refer to the xdm(1) manual page for further information.

5.6.5 Replacements for XDM

Several replacements for the default XDM program exist. One of them, kdm (bundled with KDE) is described later in this chapter. The kdm display manager offers many visual improvements and cosmetic frills, as well as the functionality to allow users to choose their window manager of choice at login time.

5.7 Desktop Environments

Contributed by Valentino Vaschetto.

This section describes the different desktop environments available for X on FreeBSD. A “desktop environment” can mean anything ranging from a simple window manager to a complete suite of desktop applications, such as KDE or GNOME.

5.7.1 GNOME About GNOME

GNOME is a user-friendly desktop environment that enables users to easily use and configure their computers. GNOME includes a panel (for starting applications and displaying status), a desktop (where data and applications can be placed), a set of standard desktop tools and applications, and a set of conventions that make it easy for applications to cooperate and be consistent with each other. Users of other operating systems or environments should feel right at home using the powerful graphics-driven environment that GNOME provides. More information regarding GNOME on FreeBSD can be found on the FreeBSD GNOME Project's web site. The web site also contains fairly comprehensive FAQs about installing, configuring, and managing GNOME. Installing GNOME

The software can be easily installed from a package or the Ports Collection:

To install the GNOME package from the network, simply type:

# pkg_add -r gnome2

To build GNOME from source, use the ports tree:

# cd /usr/ports/x11/gnome2 # make install clean

Once GNOME is installed, the X server must be told to start GNOME instead of a default window manager.

The easiest way to start GNOME is with GDM, the GNOME Display Manager. GDM, which is installed as a part of the GNOME desktop (but is disabled by default), can be enabled by adding gdm_enable="YES" to /etc/rc.conf. Once you have rebooted, GNOME will start automatically once you log in -- no further configuration is necessary.

GNOME may also be started from the command-line by properly configuring a file named .xinitrc. If a custom .xinitrc is already in place, simply replace the line that starts the current window manager with one that starts /usr/local/bin/gnome-session instead. If nothing special has been done to the configuration file, then it is enough simply to type:

% echo "/usr/local/bin/gnome-session" > ~/.xinitrc

Next, type startx, and the GNOME desktop environment will be started.

Note: If an older display manager, like XDM, is being used, this will not work. Instead, create an executable .xsession file with the same command in it. To do this, edit the file and replace the existing window manager command with /usr/local/bin/gnome-session:

% echo "#!/bin/sh" > ~/.xsession % echo "/usr/local/bin/gnome-session" >> ~/.xsession % chmod +x ~/.xsession

Yet another option is to configure the display manager to allow choosing the window manager at login time; the section on KDE details explains how to do this for kdm, the display manager of KDE. Anti-aliased Fonts with GNOME

X11 supports anti-aliasing via its “RENDER” extension. GTK+ 2.0 and greater (the toolkit used by GNOME) can make use of this functionality. Configuring anti-aliasing is described in Section 5.5.3. So, with up-to-date software, anti-aliasing is possible within the GNOME desktop. Just go to Applications->Desktop Preferences->Font, and select either Best shapes, Best contrast, or Subpixel smoothing (LCDs). For a GTK+ application that is not part of the GNOME desktop, set the environment variable GDK_USE_XFT to 1 before launching the program.

5.7.2 KDE About KDE

KDE is an easy to use contemporary desktop environment. Some of the things that KDE brings to the user are:

  • A beautiful contemporary desktop

  • A desktop exhibiting complete network transparency

  • An integrated help system allowing for convenient, consistent access to help on the use of the KDE desktop and its applications

  • Consistent look and feel of all KDE applications

  • Standardized menu and toolbars, keybindings, color-schemes, etc.

  • Internationalization: KDE is available in more than 40 languages

  • Centralized, consistent, dialog-driven desktop configuration

  • A great number of useful KDE applications

KDE comes with a web browser called Konqueror, which is a solid competitor to other existing web browsers on UNIX systems. More information on KDE can be found on the KDE website. For FreeBSD specific information and resources on KDE, consult the KDE on FreeBSD team's website. Installing KDE

Just as with GNOME or any other desktop environment, the software can be easily installed from a package or the Ports Collection:

To install the KDE package from the network, simply type:

# pkg_add -r kde

pkg_add(1) will automatically fetch the latest version of the application.

To build KDE from source, use the ports tree:

# cd /usr/ports/x11/kde3 # make install clean

After KDE has been installed, the X server must be told to launch this application instead of the default window manager. This is accomplished by editing the .xinitrc file:

% echo "exec startkde" > ~/.xinitrc

Now, whenever the X Window System is invoked with startx, KDE will be the desktop.

If a display manager such as XDM is being used, the configuration is slightly different. Edit the .xsession file instead. Instructions for kdm are described later in this chapter.

5.7.3 More Details on KDE

Now that KDE is installed on the system, most things can be discovered through the help pages, or just by pointing and clicking at various menus. Windows or Mac® users will feel quite at home.

The best reference for KDE is the on-line documentation. KDE comes with its own web browser, Konqueror, dozens of useful applications, and extensive documentation. The remainder of this section discusses the technical items that are difficult to learn by random exploration. The KDE Display Manager

An administrator of a multi-user system may wish to have a graphical login screen to welcome users. XDM can be used, as described earlier. However, KDE includes an alternative, kdm, which is designed to look more attractive and include more login-time options. In particular, users can easily choose (via a menu) which desktop environment (KDE, GNOME, or something else) to run after logging on.

To enable kdm, the ttyv8 entry in /etc/ttys has to be adapted. The line should look as follows:

ttyv8 "/usr/local/bin/kdm -nodaemon" xterm on secure

5.7.4 XFce About XFce

XFce is a desktop environment based on the GTK+ toolkit used by GNOME, but is much more lightweight and meant for those who want a simple, efficient desktop which is nevertheless easy to use and configure. Visually, it looks very much like CDE, found on commercial UNIX systems. Some of XFce's features are:

  • A simple, easy-to-handle desktop

  • Fully configurable via mouse, with drag and drop, etc.

  • Main panel similar to CDE, with menus, applets and applications launchers

  • Integrated window manager, file manager, sound manager, GNOME compliance module, and more

  • Themeable (since it uses GTK+)

  • Fast, light and efficient: ideal for older/slower machines or machines with memory limitations

More information on XFce can be found on the XFce website. Installing XFce

A binary package for XFce exists (at the time of writing). To install, simply type:

# pkg_add -r xfce4

Alternatively, to build from source, use the ports collection:

# cd /usr/ports/x11-wm/xfce4 # make install clean

Now, tell the X server to launch XFce the next time X is started. Simply type this:

% echo "/usr/local/bin/startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc

The next time X is started, XFce will be the desktop. As before, if a display manager like XDM is being used, create an .xsession, as described in the section on GNOME, but with the /usr/local/bin/startxfce4 command; or, configure the display manager to allow choosing a desktop at login time, as explained in the section on kdm.

II. Common Tasks

Now that the basics have been covered, this part of the FreeBSD Handbook will discuss some frequently used features of FreeBSD. These chapters:

  • Introduce you to popular and useful desktop applications: browsers, productivity tools, document viewers, etc.

  • Introduce you to a number of multimedia tools available for FreeBSD.

  • Explain the process of building a customized FreeBSD kernel, to enable extra functionality on your system.

  • Describe the print system in detail, both for desktop and network-connected printer setups.

  • Show you how to run Linux applications on your FreeBSD system.

Some of these chapters recommend that you do some prior reading, and this is noted in the synopsis at the beginning of each chapter.

Chapter 6 Desktop Applications

Contributed by Christophe Juniet.

6.1 Synopsis

FreeBSD can run a wide variety of desktop applications, such as browsers and word processors. Most of these are available as packages or can be automatically built from the ports collection. Many new users expect to find these kinds of applications on their desktop. This chapter will show you how to install some popular desktop applications effortlessly, either from their packages or from the Ports Collection.

Note that when installing programs from the ports, they are compiled from source. This can take a very long time, depending on what you are compiling and the processing power of your machine(s). If building from source takes a prohibitively long amount of time for you, you can install most of the programs of the Ports Collection from pre-built packages.

As FreeBSD features Linux binary compatibility, many applications originally developed for Linux are available for your desktop. It is strongly recommended that you read Chapter 10 before installing any of the Linux applications. Many of the ports using the Linux binary compatibility start with “linux-”. Remember this when you search for a particular port, for instance with whereis(1). In the following text, it is assumed that you have enabled Linux binary compatibility before installing any of the Linux applications.

Here are the categories covered by this chapter:

  • Browsers (such as Mozilla, Opera, Firefox, Konqueror)

  • Productivity (such as KOffice, AbiWord, The GIMP,

  • Document Viewers (such as Acrobat Reader®, gv, Xpdf, GQview)

  • Finance (such as GnuCash, Gnumeric, Abacus)

Before reading this chapter, you should:

  • Know how to install additional third-party software (Chapter 4).

  • Know how to install additional Linux software (Chapter 10).

For information on how to get a multimedia environment, read Chapter 7. If you want to set up and use electronic mail, please refer to Chapter 26.

6.2 Browsers

FreeBSD does not come with a particular browser pre-installed. Instead, the www directory of the Ports Collection contains a lot of browsers ready to be installed. If you do not have time to compile everything (this can take a very long time in some cases) many of them are available as packages.

KDE and GNOME already provide HTML browsers. Please refer to Section 5.7 for more information on how to set up these complete desktops.

If you are looking for light-weight browsers, you should investigate the Ports Collection for www/dillo, www/links, or www/w3m.

This section covers these applications:

Application Name Resources Needed Installation from Ports Major Dependencies
Mozilla heavy heavy Gtk+
Opera light light FreeBSD and Linux versions available. The Linux version depends on the Linux Binary Compatibility and linux-openmotif.
Firefox medium heavy Gtk+
Konqueror medium heavy KDE Libraries

6.2.1 Mozilla

Mozilla is a modern, stable browser that is fully ported to FreeBSD: it features a very standards-compliant HTML display engine; it provides a mail and news reader. It even has a HTML composer if you plan to write some web pages yourself. Users of Netscape will recognize the similarities with the Communicator suite, as both browsers share some development history.

On slow machines, with a CPU speed less than 233MHz or with less than 64MB of RAM, Mozilla can be too resource-demanding to be fully usable. You may want to look at the Opera browser instead, described a little later in this chapter.

If you cannot or do not want to compile Mozilla, for whatever reason, the FreeBSD GNOME team has already done this for you. Just install the package from the network by:

# pkg_add -r mozilla

If the package is not available, and you have enough time and disk space, you can get the source for Mozilla, compile it and install it on your system. This is accomplished by:

# cd /usr/ports/www/mozilla # make install clean

The Mozilla port ensures a correct initialization by running the chrome registry setup with root privileges. However, if you want to fetch some add-ons like mouse gestures, you must run Mozilla as root to get them properly installed.

Once you have completed the installation of Mozilla, you do not need to be root any longer. You can start Mozilla as a browser by typing:

% mozilla

You can start it directly as a mail and news reader as shown below:

% mozilla -mail

6.2.2 Firefox

Firefox is the next-generation browser based on the Mozilla codebase. Mozilla is a complete suite of applications, such as a browser, a mail client, a chat client and much more. Firefox is just a browser, which makes it smaller and faster.

Install the package by typing:

# pkg_add -r firefox

You can also use the Ports Collection if you prefer to compile from source code:

# cd /usr/ports/www/firefox # make install clean

6.2.3 Firefox, Mozilla and Java™ plugin

Note: In this section and in the next one, we assume you have already installed Firefox or Mozilla.

The FreeBSD Foundation has a license with Sun Microsystems to distribute FreeBSD binaries for the Java Runtime Environment (JRE™) and Java Development Kit (JDK™). Binary packages for FreeBSD are available on the FreeBSD Foundation web site.

To add Java™ support to Firefox or Mozilla, you first have to install the java/javavmwrapper port. Then, download the Diablo JRE package from, and install it with pkg_add(1).

Start your browser, enter about:plugins in the location bar and press Enter. A page listing the installed plugins will be displayed; the Java plugin should be listed there now. If it is not, as root, run the following command:

# ln -s /usr/local/diablo-jre1.5.0/plugin/i386/ns7/ \ /usr/local/lib/browser_plugins/

then relaunch your browser.

6.2.4 Firefox, Mozilla and Macromedia® Flash™ plugin

Macromedia® Flash™ plugin is not available for FreeBSD. However, a software layer (wrapper) for running the Linux version of the plugin exists. This wrapper also supports Adobe® Acrobat® plugin, RealPlayer® plugin and more.

Install the www/linuxpluginwrapper port. This port requires emulators/linux_base which is a large port. Follow the instructions displayed by the port to set up your /etc/libmap.conf correctly! Example configurations are installed into /usr/local/share/examples/linuxpluginwrapper/ directory.

The next step is to install the www/linux-flashplugin7 port. Once the plugin is installed, start your browser, enter about:plugins in the location bar and press Enter. A list should appear with all the currently available plugins.

If the Flash plugin is not listed, this is, most of time, caused by a missing symlink. As root, run the following commands:

# ln -s /usr/local/lib/npapi/linux-flashplugin/ \ /usr/local/lib/browser_plugins/ # ln -s /usr/local/lib/npapi/linux-flashplugin/flashplayer.xpt \ /usr/local/lib/browser_plugins/

If you restart your browser the plugin should now appears in the previously mentioned list.

Note: The linuxpluginwrapper only works on the i386 system architecture.

6.2.5 Opera

Opera is a full-featured and standards-compliant browser. It also comes with a built-in mail and news reader, an IRC client, an RSS/Atom feeds reader and much more. Despite this, Opera is relatively lightweight and very fast. It comes in two flavors: a “native” FreeBSD version and a version that runs under Linux emulation.

To browse the Web with the FreeBSD version of Opera, install the package:

# pkg_add -r opera

Some FTP sites do not have all the packages, but Opera can still be obtained through the Ports Collection by typing:

# cd /usr/ports/www/opera # make install clean

To install the Linux version of Opera, substitute linux-opera in place of opera in the examples above. The Linux version is useful in situations requiring the use of plug-ins that are only available for Linux, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. In all other respects, the FreeBSD and Linux versions should be functionally identical.

6.2.6 Konqueror

Konqueror is part of KDE but it can also be used outside of KDE by installing x11/kdebase3. Konqueror is much more than a browser, it is also a file manager and a multimedia viewer.

There is also a set of plugins available for Konqueror, available in misc/konq-plugins.

Konqueror also supports Flash; a “How To” guide for getting Flash support on Konqueror is available at

6.3 Productivity

When it comes to productivity, new users often look for a good office suite or a friendly word processor. While some desktop environments like KDE already provide an office suite, there is no default productivity package. FreeBSD can provide all that is needed, regardless of your desktop environment.

This section covers these applications:

Application Name Resources Needed Installation from Ports Major Dependencies
KOffice light heavy KDE
AbiWord light light Gtk+ or GNOME
The Gimp light heavy Gtk+ heavy huge JDK 1.4, Mozilla

6.3.1 KOffice

The KDE community has provided its desktop environment with an office suite which can be used outside KDE. It includes the four standard components that can be found in other office suites. KWord is the word processor, KSpread is the spreadsheet program, KPresenter manages slide presentations, and Kontour lets you draw graphical documents.

Before installing the latest KOffice, make sure you have an up-to-date version of KDE.

To install KOffice as a package, issue the following command:

# pkg_add -r koffice

If the package is not available, you can use the ports collection. For instance, to install KOffice for KDE3, do:

# cd /usr/ports/editors/koffice-kde3 # make install clean

6.3.2 AbiWord

AbiWord is a free word processing program similar in look and feel to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for typing papers, letters, reports, memos, and so forth. It is very fast, contains many features, and is very user-friendly.

AbiWord can import or export many file formats, including some proprietary ones like Microsoft's .doc.

AbiWord is available as a package. You can install it by:

# pkg_add -r abiword

If the package is not available, it can be compiled from the Ports Collection. The Ports Collection should be more up to date. It can be done as follows:

# cd /usr/ports/editors/abiword # make install clean

6.3.3 The GIMP

For image authoring or picture retouching, The GIMP is a very sophisticated image manipulation program. It can be used as a simple paint program or as a quality photo retouching suite. It supports a large number of plug-ins and features a scripting interface. The GIMP can read and write a wide range of file formats. It supports interfaces with scanners and tablets.

You can install the package by issuing this command:

# pkg_add -r gimp

If your FTP site does not have this package, you can use the Ports Collection. The graphics directory of the Ports Collection also contains The Gimp Manual. Here is how to get them installed:

# cd /usr/ports/graphics/gimp # make install clean # cd /usr/ports/graphics/gimp-manual-pdf # make install clean

Note: The graphics directory of the Ports Collection holds the development version of The GIMP in graphics/gimp-devel. An HTML version of The Gimp Manual is available from graphics/gimp-manual-html.

6.3.4 includes all of the mandatory applications in a complete office productivity suite: a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation manager, and a drawing program. Its user interface is very similar to other office suites, and it can import and export in various popular file formats. It is available in a number of different languages -- internationalization has been extended to interfaces, spell checkers, and dictionaries.

The word processor of uses a native XML file format for increased portability and flexibility. The spreadsheet program features a macro language and it can be interfaced with external databases. is already stable and runs natively on Windows, Solaris™, Linux, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X. More information about can be found on the web site. For FreeBSD specific information, and to directly download packages, use the FreeBSD Porting Team's web site.

To install, do:

# pkg_add -r

Note: When running a -RELEASE version of FreeBSD, this should work. Otherwise, you should look on the FreeBSD Porting Team's web site to download and install the appropriate package using pkg_add(1). Both the current release and development version are available for download at this location.

Once the package is installed, you just have to type the following command to run


Note: During the first launch, you will be asked some questions and a .openoffice.org2 folder will be created in your home directory.

If the packages are not available, you still have the option to compile the port. However, you must bear in mind that it requires a lot of disk space and a fairly long time to compile.

# cd /usr/ports/editors/ # make install clean

Note: If you want to build a localized version, replace the previous command line with the following:

# make LOCALIZED_LANG=your_language install clean

You have to replace your_language with the correct language ISO-code. A list of supported language codes is available in the files/Makefile.localized file, located in the port directory.

Once this is done, can be launched with the command:


6.4 Document Viewers

Some new document formats have gained popularity since the advent of UNIX; the standard viewers they require may not be available in the base system. We will see how to install such viewers in this section.

This section covers these applications:

Application Name Resources Needed Installation from Ports Major Dependencies
Acrobat Reader light light Linux Binary Compatibility
gv light light Xaw3d
Xpdf light light FreeType
GQview light light Gtk+ or GNOME

6.4.1 Acrobat Reader®

Many documents are now distributed as PDF files, which stands for “Portable Document Format”. One of the recommended viewers for these types of files is Acrobat Reader, released by Adobe for Linux. As FreeBSD can run Linux binaries, it is also available for FreeBSD.

To install Acrobat Reader 7 from the Ports collection, do:

# cd /usr/ports/print/acroread7 # make install clean

A package is not available due to licencing restrictions.

6.4.2 gv

gv is a PostScript and PDF viewer. It is originally based on ghostview but it has a nicer look thanks to the Xaw3d library. It is fast and its interface is clean. gv has many features, such as orientation, paper size, scale, and anti-aliasing. Almost any operation can be done with either the keyboard or the mouse.

To install gv as a package, do:

# pkg_add -r gv

If you cannot get the package, you can use the Ports collection:

# cd /usr/ports/print/gv # make install clean

6.4.3 Xpdf

If you want a small FreeBSD PDF viewer, Xpdf is a light-weight and efficient viewer. It requires very few resources and is very stable. It uses the standard X fonts and does not require Motif or any other X toolkit.

To install the Xpdf package, issue this command:

# pkg_add -r xpdf

If the package is not available or you prefer to use the Ports Collection, do:

# cd /usr/ports/graphics/xpdf # make install clean

Once the installation is complete, you can launch Xpdf and use the right mouse button to activate the menu.

6.4.4 GQview

GQview is an image manager. You can view a file with a single click, launch an external editor, get thumbnail previews, and much more. It also features a slideshow mode and some basic file operations. You can manage image collections and easily find duplicates. GQview can do full screen viewing and supports internationalization.

If you want to install the GQview package, do:

# pkg_add -r gqview

If the package is not available or you prefer to use the Ports Collection, do:

# cd /usr/ports/graphics/gqview # make install clean

6.5 Finance

If, for any reason, you would like to manage your personal finances on your FreeBSD Desktop, there are some powerful and easy-to-use applications ready to be installed. Some of them are compatible with widespread file formats, such as the formats used by Quicken® and Excel to store documents.

This section covers these programs:

Application Name Resources Needed Installation from Ports Major Dependencies
GnuCash light heavy GNOME
Gnumeric light heavy GNOME
Abacus light light Tcl/Tk
KMyMoney light heavy KDE

6.5.1 GnuCash

GnuCash is part of the GNOME effort to provide user-friendly, yet powerful, applications to end-users. With GnuCash, you can keep track of your income and expenses, your bank accounts, and your stocks. It features an intuitive interface while remaining very professional.

GnuCash provides a smart register, a hierarchical system of accounts, and many keyboard accelerators and auto-completion methods. It can split a single transaction into several more detailed pieces. GnuCash can import and merge Quicken QIF files. It also handles most international date and currency formats.

To install GnuCash on your system, do:

# pkg_add -r gnucash

If the package is not available, you can use the ports collection:

# cd /usr/ports/finance/gnucash # make install clean

6.5.2 Gnumeric

Gnumeric is a spreadsheet program, part of the GNOME desktop environment. It features convenient automatic “guessing” of user input according to the cell format with an autofill system for many sequences. It can import files in a number of popular formats like those of Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, or Quattro Pro. Gnumeric supports graphs through the math/guppi graphing program. It has a large number of built-in functions and allows all of the usual cell formats such as number, currency, date, time, and much more.

To install Gnumeric as a package, do:

# pkg_add -r gnumeric

If the package is not available, you can use the ports collection by doing:

# cd /usr/ports/math/gnumeric # make install clean

6.5.3 Abacus

Abacus is a small and easy to use spreadsheet program. It includes many built-in functions useful in several domains such as statistics, finances, and mathematics. It can import and export the Excel file format. Abacus can produce PostScript output.

To install Abacus as a package, do:

# pkg_add -r abacus

If the package is not available, you can use the ports collection by doing:

# cd /usr/ports/deskutils/abacus # make install clean

6.5.4 KMyMoney

KMyMoney is a personal finance manager built for KDE. KMyMoney intends to provide and incorporate all the important features found in commercial personal finance manager applications. It also highlights ease-of-use and proper double-entry accounting among its features. KMyMoney imports from standard Quicken Interchange Format (QIF) files, tracks investments, handles multiple currencies, and provides a wealth of reports. OFX import capabilities are also available through a separate plugin.

To install KMyMoney as a package, do:

# pkg_add -r kmymoney2

If the package is not available, you can use the Ports Collection by doing:

# cd /usr/ports/finance/kmymoney2 # make install clean

6.6 Summary

While FreeBSD is popular among ISPs for its performance and stability, it is quite ready for day-to-day use as a desktop. With several thousand applications available as packages or ports, you can build a perfect desktop that suits all your needs.

Here is a quick review of all the desktop applications covered in this chapter:

Application Name Package Name Ports Name
Mozilla mozilla www/mozilla
Opera opera www/opera
Firefox firefox www/firefox
KOffice koffice-kde3 editors/koffice-kde3
AbiWord abiword editors/abiword
The GIMP gimp graphics/gimp openoffice editors/openoffice-1.1
Acrobat Reader acroread print/acroread7
gv gv print/gv
Xpdf xpdf graphics/xpdf
GQview gqview graphics/gqview
GnuCash gnucash finance/gnucash
Gnumeric gnumeric math/gnumeric
Abacus abacus deskutils/abacus

Chapter 7 Multimedia

Edited by Ross Lippert.

7.1 Synopsis

FreeBSD supports a wide variety of sound cards, allowing you to enjoy high fidelity output from your computer. This includes the ability to record and playback audio in the MPEG Audio Layer 3 (MP3), WAV, and Ogg Vorbis formats as well as many other formats. The FreeBSD Ports Collection also contains applications allowing you to edit your recorded audio, add sound effects, and control attached MIDI devices.

With some experimentation, FreeBSD can support playback of video files and DVD's. The number of applications to encode, convert, and playback various video media is more limited than the number of sound applications. For example as of this writing, there is no good re-encoding application in the FreeBSD Ports Collection that could be used to convert between formats, as there is with audio/sox. However, the software landscape in this area is changing rapidly.

This chapter will describe the necessary steps to configure your sound card. The configuration and installation of X11 (Chapter 5) has already taken care of the hardware issues for your video card, though there may be some tweaks to apply for better playback.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • How to configure your system so that your sound card is recognized.

  • Methods to test whether your card is working.

  • How to troubleshoot your sound setup.

  • How to playback and encode MP3s and other audio.

  • How video is supported by the X server.

  • Some video player/encoder ports which give good results.

  • How to playback DVD's, .mpg and .avi files.

  • How to rip CD and DVD content into files.

  • How to configure a TV card.

  • How to configure an image scanner.

Before reading this chapter, you should:

  • Know how to configure and install a new kernel (Chapter 8).

Warning: Trying to mount audio CDs with the mount(8) command will result in an error, at least, and a kernel panic, at worst. These media have specialized encodings which differ from the usual ISO-filesystem.

7.2 Setting Up the Sound Card

Contributed by Moses Moore. Enhanced for FreeBSD 5.X by Marc Fonvieille.

7.2.1 Configuring the System

Before you begin, you should know the model of the card you have, the chip it uses, and whether it is a PCI or ISA card. FreeBSD supports a wide variety of both PCI and ISA cards. Check the supported audio devices list of the Hardware Notes to see if your card is supported. The Hardware Notes will also mention which driver supports your card.

To use your sound device, you will need to load the proper device driver. This may be accomplished in one of two ways. The easiest way is to simply load a kernel module for your sound card with kldload(8) which can either be done from the command line:

# kldload snd_emu10k1

or by adding the appropriate line to the file /boot/loader.conf like this:


These examples are for a Creative SoundBlaster® Live! sound card. Other available loadable sound modules are listed in /boot/defaults/loader.conf. If you are not sure which driver to use, you may try to load the snd_driver module:

# kldload snd_driver

This is a metadriver loading the most common device drivers at once. This speeds up the search for the correct driver. It is also possible to load all sound drivers via the /boot/loader.conf facility.

If you wish to find out the driver selected for your soundcard after loading the snd_driver metadriver, you may check the /dev/sndstat file with the cat /dev/sndstat command.

A second method is to statically compile in support for your sound card in your kernel. The section below provides the information you need to add support for your hardware in this manner. For more information about recompiling your kernel, please see Chapter 8. Configuring a Custom Kernel with Sound Support

The first thing to do is add the audio framework driver sound(4) to the kernel; for that you will need to add the following line to the kernel configuration file:

device sound

Next, you have to add the support for your sound card. Therefore, you need to know which driver supports the card. Check the supported audio devices list of the Hardware Notes, to determine the correct driver for your sound card. For example, a Creative SoundBlaster Live! sound card is supported by the snd_emu10k1(4) driver. To add the support for this card, use the following:

device snd_emu10k1

Be sure to read the manual page of the driver for the syntax to use. The explicit syntax for the kernel configuration of every supported sound driver can also be found in the /usr/src/sys/conf/NOTES file.

Non-PnP ISA sound cards may require you to provide the kernel with information on the card settings (IRQ, I/O port, etc), as is true of all non-PnP ISA cards. This is done via the /boot/device.hints file. During the boot process, the loader(8) will read this file and pass the settings to the kernel. For example, an old Creative SoundBlaster 16 ISA non-PnP card will use the snd_sbc(4) driver in conjunction with snd_sb16. For this card the following lines must be added to the kernel configuration file:

device snd_sbc device snd_sb16

and these to /boot/device.hints:"isa" hint.sbc.0.port="0x220" hint.sbc.0.irq="5" hint.sbc.0.drq="1" hint.sbc.0.flags="0x15"

In this case, the card uses the 0x220 I/O port and the IRQ 5.

The syntax used in the /boot/device.hints file is covered in the sound(4) driver manual page and the manual page for the driver in question.

The settings shown above are the defaults. In some cases, you may need to change the IRQ or the other settings to match your card. See the snd_sbc(4) manual page for more information about this card.

7.2.2 Testing the Sound Card

After rebooting with the modified kernel, or after loading the required module, the sound card should appear in your system message buffer (dmesg(8)) as something like:

pcm0: <Intel ICH3 (82801CA)> port 0xdc80-0xdcbf,0xd800-0xd8ff irq 5 at device 31.5 on pci0 pcm0: [GIANT-LOCKED] pcm0: <Cirrus Logic CS4205 AC97 Codec>

The status of the sound card may be checked via the /dev/sndstat file:

# cat /dev/sndstat FreeBSD Audio Driver (newpcm) Installed devices: pcm0: <Intel ICH3 (82801CA)> at io 0xd800, 0xdc80 irq 5 bufsz 16384 kld snd_ich (1p/2r/0v channels duplex default)

The output from your system may vary. If no pcm devices are listed, go back and review what was done earlier. Go through your kernel configuration file again and make sure the correct device driver was chosen. Common problems are listed in Section

If all goes well, you should now have a functioning sound card. If your CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive's audio-out pins are properly connected to your sound card, you can put a CD in the drive and play it with cdcontrol(1):

% cdcontrol -f /dev/acd0 play 1

Various applications, such as audio/workman can provide a friendlier interface. You may want to install an application such as audio/mpg123 to listen to MP3 audio files.

Another quick way to test the card is sending data to /dev/dsp, like this:

% cat filename > /dev/dsp

where filename can be any file. This command line should produce some noise, confirming the sound card is actually working.

Sound card mixer levels can be changed via the mixer(8) command. More details can be found in the mixer(8) manual page. Common Problems

Error Solution
sb_dspwr(XX) timed out

The I/O port is not set correctly.

bad irq XX

The IRQ is set incorrectly. Make sure that the set IRQ and the sound IRQ are the same.

xxx: gus pcm not attached, out of memory

There is not enough available memory to use the device.

xxx: can't open /dev/dsp!

Check with fstat | grep dsp if another application is holding the device open. Noteworthy troublemakers are esound and KDE's sound support.

7.2.3 Utilizing Multiple Sound Sources

Contributed by Munish Chopra.

It is often desirable to have multiple sources of sound that are able to play simultaneously, such as when esound or artsd do not support sharing of the sound device with a certain application.

FreeBSD lets you do this through Virtual Sound Channels, which can be enabled with the sysctl(8) facility. Virtual channels allow you to multiplex your sound card's playback by mixing sound in the kernel.

To set the number of virtual channels, there are two sysctl knobs which, if you are the root user, can be set like this:

# sysctl hw.snd.pcm0.vchans=4 # sysctl hw.snd.maxautovchans=4

The above example allocates four virtual channels, which is a practical number for everyday use. hw.snd.pcm0.vchans is the number of virtual channels pcm0 has, and is configurable once a device has been attached. hw.snd.maxautovchans is the number of virtual channels a new audio device is given when it is attached using kldload(8). Since the pcm module can be loaded independently of the hardware drivers, hw.snd.maxautovchans can store how many virtual channels any devices which are attached later will be given.

Note: You cannot change the number of virtual channels for a device while it is in use. First close any programs using the device, such as music players or sound daemons.

If you are not using devfs(5), you will have to point your applications at /dev/dsp0.x, where x is 0 to 3 if hw.snd.pcm.0.vchans is set to 4 as in the above example. On a system using devfs(5), the above will automatically be allocated transparently to a program that requests /dev/dsp0.

7.2.4 Setting Default Values for Mixer Channels

Contributed by Josef El-Rayes.

The default values for the different mixer channels are hardcoded in the sourcecode of the pcm(4) driver. There are many different applications and daemons that allow you to set values for the mixer that are remembered between invocations, but this is not a clean solution. It is possible to set default mixer values at the driver level -- this is accomplished by defining the appropriate values in /boot/device.hints, e.g.:


This will set the volume channel to a default value of 50 when the pcm(4) module is loaded.

7.3 MP3 Audio

Contributed by Chern Lee.

MP3 (MPEG Layer 3 Audio) accomplishes near CD-quality sound, leaving no reason to let your FreeBSD workstation fall short of its offerings.

7.3.1 MP3 Players

By far, the most popular X11 MP3 player is XMMS (X Multimedia System). Winamp skins can be used with XMMS since the GUI is almost identical to that of Nullsoft's Winamp. XMMS also has native plug-in support.

XMMS can be installed from the multimedia/xmms port or package.

XMMS's interface is intuitive, with a playlist, graphic equalizer, and more. Those familiar with Winamp will find XMMS simple to use.

The audio/mpg123 port is an alternative, command-line MP3 player.

mpg123 can be run by specifying the sound device and the MP3 file on the command line, as shown below:

# mpg123 -a /dev/dsp1.0 Foobar-GreatestHits.mp3 High Performance MPEG 1.0/2.0/2.5 Audio Player for Layer 1, 2 and 3. Version 0.59r (1999/Jun/15). Written and copyrights by Michael Hipp. Uses code from various people. See 'README' for more! THIS SOFTWARE COMES WITH ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY! USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! Playing MPEG stream from Foobar-GreatestHits.mp3 ... MPEG 1.0 layer III, 128 kbit/s, 44100 Hz joint-stereo

/dev/dsp1.0 should be replaced with the dsp device entry on your system.

7.3.2 Ripping CD Audio Tracks

Before encoding a CD or CD track to MP3, the audio data on the CD must be ripped onto the hard drive. This is done by copying the raw CDDA (CD Digital Audio) data to WAV files.

The cdda2wav tool, which is a part of the sysutils/cdrtools suite, is used for ripping audio information from CDs and the information associated with them.

With the audio CD in the drive, the following command can be issued (as root) to rip an entire CD into individual (per track) WAV files:

# cdda2wav -D 0,1,0 -B

cdda2wav will support ATAPI (IDE) CDROM drives. To rip from an IDE drive, specify the device name in place of the SCSI unit numbers. For example, to rip track 7 from an IDE drive:

# cdda2wav -D /dev/acd0 -t 7

The -D 0,1,0 indicates the SCSI device 0,1,0, which corresponds to the output of cdrecord -scanbus.

To rip individual tracks, make use of the -t option as shown:

# cdda2wav -D 0,1,0 -t 7

This example rips track seven of the audio CDROM. To rip a range of tracks, for example, track one to seven, specify a range:

# cdda2wav -D 0,1,0 -t 1+7

The utility dd(1) can also be used to extract audio tracks on ATAPI drives, read Section 18.6.5 for more information on that possibility.

7.3.3 Encoding MP3s

Nowadays, the mp3 encoder of choice is lame. Lame can be found at audio/lame in the ports tree.

Using the ripped WAV files, the following command will convert audio01.wav to audio01.mp3:

# lame -h -b 128 \ --tt "Foo Song Title" \ --ta "FooBar Artist" \ --tl "FooBar Album" \ --ty "2001" \ --tc "Ripped and encoded by Foo" \ --tg "Genre" \ audio01.wav audio01.mp3

128 kbits seems to be the standard MP3 bitrate in use. Many enjoy the higher quality 160, or 192. The higher the bitrate, the more disk space the resulting MP3 will consume--but the quality will be higher. The -h option turns on the “higher quality but a little slower” mode. The options beginning with --t indicate ID3 tags, which usually contain song information, to be embedded within the MP3 file. Additional encoding options can be found by consulting the lame man page.

7.3.4 Decoding MP3s

In order to burn an audio CD from MP3s, they must be converted to a non-compressed WAV format. Both XMMS and mpg123 support the output of MP3 to an uncompressed file format.

Writing to Disk in XMMS:

  1. Launch XMMS.

  2. Right-click on the window to bring up the XMMS menu.

  3. Select Preference under Options.

  4. Change the Output Plugin to “Disk Writer Plugin”.

  5. Press Configure.

  6. Enter (or choose browse) a directory to write the uncompressed files to.

  7. Load the MP3 file into XMMS as usual, with volume at 100% and EQ settings turned off.

  8. Press Play -- XMMS will appear as if it is playing the MP3, but no music will be heard. It is actually playing the MP3 to a file.

  9. Be sure to set the default Output Plugin back to what it was before in order to listen to MP3s again.

Writing to stdout in mpg123:

  1. Run mpg123 -s audio01.mp3 > audio01.pcm

XMMS writes a file in the WAV format, while mpg123 converts the MP3 into raw PCM audio data. Both of these formats can be used with cdrecord to create audio CDs. You have to use raw PCM with burncd(8). If you use WAV files, you will notice a small tick sound at the beginning of each track, this sound is the header of the WAV file. You can simply remove the header of a WAV file with the utility SoX (it can be installed from the audio/sox port or package):

% sox -t wav -r 44100 -s -w -c 2 track.wav track.raw

Read Section 18.6 for more information on using a CD burner in FreeBSD.

7.4 Video Playback

Contributed by Ross Lippert.

Video playback is a very new and rapidly developing application area. Be patient. Not everything is going to work as smoothly as it did with sound.

Before you begin, you should know the model of the video card you have and the chip it uses. While Xorg and XFree86 support a wide variety of video cards, fewer give good playback performance. To obtain a list of extensions supported by the X server using your card use the command xdpyinfo(1) while X11 is running.

It is a good idea to have a short MPEG file which can be treated as a test file for evaluating various players and options. Since some DVD players will look for DVD media in /dev/dvd by default, or have this device name hardcoded in them, you might find it useful to make symbolic links to the proper devices:

# ln -sf /dev/acd0 /dev/dvd # ln -sf /dev/acd0 /dev/rdvd

Note that due to the nature of devfs(5), manually created links like these will not persist if you reboot your system. In order to create the symbolic links automatically whenever you boot your system, add the following lines to /etc/devfs.conf:

link acd0 dvd link acd0 rdvd

Additionally, DVD decryption, which requires invoking special DVD-ROM functions, requires write permission on the DVD devices.

To enhance the shared memory X11 interface, it is recommended that the values of some sysctl(8) variables should be increased:

kern.ipc.shmmax=67108864 kern.ipc.shmall=32768

7.4.1 Determining Video Capabilities

There are several possible ways to display video under X11. What will really work is largely hardware dependent. Each method described below will have varying quality across different hardware. Secondly, the rendering of video in X11 is a topic receiving a lot of attention lately, and with each version of Xorg, or of XFree86, there may be significant improvement.

A list of common video interfaces:

  1. X11: normal X11 output using shared memory.

  2. XVideo: an extension to the X11 interface which supports video in any X11 drawable.

  3. SDL: the Simple Directmedia Layer.

  4. DGA: the Direct Graphics Access.

  5. SVGAlib: low level console graphics layer. XVideo

Xorg and XFree86 4.X have an extension called XVideo (aka Xvideo, aka Xv, aka xv) which allows video to be directly displayed in drawable objects through a special acceleration. This extension provides very good quality playback even on low-end machines.

To check whether the extension is running, use xvinfo:

% xvinfo

XVideo is supported for your card if the result looks like:

X-Video Extension version 2.2 screen #0 Adaptor #0: "Savage Streams Engine" number of ports: 1 port base: 43 operations supported: PutImage supported visuals: depth 16, visualID 0x22 depth 16, visualID 0x23 number of attributes: 5 "XV_COLORKEY" (range 0 to 16777215) client settable attribute client gettable attribute (current value is 2110) "XV_BRIGHTNESS" (range -128 to 127) client settable attribute client gettable attribute (current value is 0) "XV_CONTRAST" (range 0 to 255) client settable attribute client gettable attribute (current value is 128) "XV_SATURATION" (range 0 to 255) client settable attribute client gettable attribute (current value is 128) "XV_HUE" (range -180 to 180) client settable attribute client gettable attribute (current value is 0) maximum XvImage size: 1024 x 1024 Number of image formats: 7 id: 0x32595559 (YUY2) guid: 59555932-0000-0010-8000-00aa00389b71 bits per pixel: 16 number of planes: 1 type: YUV (packed) id: 0x32315659 (YV12) guid: 59563132-0000-0010-8000-00aa00389b71 bits per pixel: 12 number of planes: 3 type: YUV (planar) id: 0x30323449 (I420) guid: 49343230-0000-0010-8000-00aa00389b71 bits per pixel: 12 number of planes: 3 type: YUV (planar) id: 0x36315652 (RV16) guid: 52563135-0000-0000-0000-000000000000 bits per pixel: 16 number of planes: 1 type: RGB (packed) depth: 0 red, green, blue masks: 0x1f, 0x3e0, 0x7c00 id: 0x35315652 (RV15) guid: 52563136-0000-0000-0000-000000000000 bits per pixel: 16 number of planes: 1 type: RGB (packed) depth: 0 red, green, blue masks: 0x1f, 0x7e0, 0xf800 id: 0x31313259 (Y211) guid: 59323131-0000-0010-8000-00aa00389b71 bits per pixel: 6 number of planes: 3 type: YUV (packed) id: 0x0 guid: 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000 bits per pixel: 0 number of planes: 0 type: RGB (packed) depth: 1 red, green, blue masks: 0x0, 0x0, 0x0

Also note that the formats listed (YUV2, YUV12, etc) are not present with every implementation of XVideo and their absence may hinder some players.

If the result looks like:

X-Video Extension version 2.2 screen #0 no adaptors present

Then XVideo is probably not supported for your card.

If XVideo is not supported for your card, this only means that it will be more difficult for your display to meet the computational demands of rendering video. Depending on your video card and processor, though, you might still be able to have a satisfying experience. You should probably read about ways of improving performance in the advanced reading Section 7.4.3. Simple Directmedia Layer

The Simple Directmedia Layer, SDL, was intended to be a porting layer between Microsoft Windows, BeOS, and UNIX, allowing cross-platform applications to be developed which made efficient use of sound and graphics. The SDL layer provides a low-level abstraction to the hardware which can sometimes be more efficient than the X11 interface.

The SDL can be found at devel/sdl12. Direct Graphics Access

Direct Graphics Access is an X11 extension which allows a program to bypass the X server and directly alter the framebuffer. Because it relies on a low level memory mapping to effect this sharing, programs using it must be run as root.

The DGA extension can be tested and benchmarked by dga(1). When dga is running, it changes the colors of the display whenever a key is pressed. To quit, use q.

7.4.2 Ports and Packages Dealing with Video

This section discusses the software available from the FreeBSD Ports Collection which can be used for video playback. Video playback is a very active area of software development, and the capabilities of various applications are bound to diverge somewhat from the descriptions given here.

Firstly, it is important to know that many of the video applications which run on FreeBSD were developed as Linux applications. Many of these applications are still beta-quality. Some of the problems that you may encounter with video packages on FreeBSD include:

  1. An application cannot playback a file which another application produced.

  2. An application cannot playback a file which the application itself produced.

  3. The same application on two different machines, rebuilt on each machine for that machine, plays back the same file differently.

  4. A seemingly trivial filter like rescaling of the image size results in very bad artifacts from a buggy rescaling routine.

  5. An application frequently dumps core.

  6. Documentation is not installed with the port and can be found either on the web or under the port's work directory.

Many of these applications may also exhibit “Linux-isms”. That is, there may be issues resulting from the way some standard libraries are implemented in the Linux distributions, or some features of the Linux kernel which have been assumed by the authors of the applications. These issues are not always noticed and worked around by the port maintainers, which can lead to problems like these:

  1. The use of /proc/cpuinfo to detect processor characteristics.

  2. A misuse of threads which causes a program to hang upon completion instead of truly terminating.

  3. Software not yet in the FreeBSD Ports Collection which is commonly used in conjunction with the application.

So far, these application developers have been cooperative with port maintainers to minimize the work-arounds needed for port-ing. MPlayer

MPlayer is a recently developed and rapidly developing video player. The goals of the MPlayer team are speed and flexibility on Linux and other Unices. The project was started when the team founder got fed up with bad playback performance on then available players. Some would say that the graphical interface has been sacrificed for a streamlined design. However, once you get used to the command line options and the key-stroke controls, it works very well. Building MPlayer

MPlayer resides in multimedia/mplayer. MPlayer performs a variety of hardware checks during the build process, resulting in a binary which will not be portable from one system to another. Therefore, it is important to build it from ports and not to use a binary package. Additionally, a number of options can be specified in the make command line, as described in the Makefile and at the start of the build:

# cd /usr/ports/multimedia/mplayer # make N - O - T - E Take a careful look into the Makefile in order to learn how to tune mplayer towards you personal preferences! For example, make WITH_GTK1 builds MPlayer with GTK1-GUI support. If you want to use the GUI, you can either install /usr/ports/multimedia/mplayer-skins or download official skin collections from

The default port options should be sufficient for most users. However, if you need the XviD codec, you have to specify the WITH_XVID option in the command line. The default DVD device can also be defined with the WITH_DVD_DEVICE option, by default /dev/acd0 will be used.

As of this writing, the MPlayer port will build its HTML documentation and two executables, mplayer, and mencoder, which is a tool for re-encoding video.

The HTML documentation for MPlayer is very informative. If the reader finds the information on video hardware and interfaces in this chapter lacking, the MPlayer documentation is a very thorough supplement. You should definitely take the time to read the MPlayer documentation if you are looking for information about video support in UNIX. Using MPlayer

Any user of MPlayer must set up a .mplayer subdirectory of her home directory. To create this necessary subdirectory, you can type the following:

% cd /usr/ports/multimedia/mplayer % make install-user

The command options for mplayer are listed in the manual page. For even more detail there is HTML documentation. In this section, we will describe only a few common uses.

To play a file, such as testfile.avi, through one of the various video interfaces set the -vo option:

% mplayer -vo xv testfile.avi % mplayer -vo sdl testfile.avi % mplayer -vo x11 testfile.avi # mplayer -vo dga testfile.avi # mplayer -vo 'sdl:dga' testfile.avi

It is worth trying all of these options, as their relative performance depends on many factors and will vary significantly with hardware.

To play from a DVD, replace the testfile.avi with dvd://N -dvd-device DEVICE where N is the title number to play and DEVICE is the device node for the DVD-ROM. For example, to play title 3 from /dev/dvd:

# mplayer -vo xv dvd://3 -dvd-device /dev/dvd

Note: The default DVD device can be defined during the build of the MPlayer port via the WITH_DVD_DEVICE option. By default, this device is /dev/acd0. More details can be found in the port Makefile.

To stop, pause, advance and so on, consult the keybindings, which are output by running mplayer -h or read the manual page.

Additional important options for playback are: -fs -zoom which engages the fullscreen mode and -framedrop which helps performance.

In order for the mplayer command line to not become too large, the user can create a file .mplayer/config and set default options there:

vo=xv fs=yes zoom=yes

Finally, mplayer can be used to rip a DVD title into a .vob file. To dump out the second title from a DVD, type this:

# mplayer -dumpstream -dumpfile out.vob dvd://2 -dvd-device /dev/dvd

The output file, out.vob, will be MPEG and can be manipulated by the other packages described in this section. mencoder

Before using mencoder it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the options from the HTML documentation. There is a manual page, but it is not very useful without the HTML documentation. There are innumerable ways to improve quality, lower bitrate, and change formats, and some of these tricks may make the difference between good or bad performance. Here are a couple of examples to get you going. First a simple copy:

% mencoder input.avi -oac copy -ovc copy -o output.avi

Improper combinations of command line options can yield output files that are unplayable even by mplayer. Thus, if you just want to rip to a file, stick to the -dumpfile in mplayer.

To convert input.avi to the MPEG4 codec with MPEG3 audio encoding (audio/lame is required):

% mencoder input.avi -oac mp3lame -lameopts br=192 \ -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vhq -o output.avi

This has produced output playable by mplayer and xine.

input.avi can be replaced with dvd://1 -dvd-device /dev/dvd and run as root to re-encode a DVD title directly. Since you are likely to be dissatisfied with your results the first time around, it is recommended you dump the title to a file and work on the file. The xine Video Player

The xine video player is a project of wide scope aiming not only at being an all in one video solution, but also in producing a reusable base library and a modular executable which can be extended with plugins. It comes both as a package and as a port, multimedia/xine.

The xine player is still very rough around the edges, but it is clearly off to a good start. In practice, xine requires either a fast CPU with a fast video card, or support for the XVideo extension. The GUI is usable, but a bit clumsy.

As of this writing, there is no input module shipped with xine which will play CSS encoded DVD's. There are third party builds which do have modules for this built in them, but none of these are in the FreeBSD Ports Collection.

Compared to MPlayer, xine does more for the user, but at the same time, takes some of the more fine-grained control away from the user. The xine video player performs best on XVideo interfaces.

By default, xine player will start up in a graphical user interface. The menus can then be used to open a specific file:

% xine

Alternatively, it may be invoked to play a file immediately without the GUI with the command:

% xine -g -p mymovie.avi The transcode Utilities

The software transcode is not a player, but a suite of tools for re-encoding video and audio files. With transcode, one has the ability to merge video files, repair broken files, using command line tools with stdin/stdout stream interfaces.

A great number of options can be specified during the build from the multimedia/transcode port, we recommend the following command line to build transcode:


The proposed settings should be sufficient for most users.

To illustrate transcode capacities, one example to show how to convert a DivX file into a PAL MPEG-1 file (PAL VCD):

% transcode -i input.avi -V --export_prof vcd-pal -o output_vcd % mplex -f 1 -o output_vcd.mpg output_vcd.m1v output_vcd.mpa

The resulting MPEG file, output_vcd.mpg, is ready to be played with MPlayer. You could even burn the file on a CD-R media to create a Video CD, in this case you will need to install and use both multimedia/vcdimager and sysutils/cdrdao programs.

There is a manual page for transcode, but you should also consult the transcode wiki for further information and examples.

7.4.3 Further Reading

The various video software packages for FreeBSD are developing rapidly. It is quite possible that in the near future many of the problems discussed here will have been resolved. In the mean time, those who want to get the very most out of FreeBSD's A/V capabilities will have to cobble together knowledge from several FAQs and tutorials and use a few different applications. This section exists to give the reader pointers to such additional information.

The MPlayer documentation is very technically informative. These documents should probably be consulted by anyone wishing to obtain a high level of expertise with UNIX video. The MPlayer mailing list is hostile to anyone who has not bothered to read the documentation, so if you plan on making bug reports to them, RTFM.

The xine HOWTO contains a chapter on performance improvement which is general to all players.

Finally, there are some other promising applications which the reader may try:

7.5 Setting Up TV Cards

Original contribution by Josef El-Rayes. Enhanced and adapted by Marc Fonvieille.

7.5.1 Introduction

TV cards allow you to watch broadcast or cable TV on your computer. Most of them accept composite video via an RCA or S-video input and some of these cards come with a FM radio tuner.

FreeBSD provides support for PCI-based TV cards using a Brooktree Bt848/849/878/879 or a Conexant CN-878/Fusion 878a Video Capture Chip with the bktr(4) driver. You must also ensure the board comes with a supported tuner, consult the bktr(4) manual page for a list of supported tuners.

7.5.2 Adding the Driver

To use your card, you will need to load the bktr(4) driver, this can be done by adding the following line to the /boot/loader.conf file like this:


Alternatively, you may statically compile the support for the TV card in your kernel, in that case add the following lines to your kernel configuration:

device bktr device iicbus device iicbb device smbus

These additional device drivers are necessary because of the card components being interconnected via an I2C bus. Then build and install a new kernel.

Once the support was added to your system, you have to reboot your machine. During the boot process, your TV card should show up, like this:

bktr0: <BrookTree 848A> mem 0xd7000000-0xd7000fff irq 10 at device 10.0 on pci0 iicbb0: <I2C bit-banging driver> on bti2c0 iicbus0: <Philips I2C bus> on iicbb0 master-only iicbus1: <Philips I2C bus> on iicbb0 master-only smbus0: <System Management Bus> on bti2c0 bktr0: Pinnacle/Miro TV, Philips SECAM tuner.

Of course these messages can differ according to your hardware. However you should check if the tuner is correctly detected; it is still possible to override some of the detected parameters with sysctl(8) MIBs and kernel configuration file options. For example, if you want to force the tuner to a Philips SECAM tuner, you should add the following line to your kernel configuration file:


or you can directly use sysctl(8):

# sysctl hw.bt848.tuner=6

See the bktr(4) manual page and the /usr/src/sys/conf/NOTES file for more details on the available options.

7.5.3 Useful Applications

To use your TV card you need to install one of the following applications:

  • multimedia/fxtv provides TV-in-a-window and image/audio/video capture capabilities.

  • multimedia/xawtv is also a TV application, with the same features as fxtv.

  • misc/alevt decodes and displays Videotext/Teletext.

  • audio/xmradio, an application to use the FM radio tuner coming with some TV cards.

  • audio/wmtune, a handy desktop application for radio tuners.

More applications are available in the FreeBSD Ports Collection.

7.5.4 Troubleshooting

If you encounter any problem with your TV card, you should check at first if the video capture chip and the tuner are really supported by the bktr(4) driver and if you used the right configuration options. For more support and various questions about your TV card you may want to contact and use the archives of the freebsd-multimedia mailing list.

7.6 Image Scanners

Written by Marc Fonvieille.

7.6.1 Introduction

In FreeBSD, access to image scanners is provided by the SANE (Scanner Access Now Easy) API available through the FreeBSD Ports Collection. SANE will also use some FreeBSD device drivers to access to the scanner hardware.

FreeBSD supports both SCSI and USB scanners. Be sure your scanner is supported by SANE prior to performing any configuration. SANE has a supported devices list that can provide you with information about the support for a scanner and its status. The uscanner(4) manual page also provides a list of supported USB scanners.

7.6.2 Kernel Configuration

As mentioned above both SCSI and USB interfaces are supported. According to your scanner interface, different device drivers are required. USB Interface

The GENERIC kernel by default includes the device drivers needed to support USB scanners. Should you decide to use a custom kernel, be sure that the following lines are present in your kernel configuration file:

device usb device uhci device ohci device uscanner

Depending upon the USB chipset on your motherboard, you will only need either device uhci or device ohci, however having both in the kernel configuration file is harmless.

If you do not want to rebuild your kernel and your kernel is not the GENERIC one, you can directly load the uscanner(4) device driver module with the kldload(8) command:

# kldload uscanner

To load this module at each system startup, add the following line to /boot/loader.conf:


After rebooting with the correct kernel, or after loading the required module, plug in your USB scanner. A line showing the detection of your scanner should appear in the system message buffer (dmesg(8)):

uscanner0: EPSON EPSON Scanner, rev 1.10/3.02, addr 2

This shows that our scanner is using the /dev/uscanner0 device node. SCSI Interface

If your scanner comes with a SCSI interface, it is important to know which SCSI controller board you will use. According to the SCSI chipset used, you will have to tune your kernel configuration file. The GENERIC kernel supports the most common SCSI controllers. Be sure to read the NOTES file and add the correct line to your kernel configuration file. In addition to the SCSI adapter driver, you need to have the following lines in your kernel configuration file:

device scbus device pass

Once your kernel has been properly compiled and installed, you should be able to see the devices in the system message buffer, when booting:

pass2 at aic0 bus 0 target 2 lun 0 pass2: <AGFA SNAPSCAN 600 1.10> Fixed Scanner SCSI-2 device pass2: 3.300MB/s transfers

If your scanner was not powered-on at system boot, it is still possible to manually force the detection by performing a SCSI bus scan with the camcontrol(8) command:

# camcontrol rescan all Re-scan of bus 0 was successful Re-scan of bus 1 was successful Re-scan of bus 2 was successful Re-scan of bus 3 was successful

Then the scanner will appear in the SCSI devices list:

# camcontrol devlist <IBM DDRS-34560 S97B> at scbus0 target 5 lun 0 (pass0,da0) <IBM DDRS-34560 S97B> at scbus0 target 6 lun 0 (pass1,da1) <AGFA SNAPSCAN 600 1.10> at scbus1 target 2 lun 0 (pass3) <PHILIPS CDD3610 CD-R/RW 1.00> at scbus2 target 0 lun 0 (pass2,cd0)

More details about SCSI devices are available in the scsi(4) and camcontrol(8) manual pages.

7.6.3 SANE Configuration

The SANE system is split in two parts: the backends (graphics/sane-backends) and the frontends (graphics/sane-frontends). The backends part provides access to the scanner itself. The SANE's supported devices list specifies which backend will support your image scanner. It is mandatory to determine the correct backend for your scanner if you want to be able to use your device. The frontends part provides the graphical scanning interface (xscanimage).

The first step is to install the graphics/sane-backends port or package. Then, use the sane-find-scanner command to check the scanner detection by the SANE system:

# sane-find-scanner -q found SCSI scanner "AGFA SNAPSCAN 600 1.10" at /dev/pass3

The output will show the interface type of the scanner and the device node used to attach the scanner to the system. The vendor and the product model may not appear, it is not important.

Note: Some USB scanners require you to load a firmware, this is explained in the backend manual page. You should also read sane-find-scanner(1) and sane(7) manual pages.

Now we have to check if the scanner will be identified by a scanning frontend. By default, the SANE backends comes with a command line tool called scanimage(1). This command allows you to list the devices and to perform an image acquisition from the command line. The -L option is used to list the scanner devices:

# scanimage -L device `snapscan:/dev/pass3' is a AGFA SNAPSCAN 600 flatbed scanner

No output or a message saying that no scanners were identified indicates that scanimage(1) is unable to identify the scanner. If this happens, you will need to edit the backend configuration file and define the scanner device used. The /usr/local/etc/sane.d/ directory contains all backends configuration files. This identification problem does appear with certain USB scanners.

For example, with the USB scanner used in the Section, sane-find-scanner gives us the following information:

# sane-find-scanner -q found USB scanner (UNKNOWN vendor and product) at device /dev/uscanner0

The scanner is correctly detected, it uses the USB interface and is attached to the /dev/uscanner0 device node. We can now check if the scanner is correctly identified:

# scanimage -L No scanners were identified. If you were expecting something different, check that the scanner is plugged in, turned on and detected by the sane-find-scanner tool (if appropriate). Please read the documentation which came with this software (README, FAQ, manpages).

Since the scanner is not identified, we will need to edit the /usr/local/etc/sane.d/epson.conf file. The scanner model used was the EPSON Perfection® 1650, so we know the scanner will use the epson backend. Be sure to read the help comments in the backends configuration files. Line changes are quite simple: comment out all lines that have the wrong interface for your scanner (in our case, we will comment out all lines starting with the word scsi as our scanner uses the USB interface), then add at the end of the file a line specifying the interface and the device node used. In this case, we add the following line:

usb /dev/uscanner0

Please be sure to read the comments provided in the backend configuration file as well as the backend manual page for more details and correct syntax to use. We can now verify if the scanner is identified:

# scanimage -L device `epson:/dev/uscanner0' is a Epson GT-8200 flatbed scanner

Our USB scanner has been identified. It is not important if the brand and the model do not match the scanner. The key item to be concerned with is the `epson:/dev/uscanner0' field, which give us the right backend name and the right device node.

Once the scanimage -L command is able to see the scanner, the configuration is complete. The device is now ready to scan.

While scanimage(1) does allow us to perform an image acquisition from the command line, it is preferable to use a graphical user interface to perform image scanning. SANE offers a simple but efficient graphical interface: xscanimage (graphics/sane-frontends).

Xsane (graphics/xsane) is another popular graphical scanning frontend. This frontend offers advanced features such as various scanning mode (photocopy, fax, etc.), color correction, batch scans, etc. Both of these applications are usable as a GIMP plugin.

7.6.4 Giving Other Users Access to the Scanner

All previous operations have been done with root privileges. You may however, need other users to have access to the scanner. The user will need read and write permissions to the device node used by the scanner. As an example, our USB scanner uses the device node /dev/uscanner0 which is owned by the operator group. Adding the user joe to the operator group will allow him to use the scanner:

# pw groupmod operator -m joe

For more details read the pw(8) manual page. You also have to set the correct write permissions (0660 or 0664) on the /dev/uscanner0 device node, by default the operator group can only read the device node. This is done by adding the following lines to the /etc/devfs.rules file:

[system=5] add path uscanner0 mode 660

Then add the following to /etc/rc.conf and reboot the machine:


More information regarding these lines can be found in the devfs(8) manual page.

Note: Of course, for security reasons, you should think twice before adding a user to any group, especially the operator group.

Chapter 8 Configuring the FreeBSD Kernel

Updated and restructured by Jim Mock. Originally contributed by Jake Hamby.

8.1 Synopsis

The kernel is the core of the FreeBSD operating system. It is responsible for managing memory, enforcing security controls, networking, disk access, and much more. While more and more of FreeBSD becomes dynamically configurable it is still occasionally necessary to reconfigure and recompile your kernel.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • Why you might need to build a custom kernel.

  • How to write a kernel configuration file, or alter an existing configuration file.

  • How to use the kernel configuration file to create and build a new kernel.

  • How to install the new kernel.

  • How to troubleshoot if things go wrong.

All of the commands listed within this chapter by way of example should be executed as root in order to succeed.

8.2 Why Build a Custom Kernel?

Traditionally, FreeBSD has had what is called a “monolithic” kernel. This means that the kernel was one large program, supported a fixed list of devices, and if you wanted to change the kernel's behavior then you had to compile a new kernel, and then reboot your computer with the new kernel.

Today, FreeBSD is rapidly moving to a model where much of the kernel's functionality is contained in modules which can be dynamically loaded and unloaded from the kernel as necessary. This allows the kernel to adapt to new hardware suddenly becoming available (such as PCMCIA cards in a laptop), or for new functionality to be brought into the kernel that was not necessary when the kernel was originally compiled. This is known as a modular kernel.

Despite this, it is still necessary to carry out some static kernel configuration. In some cases this is because the functionality is so tied to the kernel that it can not be made dynamically loadable. In others it may simply be because no one has yet taken the time to write a dynamic loadable kernel module for that functionality.

Building a custom kernel is one of the most important rites of passage nearly every BSD user must endure. This process, while time consuming, will provide many benefits to your FreeBSD system. Unlike the GENERIC kernel, which must support a wide range of hardware, a custom kernel only contains support for your PC's hardware. This has a number of benefits, such as:

  • Faster boot time. Since the kernel will only probe the hardware you have on your system, the time it takes your system to boot can decrease dramatically.

  • Lower memory usage. A custom kernel often uses less memory than the GENERIC kernel, which is important because the kernel must always be present in real memory. For this reason, a custom kernel is especially useful on a system with a small amount of RAM.

  • Additional hardware support. A custom kernel allows you to add in support for devices which are not present in the GENERIC kernel, such as sound cards.

8.3 Building and Installing a Custom Kernel

First, let us take a quick tour of the kernel build directory. All directories mentioned will be relative to the main /usr/src/sys directory, which is also accessible through the path name /sys. There are a number of subdirectories here representing different parts of the kernel, but the most important for our purposes are arch/conf, where you will edit your custom kernel configuration, and compile, which is the staging area where your kernel will be built. arch represents one of i386, alpha, amd64, ia64, powerpc, sparc64, or pc98 (an alternative development branch of PC hardware, popular in Japan). Everything inside a particular architecture's directory deals with that architecture only; the rest of the code is machine independent code common to all platforms to which FreeBSD could potentially be ported. Notice the logical organization of the directory structure, with each supported device, file system, and option in its own subdirectory.

This chapter assumes that you are using the i386 architecture in the examples. If this is not the case for your situation, make appropriate adjustments to the path names for your system's architecture.

Note: If there is not a /usr/src/sys directory on your system, then the kernel source has not been installed. The easiest way to do this is by running sysinstall as root, choosing Configure, then Distributions, then src, then base and sys. If you have an aversion to sysinstall and you have access to an “official” FreeBSD CDROM, then you can also install the source from the command line:

# mount /cdrom # mkdir -p /usr/src/sys # ln -s /usr/src/sys /sys # cat /cdrom/src/ssys.[a-d]* | tar -xzvf - # cat /cdrom/src/sbase.[a-d]* | tar -xzvf -

Next, move to the arch/conf directory and copy the GENERIC configuration file to the name you want to give your kernel. For example:

# cd /usr/src/sys/i386/conf # cp GENERIC MYKERNEL

Traditionally, this name is in all capital letters and, if you are maintaining multiple FreeBSD machines with different hardware, it is a good idea to name it after your machine's hostname. We will call it MYKERNEL for the purpose of this example.

Tip: Storing your kernel configuration file directly under /usr/src can be a bad idea. If you are experiencing problems it can be tempting to just delete /usr/src and start again. After doing this, it usually only takes a few seconds for you to realize that you have deleted your custom kernel configuration file. Also, do not edit GENERIC directly, as it may get overwritten the next time you update your source tree, and your kernel modifications will be lost.

You might want to keep your kernel configuration file elsewhere, and then create a symbolic link to the file in the i386 directory.

For example:

# cd /usr/src/sys/i386/conf # mkdir /root/kernels # cp GENERIC /root/kernels/MYKERNEL # ln -s /root/kernels/MYKERNEL

Now, edit MYKERNEL with your favorite text editor. If you are just starting out, the only editor available will probably be vi, which is too complex to explain here, but is covered well in many books in the bibliography. However, FreeBSD does offer an easier editor called ee which, if you are a beginner, should be your editor of choice. Feel free to change the comment lines at the top to reflect your configuration or the changes you have made to differentiate it from GENERIC.

If you have built a kernel under SunOS or some other BSD operating system, much of this file will be very familiar to you. If you are coming from some other operating system such as DOS, on the other hand, the GENERIC configuration file might seem overwhelming to you, so follow the descriptions in the Configuration File section slowly and carefully.

Note: If you sync your source tree with the latest sources of the FreeBSD project, be sure to always check the file /usr/src/UPDATING before you perform any update steps. This file describes any important issues or areas requiring special attention within the updated source code. /usr/src/UPDATING always matches your version of the FreeBSD source, and is therefore more up to date with new information than this handbook.

You must now compile the source code for the kernel.

Building a Kernel

  1. Change to the /usr/src directory:

    # cd /usr/src
  2. Compile the kernel:

    # make buildkernel KERNCONF=MYKERNEL
  3. Install the new kernel:

    # make installkernel KERNCONF=MYKERNEL

Note: It is required to have full FreeBSD source tree to build the kernel.

Tip: By default, when you build a custom kernel, all kernel modules will be rebuilt as well. If you want to update a kernel faster or to build only custom modules, you should edit /etc/make.conf before starting to build the kernel:

MODULES_OVERRIDE = linux acpi sound/sound sound/driver/ds1 ntfs

This variable sets up a list of modules to build instead of all of them.

WITHOUT_MODULES = linux acpi sound/sound sound/driver/ds1 ntfs

This variable sets up a list of modules to exclude from the build process. For other variables which you may find useful in the process of building kernel, refer to make.conf(5) manual page.

The new kernel will be copied to the /boot/kernel directory as /boot/kernel/kernel and the old kernel will be moved to /boot/kernel.old/kernel. Now, shutdown the system and reboot to use your new kernel. If something goes wrong, there are some troubleshooting instructions at the end of this chapter that you may find useful. Be sure to read the section which explains how to recover in case your new kernel does not boot.

Note: Other files relating to the boot process, such as the boot loader(8) and configuration are stored in /boot. Third party or custom modules can be placed in /boot/kernel, although users should be aware that keeping modules in sync with the compiled kernel is very important. Modules not intended to run with the compiled kernel may result in instability or incorrectness.

8.4 The Configuration File

Updated for FreeBSD 6.X by Joel Dahl.

The general format of a configuration file is quite simple. Each line contains a keyword and one or more arguments. For simplicity, most lines only contain one argument. Anything following a # is considered a comment and ignored. The following sections describe each keyword, in the order they are listed in GENERIC. For an exhaustive list of architecture dependent options and devices, see the NOTES file in the same directory as the GENERIC file. For architecture independent options, see /usr/src/sys/conf/NOTES.

Note: To build a file which contains all available options, as normally done for testing purposes, run the following command as root:

# cd /usr/src/sys/i386/conf && make LINT

The following is an example of the GENERIC kernel configuration file with various additional comments where needed for clarity. This example should match your copy in /usr/src/sys/i386/conf/GENERIC fairly closely.

machine i386

This is the machine architecture. It must be either alpha, amd64, i386, ia64, pc98, powerpc, or sparc64.

cpu I486_CPU cpu I586_CPU cpu I686_CPU

The above option specifies the type of CPU you have in your system. You may have multiple instances of the CPU line (if, for example, you are not sure whether you should use I586_CPU or I686_CPU), but for a custom kernel it is best to specify only the CPU you have. If you are unsure of your CPU type, you can check the /var/run/dmesg.boot file to view your boot messages.


This is the identification of the kernel. You should change this to whatever you named your kernel, i.e. MYKERNEL if you have followed the instructions of the previous examples. The value you put in the ident string will print when you boot up the kernel, so it is useful to give the new kernel a different name if you want to keep it separate from your usual kernel (e.g., you want to build an experimental kernel).

#To statically compile in device wiring instead of /boot/device.hints #hints "GENERIC.hints" # Default places to look for devices.

The device.hints(5) is used to configure options of the device drivers. The default location that loader(8) will check at boot time is /boot/device.hints. Using the hints option you can compile these hints statically into your kernel. Then there is no need to create a device.hints file in /boot.

makeoptions DEBUG=-g # Build kernel with gdb(1) debug symbols

The normal build process of FreeBSD includes debugging information when building the kernel with the the -g option, which enables debugging information when passed to gcc(1).

options SCHED_4BSD # 4BSD scheduler

The traditional and default system scheduler for FreeBSD. Keep this.

options PREEMPTION # Enable kernel thread preemption

Allows threads that are in the kernel to be preempted by higher priority threads. It helps with interactivity and allows interrupt threads to run sooner rather than waiting.

options INET # InterNETworking

Networking support. Leave this in, even if you do not plan to be connected to a network. Most programs require at least loopback networking (i.e., making network connections within your PC), so this is essentially mandatory.

options INET6 # IPv6 communications protocols

This enables the IPv6 communication protocols.

options FFS # Berkeley Fast Filesystem

This is the basic hard drive file system. Leave it in if you boot from the hard disk.

options SOFTUPDATES # Enable FFS Soft Updates support

This option enables Soft Updates in the kernel, this will help speed up write access on the disks. Even when this functionality is provided by the kernel, it must be turned on for specific disks. Review the output from mount(8) to see if Soft Updates is enabled for your system disks. If you do not see the soft-updates option then you will need to activate it using the tunefs(8) (for existing file systems) or newfs(8) (for new file systems) commands.

options UFS_ACL # Support for access control lists

This option enables kernel support for access control lists. This relies on the use of extended attributes and UFS2, and the feature is described in detail in Section 14.12. ACLs are enabled by default and should not be disabled in the kernel if they have been used previously on a file system, as this will remove the access control lists, changing the way files are protected in unpredictable ways.

options UFS_DIRHASH # Improve performance on big directories

This option includes functionality to speed up disk operations on large directories, at the expense of using additional memory. You would normally keep this for a large server, or interactive workstation, and remove it if you are using FreeBSD on a smaller system where memory is at a premium and disk access speed is less important, such as a firewall.

options MD_ROOT # MD is a potential root device

This option enables support for a memory backed virtual disk used as a root device.

options NFSCLIENT # Network Filesystem Client options NFSSERVER # Network Filesystem Server options NFS_ROOT # NFS usable as /, requires NFSCLIENT

The network file system. Unless you plan to mount partitions from a UNIX file server over TCP/IP, you can comment these out.

options MSDOSFS # MSDOS Filesystem

The MS-DOS file system. Unless you plan to mount a DOS formatted hard drive partition at boot time, you can safely comment this out. It will be automatically loaded the first time you mount a DOS partition, as described above. Also, the excellent emulators/mtools software allows you to access DOS floppies without having to mount and unmount them (and does not require MSDOSFS at all).

options CD9660 # ISO 9660 Filesystem

The ISO 9660 file system for CDROMs. Comment it out if you do not have a CDROM drive or only mount data CDs occasionally (since it will be dynamically loaded the first time you mount a data CD). Audio CDs do not need this file system.

options PROCFS # Process filesystem (requires PSEUDOFS)

The process file system. This is a “pretend” file system mounted on /proc which allows programs like ps(1) to give you more information on what processes are running. Use of PROCFS is not required under most circumstances, as most debugging and monitoring tools have been adapted to run without PROCFS: installs will not mount this file system by default.

options PSEUDOFS # Pseudo-filesystem framework

6.X kernels making use of PROCFS must also include support for PSEUDOFS.

options GEOM_GPT # GUID Partition Tables.

This option brings the ability to have a large number of partitions on a single disk.

options COMPAT_43 # Compatible with BSD 4.3 [KEEP THIS!]

Compatibility with 4.3BSD. Leave this in; some programs will act strangely if you comment this out.

options COMPAT_FREEBSD4 # Compatible with FreeBSD4

This option is required on FreeBSD 5.X i386 and Alpha systems to support applications compiled on older versions of FreeBSD that use older system call interfaces. It is recommended that this option be used on all i386 and Alpha systems that may run older applications; platforms that gained support only in 5.X, such as ia64 and Sparc64, do not require this option.

options COMPAT_FREEBSD5 # Compatible with FreeBSD5

This option is required on FreeBSD 6.X and above to support applications compiled on FreeBSD 5.X versions that use FreeBSD 5.X system call interfaces.

options SCSI_DELAY=5000 # Delay (in ms) before probing SCSI

This causes the kernel to pause for 5 seconds before probing each SCSI device in your system. If you only have IDE hard drives, you can ignore this, otherwise you can try to lower this number, to speed up booting. Of course, if you do this and FreeBSD has trouble recognizing your SCSI devices, you will have to raise it again.

options KTRACE # ktrace(1) support

This enables kernel process tracing, which is useful in debugging.

options SYSVSHM # SYSV-style shared memory

This option provides for System V shared memory. The most common use of this is the XSHM extension in X, which many graphics-intensive programs will automatically take advantage of for extra speed. If you use X, you will definitely want to include this.

options SYSVMSG # SYSV-style message queues

Support for System V messages. This option only adds a few hundred bytes to the kernel.

options SYSVSEM # SYSV-style semaphores

Support for System V semaphores. Less commonly used but only adds a few hundred bytes to the kernel.

Note: The -p option of the ipcs(1) command will list any processes using each of these System V facilities.

options _KPOSIX_PRIORITY_SCHEDULING # POSIX P1003_1B real-time extensions

Real-time extensions added in the 1993 POSIX®. Certain applications in the Ports Collection use these (such as StarOffice).

options KBD_INSTALL_CDEV # install a CDEV entry in /dev

This option is related to the keyboard. It installs a CDEV entry in /dev.

options ADAPTIVE_GIANT # Giant mutex is adaptive.

Giant is the name of a mutual exclusion mechanism (a sleep mutex) that protects a large set of kernel resources. Today, this is an unacceptable performance bottleneck which is actively being replaced with locks that protect individual resources. The ADAPTIVE_GIANT option causes Giant to be included in the set of mutexes adaptively spun on. That is, when a thread wants to lock the Giant mutex, but it is already locked by a thread on another CPU, the first thread will keep running and wait for the lock to be released. Normally, the thread would instead go back to sleep and wait for its next chance to run. If you are not sure, leave this in.

device apic # I/O APIC

The apic device enables the use of the I/O APIC for interrupt delivery. The apic device can be used in both UP and SMP kernels, but is required for SMP kernels. Add options SMP to include support for multiple processors.

Note: The apic device exists only on the i386 architecture, this configuration line should not be used on other architectures.

device eisa

Include this if you have an EISA motherboard. This enables auto-detection and configuration support for all devices on the EISA bus.

device pci

Include this if you have a PCI motherboard. This enables auto-detection of PCI cards and gatewaying from the PCI to ISA bus.

# Floppy drives device fdc

This is the floppy drive controller.

# ATA and ATAPI devices device ata

This driver supports all ATA and ATAPI devices. You only need one device ata line for the kernel to detect all PCI ATA/ATAPI devices on modern machines.

device atadisk # ATA disk drives

This is needed along with device ata for ATA disk drives.

device ataraid # ATA RAID drives

This is needed along with device ata for ATA RAID drives.

device atapicd # ATAPI CDROM drives

This is needed along with device ata for ATAPI CDROM drives.

device atapifd # ATAPI floppy drives

This is needed along with device ata for ATAPI floppy drives.

device atapist # ATAPI tape drives

This is needed along with device ata for ATAPI tape drives.

options ATA_STATIC_ID # Static device numbering

This makes the controller number static; without this, the device numbers are dynamically allocated.

# SCSI Controllers device ahb # EISA AHA1742 family device ahc # AHA2940 and onboard AIC7xxx devices options AHC_REG_PRETTY_PRINT # Print register bitfields in debug # output. Adds ~128k to driver. device ahd # AHA39320/29320 and onboard AIC79xx devices options AHD_REG_PRETTY_PRINT # Print register bitfields in debug # output. Adds ~215k to driver. device amd # AMD 53C974 (Teckram DC-390(T)) device isp # Qlogic family #device ispfw # Firmware for QLogic HBAs- normally a module device mpt # LSI-Logic MPT-Fusion #device ncr # NCR/Symbios Logic device sym # NCR/Symbios Logic (newer chipsets + those of `ncr') device trm # Tekram DC395U/UW/F DC315U adapters device adv # Advansys SCSI adapters device adw # Advansys wide SCSI adapters device aha # Adaptec 154x SCSI adapters device aic # Adaptec 15[012]x SCSI adapters, AIC-6[23]60. device bt # Buslogic/Mylex MultiMaster SCSI adapters device ncv # NCR 53C500 device nsp # Workbit Ninja SCSI-3 device stg # TMC 18C30/18C50

SCSI controllers. Comment out any you do not have in your system. If you have an IDE only system, you can remove these altogether. The *_REG_PRETTY_PRINT lines are debugging options for their respective drivers.

# SCSI peripherals device scbus # SCSI bus (required for SCSI) device ch # SCSI media changers device da # Direct Access (disks) device sa # Sequential Access (tape etc) device cd # CD device pass # Passthrough device (direct SCSI access) device ses # SCSI Environmental Services (and SAF-TE)

SCSI peripherals. Again, comment out any you do not have, or if you have only IDE hardware, you can remove them completely.

Note: The USB umass(4) driver and a few other drivers use the SCSI subsystem even though they are not real SCSI devices. Therefore make sure not to remove SCSI support, if any such drivers are included in the kernel configuration.

# RAID controllers interfaced to the SCSI subsystem device amr # AMI MegaRAID device arcmsr # Areca SATA II RAID device asr # DPT SmartRAID V, VI and Adaptec SCSI RAID device ciss # Compaq Smart RAID 5* device dpt # DPT Smartcache III, IV - See NOTES for options device hptmv # Highpoint RocketRAID 182x device rr232x # Highpoint RocketRAID 232x device iir # Intel Integrated RAID device ips # IBM (Adaptec) ServeRAID device mly # Mylex AcceleRAID/eXtremeRAID device twa # 3ware 9000 series PATA/SATA RAID # RAID controllers device aac # Adaptec FSA RAID device aacp # SCSI passthrough for aac (requires CAM) device ida # Compaq Smart RAID device mfi # LSI MegaRAID SAS device mlx # Mylex DAC960 family device pst # Promise Supertrak SX6000 device twe # 3ware ATA RAID

Supported RAID controllers. If you do not have any of these, you can comment them out or remove them.

# atkbdc0 controls both the keyboard and the PS/2 mouse device atkbdc # AT keyboard controller

The keyboard controller (atkbdc) provides I/O services for the AT keyboard and PS/2 style pointing devices. This controller is required by the keyboard driver (atkbd) and the PS/2 pointing device driver (psm).

device atkbd # AT keyboard

The atkbd driver, together with atkbdc controller, provides access to the AT 84 keyboard or the AT enhanced keyboard which is connected to the AT keyboard controller.

device psm # PS/2 mouse

Use this device if your mouse plugs into the PS/2 mouse port.

device kbdmux # keyboard multiplexer

Basic support for keyboard multiplexing. If you do not plan to use more than one keyboard on the system, you can safely remove that line.

device vga # VGA video card driver

The video card driver.

device splash # Splash screen and screen saver support

Splash screen at start up! Screen savers require this too.

# syscons is the default console driver, resembling an SCO console device sc

sc is the default console driver and resembles a SCO console. Since most full-screen programs access the console through a terminal database library like termcap, it should not matter whether you use this or vt, the VT220 compatible console driver. When you log in, set your TERM variable to scoansi if full-screen programs have trouble running under this console.

# Enable this for the pcvt (VT220 compatible) console driver #device vt #options XSERVER # support for X server on a vt console #options FAT_CURSOR # start with block cursor

This is a VT220-compatible console driver, backward compatible to VT100/102. It works well on some laptops which have hardware incompatibilities with sc. Also set your TERM variable to vt100 or vt220 when you log in. This driver might also prove useful when connecting to a large number of different machines over the network, where termcap or terminfo entries for the sc device are often not available -- vt100 should be available on virtually any platform.

device agp

Include this if you have an AGP card in the system. This will enable support for AGP, and AGP GART for boards which have these features.

# Power management support (see NOTES for more options) #device apm

Advanced Power Management support. Useful for laptops, although in FreeBSD 5.X and above this is disabled in GENERIC by default.

# Add suspend/resume support for the i8254. device pmtimer

Timer device driver for power management events, such as APM and ACPI.

# PCCARD (PCMCIA) support # PCMCIA and cardbus bridge support device cbb # cardbus (yenta) bridge device pccard # PC Card (16-bit) bus device cardbus # CardBus (32-bit) bus

PCMCIA support. You want this if you are using a laptop.

# Serial (COM) ports device sio # 8250, 16[45]50 based serial ports

These are the serial ports referred to as COM ports in the MS-DOS/Windows world.

Note: If you have an internal modem on COM4 and a serial port at COM2, you will have to change the IRQ of the modem to 2 (for obscure technical reasons, IRQ2 = IRQ 9) in order to access it from FreeBSD. If you have a multiport serial card, check the manual page for sio(4) for more information on the proper values to add to your /boot/device.hints. Some video cards (notably those based on S3 chips) use IO addresses in the form of 0x*2e8, and since many cheap serial cards do not fully decode the 16-bit IO address space, they clash with these cards making the COM4 port practically unavailable.

Each serial port is required to have a unique IRQ (unless you are using one of the multiport cards where shared interrupts are supported), so the default IRQs for COM3 and COM4 cannot be used.

# Parallel port device ppc

This is the ISA-bus parallel port interface.

device ppbus # Parallel port bus (required)

Provides support for the parallel port bus.

device lpt # Printer

Support for parallel port printers.

Note: All three of the above are required to enable parallel printer support.

device plip # TCP/IP over parallel

This is the driver for the parallel network interface.

device ppi # Parallel port interface device

The general-purpose I/O (“geek port”) + IEEE1284 I/O.

#device vpo # Requires scbus and da

This is for an Iomega Zip drive. It requires scbus and da support. Best performance is achieved with ports in EPP 1.9 mode.

#device puc

Uncomment this device if you have a “dumb” serial or parallel PCI card that is supported by the puc(4) glue driver.

# PCI Ethernet NICs. device de # DEC/Intel DC21x4x (“Tulip”) device em # Intel PRO/1000 adapter Gigabit Ethernet Card device ixgb # Intel PRO/10GbE Ethernet Card device txp # 3Com 3cR990 (“Typhoon”) device vx # 3Com 3c590, 3c595 (“Vortex”)

Various PCI network card drivers. Comment out or remove any of these not present in your system.

# PCI Ethernet NICs that use the common MII bus controller code. # NOTE: Be sure to keep the 'device miibus' line in order to use these NICs! device miibus # MII bus support

MII bus support is required for some PCI 10/100 Ethernet NICs, namely those which use MII-compliant transceivers or implement transceiver control interfaces that operate like an MII. Adding device miibus to the kernel config pulls in support for the generic miibus API and all of the PHY drivers, including a generic one for PHYs that are not specifically handled by an individual driver.

device bce # Broadcom BCM5706/BCM5708 Gigabit Ethernet device bfe # Broadcom BCM440x 10/100 Ethernet device bge # Broadcom BCM570xx Gigabit Ethernet device dc # DEC/Intel 21143 and various workalikes device fxp # Intel EtherExpress PRO/100B (82557, 82558) device lge # Level 1 LXT1001 gigabit ethernet device msk # Marvell/SysKonnect Yukon II Gigabit Ethernet device nge # NatSemi DP83820 gigabit ethernet device nve # nVidia nForce MCP on-board Ethernet Networking device pcn # AMD Am79C97x PCI 10/100 (precedence over 'lnc') device re # RealTek 8139C+/8169/8169S/8110S device rl # RealTek 8129/8139 device sf # Adaptec AIC-6915 (“Starfire”) device sis # Silicon Integrated Systems SiS 900/SiS 7016 device sk # SysKonnect SK-984x & SK-982x gigabit Ethernet device ste # Sundance ST201 (D-Link DFE-550TX) device stge # Sundance/Tamarack TC9021 gigabit Ethernet device ti # Alteon Networks Tigon I/II gigabit Ethernet device tl # Texas Instruments ThunderLAN device tx # SMC EtherPower II (83c170 “EPIC”) device vge # VIA VT612x gigabit ethernet device vr # VIA Rhine, Rhine II device wb # Winbond W89C840F device xl # 3Com 3c90x (“Boomerang”, “Cyclone”)

Drivers that use the MII bus controller code.

# ISA Ethernet NICs. pccard NICs included. device cs # Crystal Semiconductor CS89x0 NIC # 'device ed' requires 'device miibus' device ed # NE[12]000, SMC Ultra, 3c503, DS8390 cards device ex # Intel EtherExpress Pro/10 and Pro/10+ device ep # Etherlink III based cards device fe # Fujitsu MB8696x based cards device ie # EtherExpress 8/16, 3C507, StarLAN 10 etc. device lnc # NE2100, NE32-VL Lance Ethernet cards device sn # SMC's 9000 series of Ethernet chips device xe # Xircom pccard Ethernet # ISA devices that use the old ISA shims #device le

ISA Ethernet drivers. See /usr/src/sys/i386/conf/NOTES for details of which cards are supported by which driver.

# Wireless NIC cards device wlan # 802.11 support

Generic 802.11 support. This line is required for wireless networking.

device wlan_wep # 802.11 WEP support device wlan_ccmp # 802.11 CCMP support device wlan_tkip # 802.11 TKIP support

Crypto support for 802.11 devices. These lines are needed if you intend to use encryption and 802.11i security protocols.

device an # Aironet 4500/4800 802.11 wireless NICs. device ath # Atheros pci/cardbus NIC's device ath_hal # Atheros HAL (Hardware Access Layer) device ath_rate_sample # SampleRate tx rate control for ath device awi # BayStack 660 and others device ral # Ralink Technology RT2500 wireless NICs. device wi # WaveLAN/Intersil/Symbol 802.11 wireless NICs. #device wl # Older non 802.11 Wavelan wireless NIC.

Support for various wireless cards.

# Pseudo devices device loop # Network loopback

This is the generic loopback device for TCP/IP. If you telnet or FTP to localhost (a.k.a. it will come back at you through this device. This is mandatory.

device random # Entropy device

Cryptographically secure random number generator.

device ether # Ethernet support

ether is only needed if you have an Ethernet card. It includes generic Ethernet protocol code.

device sl # Kernel SLIP

sl is for SLIP support. This has been almost entirely supplanted by PPP, which is easier to set up, better suited for modem-to-modem connection, and more powerful.

device ppp # Kernel PPP

This is for kernel PPP support for dial-up connections. There is also a version of PPP implemented as a userland application that uses tun and offers more flexibility and features such as demand dialing.

device tun # Packet tunnel.

This is used by the userland PPP software. See the PPP section of this book for more information.

device pty # Pseudo-ttys (telnet etc)

This is a “pseudo-terminal” or simulated login port. It is used by incoming telnet and rlogin sessions, xterm, and some other applications such as Emacs.

device md # Memory “disks”

Memory disk pseudo-devices.

device gif # IPv6 and IPv4 tunneling

This implements IPv6 over IPv4 tunneling, IPv4 over IPv6 tunneling, IPv4 over IPv4 tunneling, and IPv6 over IPv6 tunneling. The gif device is “auto-cloning”, and will create device nodes as needed.

device faith # IPv6-to-IPv4 relaying (translation)

This pseudo-device captures packets that are sent to it and diverts them to the IPv4/IPv6 translation daemon.

# The `bpf' device enables the Berkeley Packet Filter. # Be aware of the administrative consequences of enabling this! # Note that 'bpf' is required for DHCP. device bpf # Berkeley packet filter

This is the Berkeley Packet Filter. This pseudo-device allows network interfaces to be placed in promiscuous mode, capturing every packet on a broadcast network (e.g., an Ethernet). These packets can be captured to disk and or examined with the tcpdump(1) program.

Note: The bpf(4) device is also used by dhclient(8) to obtain the IP address of the default router (gateway) and so on. If you use DHCP, leave this uncommented.

# USB support device uhci # UHCI PCI->USB interface device ohci # OHCI PCI->USB interface device ehci # EHCI PCI->USB interface (USB 2.0) device usb # USB Bus (required) #device udbp # USB Double Bulk Pipe devices device ugen # Generic device uhid # “Human Interface Devices” device ukbd # Keyboard device ulpt # Printer device umass # Disks/Mass storage - Requires scbus and da device ums # Mouse device ural # Ralink Technology RT2500USB wireless NICs device urio # Diamond Rio 500 MP3 player device uscanner # Scanners # USB Ethernet, requires mii device aue # ADMtek USB Ethernet device axe # ASIX Electronics USB Ethernet device cdce # Generic USB over Ethernet device cue # CATC USB Ethernet device kue # Kawasaki LSI USB Ethernet device rue # RealTek RTL8150 USB Ethernet

Support for various USB devices.

# FireWire support device firewire # FireWire bus code device sbp # SCSI over FireWire (Requires scbus and da) device fwe # Ethernet over FireWire (non-standard!)

Support for various Firewire devices.

For more information and additional devices supported by FreeBSD, see /usr/src/sys/i386/conf/NOTES.

8.4.1 Large Memory Configurations (PAE)

Large memory configuration machines require access to more than the 4 gigabyte limit on User+Kernel Virtual Address (KVA) space. Due to this limitation, Intel added support for 36-bit physical address space access in the Pentium Pro and later line of CPUs.

The Physical Address Extension (PAE) capability of the Intel Pentium Pro and later CPUs allows memory configurations of up to 64 gigabytes. FreeBSD provides support for this capability via the PAE kernel configuration option, available in all current release versions of FreeBSD. Due to the limitations of the Intel memory architecture, no distinction is made for memory above or below 4 gigabytes. Memory allocated above 4 gigabytes is simply added to the pool of available memory.

To enable PAE support in the kernel, simply add the following line to your kernel configuration file:

options PAE

Note: The PAE support in FreeBSD is only available for Intel IA-32 processors. It should also be noted, that the PAE support in FreeBSD has not received wide testing, and should be considered beta quality compared to other stable features of FreeBSD.

PAE support in FreeBSD has a few limitations:

  • A process is not able to access more than 4 gigabytes of VM space.

  • KLD modules cannot be loaded into a PAE enabled kernel, due to the differences in the build framework of a module and the kernel.

  • Device drivers that do not use the bus_dma(9) interface will cause data corruption in a PAE enabled kernel and are not recommended for use. For this reason, a PAE kernel configuration file is provided in FreeBSD which excludes all drivers not known to work in a PAE enabled kernel.

  • Some system tunables determine memory resource usage by the amount of available physical memory. Such tunables can unnecessarily over-allocate due to the large memory nature of a PAE system. One such example is the kern.maxvnodes sysctl, which controls the maximum number of vnodes allowed in the kernel. It is advised to adjust this and other such tunables to a reasonable value.

  • It might be necessary to increase the kernel virtual address (KVA) space or to reduce the amount of specific kernel resource that is heavily used (see above) in order to avoid KVA exhaustion. The KVA_PAGES kernel option can be used for increasing the KVA space.

For performance and stability concerns, it is advised to consult the tuning(7) manual page. The pae(4) manual page contains up-to-date information on FreeBSD's PAE support.

8.5 If Something Goes Wrong

There are five categories of trouble that can occur when building a custom kernel. They are:

config fails:

If the config(8) command fails when you give it your kernel description, you have probably made a simple error somewhere. Fortunately, config(8) will print the line number that it had trouble with, so that you can quickly locate the line containing the error. For example, if you see:

config: line 17: syntax error

Make sure the keyword is typed correctly by comparing it to the GENERIC kernel or another reference.

make fails:

If the make command fails, it usually signals an error in your kernel description which is not severe enough for config(8) to catch. Again, look over your configuration, and if you still cannot resolve the problem, send mail to the FreeBSD general questions mailing list with your kernel configuration, and it should be diagnosed quickly.

The kernel does not boot:

If your new kernel does not boot, or fails to recognize your devices, do not panic! Fortunately, FreeBSD has an excellent mechanism for recovering from incompatible kernels. Simply choose the kernel you want to boot from at the FreeBSD boot loader. You can access this when the system boot menu appears. Select the “Escape to a loader prompt” option, number six. At the prompt, type unload kernel and then type boot /boot/kernel.old/kernel, or the filename of any other kernel that will boot properly. When reconfiguring a kernel, it is always a good idea to keep a kernel that is known to work on hand.

After booting with a good kernel you can check over your configuration file and try to build it again. One helpful resource is the /var/log/messages file which records, among other things, all of the kernel messages from every successful boot. Also, the dmesg(8) command will print the kernel messages from the current boot.

Note: If you are having trouble building a kernel, make sure to keep a GENERIC, or some other kernel that is known to work on hand as a different name that will not get erased on the next build. You cannot rely on kernel.old because when installing a new kernel, kernel.old is overwritten with the last installed kernel which may be non-functional. Also, as soon as possible, move the working kernel to the proper /boot/kernel location or commands such as ps(1) may not work properly. To do this, simply rename the directory containing the good kernel:

# mv /boot/kernel /boot/kernel.bad # mv /boot/kernel.good /boot/kernel
The kernel works, but ps(1) does not work any more:

If you have installed a different version of the kernel from the one that the system utilities have been built with, for example, a -CURRENT kernel on a -RELEASE, many system-status commands like ps(1) and vmstat(8) will not work any more. You should recompile and install a world built with the same version of the source tree as your kernel. This is one reason it is not normally a good idea to use a different version of the kernel from the rest of the operating system.

Chapter 9 Printing

Contributed by Sean Kelly. Restructured and updated by Jim Mock.

9.1 Synopsis

FreeBSD can be used to print with a wide variety of printers, from the oldest impact printer to the latest laser printers, and everything in between, allowing you to produce high-quality printed output from the applications you run.

FreeBSD can also be configured to act as a print server on a network; in this capacity FreeBSD can receive print jobs from a variety of other computers, including other FreeBSD computers, Windows and Mac OS hosts. FreeBSD will ensure that one job at a time is printed, and can keep statistics on which users and machines are doing the most printing, produce “banner” pages showing who's printout is who's, and more.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • How to configure the FreeBSD print spooler.

  • How to install print filters, to handle special print jobs differently, including converting incoming documents to print formats that your printers understand.

  • How to enable header, or banner pages on your printout.

  • How to print with printers connected to other computers.

  • How to print with printers connected directly to the network.

  • How to control printer restrictions, including limiting the size of print jobs, and preventing certain users from printing.

  • How to keep printer statistics, and account for printer usage.

  • How to troubleshoot printing problems.

Before reading this chapter, you should:

  • Know how to configure and install a new kernel (Chapter 8).

9.2 Introduction

In order to use printers with FreeBSD, you may set them up to work with the Berkeley line printer spooling system, also known as the LPD spooling system, or just LPD. It is the standard printer control system in FreeBSD. This chapter introduces LPD and will guide you through its configuration.

If you are already familiar with LPD or another printer spooling system, you may wish to skip to section Basic Setup.

LPD controls everything about a host's printers. It is responsible for a number of things:

  • It controls access to attached printers and printers attached to other hosts on the network.

  • It enables users to submit files to be printed; these submissions are known as jobs.

  • It prevents multiple users from accessing a printer at the same time by maintaining a queue for each printer.

  • It can print header pages (also known as banner or burst pages) so users can easily find jobs they have printed in a stack of printouts.

  • It takes care of communications parameters for printers connected on serial ports.

  • It can send jobs over the network to a LPD spooler on another host.

  • It can run special filters to format jobs to be printed for various printer languages or printer capabilities.

  • It can account for printer usage.

Through a configuration file (/etc/printcap), and by providing the special filter programs, you can enable the LPD system to do all or some subset of the above for a great variety of printer hardware.

9.2.1 Why You Should Use the Spooler

If you are the sole user of your system, you may be wondering why you should bother with the spooler when you do not need access control, header pages, or printer accounting. While it is possible to enable direct access to a printer, you should use the spooler anyway since:

  • LPD prints jobs in the background; you do not have to wait for data to be copied to the printer.

  • LPD can conveniently run a job to be printed through filters to add date/time headers or convert a special file format (such as a TeX DVI file) into a format the printer will understand. You will not have to do these steps manually.

  • Many free and commercial programs that provide a print feature usually expect to talk to the spooler on your system. By setting up the spooling system, you will more easily support other software you may later add or already have.

9.3 Basic Setup

To use printers with the LPD spooling system, you will need to set up both your printer hardware and the LPD software. This document describes two levels of setup:

  • See section Simple Printer Setup to learn how to connect a printer, tell LPD how to communicate with it, and print plain text files to the printer.

  • See section Advanced Printer Setup to learn how to print a variety of special file formats, to print header pages, to print across a network, to control access to printers, and to do printer accounting.

9.3.1 Simple Printer Setup

This section tells how to configure printer hardware and the LPD software to use the printer. It teaches the basics:

  • Section Hardware Setup gives some hints on connecting the printer to a port on your computer.

  • Section Software Setup shows how to set up the LPD spooler configuration file (/etc/printcap).

If you are setting up a printer that uses a network protocol to accept data to print instead of a computer's local interfaces, see Printers With Networked Data Stream Interfaces.

Although this section is called “Simple Printer Setup”, it is actually fairly complex. Getting the printer to work with your computer and the LPD spooler is the hardest part. The advanced options like header pages and accounting are fairly easy once you get the printer working. Hardware Setup

This section tells about the various ways you can connect a printer to your PC. It talks about the kinds of ports and cables, and also the kernel configuration you may need to enable FreeBSD to speak to the printer.

If you have already connected your printer and have successfully printed with it under another operating system, you can probably skip to section Software Setup. Ports and Cables

Printers sold for use on PC's today generally come with one or more of the following three interfaces:

  • Serial interfaces, also known as RS-232 or COM ports, use a serial port on your computer to send data to the printer. Serial interfaces are common in the computer industry and cables are readily available and also easy to construct. Serial interfaces sometimes need special cables and might require you to configure somewhat complex communications options. Most PC serial ports have a maximum transmission rate of 115200 bps, which makes printing large graphic print jobs with them impractical.

  • Parallel interfaces use a parallel port on your computer to send data to the printer. Parallel interfaces are common in the PC market and are faster than RS-232 serial. Cables are readily available but more difficult to construct by hand. There are usually no communications options with parallel interfaces, making their configuration exceedingly simple.

    Parallel interfaces are sometimes known as “Centronics” interfaces, named after the connector type on the printer.

  • USB interfaces, named for the Universal Serial Bus, can run at even faster speeds than parallel or RS-232 serial interfaces. Cables are simple and cheap. USB is superior to RS-232 Serial and to Parallel for printing, but it is not as well supported under UNIX systems. A way to avoid this problem is to purchase a printer that has both a USB interface and a Parallel interface, as many printers do.

In general, Parallel interfaces usually offer just one-way communication (computer to printer) while serial and USB gives you two-way. Newer parallel ports (EPP and ECP) and printers can communicate in both directions under FreeBSD when a IEEE-1284-compliant cable is used.

Two-way communication to the printer over a parallel port is generally done in one of two ways. The first method uses a custom-built printer driver for FreeBSD that speaks the proprietary language used by the printer. This is common with inkjet printers and can be used for reporting ink levels and other status information. The second method is used when the printer supports PostScript.

PostScript jobs are actually programs sent to the printer; they need not produce paper at all and may return results directly to the computer. PostScript also uses two-way communication to tell the computer about problems, such as errors in the PostScript program or paper jams. Your users may be appreciative of such information. Furthermore, the best way to do effective accounting with a PostScript printer requires two-way communication: you ask the printer for its page count (how many pages it has printed in its lifetime), then send the user's job, then ask again for its page count. Subtract the two values and you know how much paper to charge to the user. Parallel Ports

To hook up a printer using a parallel interface, connect the Centronics cable between the printer and the computer. The instructions that came with the printer, the computer, or both should give you complete guidance.

Remember which parallel port you used on the computer. The first parallel port is ppc0 to FreeBSD; the second is ppc1, and so on. The printer device name uses the same scheme: /dev/lpt0 for the printer on the first parallel ports etc. Serial Ports

To hook up a printer using a serial interface, connect the proper serial cable between the printer and the computer. The instructions that came with the printer, the computer, or both should give you complete guidance.

If you are unsure what the “proper serial cable” is, you may wish to try one of the following alternatives:

  • A modem cable connects each pin of the connector on one end of the cable straight through to its corresponding pin of the connector on the other end. This type of cable is also known as a “DTE-to-DCE” cable.

  • A null-modem cable connects some pins straight through, swaps others (send data to receive data, for example), and shorts some internally in each connector hood. This type of cable is also known as a “DTE-to-DTE” cable.

  • A serial printer cable, required for some unusual printers, is like the null-modem cable, but sends some signals to their counterparts instead of being internally shorted.

You should also set up the communications parameters for the printer, usually through front-panel controls or DIP switches on the printer. Choose the highest bps (bits per second, sometimes baud rate) that both your computer and the printer can support. Choose 7 or 8 data bits; none, even, or odd parity; and 1 or 2 stop bits. Also choose a flow control protocol: either none, or XON/XOFF (also known as “in-band” or “software”) flow control. Remember these settings for the software configuration that follows. Software Setup

This section describes the software setup necessary to print with the LPD spooling system in FreeBSD.

Here is an outline of the steps involved:

  1. Configure your kernel, if necessary, for the port you are using for the printer; section Kernel Configuration tells you what you need to do.

  2. Set the communications mode for the parallel port, if you are using a parallel port; section Setting the Communication Mode for the Parallel Port gives details.

  3. Test if the operating system can send data to the printer. Section Checking Printer Communications gives some suggestions on how to do this.

  4. Set up LPD for the printer by modifying the file /etc/printcap. You will find out how to do this later in this chapter. Kernel Configuration

The operating system kernel is compiled to work with a specific set of devices. The serial or parallel interface for your printer is a part of that set. Therefore, it might be necessary to add support for an additional serial or parallel port if your kernel is not already configured for one.

To find out if the kernel you are currently using supports a serial interface, type:

# grep sioN /var/run/dmesg.boot

Where N is the number of the serial port, starting from zero. If you see output similar to the following:

sio2 at port 0x3e8-0x3ef irq 5 on isa sio2: type 16550A

then the kernel supports the port.

To find out if the kernel supports a parallel interface, type:

# grep ppcN /var/run/dmesg.boot

Where N is the number of the parallel port, starting from zero. If you see output similar to the following:

ppc0: <Parallel port> at port 0x378-0x37f irq 7 on isa0 ppc0: SMC-like chipset (ECP/EPP/PS2/NIBBLE) in COMPATIBLE mode ppc0: FIFO with 16/16/8 bytes threshold

then the kernel supports the port.

You might have to reconfigure your kernel in order for the operating system to recognize and use the parallel or serial port you are using for the printer.

To add support for a serial port, see the section on kernel configuration. To add support for a parallel port, see that section and the section that follows. Setting the Communication Mode for the Parallel Port

When you are using the parallel interface, you can choose whether FreeBSD should use interrupt-driven or polled communication with the printer. The generic printer device driver (lpt(4)) on FreeBSD uses the ppbus(4) system, which controls the port chipset with the ppc(4) driver.

  • The interrupt-driven method is the default with the GENERIC kernel. With this method, the operating system uses an IRQ line to determine when the printer is ready for data.

  • The polled method directs the operating system to repeatedly ask the printer if it is ready for more data. When it responds ready, the kernel sends more data.

The interrupt-driven method is usually somewhat faster but uses up a precious IRQ line. Some newer HP printers are claimed not to work correctly in interrupt mode, apparently due to some (not yet exactly understood) timing problem. These printers need polled mode. You should use whichever one works. Some printers will work in both modes, but are painfully slow in interrupt mode.

You can set the communications mode in two ways: by configuring the kernel or by using the lptcontrol(8) program.

To set the communications mode by configuring the kernel:

  1. Edit your kernel configuration file. Look for an ppc0 entry. If you are setting up the second parallel port, use ppc1 instead. Use ppc2 for the third port, and so on.

    • If you want interrupt-driven mode, edit the following line:


      in the /boot/device.hints file and replace N with the right IRQ number. The kernel configuration file must also contain the ppc(4) driver:

      device ppc
    • If you want polled mode, remove in your /boot/device.hints file, the following line:


      In some cases, this is not enough to put the port in polled mode under FreeBSD. Most of time it comes from acpi(4) driver, this latter is able to probe and attach devices, and therefore, control the access mode to the printer port. You should check your acpi(4) configuration to correct this problem.

  2. Save the file. Then configure, build, and install the kernel, then reboot. See kernel configuration for more details.

To set the communications mode with lptcontrol(8):

  1. Type:

    # lptcontrol -i -d /dev/lptN

    to set interrupt-driven mode for lptN.

  2. Type:

    # lptcontrol -p -d /dev/lptN

    to set polled-mode for lptN.

You could put these commands in your /etc/rc.local file to set the mode each time your system boots. See lptcontrol(8) for more information. Checking Printer Communications

Before proceeding to configure the spooling system, you should make sure the operating system can successfully send data to your printer. It is a lot easier to debug printer communication and the spooling system separately.

To test the printer, we will send some text to it. For printers that can immediately print characters sent to them, the program lptest(1) is perfect: it generates all 96 printable ASCII characters in 96 lines.

For a PostScript (or other language-based) printer, we will need a more sophisticated test. A small PostScript program, such as the following, will suffice:

%!PS 100 100 moveto 300 300 lineto stroke 310 310 moveto /Helvetica findfont 12 scalefont setfont (Is this thing working?) show showpage

The above PostScript code can be placed into a file and used as shown in the examples appearing in the following sections.

Note: When this document refers to a printer language, it is assuming a language like PostScript, and not Hewlett Packard's PCL. Although PCL has great functionality, you can intermingle plain text with its escape sequences. PostScript cannot directly print plain text, and that is the kind of printer language for which we must make special accommodations. Checking a Parallel Printer

This section tells you how to check if FreeBSD can communicate with a printer connected to a parallel port.

To test a printer on a parallel port:

  1. Become root with su(1).

  2. Send data to the printer.

    • If the printer can print plain text, then use lptest(1). Type:

      # lptest > /dev/lptN

      Where N is the number of the parallel port, starting from zero.

    • If the printer understands PostScript or other printer language, then send a small program to the printer. Type:

      # cat > /dev/lptN

      Then, line by line, type the program carefully as you cannot edit a line once you have pressed RETURN or ENTER. When you have finished entering the program, press CONTROL+D, or whatever your end of file key is.

      Alternatively, you can put the program in a file and type:

      # cat file > /dev/lptN

      Where file is the name of the file containing the program you want to send to the printer.

You should see something print. Do not worry if the text does not look right; we will fix such things later. Checking a Serial Printer

This section tells you how to check if FreeBSD can communicate with a printer on a serial port.

To test a printer on a serial port:

  1. Become root with su(1).

  2. Edit the file /etc/remote. Add the following entry:


    Where port is the device entry for the serial port (ttyd0, ttyd1, etc.), bps-rate is the bits-per-second rate at which the printer communicates, and parity is the parity required by the printer (either even, odd, none, or zero).

    Here is a sample entry for a printer connected via a serial line to the third serial port at 19200 bps with no parity:

  3. Connect to the printer with tip(1). Type:

    # tip printer

    If this step does not work, edit the file /etc/remote again and try using /dev/cuaaN instead of /dev/ttydN.

  4. Send data to the printer.

    • If the printer can print plain text, then use lptest(1). Type:

      % $lptest
    • If the printer understands PostScript or other printer language, then send a small program to the printer. Type the program, line by line, very carefully as backspacing or other editing keys may be significant to the printer. You may also need to type a special end-of-file key for the printer so it knows it received the whole program. For PostScript printers, press CONTROL+D.

      Alternatively, you can put the program in a file and type:

      % >file

      Where file is the name of the file containing the program. After tip(1) sends the file, press any required end-of-file key.

You should see something print. Do not worry if the text does not look right; we will fix that later. Enabling the Spooler: the /etc/printcap File

At this point, your printer should be hooked up, your kernel configured to communicate with it (if necessary), and you have been able to send some simple data to the printer. Now, we are ready to configure LPD to control access to your printer.

You configure LPD by editing the file /etc/printcap. The LPD spooling system reads this file each time the spooler is used, so updates to the file take immediate effect.

The format of the printcap(5) file is straightforward. Use your favorite text editor to make changes to /etc/printcap. The format is identical to other capability files like /usr/share/misc/termcap and /etc/remote. For complete information about the format, see the cgetent(3).

The simple spooler configuration consists of the following steps:

  1. Pick a name (and a few convenient aliases) for the printer, and put them in the /etc/printcap file; see the Naming the Printer section for more information on naming.

  2. Turn off header pages (which are on by default) by inserting the sh capability; see the Suppressing Header Pages section for more information.

  3. Make a spooling directory, and specify its location with the sd capability; see the Making the Spooling Directory section for more information.

  4. Set the /dev entry to use for the printer, and note it in /etc/printcap with the lp capability; see the Identifying the Printer Device for more information. Also, if the printer is on a serial port, set up the communication parameters with the ms# capability which is discussed in the Configuring Spooler Communications Parameters section.

  5. Install a plain text input filter; see the Installing the Text Filter section for details.

  6. Test the setup by printing something with the lpr(1) command. More details are available in the Trying It Out and Troubleshooting sections.

Note: Language-based printers, such as PostScript printers, cannot directly print plain text. The simple setup outlined above and described in the following sections assumes that if you are installing such a printer you will print only files that the printer can understand.

Users often expect that they can print plain text to any of the printers installed on your system. Programs that interface to LPD to do their printing usually make the same assumption. If you are installing such a printer and want to be able to print jobs in the printer language and print plain text jobs, you are strongly urged to add an additional step to the simple setup outlined above: install an automatic plain-text-to-PostScript (or other printer language) conversion program. The section entitled Accommodating Plain Text Jobs on PostScript Printers tells how to do this. Naming the Printer

The first (easy) step is to pick a name for your printer. It really does not matter whether you choose functional or whimsical names since you can also provide a number of aliases for the printer.

At least one of the printers specified in the /etc/printcap should have the alias lp. This is the default printer's name. If users do not have the PRINTER environment variable nor specify a printer name on the command line of any of the LPD commands, then lp will be the default printer they get to use.

Also, it is common practice to make the last alias for a printer be a full description of the printer, including make and model.

Once you have picked a name and some common aliases, put them in the /etc/printcap file. The name of the printer should start in the leftmost column. Separate each alias with a vertical bar and put a colon after the last alias.

In the following example, we start with a skeletal /etc/printcap that defines two printers (a Diablo 630 line printer and a Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript laser printer):

# # /etc/printcap for host rose # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer: bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:

In this example, the first printer is named rattan and has as aliases line, diablo, lp, and Diablo 630 Line Printer. Since it has the alias lp, it is also the default printer. The second is named bamboo, and has as aliases ps, PS, S, panasonic, and Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4. Suppressing Header Pages

The LPD spooling system will by default print a header page for each job. The header page contains the user name who requested the job, the host from which the job came, and the name of the job, in nice large letters. Unfortunately, all this extra text gets in the way of debugging the simple printer setup, so we will suppress header pages.

To suppress header pages, add the sh capability to the entry for the printer in /etc/printcap. Here is an example /etc/printcap with sh added:

# # /etc/printcap for host rose - no header pages anywhere # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :sh: bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:

Note how we used the correct format: the first line starts in the leftmost column, and subsequent lines are indented. Every line in an entry except the last ends in a backslash character. Making the Spooling Directory

The next step in the simple spooler setup is to make a spooling directory, a directory where print jobs reside until they are printed, and where a number of other spooler support files live.

Because of the variable nature of spooling directories, it is customary to put these directories under /var/spool. It is not necessary to backup the contents of spooling directories, either. Recreating them is as simple as running mkdir(1).

It is also customary to make the directory with a name that is identical to the name of the printer, as shown below:

# mkdir /var/spool/printer-name

However, if you have a lot of printers on your network, you might want to put the spooling directories under a single directory that you reserve just for printing with LPD. We will do this for our two example printers rattan and bamboo:

# mkdir /var/spool/lpd # mkdir /var/spool/lpd/rattan # mkdir /var/spool/lpd/bamboo

Note: If you are concerned about the privacy of jobs that users print, you might want to protect the spooling directory so it is not publicly accessible. Spooling directories should be owned and be readable, writable, and searchable by user daemon and group daemon, and no one else. We will do this for our example printers:

# chown daemon:daemon /var/spool/lpd/rattan # chown daemon:daemon /var/spool/lpd/bamboo # chmod 770 /var/spool/lpd/rattan # chmod 770 /var/spool/lpd/bamboo

Finally, you need to tell LPD about these directories using the /etc/printcap file. You specify the pathname of the spooling directory with the sd capability:

# # /etc/printcap for host rose - added spooling directories # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan: bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:

Note that the name of the printer starts in the first column but all other entries describing the printer should be indented and each line end escaped with a backslash.

If you do not specify a spooling directory with sd, the spooling system will use /var/spool/lpd as a default. Identifying the Printer Device

In the Entries for the Ports section, we identified which entry in the /dev directory FreeBSD will use to communicate with the printer. Now, we tell LPD that information. When the spooling system has a job to print, it will open the specified device on behalf of the filter program (which is responsible for passing data to the printer).

List the /dev entry pathname in the /etc/printcap file using the lp capability.

In our running example, let us assume that rattan is on the first parallel port, and bamboo is on a sixth serial port; here are the additions to /etc/printcap:

# # /etc/printcap for host rose - identified what devices to use # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0: bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:\ :lp=/dev/ttyd5:

If you do not specify the lp capability for a printer in your /etc/printcap file, LPD uses /dev/lp as a default. /dev/lp currently does not exist in FreeBSD.

If the printer you are installing is connected to a parallel port, skip to the section entitled, Installing the Text Filter. Otherwise, be sure to follow the instructions in the next section. Configuring Spooler Communication Parameters

For printers on serial ports, LPD can set up the bps rate, parity, and other serial communication parameters on behalf of the filter program that sends data to the printer. This is advantageous since:

  • It lets you try different communication parameters by simply editing the /etc/printcap file; you do not have to recompile the filter program.

  • It enables the spooling system to use the same filter program for multiple printers which may have different serial communication settings.

The following /etc/printcap capabilities control serial communication parameters of the device listed in the lp capability:


Sets the communications speed of the device to bps-rate, where bps-rate can be 50, 75, 110, 134, 150, 200, 300, 600, 1200, 1800, 2400, 4800, 9600, 19200, 38400, 57600, or 115200 bits-per-second.


Sets the options for the terminal device after opening the device. stty(1) explains the available options.

When LPD opens the device specified by the lp capability, it sets the characteristics of the device to those specified with the ms# capability. Of particular interest will be the parenb, parodd, cs5, cs6, cs7, cs8, cstopb, crtscts, and ixon modes, which are explained in the stty(1) manual page.

Let us add to our example printer on the sixth serial port. We will set the bps rate to 38400. For the mode, we will set no parity with -parenb, 8-bit characters with cs8, no modem control with clocal and hardware flow control with crtscts:

bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:\ :lp=/dev/ttyd5:ms#-parenb cs8 clocal crtscts: Installing the Text Filter

We are now ready to tell LPD what text filter to use to send jobs to the printer. A text filter, also known as an input filter, is a program that LPD runs when it has a job to print. When LPD runs the text filter for a printer, it sets the filter's standard input to the job to print, and its standard output to the printer device specified with the lp capability. The filter is expected to read the job from standard input, perform any necessary translation for the printer, and write the results to standard output, which will get printed. For more information on the text filter, see the Filters section.

For our simple printer setup, the text filter can be a small shell script that just executes /bin/cat to send the job to the printer. FreeBSD comes with another filter called lpf that handles backspacing and underlining for printers that might not deal with such character streams well. And, of course, you can use any other filter program you want. The filter lpf is described in detail in section entitled lpf: a Text Filter.

First, let us make the shell script /usr/local/libexec/if-simple be a simple text filter. Put the following text into that file with your favorite text editor:

#!/bin/sh # # if-simple - Simple text input filter for lpd # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/if-simple # # Simply copies stdin to stdout. Ignores all filter arguments. /bin/cat && exit 0 exit 2

Make the file executable:

# chmod 555 /usr/local/libexec/if-simple

And then tell LPD to use it by specifying it with the if capability in /etc/printcap. We will add it to the two printers we have so far in the example /etc/printcap:

# # /etc/printcap for host rose - added text filter # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/if-simple: bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:\ :lp=/dev/ttyd5:ms#-parenb cs8 clocal crtscts:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/if-simple:

Note: A copy of the if-simple script can be found in the /usr/share/examples/printing directory. Turn on LPD

lpd(8) is run from /etc/rc, controlled by the lpd_enable variable. This variable defaults to NO. If you have not done so already, add the line:


to /etc/rc.conf, and then either restart your machine, or just run lpd(8).

# lpd Trying It Out

You have reached the end of the simple LPD setup. Unfortunately, congratulations are not quite yet in order, since we still have to test the setup and correct any problems. To test the setup, try printing something. To print with the LPD system, you use the command lpr(1), which submits a job for printing.

You can combine lpr(1) with the lptest(1) program, introduced in section Checking Printer Communications to generate some test text.

To test the simple LPD setup:


# lptest 20 5 | lpr -Pprinter-name

Where printer-name is a the name of a printer (or an alias) specified in /etc/printcap. To test the default printer, type lpr(1) without any -P argument. Again, if you are testing a printer that expects PostScript, send a PostScript program in that language instead of using lptest(1). You can do so by putting the program in a file and typing lpr file.

For a PostScript printer, you should get the results of the program. If you are using lptest(1), then your results should look like the following:

!"#$%&'()*+,-./01234 "#$%&'()*+,-./012345 #$%&'()*+,-./0123456 $%&'()*+,-./01234567 %&'()*+,-./012345678

To further test the printer, try downloading larger programs (for language-based printers) or running lptest(1) with different arguments. For example, lptest 80 60 will produce 60 lines of 80 characters each.

If the printer did not work, see the Troubleshooting section.

9.4 Advanced Printer Setup

This section describes filters for printing specially formatted files, header pages, printing across networks, and restricting and accounting for printer usage.

9.4.1 Filters

Although LPD handles network protocols, queuing, access control, and other aspects of printing, most of the real work happens in the filters. Filters are programs that communicate with the printer and handle its device dependencies and special requirements. In the simple printer setup, we installed a plain text filter--an extremely simple one that should work with most printers (section Installing the Text Filter).

However, in order to take advantage of format conversion, printer accounting, specific printer quirks, and so on, you should understand how filters work. It will ultimately be the filter's responsibility to handle these aspects. And the bad news is that most of the time you have to provide filters yourself. The good news is that many are generally available; when they are not, they are usually easy to write.

Also, FreeBSD comes with one, /usr/libexec/lpr/lpf, that works with many printers that can print plain text. (It handles backspacing and tabs in the file, and does accounting, but that is about all it does.) There are also several filters and filter components in the FreeBSD Ports Collection.

Here is what you will find in this section:

  • Section How Filters Work, tries to give an overview of a filter's role in the printing process. You should read this section to get an understanding of what is happening “under the hood” when LPD uses filters. This knowledge could help you anticipate and debug problems you might encounter as you install more and more filters on each of your printers.

  • LPD expects every printer to be able to print plain text by default. This presents a problem for PostScript (or other language-based printers) which cannot directly print plain text. Section Accommodating Plain Text Jobs on PostScript Printers tells you what you should do to overcome this problem. You should read this section if you have a PostScript printer.

  • PostScript is a popular output format for many programs. Some people even write PostScript code directly. Unfortunately, PostScript printers are expensive. Section Simulating PostScript on Non PostScript Printers tells how you can further modify a printer's text filter to accept and print PostScript data on a non PostScript printer. You should read this section if you do not have a PostScript printer.

  • Section Conversion Filters tells about a way you can automate the conversion of specific file formats, such as graphic or typesetting data, into formats your printer can understand. After reading this section, you should be able to set up your printers such that users can type lpr -t to print troff data, or lpr -d to print TeX DVI data, or lpr -v to print raster image data, and so forth. I recommend reading this section.

  • Section Output Filters tells all about a not often used feature of LPD: output filters. Unless you are printing header pages (see Header Pages), you can probably skip that section altogether.

  • Section lpf: a Text Filter describes lpf, a fairly complete if simple text filter for line printers (and laser printers that act like line printers) that comes with FreeBSD. If you need a quick way to get printer accounting working for plain text, or if you have a printer which emits smoke when it sees backspace characters, you should definitely consider lpf.

Note: A copy of the various scripts described below can be found in the /usr/share/examples/printing directory. How Filters Work

As mentioned before, a filter is an executable program started by LPD to handle the device-dependent part of communicating with the printer.

When LPD wants to print a file in a job, it starts a filter program. It sets the filter's standard input to the file to print, its standard output to the printer, and its standard error to the error logging file (specified in the lf capability in /etc/printcap, or /dev/console by default).

Which filter LPD starts and the filter's arguments depend on what is listed in the /etc/printcap file and what arguments the user specified for the job on the lpr(1) command line. For example, if the user typed lpr -t, LPD would start the troff filter, listed in the tf capability for the destination printer. If the user wanted to print plain text, it would start the if filter (this is mostly true: see Output Filters for details).

There are three kinds of filters you can specify in /etc/printcap:

  • The text filter, confusingly called the input filter in LPD documentation, handles regular text printing. Think of it as the default filter. LPD expects every printer to be able to print plain text by default, and it is the text filter's job to make sure backspaces, tabs, or other special characters do not confuse the printer. If you are in an environment where you have to account for printer usage, the text filter must also account for pages printed, usually by counting the number of lines printed and comparing that to the number of lines per page the printer supports. The text filter is started with the following argument list:

    filter-name [-c] -wwidth -llength -iindent -n login -h host acct-file


    appears if the job is submitted with lpr -l


    is the value from the pw (page width) capability specified in /etc/printcap, default 132


    is the value from the pl (page length) capability, default 66


    is the amount of the indentation from lpr -i, default 0


    is the account name of the user printing the file


    is the host name from which the job was submitted


    is the name of the accounting file from the af capability.

  • A conversion filter converts a specific file format into one the printer can render onto paper. For example, ditroff typesetting data cannot be directly printed, but you can install a conversion filter for ditroff files to convert the ditroff data into a form the printer can digest and print. Section Conversion Filters tells all about them. Conversion filters also need to do accounting, if you need printer accounting. Conversion filters are started with the following arguments:

    filter-name -xpixel-width -ypixel-height -n login -h host acct-file

    where pixel-width is the value from the px capability (default 0) and pixel-height is the value from the py capability (default 0).

  • The output filter is used only if there is no text filter, or if header pages are enabled. In my experience, output filters are rarely used. Section Output Filters describe them. There are only two arguments to an output filter:

    filter-name -wwidth -llength

    which are identical to the text filters -w and -l arguments.

Filters should also exit with the following exit status:

exit 0

If the filter printed the file successfully.

exit 1

If the filter failed to print the file but wants LPD to try to print the file again. LPD will restart a filter if it exits with this status.

exit 2

If the filter failed to print the file and does not want LPD to try again. LPD will throw out the file.

The text filter that comes with the FreeBSD release, /usr/libexec/lpr/lpf, takes advantage of the page width and length arguments to determine when to send a form feed and how to account for printer usage. It uses the login, host, and accounting file arguments to make the accounting entries.

If you are shopping for filters, see if they are LPD-compatible. If they are, they must support the argument lists described above. If you plan on writing filters for general use, then have them support the same argument lists and exit codes. Accommodating Plain Text Jobs on PostScript® Printers

If you are the only user of your computer and PostScript (or other language-based) printer, and you promise to never send plain text to your printer and to never use features of various programs that will want to send plain text to your printer, then you do not need to worry about this section at all.

But, if you would like to send both PostScript and plain text jobs to the printer, then you are urged to augment your printer setup. To do so, we have the text filter detect if the arriving job is plain text or PostScript. All PostScript jobs must start with %! (for other printer languages, see your printer documentation). If those are the first two characters in the job, we have PostScript, and can pass the rest of the job directly. If those are not the first two characters in the file, then the filter will convert the text into PostScript and print the result.

How do we do this?

If you have got a serial printer, a great way to do it is to install lprps. lprps is a PostScript printer filter which performs two-way communication with the printer. It updates the printer's status file with verbose information from the printer, so users and administrators can see exactly what the state of the printer is (such as “toner low” or “paper jam”). But more importantly, it includes a program called psif which detects whether the incoming job is plain text and calls textps (another program that comes with lprps) to convert it to PostScript. It then uses lprps to send the job to the printer.

lprps is part of the FreeBSD Ports Collection (see The Ports Collection). You can fetch, build and install it yourself, of course. After installing lprps, just specify the pathname to the psif program that is part of lprps. If you installed lprps from the Ports Collection, use the following in the serial PostScript printer's entry in /etc/printcap:


You should also specify the rw capability; that tells LPD to open the printer in read-write mode.

If you have a parallel PostScript printer (and therefore cannot use two-way communication with the printer, which lprps needs), you can use the following shell script as the text filter:

#!/bin/sh # # psif - Print PostScript or plain text on a PostScript printer # Script version; NOT the version that comes with lprps # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/psif # IFS="" read -r first_line first_two_chars=`expr "$first_line" : '\(..\)'` if [ "$first_two_chars" = "%!" ]; then # # PostScript job, print it. # echo "$first_line" && cat && printf "\004" && exit 0 exit 2 else # # Plain text, convert it, then print it. # ( echo "$first_line"; cat ) | /usr/local/bin/textps && printf "\004" && exit 0 exit 2 fi

In the above script, textps is a program we installed separately to convert plain text to PostScript. You can use any text-to-PostScript program you wish. The FreeBSD Ports Collection (see The Ports Collection) includes a full featured text-to-PostScript program called a2ps that you might want to investigate. Simulating PostScript on Non PostScript Printers

PostScript is the de facto standard for high quality typesetting and printing. PostScript is, however, an expensive standard. Thankfully, Aladdin Enterprises has a free PostScript work-alike called Ghostscript that runs with FreeBSD. Ghostscript can read most PostScript files and can render their pages onto a variety of devices, including many brands of non-PostScript printers. By installing Ghostscript and using a special text filter for your printer, you can make your non PostScript printer act like a real PostScript printer.

Ghostscript is in the FreeBSD Ports Collection, if you would like to install it from there. You can fetch, build, and install it quite easily yourself, as well.

To simulate PostScript, we have the text filter detect if it is printing a PostScript file. If it is not, then the filter will pass the file directly to the printer; otherwise, it will use Ghostscript to first convert the file into a format the printer will understand.

Here is an example: the following script is a text filter for Hewlett Packard DeskJet 500 printers. For other printers, substitute the -sDEVICE argument to the gs (Ghostscript) command. (Type gs -h to get a list of devices the current installation of Ghostscript supports.)

#!/bin/sh # # ifhp - Print Ghostscript-simulated PostScript on a DeskJet 500 # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/ifhp # # Treat LF as CR+LF (to avoid the "staircase effect" on HP/PCL # printers): # printf "\033&k2G" || exit 2 # # Read first two characters of the file # IFS="" read -r first_line first_two_chars=`expr "$first_line" : '\(..\)'` if [ "$first_two_chars" = "%!" ]; then # # It is PostScript; use Ghostscript to scan-convert and print it. # /usr/local/bin/gs -dSAFER -dNOPAUSE -q -sDEVICE=djet500 \ -sOutputFile=- - && exit 0 else # # Plain text or HP/PCL, so just print it directly; print a form feed # at the end to eject the last page. # echo "$first_line" && cat && printf "\033&l0H" && exit 0 fi exit 2

Finally, you need to notify LPD of the filter via the if capability:


That is it. You can type lpr plain.text and lpr and both should print successfully. Conversion Filters

After completing the simple setup described in Simple Printer Setup, the first thing you will probably want to do is install conversion filters for your favorite file formats (besides plain ASCII text). Why Install Conversion Filters?

Conversion filters make printing various kinds of files easy. As an example, suppose we do a lot of work with the TeX typesetting system, and we have a PostScript printer. Every time we generate a DVI file from TeX, we cannot print it directly until we convert the DVI file into PostScript. The command sequence goes like this:

% dvips seaweed-analysis.dvi % lpr

By installing a conversion filter for DVI files, we can skip the hand conversion step each time by having LPD do it for us. Now, each time we get a DVI file, we are just one step away from printing it:

% lpr -d seaweed-analysis.dvi

We got LPD to do the DVI file conversion for us by specifying the -d option. Section Formatting and Conversion Options lists the conversion options.

For each of the conversion options you want a printer to support, install a conversion filter and specify its pathname in /etc/printcap. A conversion filter is like the text filter for the simple printer setup (see section Installing the Text Filter) except that instead of printing plain text, the filter converts the file into a format the printer can understand. Which Conversion Filters Should I Install?

You should install the conversion filters you expect to use. If you print a lot of DVI data, then a DVI conversion filter is in order. If you have got plenty of troff to print out, then you probably want a troff filter.

The following table summarizes the filters that LPD works with, their capability entries for the /etc/printcap file, and how to invoke them with the lpr command:

File type /etc/printcap capability lpr option
cifplot cf -c
DVI df -d
plot gf -g
ditroff nf -n
FORTRAN text rf -f
troff tf -f
raster vf -v
plain text if none, -p, or -l

In our example, using lpr -d means the printer needs a df capability in its entry in /etc/printcap.

Despite what others might contend, formats like FORTRAN text and plot are probably obsolete. At your site, you can give new meanings to these or any of the formatting options just by installing custom filters. For example, suppose you would like to directly print Printerleaf files (files from the Interleaf desktop publishing program), but will never print plot files. You could install a Printerleaf conversion filter under the gf capability and then educate your users that lpr -g mean “print Printerleaf files.” Installing Conversion Filters

Since conversion filters are programs you install outside of the base FreeBSD installation, they should probably go under /usr/local. The directory /usr/local/libexec is a popular location, since they are specialized programs that only LPD will run; regular users should not ever need to run them.

To enable a conversion filter, specify its pathname under the appropriate capability for the destination printer in /etc/printcap.

In our example, we will add the DVI conversion filter to the entry for the printer named bamboo. Here is the example /etc/printcap file again, with the new df capability for the printer bamboo.

# # /etc/printcap for host rose - added df filter for bamboo # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/if-simple: bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:\ :lp=/dev/ttyd5:ms#-parenb cs8 clocal crtscts:rw:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/psif:\ :df=/usr/local/libexec/psdf:

The DVI filter is a shell script named /usr/local/libexec/psdf. Here is that script:

#!/bin/sh # # psdf - DVI to PostScript printer filter # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/psdf # # Invoked by lpd when user runs lpr -d # exec /usr/local/bin/dvips -f | /usr/local/libexec/lprps "$@"

This script runs dvips in filter mode (the -f argument) on standard input, which is the job to print. It then starts the PostScript printer filter lprps (see section Accommodating Plain Text Jobs on PostScript Printers) with the arguments LPD passed to this script. lprps will use those arguments to account for the pages printed. More Conversion Filter Examples

Since there is no fixed set of steps to install conversion filters, let me instead provide more examples. Use these as guidance to making your own filters. Use them directly, if appropriate.

This example script is a raster (well, GIF file, actually) conversion filter for a Hewlett Packard LaserJet III-Si printer:

#!/bin/sh # # hpvf - Convert GIF files into HP/PCL, then print # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/hpvf PATH=/usr/X11R6/bin:$PATH; export PATH giftopnm | ppmtopgm | pgmtopbm | pbmtolj -resolution 300 \ && exit 0 \ || exit 2

It works by converting the GIF file into a portable anymap, converting that into a portable graymap, converting that into a portable bitmap, and converting that into LaserJet/PCL-compatible data.

Here is the /etc/printcap file with an entry for a printer using the above filter:

# # /etc/printcap for host orchid # teak|hp|laserjet|Hewlett Packard LaserJet 3Si:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/teak:mx#0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/hpif:\ :vf=/usr/local/libexec/hpvf:

The following script is a conversion filter for troff data from the groff typesetting system for the PostScript printer named bamboo:

#!/bin/sh # # pstf - Convert groff's troff data into PS, then print. # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/pstf # exec grops | /usr/local/libexec/lprps "$@"

The above script makes use of lprps again to handle the communication with the printer. If the printer were on a parallel port, we would use this script instead:

#!/bin/sh # # pstf - Convert groff's troff data into PS, then print. # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/pstf # exec grops

That is it. Here is the entry we need to add to /etc/printcap to enable the filter:


Here is an example that might make old hands at FORTRAN blush. It is a FORTRAN-text filter for any printer that can directly print plain text. We will install it for the printer teak:

#!/bin/sh # # hprf - FORTRAN text filter for LaserJet 3si: # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/hprf # printf "\033&k2G" && fpr && printf "\033&l0H" && exit 0 exit 2

And we will add this line to the /etc/printcap for the printer teak to enable this filter:


Here is one final, somewhat complex example. We will add a DVI filter to the LaserJet printer teak introduced earlier. First, the easy part: updating /etc/printcap with the location of the DVI filter:


Now, for the hard part: making the filter. For that, we need a DVI-to-LaserJet/PCL conversion program. The FreeBSD Ports Collection (see The Ports Collection) has one: dvi2xx is the name of the package. Installing this package gives us the program we need, dvilj2p, which converts DVI into LaserJet IIp, LaserJet III, and LaserJet 2000 compatible codes.

dvilj2p makes the filter hpdf quite complex since dvilj2p cannot read from standard input. It wants to work with a filename. What is worse, the filename has to end in .dvi so using /dev/fd/0 for standard input is problematic. We can get around that problem by linking (symbolically) a temporary file name (one that ends in .dvi) to /dev/fd/0, thereby forcing dvilj2p to read from standard input.

The only other fly in the ointment is the fact that we cannot use /tmp for the temporary link. Symbolic links are owned by user and group bin. The filter runs as user daemon. And the /tmp directory has the sticky bit set. The filter can create the link, but it will not be able clean up when done and remove it since the link will belong to a different user.

Instead, the filter will make the symbolic link in the current working directory, which is the spooling directory (specified by the sd capability in /etc/printcap). This is a perfect place for filters to do their work, especially since there is (sometimes) more free disk space in the spooling directory than under /tmp.

Here, finally, is the filter:

#!/bin/sh # # hpdf - Print DVI data on HP/PCL printer # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/hpdf PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH; export PATH # # Define a function to clean up our temporary files. These exist # in the current directory, which will be the spooling directory # for the printer. # cleanup() { rm -f hpdf$$.dvi } # # Define a function to handle fatal errors: print the given message # and exit 2. Exiting with 2 tells LPD to do not try to reprint the # job. # fatal() { echo "$@" 1>&2 cleanup exit 2 } # # If user removes the job, LPD will send SIGINT, so trap SIGINT # (and a few other signals) to clean up after ourselves. # trap cleanup 1 2 15 # # Make sure we are not colliding with any existing files. # cleanup # # Link the DVI input file to standard input (the file to print). # ln -s /dev/fd/0 hpdf$$.dvi || fatal "Cannot symlink /dev/fd/0" # # Make LF = CR+LF # printf "\033&k2G" || fatal "Cannot initialize printer" # # Convert and print. Return value from dvilj2p does not seem to be # reliable, so we ignore it. # dvilj2p -M1 -q -e- dfhp$$.dvi # # Clean up and exit # cleanup exit 0 Automated Conversion: an Alternative to Conversion Filters

All these conversion filters accomplish a lot for your printing environment, but at the cost forcing the user to specify (on the lpr(1) command line) which one to use. If your users are not particularly computer literate, having to specify a filter option will become annoying. What is worse, though, is that an incorrectly specified filter option may run a filter on the wrong type of file and cause your printer to spew out hundreds of sheets of paper.

Rather than install conversion filters at all, you might want to try having the text filter (since it is the default filter) detect the type of file it has been asked to print and then automatically run the right conversion filter. Tools such as file can be of help here. Of course, it will be hard to determine the differences between some file types--and, of course, you can still provide conversion filters just for them.

The FreeBSD Ports Collection has a text filter that performs automatic conversion called apsfilter. It can detect plain text, PostScript, and DVI files, run the proper conversions, and print. Output Filters

The LPD spooling system supports one other type of filter that we have not yet explored: an output filter. An output filter is intended for printing plain text only, like the text filter, but with many simplifications. If you are using an output filter but no text filter, then:

  • LPD starts an output filter once for the entire job instead of once for each file in the job.

  • LPD does not make any provision to identify the start or the end of files within the job for the output filter.

  • LPD does not pass the user's login or host to the filter, so it is not intended to do accounting. In fact, it gets only two arguments:

    filter-name -wwidth -llength

    Where width is from the pw capability and length is from the pl capability for the printer in question.

Do not be seduced by an output filter's simplicity. If you would like each file in a job to start on a different page an output filter will not work. Use a text filter (also known as an input filter); see section Installing the Text Filter. Furthermore, an output filter is actually more complex in that it has to examine the byte stream being sent to it for special flag characters and must send signals to itself on behalf of LPD.

However, an output filter is necessary if you want header pages and need to send escape sequences or other initialization strings to be able to print the header page. (But it is also futile if you want to charge header pages to the requesting user's account, since LPD does not give any user or host information to the output filter.)

On a single printer, LPD allows both an output filter and text or other filters. In such cases, LPD will start the output filter to print the header page (see section Header Pages) only. LPD then expects the output filter to stop itself by sending two bytes to the filter: ASCII 031 followed by ASCII 001. When an output filter sees these two bytes (031, 001), it should stop by sending SIGSTOP to itself. When LPD's done running other filters, it will restart the output filter by sending SIGCONT to it.

If there is an output filter but no text filter and LPD is working on a plain text job, LPD uses the output filter to do the job. As stated before, the output filter will print each file of the job in sequence with no intervening form feeds or other paper advancement, and this is probably not what you want. In almost all cases, you need a text filter.

The program lpf, which we introduced earlier as a text filter, can also run as an output filter. If you need a quick-and-dirty output filter but do not want to write the byte detection and signal sending code, try lpf. You can also wrap lpf in a shell script to handle any initialization codes the printer might require. lpf: a Text Filter

The program /usr/libexec/lpr/lpf that comes with FreeBSD binary distribution is a text filter (input filter) that can indent output (job submitted with lpr -i), allow literal characters to pass (job submitted with lpr -l), adjust the printing position for backspaces and tabs in the job, and account for pages printed. It can also act like an output filter.

lpf is suitable for many printing environments. And although it has no capability to send initialization sequences to a printer, it is easy to write a shell script to do the needed initialization and then execute lpf.

In order for lpf to do page accounting correctly, it needs correct values filled in for the pw and pl capabilities in the /etc/printcap file. It uses these values to determine how much text can fit on a page and how many pages were in a user's job. For more information on printer accounting, see Accounting for Printer Usage.

9.4.2 Header Pages

If you have lots of users, all of them using various printers, then you probably want to consider header pages as a necessary evil.

Header pages, also known as banner or burst pages identify to whom jobs belong after they are printed. They are usually printed in large, bold letters, perhaps with decorative borders, so that in a stack of printouts they stand out from the real documents that comprise users' jobs. They enable users to locate their jobs quickly. The obvious drawback to a header page is that it is yet one more sheet that has to be printed for every job, their ephemeral usefulness lasting not more than a few minutes, ultimately finding themselves in a recycling bin or rubbish heap. (Note that header pages go with each job, not each file in a job, so the paper waste might not be that bad.)

The LPD system can provide header pages automatically for your printouts if your printer can directly print plain text. If you have a PostScript printer, you will need an external program to generate the header page; see Header Pages on PostScript Printers. Enabling Header Pages

In the Simple Printer Setup section, we turned off header pages by specifying sh (meaning “suppress header”) in the /etc/printcap file. To enable header pages for a printer, just remove the sh capability.

Sounds too easy, right?

You are right. You might have to provide an output filter to send initialization strings to the printer. Here is an example output filter for Hewlett Packard PCL-compatible printers:

#!/bin/sh # # hpof - Output filter for Hewlett Packard PCL-compatible printers # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/hpof printf "\033&k2G" || exit 2 exec /usr/libexec/lpr/lpf

Specify the path to the output filter in the of capability. See the Output Filters section for more information.

Here is an example /etc/printcap file for the printer teak that we introduced earlier; we enabled header pages and added the above output filter:

# # /etc/printcap for host orchid # teak|hp|laserjet|Hewlett Packard LaserJet 3Si:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:sd=/var/spool/lpd/teak:mx#0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/hpif:\ :vf=/usr/local/libexec/hpvf:\ :of=/usr/local/libexec/hpof:

Now, when users print jobs to teak, they get a header page with each job. If users want to spend time searching for their printouts, they can suppress header pages by submitting the job with lpr -h; see the Header Page Options section for more lpr(1) options.

Note: LPD prints a form feed character after the header page. If your printer uses a different character or sequence of characters to eject a page, specify them with the ff capability in /etc/printcap. Controlling Header Pages

By enabling header pages, LPD will produce a long header, a full page of large letters identifying the user, host, and job. Here is an example (kelly printed the job named outline from host rose):

k ll ll k l l k l l k k eeee l l y y k k e e l l y y k k eeeeee l l y y kk k e l l y y k k e e l l y yy k k eeee lll lll yyy y y y y yyyy ll t l i t l oooo u u ttttt l ii n nnn eeee o o u u t l i nn n e e o o u u t l i n n eeeeee o o u u t l i n n e o o u uu t t l i n n e e oooo uuu u tt lll iii n n eeee r rrr oooo ssss eeee rr r o o s s e e r o o ss eeeeee r o o ss e r o o s s e e r oooo ssss eeee Job: outline Date: Sun Sep 17 11:04:58 1995

LPD appends a form feed after this text so the job starts on a new page (unless you have sf (suppress form feeds) in the destination printer's entry in /etc/printcap).

If you prefer, LPD can make a short header; specify sb (short banner) in the /etc/printcap file. The header page will look like this:

rose:kelly Job: outline Date: Sun Sep 17 11:07:51 1995

Also by default, LPD prints the header page first, then the job. To reverse that, specify hl (header last) in /etc/printcap. Accounting for Header Pages

Using LPD's built-in header pages enforces a particular paradigm when it comes to printer accounting: header pages must be free of charge.


Because the output filter is the only external program that will have control when the header page is printed that could do accounting, and it is not provided with any user or host information or an accounting file, so it has no idea whom to charge for printer use. It is also not enough to just “add one page” to the text filter or any of the conversion filters (which do have user and host information) since users can suppress header pages with lpr -h. They could still be charged for header pages they did not print. Basically, lpr -h will be the preferred option of environmentally-minded users, but you cannot offer any incentive to use it.

It is still not enough to have each of the filters generate their own header pages (thereby being able to charge for them). If users wanted the option of suppressing the header pages with lpr -h, they will still get them and be charged for them since LPD does not pass any knowledge of the -h option to any of the filters.

So, what are your options?

You can:

  • Accept LPD's paradigm and make header pages free.

  • Install an alternative to LPD, such as LPRng. Section Alternatives to the Standard Spooler tells more about other spooling software you can substitute for LPD.

  • Write a smart output filter. Normally, an output filter is not meant to do anything more than initialize a printer or do some simple character conversion. It is suited for header pages and plain text jobs (when there is no text (input) filter). But, if there is a text filter for the plain text jobs, then LPD will start the output filter only for the header pages. And the output filter can parse the header page text that LPD generates to determine what user and host to charge for the header page. The only other problem with this method is that the output filter still does not know what accounting file to use (it is not passed the name of the file from the af capability), but if you have a well-known accounting file, you can hard-code that into the output filter. To facilitate the parsing step, use the sh (short header) capability in /etc/printcap. Then again, all that might be too much trouble, and users will certainly appreciate the more generous system administrator who makes header pages free. Header Pages on PostScript Printers

As described above, LPD can generate a plain text header page suitable for many printers. Of course, PostScript cannot directly print plain text, so the header page feature of LPD is useless--or mostly so.

One obvious way to get header pages is to have every conversion filter and the text filter generate the header page. The filters should use the user and host arguments to generate a suitable header page. The drawback of this method is that users will always get a header page, even if they submit jobs with lpr -h.

Let us explore this method. The following script takes three arguments (user login name, host name, and job name) and makes a simple PostScript header page:

#!/bin/sh # # make-ps-header - make a PostScript header page on stdout # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/make-ps-header # # # These are PostScript units (72 to the inch). Modify for A4 or # whatever size paper you are using: # page_width=612 page_height=792 border=72 # # Check arguments # if [ $# -ne 3 ]; then echo "Usage: `basename $0` <user> <host> <job>" 1>&2 exit 1 fi # # Save these, mostly for readability in the PostScript, below. # user=$1 host=$2 job=$3 date=`date` # # Send the PostScript code to stdout. # exec cat <<EOF %!PS % % Make sure we do not interfere with user's job that will follow % save % % Make a thick, unpleasant border around the edge of the paper. % $border $border moveto $page_width $border 2 mul sub 0 rlineto 0 $page_height $border 2 mul sub rlineto currentscreen 3 -1 roll pop 100 3 1 roll setscreen $border 2 mul $page_width sub 0 rlineto closepath 0.8 setgray 10 setlinewidth stroke 0 setgray % % Display user's login name, nice and large and prominent % /Helvetica-Bold findfont 64 scalefont setfont $page_width ($user) stringwidth pop sub 2 div $page_height 200 sub moveto ($user) show % % Now show the boring particulars % /Helvetica findfont 14 scalefont setfont /y 200 def [ (Job:) (Host:) (Date:) ] { 200 y moveto show /y y 18 sub def } forall /Helvetica-Bold findfont 14 scalefont setfont /y 200 def [ ($job) ($host) ($date) ] { 270 y moveto show /y y 18 sub def } forall % % That is it % restore showpage EOF

Now, each of the conversion filters and the text filter can call this script to first generate the header page, and then print the user's job. Here is the DVI conversion filter from earlier in this document, modified to make a header page:

#!/bin/sh # # psdf - DVI to PostScript printer filter # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/psdf # # Invoked by lpd when user runs lpr -d # orig_args="$@" fail() { echo "$@" 1>&2 exit 2 } while getopts "x:y:n:h:" option; do case $option in x|y) ;; # Ignore n) login=$OPTARG ;; h) host=$OPTARG ;; *) echo "LPD started `basename $0` wrong." 1>&2 exit 2 ;; esac done [ "$login" ] || fail "No login name" [ "$host" ] || fail "No host name" ( /usr/local/libexec/make-ps-header $login $host "DVI File" /usr/local/bin/dvips -f ) | eval /usr/local/libexec/lprps $orig_args

Notice how the filter has to parse the argument list in order to determine the user and host name. The parsing for the other conversion filters is identical. The text filter takes a slightly different set of arguments, though (see section How Filters Work).

As we have mentioned before, the above scheme, though fairly simple, disables the “suppress header page” option (the -h option) to lpr. If users wanted to save a tree (or a few pennies, if you charge for header pages), they would not be able to do so, since every filter's going to print a header page with every job.

To allow users to shut off header pages on a per-job basis, you will need to use the trick introduced in section Accounting for Header Pages: write an output filter that parses the LPD-generated header page and produces a PostScript version. If the user submits the job with lpr -h, then LPD will not generate a header page, and neither will your output filter. Otherwise, your output filter will read the text from LPD and send the appropriate header page PostScript code to the printer.

If you have a PostScript printer on a serial line, you can make use of lprps, which comes with an output filter, psof, which does the above. Note that psof does not charge for header pages.

9.4.3 Networked Printing

FreeBSD supports networked printing: sending jobs to remote printers. Networked printing generally refers to two different things:

  • Accessing a printer attached to a remote host. You install a printer that has a conventional serial or parallel interface on one host. Then, you set up LPD to enable access to the printer from other hosts on the network. Section Printers Installed on Remote Hosts tells how to do this.

  • Accessing a printer attached directly to a network. The printer has a network interface in addition (or in place of) a more conventional serial or parallel interface. Such a printer might work as follows:

    • It might understand the LPD protocol and can even queue jobs from remote hosts. In this case, it acts just like a regular host running LPD. Follow the same procedure in section Printers Installed on Remote Hosts to set up such a printer.

    • It might support a data stream network connection. In this case, you “attach” the printer to one host on the network by making that host responsible for spooling jobs and sending them to the printer. Section Printers with Networked Data Stream Interfaces gives some suggestions on installing such printers. Printers Installed on Remote Hosts

The LPD spooling system has built-in support for sending jobs to other hosts also running LPD (or are compatible with LPD). This feature enables you to install a printer on one host and make it accessible from other hosts. It also works with printers that have network interfaces that understand the LPD protocol.

To enable this kind of remote printing, first install a printer on one host, the printer host, using the simple printer setup described in the Simple Printer Setup section. Do any advanced setup in Advanced Printer Setup that you need. Make sure to test the printer and see if it works with the features of LPD you have enabled. Also ensure that the local host has authorization to use the LPD service in the remote host (see Restricting Jobs from Remote Printers).

If you are using a printer with a network interface that is compatible with LPD, then the printer host in the discussion below is the printer itself, and the printer name is the name you configured for the printer. See the documentation that accompanied your printer and/or printer-network interface.

Tip: If you are using a Hewlett Packard Laserjet then the printer name text will automatically perform the LF to CRLF conversion for you, so you will not require the hpif script.

Then, on the other hosts you want to have access to the printer, make an entry in their /etc/printcap files with the following:

  1. Name the entry anything you want. For simplicity, though, you probably want to use the same name and aliases as on the printer host.

  2. Leave the lp capability blank, explicitly (:lp=:).

  3. Make a spooling directory and specify its location in the sd capability. LPD will store jobs here before they get sent to the printer host.

  4. Place the name of the printer host in the rm capability.

  5. Place the printer name on the printer host in the rp capability.

That is it. You do not need to list conversion filters, page dimensions, or anything else in the /etc/printcap file.

Here is an example. The host rose has two printers, bamboo and rattan. We will enable users on the host orchid to print to those printers. Here is the /etc/printcap file for orchid (back from section Enabling Header Pages). It already had the entry for the printer teak; we have added entries for the two printers on the host rose:

# # /etc/printcap for host orchid - added (remote) printers on rose # # # teak is local; it is connected directly to orchid: # teak|hp|laserjet|Hewlett Packard LaserJet 3Si:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:sd=/var/spool/lpd/teak:mx#0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/ifhp:\ :vf=/usr/local/libexec/vfhp:\ :of=/usr/local/libexec/ofhp: # # rattan is connected to rose; send jobs for rattan to rose: # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :lp=:rm=rose:rp=rattan:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan: # # bamboo is connected to rose as well: # bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :lp=:rm=rose:rp=bamboo:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:

Then, we just need to make spooling directories on orchid:

# mkdir -p /var/spool/lpd/rattan /var/spool/lpd/bamboo # chmod 770 /var/spool/lpd/rattan /var/spool/lpd/bamboo # chown daemon:daemon /var/spool/lpd/rattan /var/spool/lpd/bamboo

Now, users on orchid can print to rattan and bamboo. If, for example, a user on orchid typed

% lpr -P bamboo -d sushi-review.dvi the LPD system on orchid would copy the job to the spooling directory /var/spool/lpd/bamboo and note that it was a DVI job. As soon as the host rose has room in its bamboo spooling directory, the two LPDs would transfer the file to rose. The file would wait in rose's queue until it was finally printed. It would be converted from DVI to PostScript (since bamboo is a PostScript printer) on rose. Printers with Networked Data Stream Interfaces

Often, when you buy a network interface card for a printer, you can get two versions: one which emulates a spooler (the more expensive version), or one which just lets you send data to it as if you were using a serial or parallel port (the cheaper version). This section tells how to use the cheaper version. For the more expensive one, see the previous section Printers Installed on Remote Hosts.

The format of the /etc/printcap file lets you specify what serial or parallel interface to use, and (if you are using a serial interface), what baud rate, whether to use flow control, delays for tabs, conversion of newlines, and more. But there is no way to specify a connection to a printer that is listening on a TCP/IP or other network port.

To send data to a networked printer, you need to develop a communications program that can be called by the text and conversion filters. Here is one such example: the script netprint takes all data on standard input and sends it to a network-attached printer. We specify the hostname of the printer as the first argument and the port number to which to connect as the second argument to netprint. Note that this supports one-way communication only (FreeBSD to printer); many network printers support two-way communication, and you might want to take advantage of that (to get printer status, perform accounting, etc.).

#!/usr/bin/perl # # netprint - Text filter for printer attached to network # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/netprint # $#ARGV eq 1 || die "Usage: $0 <printer-hostname> <port-number>"; $printer_host = $ARGV[0]; $printer_port = $ARGV[1]; require 'sys/'; ($ignore, $ignore, $protocol) = getprotobyname('tcp'); ($ignore, $ignore, $ignore, $ignore, $address) = gethostbyname($printer_host); $sockaddr = pack('S n a4 x8', &AF_INET, $printer_port, $address); socket(PRINTER, &PF_INET, &SOCK_STREAM, $protocol) || die "Can't create TCP/IP stream socket: $!"; connect(PRINTER, $sockaddr) || die "Can't contact $printer_host: $!"; while (<STDIN>) { print PRINTER; } exit 0;

We can then use this script in various filters. Suppose we had a Diablo 750-N line printer connected to the network. The printer accepts data to print on port number 5100. The host name of the printer is scrivener. Here is the text filter for the printer:

#!/bin/sh # # diablo-if-net - Text filter for Diablo printer `scrivener' listening # on port 5100. Installed in /usr/local/libexec/diablo-if-net # exec /usr/libexec/lpr/lpf "$@" | /usr/local/libexec/netprint scrivener 5100

9.4.4 Restricting Printer Usage

This section gives information on restricting printer usage. The LPD system lets you control who can access a printer, both locally or remotely, whether they can print multiple copies, how large their jobs can be, and how large the printer queues can get. Restricting Multiple Copies

The LPD system makes it easy for users to print multiple copies of a file. Users can print jobs with lpr -#5 (for example) and get five copies of each file in the job. Whether this is a good thing is up to you.

If you feel multiple copies cause unnecessary wear and tear on your printers, you can disable the -# option to lpr(1) by adding the sc capability to the /etc/printcap file. When users submit jobs with the -# option, they will see:

lpr: multiple copies are not allowed

Note that if you have set up access to a printer remotely (see section Printers Installed on Remote Hosts), you need the sc capability on the remote /etc/printcap files as well, or else users will still be able to submit multiple-copy jobs by using another host.

Here is an example. This is the /etc/printcap file for the host rose. The printer rattan is quite hearty, so we will allow multiple copies, but the laser printer bamboo is a bit more delicate, so we will disable multiple copies by adding the sc capability:

# # /etc/printcap for host rose - restrict multiple copies on bamboo # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/if-simple: bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:sc:\ :lp=/dev/ttyd5:ms#-parenb cs8 clocal crtscts:rw:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/psif:\ :df=/usr/local/libexec/psdf:

Now, we also need to add the sc capability on the host orchid's /etc/printcap (and while we are at it, let us disable multiple copies for the printer teak):

# # /etc/printcap for host orchid - no multiple copies for local # printer teak or remote printer bamboo teak|hp|laserjet|Hewlett Packard LaserJet 3Si:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:sd=/var/spool/lpd/teak:mx#0:sc:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/ifhp:\ :vf=/usr/local/libexec/vfhp:\ :of=/usr/local/libexec/ofhp: rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :lp=:rm=rose:rp=rattan:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan: bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :lp=:rm=rose:rp=bamboo:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:sc:

By using the sc capability, we prevent the use of lpr -#, but that still does not prevent users from running lpr(1) multiple times, or from submitting the same file multiple times in one job like this:

% lpr forsale.sign forsale.sign forsale.sign forsale.sign forsale.sign

There are many ways to prevent this abuse (including ignoring it) which you are free to explore. Restricting Access to Printers

You can control who can print to what printers by using the UNIX group mechanism and the rg capability in /etc/printcap. Just place the users you want to have access to a printer in a certain group, and then name that group in the rg capability.

Users outside the group (including root) will be greeted with “lpr: Not a member of the restricted group” if they try to print to the controlled printer.

As with the sc (suppress multiple copies) capability, you need to specify rg on remote hosts that also have access to your printers, if you feel it is appropriate (see section Printers Installed on Remote Hosts).

For example, we will let anyone access the printer rattan, but only those in group artists can use bamboo. Here is the familiar /etc/printcap for host rose:

# # /etc/printcap for host rose - restricted group for bamboo # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/if-simple: bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:sc:rg=artists:\ :lp=/dev/ttyd5:ms#-parenb cs8 clocal crtscts:rw:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/psif:\ :df=/usr/local/libexec/psdf:

Let us leave the other example /etc/printcap file (for the host orchid) alone. Of course, anyone on orchid can print to bamboo. It might be the case that we only allow certain logins on orchid anyway, and want them to have access to the printer. Or not.

Note: There can be only one restricted group per printer. Controlling Sizes of Jobs Submitted

If you have many users accessing the printers, you probably need to put an upper limit on the sizes of the files users can submit to print. After all, there is only so much free space on the filesystem that houses the spooling directories, and you also need to make sure there is room for the jobs of other users.

LPD enables you to limit the maximum byte size a file in a job can be with the mx capability. The units are in BUFSIZ blocks, which are 1024 bytes. If you put a zero for this capability, there will be no limit on file size; however, if no mx capability is specified, then a default limit of 1000 blocks will be used.

Note: The limit applies to files in a job, and not the total job size.

LPD will not refuse a file that is larger than the limit you place on a printer. Instead, it will queue as much of the file up to the limit, which will then get printed. The rest will be discarded. Whether this is correct behavior is up for debate.

Let us add limits to our example printers rattan and bamboo. Since those artists' PostScript files tend to be large, we will limit them to five megabytes. We will put no limit on the plain text line printer:

# # /etc/printcap for host rose # # # No limit on job size: # rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :sh:mx#0:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/if-simple: # # Limit of five megabytes: # bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:sc:rg=artists:mx#5000:\ :lp=/dev/ttyd5:ms#-parenb cs8 clocal crtscts:rw:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/psif:\ :df=/usr/local/libexec/psdf:

Again, the limits apply to the local users only. If you have set up access to your printers remotely, remote users will not get those limits. You will need to specify the mx capability in the remote /etc/printcap files as well. See section Printers Installed on Remote Hosts for more information on remote printing.

There is another specialized way to limit job sizes from remote printers; see section Restricting Jobs from Remote Printers. Restricting Jobs from Remote Printers

The LPD spooling system provides several ways to restrict print jobs submitted from remote hosts:

Host restrictions

You can control from which remote hosts a local LPD accepts requests with the files /etc/hosts.equiv and /etc/hosts.lpd. LPD checks to see if an incoming request is from a host listed in either one of these files. If not, LPD refuses the request.

The format of these files is simple: one host name per line. Note that the file /etc/hosts.equiv is also used by the ruserok(3) protocol, and affects programs like rsh(1) and rcp(1), so be careful.

For example, here is the /etc/hosts.lpd file on the host rose:

orchid violet

This means rose will accept requests from the hosts orchid, violet, and If any other host tries to access rose's LPD, the job will be refused.

Size restrictions

You can control how much free space there needs to remain on the filesystem where a spooling directory resides. Make a file called minfree in the spooling directory for the local printer. Insert in that file a number representing how many disk blocks (512 bytes) of free space there has to be for a remote job to be accepted.

This lets you insure that remote users will not fill your filesystem. You can also use it to give a certain priority to local users: they will be able to queue jobs long after the free disk space has fallen below the amount specified in the minfree file.

For example, let us add a minfree file for the printer bamboo. We examine /etc/printcap to find the spooling directory for this printer; here is bamboo's entry:

bamboo|ps|PS|S|panasonic|Panasonic KX-P4455 PostScript v51.4:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/bamboo:sc:rg=artists:mx#5000:\ :lp=/dev/ttyd5:ms#-parenb cs8 clocal crtscts:rw:mx#5000:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/psif:\ :df=/usr/local/libexec/psdf:

The spooling directory is given in the sd capability. We will make three megabytes (which is 6144 disk blocks) the amount of free disk space that must exist on the filesystem for LPD to accept remote jobs:

# echo 6144 > /var/spool/lpd/bamboo/minfree
User restrictions

You can control which remote users can print to local printers by specifying the rs capability in /etc/printcap. When rs appears in the entry for a locally-attached printer, LPD will accept jobs from remote hosts if the user submitting the job also has an account of the same login name on the local host. Otherwise, LPD refuses the job.

This capability is particularly useful in an environment where there are (for example) different departments sharing a network, and some users transcend departmental boundaries. By giving them accounts on your systems, they can use your printers from their own departmental systems. If you would rather allow them to use only your printers and not your computer resources, you can give them “token” accounts, with no home directory and a useless shell like /usr/bin/false.

9.4.5 Accounting for Printer Usage

So, you need to charge for printouts. And why not? Paper and ink cost money. And then there are maintenance costs--printers are loaded with moving parts and tend to break down. You have examined your printers, usage patterns, and maintenance fees and have come up with a per-page (or per-foot, per-meter, or per-whatever) cost. Now, how do you actually start accounting for printouts?

Well, the bad news is the LPD spooling system does not provide much help in this department. Accounting is highly dependent on the kind of printer in use, the formats being printed, and your requirements in charging for printer usage.

To implement accounting, you have to modify a printer's text filter (to charge for plain text jobs) and the conversion filters (to charge for other file formats), to count pages or query the printer for pages printed. You cannot get away with using the simple output filter, since it cannot do accounting. See section Filters.

Generally, there are two ways to do accounting:

  • Periodic accounting is the more common way, possibly because it is easier. Whenever someone prints a job, the filter logs the user, host, and number of pages to an accounting file. Every month, semester, year, or whatever time period you prefer, you collect the accounting files for the various printers, tally up the pages printed by users, and charge for usage. Then you truncate all the logging files, starting with a clean slate for the next period.

  • Timely accounting is less common, probably because it is more difficult. This method has the filters charge users for printouts as soon as they use the printers. Like disk quotas, the accounting is immediate. You can prevent users from printing when their account goes in the red, and might provide a way for users to check and adjust their “print quotas.” But this method requires some database code to track users and their quotas.

The LPD spooling system supports both methods easily: since you have to provide the filters (well, most of the time), you also have to provide the accounting code. But there is a bright side: you have enormous flexibility in your accounting methods. For example, you choose whether to use periodic or timely accounting. You choose what information to log: user names, host names, job types, pages printed, square footage of paper used, how long the job took to print, and so forth. And you do so by modifying the filters to save this information. Quick and Dirty Printer Accounting

FreeBSD comes with two programs that can get you set up with simple periodic accounting right away. They are the text filter lpf, described in section lpf: a Text Filter, and pac(8), a program to gather and total entries from printer accounting files.

As mentioned in the section on filters (Filters), LPD starts the text and the conversion filters with the name of the accounting file to use on the filter command line. The filters can use this argument to know where to write an accounting file entry. The name of this file comes from the af capability in /etc/printcap, and if not specified as an absolute path, is relative to the spooling directory.

LPD starts lpf with page width and length arguments (from the pw and pl capabilities). lpf uses these arguments to determine how much paper will be used. After sending the file to the printer, it then writes an accounting entry in the accounting file. The entries look like this:

2.00 rose:andy 3.00 rose:kelly 3.00 orchid:mary 5.00 orchid:mary 2.00 orchid:zhang

You should use a separate accounting file for each printer, as lpf has no file locking logic built into it, and two lpfs might corrupt each other's entries if they were to write to the same file at the same time. An easy way to insure a separate accounting file for each printer is to use af=acct in /etc/printcap. Then, each accounting file will be in the spooling directory for a printer, in a file named acct.

When you are ready to charge users for printouts, run the pac(8) program. Just change to the spooling directory for the printer you want to collect on and type pac. You will get a dollar-centric summary like the following:

Login pages/feet runs price orchid:kelly 5.00 1 $ 0.10 orchid:mary 31.00 3 $ 0.62 orchid:zhang 9.00 1 $ 0.18 rose:andy 2.00 1 $ 0.04 rose:kelly 177.00 104 $ 3.54 rose:mary 87.00 32 $ 1.74 rose:root 26.00 12 $ 0.52 total 337.00 154 $ 6.74

These are the arguments pac(8) expects:


Which printer to summarize. This option works only if there is an absolute path in the af capability in /etc/printcap.


Sort the output by cost instead of alphabetically by user name.


Ignore host name in the accounting files. With this option, user smith on host alpha is the same user smith on host gamma. Without, they are different users.


Compute charges with price dollars per page or per foot instead of the price from the pc capability in /etc/printcap, or two cents (the default). You can specify price as a floating point number.


Reverse the sort order.


Make an accounting summary file and truncate the accounting file.

name ...

Print accounting information for the given user names only.

In the default summary that pac(8) produces, you see the number of pages printed by each user from various hosts. If, at your site, host does not matter (because users can use any host), run pac -m, to produce the following summary:

Login pages/feet runs price andy 2.00 1 $ 0.04 kelly 182.00 105 $ 3.64 mary 118.00 35 $ 2.36 root 26.00 12 $ 0.52 zhang 9.00 1 $ 0.18 total 337.00 154 $ 6.74

To compute the dollar amount due, pac(8) uses the pc capability in the /etc/printcap file (default of 200, or 2 cents per page). Specify, in hundredths of cents, the price per page or per foot you want to charge for printouts in this capability. You can override this value when you run pac(8) with the -p option. The units for the -p option are in dollars, though, not hundredths of cents. For example,

# pac -p1.50 makes each page cost one dollar and fifty cents. You can really rake in the profits by using this option.

Finally, running pac -s will save the summary information in a summary accounting file, which is named the same as the printer's accounting file, but with _sum appended to the name. It then truncates the accounting file. When you run pac(8) again, it rereads the summary file to get starting totals, then adds information from the regular accounting file. How Can You Count Pages Printed?

In order to perform even remotely accurate accounting, you need to be able to determine how much paper a job uses. This is the essential problem of printer accounting.

For plain text jobs, the problem is not that hard to solve: you count how many lines are in a job and compare it to how many lines per page your printer supports. Do not forget to take into account backspaces in the file which overprint lines, or long logical lines that wrap onto one or more additional physical lines.

The text filter lpf (introduced in lpf: a Text Filter) takes into account these things when it does accounting. If you are writing a text filter which needs to do accounting, you might want to examine lpf's source code.

How do you handle other file formats, though?

Well, for DVI-to-LaserJet or DVI-to-PostScript conversion, you can have your filter parse the diagnostic output of dvilj or dvips and look to see how many pages were converted. You might be able to do similar things with other file formats and conversion programs.

But these methods suffer from the fact that the printer may not actually print all those pages. For example, it could jam, run out of toner, or explode--and the user would still get charged.

So, what can you do?

There is only one sure way to do accurate accounting. Get a printer that can tell you how much paper it uses, and attach it via a serial line or a network connection. Nearly all PostScript printers support this notion. Other makes and models do as well (networked Imagen laser printers, for example). Modify the filters for these printers to get the page usage after they print each job and have them log accounting information based on that value only. There is no line counting nor error-prone file examination required.

Of course, you can always be generous and make all printouts free.

9.5 Using Printers

This section tells you how to use printers you have set up with FreeBSD. Here is an overview of the user-level commands:


Print jobs


Check printer queues


Remove jobs from a printer's queue

There is also an administrative command, lpc(8), described in the section Administering Printers, used to control printers and their queues.

All three of the commands lpr(1), lprm(1), and lpq(1) accept an option -P printer-name to specify on which printer/queue to operate, as listed in the /etc/printcap file. This enables you to submit, remove, and check on jobs for various printers. If you do not use the -P option, then these commands use the printer specified in the PRINTER environment variable. Finally, if you do not have a PRINTER environment variable, these commands default to the printer named lp.

Hereafter, the terminology default printer means the printer named in the PRINTER environment variable, or the printer named lp when there is no PRINTER environment variable.

9.5.1 Printing Jobs

To print files, type:

% lpr filename ...

This prints each of the listed files to the default printer. If you list no files, lpr(1) reads data to print from standard input. For example, this command prints some important system files:

% lpr /etc/host.conf /etc/hosts.equiv

To select a specific printer, type:

% lpr -P printer-name filename ...

This example prints a long listing of the current directory to the printer named rattan:

% ls -l | lpr -P rattan

Because no files were listed for the lpr(1) command, lpr read the data to print from standard input, which was the output of the ls -l command.

The lpr(1) command can also accept a wide variety of options to control formatting, apply file conversions, generate multiple copies, and so forth. For more information, see the section Printing Options.

9.5.2 Checking Jobs

When you print with lpr(1), the data you wish to print is put together in a package called a “print job”, which is sent to the LPD spooling system. Each printer has a queue of jobs, and your job waits in that queue along with other jobs from yourself and from other users. The printer prints those jobs in a first-come, first-served order.

To display the queue for the default printer, type lpq(1). For a specific printer, use the -P option. For example, the command

% lpq -P bamboo shows the queue for the printer named bamboo. Here is an example of the output of the lpq command:

bamboo is ready and printing Rank Owner Job Files Total Size active kelly 9 /etc/host.conf, /etc/hosts.equiv 88 bytes 2nd kelly 10 (standard input) 1635 bytes 3rd mary 11 ... 78519 bytes

This shows three jobs in the queue for bamboo. The first job, submitted by user kelly, got assigned “job number” 9. Every job for a printer gets a unique job number. Most of the time you can ignore the job number, but you will need it if you want to cancel the job; see section Removing Jobs for details.

Job number nine consists of two files; multiple files given on the lpr(1) command line are treated as part of a single job. It is the currently active job (note the word active under the “Rank” column), which means the printer should be currently printing that job. The second job consists of data passed as the standard input to the lpr(1) command. The third job came from user mary; it is a much larger job. The pathname of the file she is trying to print is too long to fit, so the lpq(1) command just shows three dots.

The very first line of the output from lpq(1) is also useful: it tells what the printer is currently doing (or at least what LPD thinks the printer is doing).

The lpq(1) command also support a -l option to generate a detailed long listing. Here is an example of lpq -l:

waiting for bamboo to become ready (offline ?) kelly: 1st [job 009rose] /etc/host.conf 73 bytes /etc/hosts.equiv 15 bytes kelly: 2nd [job 010rose] (standard input) 1635 bytes mary: 3rd [job 011rose] /home/orchid/mary/research/venus/alpha-regio/mapping 78519 bytes

9.5.3 Removing Jobs

If you change your mind about printing a job, you can remove the job from the queue with the lprm(1) command. Often, you can even use lprm(1) to remove an active job, but some or all of the job might still get printed.

To remove a job from the default printer, first use lpq(1) to find the job number. Then type:

% lprm job-number

To remove the job from a specific printer, add the -P option. The following command removes job number 10 from the queue for the printer bamboo:

% lprm -P bamboo 10

The lprm(1) command has a few shortcuts:

lprm -

Removes all jobs (for the default printer) belonging to you.

lprm user

Removes all jobs (for the default printer) belonging to user. The superuser can remove other users' jobs; you can remove only your own jobs.


With no job number, user name, or - appearing on the command line, lprm(1) removes the currently active job on the default printer, if it belongs to you. The superuser can remove any active job.

Just use the -P option with the above shortcuts to operate on a specific printer instead of the default. For example, the following command removes all jobs for the current user in the queue for the printer named rattan:

% lprm -P rattan -

Note: If you are working in a networked environment, lprm(1) will let you remove jobs only from the host from which the jobs were submitted, even if the same printer is available from other hosts. The following command sequence demonstrates this:

% lpr -P rattan myfile % rlogin orchid % lpq -P rattan Rank Owner Job Files Total Size active seeyan 12 ... 49123 bytes 2nd kelly 13 myfile 12 bytes % lprm -P rattan 13 rose: Permission denied % logout % lprm -P rattan 13 dfA013rose dequeued cfA013rose dequeued

9.5.4 Beyond Plain Text: Printing Options

The lpr(1) command supports a number of options that control formatting text, converting graphic and other file formats, producing multiple copies, handling of the job, and more. This section describes the options. Formatting and Conversion Options

The following lpr(1) options control formatting of the files in the job. Use these options if the job does not contain plain text or if you want plain text formatted through the pr(1) utility.

For example, the following command prints a DVI file (from the TeX typesetting system) named fish-report.dvi to the printer named bamboo:

% lpr -P bamboo -d fish-report.dvi

These options apply to every file in the job, so you cannot mix (say) DVI and ditroff files together in a job. Instead, submit the files as separate jobs, using a different conversion option for each job.

Note: All of these options except -p and -T require conversion filters installed for the destination printer. For example, the -d option requires the DVI conversion filter. Section Conversion Filters gives details.


Print cifplot files.


Print DVI files.


Print FORTRAN text files.


Print plot data.

-i number

Indent the output by number columns; if you omit number, indent by 8 columns. This option works only with certain conversion filters.

Note: Do not put any space between the -i and the number.


Print literal text data, including control characters.


Print ditroff (device independent troff) data.


Format plain text with pr(1) before printing. See pr(1) for more information.

-T title

Use title on the pr(1) header instead of the file name. This option has effect only when used with the -p option.


Print troff data.


Print raster data.

Here is an example: this command prints a nicely formatted version of the ls(1) manual page on the default printer:

% zcat /usr/share/man/man1/ls.1.gz | troff -t -man | lpr -t

The zcat(1) command uncompresses the source of the ls(1) manual page and passes it to the troff(1) command, which formats that source and makes GNU troff output and passes it to lpr(1), which submits the job to the LPD spooler. Because we used the -t option to lpr(1), the spooler will convert the GNU troff output into a format the default printer can understand when it prints the job. Job Handling Options

The following options to lpr(1) tell LPD to handle the job specially:

-# copies

Produce a number of copies of each file in the job instead of just one copy. An administrator may disable this option to reduce printer wear-and-tear and encourage photocopier usage. See section Restricting Multiple Copies.

This example prints three copies of parser.c followed by three copies of parser.h to the default printer:

% lpr -#3 parser.c parser.h

Send mail after completing the print job. With this option, the LPD system will send mail to your account when it finishes handling your job. In its message, it will tell you if the job completed successfully or if there was an error, and (often) what the error was.


Do not copy the files to the spooling directory, but make symbolic links to them instead.

If you are printing a large job, you probably want to use this option. It saves space in the spooling directory (your job might overflow the free space on the filesystem where the spooling directory resides). It saves time as well since LPD will not have to copy each and every byte of your job to the spooling directory.

There is a drawback, though: since LPD will refer to the original files directly, you cannot modify or remove them until they have been printed.

Note: If you are printing to a remote printer, LPD will eventually have to copy files from the local host to the remote host, so the -s option will save space only on the local spooling directory, not the remote. It is still useful, though.


Remove the files in the job after copying them to the spooling directory, or after printing them with the -s option. Be careful with this option! Header Page Options

These options to lpr(1) adjust the text that normally appears on a job's header page. If header pages are suppressed for the destination printer, these options have no effect. See section Header Pages for information about setting up header pages.

-C text

Replace the hostname on the header page with text. The hostname is normally the name of the host from which the job was submitted.

-J text

Replace the job name on the header page with text. The job name is normally the name of the first file of the job, or stdin if you are printing standard input.


Do not print any header page.

Note: At some sites, this option may have no effect due to the way header pages are generated. See Header Pages for details.

9.5.5 Administering Printers

As an administrator for your printers, you have had to install, set up, and test them. Using the lpc(8) command, you can interact with your printers in yet more ways. With lpc(8), you can

  • Start and stop the printers

  • Enable and disable their queues

  • Rearrange the order of the jobs in each queue.

First, a note about terminology: if a printer is stopped, it will not print anything in its queue. Users can still submit jobs, which will wait in the queue until the printer is started or the queue is cleared.

If a queue is disabled, no user (except root) can submit jobs for the printer. An enabled queue allows jobs to be submitted. A printer can be started for a disabled queue, in which case it will continue to print jobs in the queue until the queue is empty.

In general, you have to have root privileges to use the lpc(8) command. Ordinary users can use the lpc(8) command to get printer status and to restart a hung printer only.

Here is a summary of the lpc(8) commands. Most of the commands take a printer-name argument to tell on which printer to operate. You can use all for the printer-name to mean all printers listed in /etc/printcap.

abort printer-name

Cancel the current job and stop the printer. Users can still submit jobs if the queue is enabled.

clean printer-name

Remove old files from the printer's spooling directory. Occasionally, the files that make up a job are not properly removed by LPD, particularly if there have been errors during printing or a lot of administrative activity. This command finds files that do not belong in the spooling directory and removes them.

disable printer-name

Disable queuing of new jobs. If the printer is running, it will continue to print any jobs remaining in the queue. The superuser (root) can always submit jobs, even to a disabled queue.

This command is useful while you are testing a new printer or filter installation: disable the queue and submit jobs as root. Other users will not be able to submit jobs until you complete your testing and re-enable the queue with the enable command.

down printer-name message

Take a printer down. Equivalent to disable followed by stop. The message appears as the printer's status whenever a user checks the printer's queue with lpq(1) or status with lpc status.

enable printer-name

Enable the queue for a printer. Users can submit jobs but the printer will not print anything until it is started.

help command-name

Print help on the command command-name. With no command-name, print a summary of the commands available.

restart printer-name

Start the printer. Ordinary users can use this command if some extraordinary circumstance hangs LPD, but they cannot start a printer stopped with either the stop or down commands. The restart command is equivalent to abort followed by start.

start printer-name

Start the printer. The printer will print jobs in its queue.

stop printer-name

Stop the printer. The printer will finish the current job and will not print anything else in its queue. Even though the printer is stopped, users can still submit jobs to an enabled queue.

topq printer-name job-or-username

Rearrange the queue for printer-name by placing the jobs with the listed job numbers or the jobs belonging to username at the top of the queue. For this command, you cannot use all as the printer-name.

up printer-name

Bring a printer up; the opposite of the down command. Equivalent to start followed by enable.

lpc(8) accepts the above commands on the command line. If you do not enter any commands, lpc(8) enters an interactive mode, where you can enter commands until you type exit, quit, or end-of-file.

9.6 Alternatives to the Standard Spooler

If you have been reading straight through this manual, by now you have learned just about everything there is to know about the LPD spooling system that comes with FreeBSD. You can probably appreciate many of its shortcomings, which naturally leads to the question: “What other spooling systems are out there (and work with FreeBSD)?”


LPRng, which purportedly means “LPR: the Next Generation” is a complete rewrite of PLP. Patrick Powell and Justin Mason (the principal maintainer of PLP) collaborated to make LPRng. The main site for LPRng is


CUPS, the Common UNIX Printing System, provides a portable printing layer for UNIX-based operating systems. It has been developed by Easy Software Products to promote a standard printing solution for all UNIX vendors and users.

CUPS uses the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) as the basis for managing print jobs and queues. The Line Printer Daemon (LPD), Server Message Block (SMB), and AppSocket (a.k.a. JetDirect) protocols are also supported with reduced functionality. CUPS adds network printer browsing and PostScript Printer Description (PPD) based printing options to support real-world printing under UNIX.

The main site for CUPS is

9.7 Troubleshooting

After performing the simple test with lptest(1), you might have gotten one of the following results instead of the correct printout:

It worked, after awhile; or, it did not eject a full sheet.

The printer printed the above, but it sat for awhile and did nothing. In fact, you might have needed to press a PRINT REMAINING or FORM FEED button on the printer to get any results to appear.

If this is the case, the printer was probably waiting to see if there was any more data for your job before it printed anything. To fix this problem, you can have the text filter send a FORM FEED character (or whatever is necessary) to the printer. This is usually sufficient to have the printer immediately print any text remaining in its internal buffer. It is also useful to make sure each print job ends on a full sheet, so the next job does not start somewhere on the middle of the last page of the previous job.

The following replacement for the shell script /usr/local/libexec/if-simple prints a form feed after it sends the job to the printer:

#!/bin/sh # # if-simple - Simple text input filter for lpd # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/if-simple # # Simply copies stdin to stdout. Ignores all filter arguments. # Writes a form feed character (\f) after printing job. /bin/cat && printf "\f" && exit 0 exit 2
It produced the “staircase effect.”

You got the following on paper:

!"#$%&'()*+,-./01234 "#$%&'()*+,-./012345 #$%&'()*+,-./0123456

You have become another victim of the staircase effect, caused by conflicting interpretations of what characters should indicate a new line. UNIX style operating systems use a single character: ASCII code 10, the line feed (LF). MS-DOS, OS/2®, and others uses a pair of characters, ASCII code 10 and ASCII code 13 (the carriage return or CR). Many printers use the MS-DOS convention for representing new-lines.

When you print with FreeBSD, your text used just the line feed character. The printer, upon seeing a line feed character, advanced the paper one line, but maintained the same horizontal position on the page for the next character to print. That is what the carriage return is for: to move the location of the next character to print to the left edge of the paper.

Here is what FreeBSD wants your printer to do:

Printer received CR Printer prints CR
Printer received LF Printer prints CR + LF

Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • Use the printer's configuration switches or control panel to alter its interpretation of these characters. Check your printer's manual to find out how to do this.

    Note: If you boot your system into other operating systems besides FreeBSD, you may have to reconfigure the printer to use a an interpretation for CR and LF characters that those other operating systems use. You might prefer one of the other solutions, below.

  • Have FreeBSD's serial line driver automatically convert LF to CR+LF. Of course, this works with printers on serial ports only. To enable this feature, use the ms# capability and set the onlcr mode in the /etc/printcap file for the printer.

  • Send an escape code to the printer to have it temporarily treat LF characters differently. Consult your printer's manual for escape codes that your printer might support. When you find the proper escape code, modify the text filter to send the code first, then send the print job.

    Here is an example text filter for printers that understand the Hewlett-Packard PCL escape codes. This filter makes the printer treat LF characters as a LF and CR; then it sends the job; then it sends a form feed to eject the last page of the job. It should work with nearly all Hewlett Packard printers.

    #!/bin/sh # # hpif - Simple text input filter for lpd for HP-PCL based printers # Installed in /usr/local/libexec/hpif # # Simply copies stdin to stdout. Ignores all filter arguments. # Tells printer to treat LF as CR+LF. Ejects the page when done. printf "\033&k2G" && cat && printf "\033&l0H" && exit 0 exit 2

    Here is an example /etc/printcap from a host called orchid. It has a single printer attached to its first parallel port, a Hewlett Packard LaserJet 3Si named teak. It is using the above script as its text filter:

    # # /etc/printcap for host orchid # teak|hp|laserjet|Hewlett Packard LaserJet 3Si:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/teak:mx#0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/hpif:
It overprinted each line.

The printer never advanced a line. All of the lines of text were printed on top of each other on one line.

This problem is the “opposite” of the staircase effect, described above, and is much rarer. Somewhere, the LF characters that FreeBSD uses to end a line are being treated as CR characters to return the print location to the left edge of the paper, but not also down a line.

Use the printer's configuration switches or control panel to enforce the following interpretation of LF and CR characters:

Printer receives Printer prints
The printer lost characters.

While printing, the printer did not print a few characters in each line. The problem might have gotten worse as the printer ran, losing more and more characters.

The problem is that the printer cannot keep up with the speed at which the computer sends data over a serial line (this problem should not occur with printers on parallel ports). There are two ways to overcome the problem:

  • If the printer supports XON/XOFF flow control, have FreeBSD use it by specifying the ixon mode in the ms# capability.

  • If the printer supports carrier flow control, specify the crtscts mode in the ms# capability. Make sure the cable connecting the printer to the computer is correctly wired for carrier flow control.

It printed garbage.

The printer printed what appeared to be random garbage, but not the desired text.

This is usually another symptom of incorrect communications parameters with a serial printer. Double-check the bps rate in the br capability, and the parity setting in the ms# capability; make sure the printer is using the same settings as specified in the /etc/printcap file.

Nothing happened.

If nothing happened, the problem is probably within FreeBSD and not the hardware. Add the log file (lf) capability to the entry for the printer you are debugging in the /etc/printcap file. For example, here is the entry for rattan, with the lf capability:

rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\ :sh:sd=/var/spool/lpd/rattan:\ :lp=/dev/lpt0:\ :if=/usr/local/libexec/if-simple:\ :lf=/var/log/rattan.log

Then, try printing again. Check the log file (in our example, /var/log/rattan.log) to see any error messages that might appear. Based on the messages you see, try to correct the problem.

If you do not specify a lf capability, LPD uses /dev/console as a default.

Chapter 10 Linux Binary Compatibility

Restructured and parts updated by Jim Mock. Originally contributed by Brian N. Handy and Rich Murphey.

10.1 Synopsis

FreeBSD provides binary compatibility with several other UNIX like operating systems, including Linux. At this point, you may be asking yourself why exactly, does FreeBSD need to be able to run Linux binaries? The answer to that question is quite simple. Many companies and developers develop only for Linux, since it is the latest “hot thing” in the computing world. That leaves the rest of us FreeBSD users bugging these same companies and developers to put out native FreeBSD versions of their applications. The problem is, that most of these companies do not really realize how many people would use their product if there were FreeBSD versions too, and most continue to only develop for Linux. So what is a FreeBSD user to do? This is where the Linux binary compatibility of FreeBSD comes into play.

In a nutshell, the compatibility allows FreeBSD users to run about 90% of all Linux applications without modification. This includes applications such as StarOffice, the Linux version of Netscape, Adobe Acrobat, RealPlayer, VMware, Oracle, WordPerfect®, Doom, Quake, and more. It is also reported that in some situations, Linux binaries perform better on FreeBSD than they do under Linux.

There are, however, some Linux-specific operating system features that are not supported under FreeBSD. Linux binaries will not work on FreeBSD if they overly use i386 specific calls, such as enabling virtual 8086 mode.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • How to enable Linux binary compatibility on your system.

  • How to install additional Linux shared libraries.

  • How to install Linux applications on your FreeBSD system.

  • The implementation details of Linux compatibility in FreeBSD.

Before reading this chapter, you should:

  • Know how to install additional third-party software (Chapter 4).

10.2 Installation

Linux binary compatibility is not turned on by default. The easiest way to enable this functionality is to load the linux KLD object (“Kernel LoaDable object”). You can load this module by typing the following as root:

# kldload linux

If you would like Linux compatibility to always be enabled, then you should add the following line to /etc/rc.conf:


The kldstat(8) command can be used to verify that the KLD is loaded:

% kldstat Id Refs Address Size Name 1 2 0xc0100000 16bdb8 kernel 7 1 0xc24db000 d000 linux.ko

If for some reason you do not want to or cannot load the KLD, then you may statically link Linux binary compatibility into the kernel by adding options COMPAT_LINUX to your kernel configuration file. Then install your new kernel as described in Chapter 8.

10.2.1 Installing Linux Runtime Libraries

This can be done one of two ways, either by using the linux_base port, or by installing them manually. Installing Using the linux_base Port

This is by far the easiest method to use when installing the runtime libraries. It is just like installing any other port from the Ports Collection. Simply do the following:

# cd /usr/ports/emulators/linux_base-fc4 # make install distclean

You should now have working Linux binary compatibility. Some programs may complain about incorrect minor versions of the system libraries. In general, however, this does not seem to be a problem.

Note: There may be multiple versions of the emulators/linux_base port available, corresponding to different versions of various Linux distributions. You should install the port most closely resembling the requirements of the Linux applications you would like to install. Installing Libraries Manually

If you do not have the “ports” collection installed, you can install the libraries by hand instead. You will need the Linux shared libraries that the program depends on and the runtime linker. Also, you will need to create a “shadow root” directory, /compat/linux, for Linux libraries on your FreeBSD system. Any shared libraries opened by Linux programs run under FreeBSD will look in this tree first. So, if a Linux program loads, for example, /lib/, FreeBSD will first try to open /compat/linux/lib/, and if that does not exist, it will then try /lib/ Shared libraries should be installed in the shadow tree /compat/linux/lib rather than the paths that the Linux reports.

Generally, you will need to look for the shared libraries that Linux binaries depend on only the first few times that you install a Linux program on your FreeBSD system. After a while, you will have a sufficient set of Linux shared libraries on your system to be able to run newly imported Linux binaries without any extra work. How to Install Additional Shared Libraries

What if you install the linux_base port and your application still complains about missing shared libraries? How do you know which shared libraries Linux binaries need, and where to get them? Basically, there are 2 possibilities (when following these instructions you will need to be root on your FreeBSD system).

If you have access to a Linux system, see what shared libraries the application needs, and copy them to your FreeBSD system. Look at the following example:

Let us assume you used FTP to get the Linux binary of Doom, and put it on a Linux system you have access to. You then can check which shared libraries it needs by running ldd linuxdoom, like so:

% ldd linuxdoom (DLL Jump 3.1) => /usr/X11/lib/ (DLL Jump 3.1) => /usr/X11/lib/ (DLL Jump 4.5pl26) => /lib/

You would need to get all the files from the last column, and put them under /compat/linux, with the names in the first column as symbolic links pointing to them. This means you eventually have these files on your FreeBSD system:

/compat/linux/usr/X11/lib/ /compat/linux/usr/X11/lib/ -> /compat/linux/usr/X11/lib/ /compat/linux/usr/X11/lib/ -> /compat/linux/lib/ /compat/linux/lib/ ->

Note: Note that if you already have a Linux shared library with a matching major revision number to the first column of the ldd output, you will not need to copy the file named in the last column to your system, the one you already have should work. It is advisable to copy the shared library anyway if it is a newer version, though. You can remove the old one, as long as you make the symbolic link point to the new one. So, if you have these libraries on your system:

/compat/linux/lib/ /compat/linux/lib/ ->

and you find a new binary that claims to require a later version according to the output of ldd: (DLL Jump 4.5pl26) ->

If it is only one or two versions out of date in the trailing digit then do not worry about copying /lib/ too, because the program should work fine with the slightly older version. However, if you like, you can decide to replace the anyway, and that should leave you with:

/compat/linux/lib/ /compat/linux/lib/ ->

Note: The symbolic link mechanism is only needed for Linux binaries. The FreeBSD runtime linker takes care of looking for matching major revision numbers itself and you do not need to worry about it.

10.2.2 Installing Linux ELF Binaries

ELF binaries sometimes require an extra step of “branding”. If you attempt to run an unbranded ELF binary, you will get an error message like the following:

% ./my-linux-elf-binary ELF binary type not known Abort

To help the FreeBSD kernel distinguish between a FreeBSD ELF binary from a Linux binary, use the brandelf(1) utility.

% brandelf -t Linux my-linux-elf-binary

The GNU toolchain now places the appropriate branding information into ELF binaries automatically, so this step should become increasingly unnecessary in the future.

10.2.3 Configuring the Hostname Resolver

If DNS does not work or you get this message:

resolv+: "bind" is an invalid keyword resolv+: "hosts" is an invalid keyword

You will need to configure a /compat/linux/etc/host.conf file containing:

order hosts, bind multi on

The order here specifies that /etc/hosts is searched first and DNS is searched second. When /compat/linux/etc/host.conf is not installed, Linux applications find FreeBSD's /etc/host.conf and complain about the incompatible FreeBSD syntax. You should remove bind if you have not configured a name server using the /etc/resolv.conf file.

10.3 Installing Mathematica®

Updated for Mathematica 5.X by Boris Hollas.

This document describes the process of installing the Linux version of Mathematica 5.X onto a FreeBSD system.

The Linux version of Mathematica or Mathematica for Students can be ordered directly from Wolfram at

10.3.1 Running the Mathematica Installer

First, you have to tell FreeBSD that Mathematica's Linux binaries use the Linux ABI. The easiest way to do so is to set the default ELF brand to Linux for all unbranded binaries with the command:

# sysctl kern.fallback_elf_brand=3

This will make FreeBSD assume that unbranded ELF binaries use the Linux ABI and so you should be able to run the installer straight from the CDROM.

Now, copy the file MathInstaller to your hard drive:

# mount /cdrom # cp /cdrom/Unix/Installers/Linux/MathInstaller /localdir/

and in this file, replace /bin/sh in the first line by /compat/linux/bin/sh. This makes sure that the installer is executed by the Linux version of sh(1). Next, replace all occurrences of Linux) by FreeBSD) with a text editor or the script below in the next section. This tells the Mathematica installer, who calls uname -s to determine the operating system, to treat FreeBSD as a Linux-like operating system. Invoking MathInstaller will now install Mathematica.

10.3.2 Modifying the Mathematica Executables

The shell scripts that Mathematica created during installation have to be modified before you can use them. If you chose /usr/local/bin as the directory to place the Mathematica executables in, you will find symlinks in this directory to files called math, mathematica, Mathematica, and MathKernel. In each of these, replace Linux) by FreeBSD) with a text editor or the following shell script:

#!/bin/sh cd /usr/local/bin for i in math mathematica Mathematica MathKernel do sed 's/Linux)/FreeBSD)/g' $i > $i.tmp sed 's/\/bin\/sh/\/compat\/linux\/bin\/sh/g' $i.tmp > $i rm $i.tmp chmod a+x $i done

10.3.3 Obtaining Your Mathematica Password

When you start Mathematica for the first time, you will be asked for a password. If you have not yet obtained a password from Wolfram, run the program mathinfo in the installation directory to obtain your “machine ID”. This machine ID is based solely on the MAC address of your first Ethernet card, so you cannot run your copy of Mathematica on different machines.

When you register with Wolfram, either by email, phone or fax, you will give them the “machine ID” and they will respond with a corresponding password consisting of groups of numbers.

10.3.4 Running the Mathematica Frontend over a Network

Mathematica uses some special fonts to display characters not present in any of the standard font sets (integrals, sums, Greek letters, etc.). The X protocol requires these fonts to be install locally. This means you will have to copy these fonts from the CDROM or from a host with Mathematica installed to your local machine. These fonts are normally stored in /cdrom/Unix/Files/SystemFiles/Fonts on the CDROM, or /usr/local/mathematica/SystemFiles/Fonts on your hard drive. The actual fonts are in the subdirectories Type1 and X. There are several ways to use them, as described below.

The first way is to copy them into one of the existing font directories in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts. This will require editing the fonts.dir file, adding the font names to it, and changing the number of fonts on the first line. Alternatively, you should also just be able to run mkfontdir(1) in the directory you have copied them to.

The second way to do this is to copy the directories to /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts:

# cd /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts # mkdir X # mkdir MathType1 # cd /cdrom/Unix/Files/SystemFiles/Fonts # cp X/* /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/X # cp Type1/* /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/MathType1 # cd /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/X # mkfontdir # cd ../MathType1 # mkfontdir

Now add the new font directories to your font path:

# xset fp+ /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/X # xset fp+ /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/MathType1 # xset fp rehash

If you are using the Xorg server, you can have these font directories loaded automatically by adding them to your xorg.conf file.

Note: For XFree86 servers, the configuration file is XF86Config.

If you do not already have a directory called /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Type1, you can change the name of the MathType1 directory in the example above to Type1.

10.4 Installing Maple

Contributed by Aaron Kaplan. Thanks to Robert Getschmann.

Maple is a commercial mathematics program similar to Mathematica. You must purchase this software from and then register there for a license file. To install this software on FreeBSD, please follow these simple steps.

  1. Execute the INSTALL shell script from the product distribution. Choose the “RedHat” option when prompted by the installation program. A typical installation directory might be /usr/local/maple.

  2. If you have not done so, order a license for Maple from Maple Waterloo Software ( and copy it to /usr/local/maple/license/license.dat.

  3. Install the FLEXlm license manager by running the INSTALL_LIC install shell script that comes with Maple. Specify the primary hostname for your machine for the license server.

  4. Patch the /usr/local/maple/bin/maple.system.type file with the following:

    ----- snip ------------------ *** maple.system.type.orig Sun Jul 8 16:35:33 2001 --- maple.system.type Sun Jul 8 16:35:51 2001 *************** *** 72,77 **** --- 72,78 ---- # the IBM RS/6000 AIX case MAPLE_BIN="bin.IBM_RISC_UNIX" ;; + "FreeBSD"|\ "Linux") # the Linux/x86 case # We have two Linux implementations, one for Red Hat and ----- snip end of patch -----

    Please note that after the "FreeBSD"|\ no other whitespace should be present.

    This patch instructs Maple to recognize “FreeBSD” as a type of Linux system. The bin/maple shell script calls the bin/maple.system.type shell script which in turn calls uname -a to find out the operating system name. Depending on the OS name it will find out which binaries to use.

  5. Start the license server.

    The following script, installed as /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ is a convenient way to start up lmgrd:

    ----- snip ------------ #! /bin/sh PATH=/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/X11R6/bin PATH=${PATH}:/usr/local/maple/bin:/usr/local/maple/FLEXlm/UNIX/LINUX export PATH LICENSE_FILE=/usr/local/maple/license/license.dat LOG=/var/log/lmgrd.log case "$1" in start) lmgrd -c ${LICENSE_FILE} 2>> ${LOG} 1>&2 echo -n " lmgrd" ;; stop) lmgrd -c ${LICENSE_FILE} -x lmdown 2>> ${LOG} 1>&2 ;; *) echo "Usage: `basename $0` {start|stop}" 1>&2 exit 64 ;; esac exit 0 ----- snip ------------
  6. Test-start Maple:

    % cd /usr/local/maple/bin % ./xmaple

    You should be up and running. Make sure to write Maplesoft to let them know you would like a native FreeBSD version!

10.4.1 Common Pitfalls

  • The FLEXlm license manager can be a difficult tool to work with. Additional documentation on the subject can be found at

  • lmgrd is known to be very picky about the license file and to core dump if there are any problems. A correct license file should look like this:

    # ======================================================= # License File for UNIX Installations ("Pointer File") # ======================================================= SERVER chillig ANY #USE_SERVER VENDOR maplelmg FEATURE Maple maplelmg 2000.0831 permanent 1 XXXXXXXXXXXX \ PLATFORMS=i86_r ISSUER="Waterloo Maple Inc." \ ISSUED=11-may-2000 NOTICE=" Technische Universitat Wien" \ SN=XXXXXXXXX

    Note: Serial number and key 'X''ed out. chillig is a hostname.

    Editing the license file works as long as you do not touch the “FEATURE” line (which is protected by the license key).

10.5 Installing MATLAB®

Contributed by Dan Pelleg.

This document describes the process of installing the Linux version of MATLAB® version 6.5 onto a FreeBSD system. It works quite well, with the exception of the Java Virtual Machine (see Section 10.5.3).

The Linux version of MATLAB can be ordered directly from The MathWorks at Make sure you also get the license file or instructions how to create it. While you are there, let them know you would like a native FreeBSD version of their software.

10.5.1 Installing MATLAB

To install MATLAB, do the following:

  1. Insert the installation CD and mount it. Become root, as recommended by the installation script. To start the installation script type:

    # /compat/linux/bin/sh /cdrom/install

    Tip: The installer is graphical. If you get errors about not being able to open a display, type setenv HOME ~USER, where USER is the user you did a su(1) as.

  2. When asked for the MATLAB root directory, type: /compat/linux/usr/local/matlab.

    Tip: For easier typing on the rest of the installation process, type this at your shell prompt: set MATLAB=/compat/linux/usr/local/matlab

  3. Edit the license file as instructed when obtaining the MATLAB license.

    Tip: You can prepare this file in advance using your favorite editor, and copy it to $MATLAB/license.dat before the installer asks you to edit it.

  4. Complete the installation process.

At this point your MATLAB installation is complete. The following steps apply “glue” to connect it to your FreeBSD system.

10.5.2 License Manager Startup

  1. Create symlinks for the license manager scripts:

    # ln -s $MATLAB/etc/lmboot /usr/local/etc/lmboot_TMW # ln -s $MATLAB/etc/lmdown /usr/local/etc/lmdown_TMW
  2. Create a startup file at /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ The example below is a modified version of the distributed $MATLAB/etc/rc.lm.glnx86. The changes are file locations, and startup of the license manager under Linux emulation.

    #!/bin/sh case "$1" in start) if [ -f /usr/local/etc/lmboot_TMW ]; then /compat/linux/bin/sh /usr/local/etc/lmboot_TMW -u username && echo 'MATLAB_lmgrd' fi ;; stop) if [ -f /usr/local/etc/lmdown_TMW ]; then /compat/linux/bin/sh /usr/local/etc/lmdown_TMW > /dev/null 2>&1 fi ;; *) echo "Usage: $0 {start|stop}" exit 1 ;; esac exit 0

    Important: The file must be made executable:

    # chmod +x /usr/local/etc/rc.d/

    You must also replace username above with the name of a valid user on your system (and not root).

  3. Start the license manager with the command:

    # /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ start

10.5.3 Linking the Java Runtime Environment

Change the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) link to one working under FreeBSD:

# cd $MATLAB/sys/java/jre/glnx86/ # unlink jre; ln -s ./jre1.1.8 ./jre

10.5.4 Creating a MATLAB Startup Script

  1. Place the following startup script in /usr/local/bin/matlab:

    #!/bin/sh /compat/linux/bin/sh /compat/linux/usr/local/matlab/bin/matlab "$@"
  2. Then type the command chmod +x /usr/local/bin/matlab.

Tip: Depending on your version of emulators/linux_base, you may run into errors when running this script. To avoid that, edit the file /compat/linux/usr/local/matlab/bin/matlab, and change the line that says:

if [ `expr "$lscmd" : '.*->.*'` -ne 0 ]; then

(in version 13.0.1 it is on line 410) to this line:

if test -L $newbase; then

10.5.5 Creating a MATLAB Shutdown Script

The following is needed to solve a problem with MATLAB not exiting correctly.

  1. Create a file $MATLAB/toolbox/local/finish.m, and in it put the single line:

    ! $MATLAB/bin/

    Note: The $MATLAB is literal.

    Tip: In the same directory, you will find the files finishsav.m and finishdlg.m, which let you save your workspace before quitting. If you use either of them, insert the line above immediately after the save command.

  2. Create a file $MATLAB/bin/, which will contain the following:

    #!/usr/compat/linux/bin/sh (sleep 5; killall -1 matlab_helper) & exit 0
  3. Make the file executable:

    # chmod +x $MATLAB/bin/

10.5.6 Using MATLAB

At this point you are ready to type matlab and start using it.

10.6 Installing Oracle®

Contributed by Marcel Moolenaar.

10.6.1 Preface

This document describes the process of installing Oracle 8.0.5 and Oracle Enterprise Edition for Linux onto a FreeBSD machine.

10.6.2 Installing the Linux Environment

Make sure you have both emulators/linux_base and devel/linux_devtools from the Ports Collection installed. If you run into difficulties with these ports, you may have to use the packages or older versions available in the Ports Collection.

If you want to run the intelligent agent, you will also need to install the Red Hat Tcl package: tcl-8.0.3-20.i386.rpm. The general command for installing packages with the official RPM port (archivers/rpm) is:

# rpm -i --ignoreos --root /compat/linux --dbpath /var/lib/rpm package

Installation of the package should not generate any errors.

10.6.3 Creating the Oracle Environment

Before you can install Oracle, you need to set up a proper environment. This document only describes what to do specially to run Oracle for Linux on FreeBSD, not what has been described in the Oracle installation guide. Kernel Tuning

As described in the Oracle installation guide, you need to set the maximum size of shared memory. Do not use SHMMAX under FreeBSD. SHMMAX is merely calculated out of SHMMAXPGS and PGSIZE. Therefore define SHMMAXPGS. All other options can be used as described in the guide. For example:

options SHMMAXPGS=10000 options SHMMNI=100 options SHMSEG=10 options SEMMNS=200 options SEMMNI=70 options SEMMSL=61

Set these options to suit your intended use of Oracle.

Also, make sure you have the following options in your kernel configuration file:

options SYSVSHM #SysV shared memory options SYSVSEM #SysV semaphores options SYSVMSG #SysV interprocess communication Oracle Account

Create an oracle account just as you would create any other account. The oracle account is special only that you need to give it a Linux shell. Add /compat/linux/bin/bash to /etc/shells and set the shell for the oracle account to /compat/linux/bin/bash. Environment

Besides the normal Oracle variables, such as ORACLE_HOME and ORACLE_SID you must set the following environment variables:

Variable Value
PATH /compat/linux/bin /compat/linux/sbin /compat/linux/usr/bin /compat/linux/usr/sbin /bin /sbin /usr/bin /usr/sbin /usr/local/bin $ORACLE_HOME/bin

It is advised to set all the environment variables in .profile. A complete example is:

ORACLE_BASE=/oracle; export ORACLE_BASE ORACLE_HOME=/oracle; export ORACLE_HOME LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$ORACLE_HOME/lib export LD_LIBRARY_PATH ORACLE_SID=ORCL; export ORACLE_SID ORACLE_TERM=386x; export ORACLE_TERM CLASSPATH=$ORACLE_HOME/jdbc/lib/ export CLASSPATH PATH=/compat/linux/bin:/compat/linux/sbin:/compat/linux/usr/bin PATH=$PATH:/compat/linux/usr/sbin:/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/bin:$ORACLE_HOME/bin export PATH

10.6.4 Installing Oracle

Due to a slight inconsistency in the Linux emulator, you need to create a directory named .oracle in /var/tmp before you start the installer. Let it be owned by the oracle user. You should be able to install Oracle without any problems. If you have problems, check your Oracle distribution and/or configuration first! After you have installed Oracle, apply the patches described in the next two subsections.

A frequent problem is that the TCP protocol adapter is not installed right. As a consequence, you cannot start any TCP listeners. The following actions help solve this problem:

# cd $ORACLE_HOME/network/lib # make -f ntcontab.o # cd $ORACLE_HOME/lib # ar r libnetwork.a ntcontab.o # cd $ORACLE_HOME/network/lib # make -f install

Do not forget to run again! Patching

When installing Oracle, some actions, which need to be performed as root, are recorded in a shell script called This script is written in the orainst directory. Apply the following patch to, to have it use to proper location of chown or alternatively run the script under a Linux native shell.

*** orainst/ Tue Oct 6 21:57:33 1998 --- orainst/ Mon Dec 28 15:58:53 1998 *************** *** 31,37 **** # This is the default value for CHOWN # It will redefined later in this script for those ports # which have it conditionally defined in ss_install.h ! CHOWN=/bin/chown # # Define variables to be used in this script --- 31,37 ---- # This is the default value for CHOWN # It will redefined later in this script for those ports # which have it conditionally defined in ss_install.h ! CHOWN=/usr/sbin/chown # # Define variables to be used in this script

When you do not install Oracle from CD, you can patch the source for It is called and is located in the orainst directory in the source tree. Patching genclntsh

The script genclntsh is used to create a single shared client library. It is used when building the demos. Apply the following patch to comment out the definition of PATH:

*** bin/genclntsh.orig Wed Sep 30 07:37:19 1998 --- bin/genclntsh Tue Dec 22 15:36:49 1998 *************** *** 32,38 **** # # Explicit path to ensure that we're using the correct commands #PATH=/usr/bin:/usr/ccs/bin export PATH ! PATH=/usr/local/bin:/bin:/usr/bin:/usr/X11R6/bin export PATH # # each product MUST provide a $PRODUCT/admin/shrept.lst --- 32,38 ---- # # Explicit path to ensure that we're using the correct commands #PATH=/usr/bin:/usr/ccs/bin export PATH ! #PATH=/usr/local/bin:/bin:/usr/bin:/usr/X11R6/bin export PATH # # each product MUST provide a $PRODUCT/admin/shrept.lst

10.6.5 Running Oracle

When you have followed the instructions, you should be able to run Oracle as if it was run on Linux itself.

10.7 Installing SAP® R/3®

Contributed by Holger Kipp. Original version converted to SGML by Valentino Vaschetto.

Installations of SAP Systems using FreeBSD will not be supported by the SAP support team -- they only offer support for certified platforms.

10.7.1 Preface

This document describes a possible way of installing a SAP R/3 System with Oracle Database for Linux onto a FreeBSD machine, including the installation of FreeBSD and Oracle. Two different configurations will be described:

  • SAP R/3 4.6B (IDES) with Oracle 8.0.5 on FreeBSD 4.3-STABLE

  • SAP R/3 4.6C with Oracle 8.1.7 on FreeBSD 4.5-STABLE

Even though this document tries to describe all important steps in a greater detail, it is not intended as a replacement for the Oracle and SAP R/3 installation guides.

Please see the documentation that comes with the SAP R/3 Linux edition for SAP and Oracle specific questions, as well as resources from Oracle and SAP OSS.

10.7.2 Software

The following CD-ROMs have been used for SAP installations: SAP R/3 4.6B, Oracle 8.0.5

Name Number Description
KERNEL 51009113 SAP Kernel Oracle / Installation / AIX, Linux, Solaris
RDBMS 51007558 Oracle / RDBMS 8.0.5.X / Linux
EXPORT1 51010208 IDES / DB-Export / Disc 1 of 6
EXPORT2 51010209 IDES / DB-Export / Disc 2 of 6
EXPORT3 51010210 IDES / DB-Export / Disc 3 of 6
EXPORT4 51010211 IDES / DB-Export / Disc 4 of 6
EXPORT5 51010212 IDES / DB-Export / Disc 5 of 6
EXPORT6 51010213 IDES / DB-Export / Disc 6 of 6

Additionally, we used the Oracle 8 Server (Pre-production version 8.0.5 for Linux, Kernel Version 2.0.33) CD which is not really necessary, and FreeBSD 4.3-STABLE (it was only a few days past 4.3 RELEASE). SAP R/3 4.6C SR2, Oracle 8.1.7

Name Number Description
KERNEL 51014004 SAP Kernel Oracle / SAP Kernel Version 4.6D / DEC, Linux
RDBMS 51012930 Oracle 8.1.7/ RDBMS / Linux
EXPORT1 51013953 Release 4.6C SR2 / Export / Disc 1 of 4
EXPORT1 51013953 Release 4.6C SR2 / Export / Disc 2 of 4
EXPORT1 51013953 Release 4.6C SR2 / Export / Disc 3 of 4
EXPORT1 51013953 Release 4.6C SR2 / Export / Disc 4 of 4
LANG1 51013954 Release 4.6C SR2 / Language / DE, EN, FR / Disc 1 of 3

Depending on the languages you would like to install, additional language CDs might be necessary. Here we are just using DE and EN, so the first language CD is the only one needed. As a little note, the numbers for all four EXPORT CDs are identical. All three language CDs also have the same number (this is different from the 4.6B IDES release CD numbering). At the time of writing this installation is running on FreeBSD 4.5-STABLE (20.03.2002).

10.7.3 SAP Notes

The following notes should be read before installing SAP R/3 and proved to be useful during installation: SAP R/3 4.6B, Oracle 8.0.5

Number Title
0171356 SAP Software on Linux: Essential Comments
0201147 INST: 4.6C R/3 Inst. on UNIX - Oracle
0373203 Update / Migration Oracle 8.0.5 --> 8.0.6/8.1.6 LINUX
0072984 Release of Digital UNIX 4.0B for Oracle
0130581 R3SETUP step DIPGNTAB terminates
0144978 Your system has not been installed correctly
0162266 Questions and tips for R3SETUP on Windows NT / W2K SAP R/3 4.6C, Oracle 8.1.7

Number Title
0015023 Initializing table TCPDB (RSXP0004) (EBCDIC)
0045619 R/3 with several languages or typefaces
0171356 SAP Software on Linux: Essential Comments
0195603 RedHat 6.1 Enterprise version: Known problems
0212876 The new archiving tool SAPCAR
0300900 Linux: Released DELL Hardware
0377187 RedHat 6.2: important remarks
0387074 INST: R/3 4.6C SR2 Installation on UNIX
0387077 INST: R/3 4.6C SR2 Inst. on UNIX - Oracle
0387078 SAP Software on UNIX: OS Dependencies 4.6C SR2

10.7.4 Hardware Requirements

The following equipment is sufficient for the installation of a SAP R/3 System. For production use, a more exact sizing is of course needed:

Component 4.6B 4.6C
Processor 2 x 800MHz Pentium III 2 x 800MHz Pentium III
Memory 1GB ECC 2GB ECC
Hard Disk Space 50-60GB (IDES) 50-60GB (IDES)

For use in production, Xeon Processors with large cache, high-speed disk access (SCSI, RAID hardware controller), USV and ECC-RAM is recommended. The large amount of hard disk space is due to the preconfigured IDES System, which creates 27 GB of database files during installation. This space is also sufficient for initial production systems and application data. SAP R/3 4.6B, Oracle 8.0.5

The following off-the-shelf hardware was used: a dual processor board with 2 800 MHz Pentium III processors, Adaptec® 29160 Ultra160 SCSI adapter (for accessing a 40/80 GB DLT tape drive and CDROM), Mylex® AcceleRAID™ (2 channels, firmware 6.00-1-00 with 32 MB RAM). To the Mylex RAID controller are attached two 17 GB hard disks (mirrored) and four 36 GB hard disks (RAID level 5). SAP R/3 4.6C, Oracle 8.1.7

For this installation a DellPowerEdge™ 2500 was used: a dual processor board with two 1000 MHz Pentium III processors (256 kB Cache), 2 GB PC133 ECC SDRAM, PERC/3 DC PCI RAID Controller with 128 MB, and an EIDE DVD-ROM drive. To the RAID controller are attached two 18 GB hard disks (mirrored) and four 36 GB hard disks (RAID level 5).

10.7.5 Installation of FreeBSD

First you have to install FreeBSD. There are several ways to do this, for more information read the Section 2.13. Disk Layout

To keep it simple, the same disk layout both for the SAP R/3 46B and SAP R/3 46C SR2 installation was used. Only the device names changed, as the installations were on different hardware (/dev/da and /dev/amr respectively, so if using an AMI MegaRAID®, one will see /dev/amr0s1a instead of /dev/da0s1a):

File system Size (1k-blocks) Size (GB) Mounted on
/dev/da0s1a 1.016.303 1 /
/dev/da0s1b   6 swap
/dev/da0s1e 2.032.623 2 /var
/dev/da0s1f 8.205.339 8 /usr
/dev/da1s1e 45.734.361 45 /compat/linux/oracle
/dev/da1s1f 2.032.623 2 /compat/linux/sapmnt
/dev/da1s1g 2.032.623 2 /compat/linux/usr/sap

Configure and initialize the two logical drives with the Mylex or PERC/3 RAID software beforehand. The software can be started during the BIOS boot phase.

Please note that this disk layout differs slightly from the SAP recommendations, as SAP suggests mounting the Oracle subdirectories (and some others) separately -- we decided to just create them as real subdirectories for simplicity. make world and a New Kernel

Download the latest -STABLE sources. Rebuild world and your custom kernel after configuring your kernel configuration file. Here you should also include the kernel parameters which are required for both SAP R/3 and Oracle.

10.7.6 Installing the Linux Environment Installing the Linux Base System

First the linux_base port needs to be installed (as root):

# cd /usr/ports/emulators/linux_base # make install distclean Installing Linux Development Environment

The Linux development environment is needed, if you want to install Oracle on FreeBSD according to the Section 10.6:

# cd /usr/ports/devel/linux_devtools # make install distclean

The Linux development environment has only been installed for the SAP R/3 46B IDES installation. It is not needed, if the Oracle DB is not relinked on the FreeBSD system. This is the case if you are using the Oracle tarball from a Linux system. Installing the Necessary RPMs

To start the R3SETUP program, PAM support is needed. During the first SAP Installation on FreeBSD 4.3-STABLE we tried to install PAM with all the required packages and finally forced the installation of the PAM package, which worked. For SAP R/3 4.6C SR2 we directly forced the installation of the PAM RPM, which also works, so it seems the dependent packages are not needed:

# rpm -i --ignoreos --nodeps --root /compat/linux --dbpath /var/lib/rpm \ pam-0.68-7.i386.rpm

For Oracle 8.0.5 to run the intelligent agent, we also had to install the RedHat Tcl package tcl-8.0.5-30.i386.rpm (otherwise the relinking during Oracle installation will not work). There are some other issues regarding relinking of Oracle, but that is a Oracle Linux issue, not FreeBSD specific. Some Additional Hints

It might also be a good idea to add linprocfs to /etc/fstab, for more information, see the linprocfs(5) manual page. Another parameter to set is kern.fallback_elf_brand=3 which is done in the file /etc/sysctl.conf.

10.7.7 Creating the SAP R/3 Environment Creating the Necessary File Systems and Mountpoints

For a simple installation, it is sufficient to create the following file systems:

mount point size in GB
/compat/linux/oracle 45 GB
/compat/linux/sapmnt 2 GB
/compat/linux/usr/sap 2 GB

It is also necessary to created some links. Otherwise the SAP Installer will complain, as it is checking the created links:

# ln -s /compat/linux/oracle /oracle # ln -s /compat/linux/sapmnt /sapmnt # ln -s /compat/linux/usr/sap /usr/sap

Possible error message during installation (here with System PRD and the SAP R/3 4.6C SR2 installation):

INFO 2002-03-19 16:45:36 R3LINKS_IND_IND SyLinkCreate:200 Checking existence of symbolic link /usr/sap/PRD/SYS/exe/dbg to /sapmnt/PRD/exe. Creating if it does not exist... WARNING 2002-03-19 16:45:36 R3LINKS_IND_IND SyLinkCreate:400 Link /usr/sap/PRD/SYS/exe/dbg exists but it points to file /compat/linux/sapmnt/PRD/exe instead of /sapmnt/PRD/exe. The program cannot go on as long as this link exists at this location. Move the link to another location. ERROR 2002-03-19 16:45:36 R3LINKS_IND_IND Ins_SetupLinks:0 can not setup link '/usr/sap/PRD/SYS/exe/dbg' with content '/sapmnt/PRD/exe' Creating Users and Directories

SAP R/3 needs two users and three groups. The user names depend on the SAP system ID (SID) which consists of three letters. Some of these SIDs are reserved by SAP (for example SAP and NIX. For a complete list please see the SAP documentation). For the IDES installation we used IDS, for the 4.6C SR2 installation PRD, as that system is intended for production use. We have therefore the following groups (group IDs might differ, these are just the values we used with our installation):

group ID group name description
100 dba Data Base Administrator
101 sapsys SAP System
102 oper Data Base Operator

For a default Oracle installation, only group dba is used. As oper group, one also uses group dba (see Oracle and SAP documentation for further information).

We also need the following users:

user ID user name generic name group additional groups description
1000 idsadm/prdadm sidadm sapsys oper SAP Administrator
1002 oraids/oraprd orasid dba oper Oracle Administrator

Adding the users with adduser(8) requires the following (please note shell and home directory) entries for “SAP Administrator”:

Name: sidadm Password: ****** Fullname: SAP Administrator SID Uid: 1000 Gid: 101 (sapsys) Class: Groups: sapsys dba HOME: /home/sidadm Shell: bash (/compat/linux/bin/bash)

and for “Oracle Administrator”:

Name: orasid Password: ****** Fullname: Oracle Administrator SID Uid: 1002 Gid: 100 (dba) Class: Groups: dba HOME: /oracle/sid Shell: bash (/compat/linux/bin/bash)

This should also include group oper in case you are using both groups dba and oper. Creating Directories

These directories are usually created as separate file systems. This depends entirely on your requirements. We choose to create them as simple directories, as they are all located on the same RAID 5 anyway:

First we will set owners and rights of some directories (as user root):

# chmod 775 /oracle # chmod 777 /sapmnt # chown root:dba /oracle # chown sidadm:sapsys /compat/linux/usr/sap # chmod 775 /compat/linux/usr/sap

Second we will create directories as user orasid. These will all be subdirectories of /oracle/SID:

# su - orasid # cd /oracle/SID # mkdir mirrlogA mirrlogB origlogA origlogB # mkdir sapdata1 sapdata2 sapdata3 sapdata4 sapdata5 sapdata6 # mkdir saparch sapreorg # exit

For the Oracle 8.1.7 installation some additional directories are needed:

# su - orasid # cd /oracle # mkdir 805_32 # mkdir client stage # mkdir client/80x_32 # mkdir stage/817_32 # cd /oracle/SID # mkdir 817_32

Note: The directory client/80x_32 is used with exactly this name. Do not replace the x with some number or anything.

In the third step we create directories as user sidadm:

# su - sidadm # cd /usr/sap # mkdir SID # mkdir trans # exit Entries in /etc/services

SAP R/3 requires some entries in file /etc/services, which will not be set correctly during installation under FreeBSD. Please add the following entries (you need at least those entries corresponding to the instance number -- in this case, 00. It will do no harm adding all entries from 00 to 99 for dp, gw, sp and ms). If you are going to use a SAProuter or need to access SAP OSS, you also need 99, as port 3299 is usually used for the SAProuter process on the target system:

sapdp00 3200/tcp # SAP Dispatcher. 3200 + Instance-Number sapgw00 3300/tcp # SAP Gateway. 3300 + Instance-Number sapsp00 3400/tcp # 3400 + Instance-Number sapms00 3500/tcp # 3500 + Instance-Number sapmsSID 3600/tcp # SAP Message Server. 3600 + Instance-Number sapgw00s 4800/tcp # SAP Secure Gateway 4800 + Instance-Number Necessary Locales

SAP requires at least two locales that are not part of the default RedHat installation. SAP offers the required RPMs as download from their FTP server (which is only accessible if you are a customer with OSS access). See note 0171356 for a list of RPMs you need.

It is also possible to just create appropriate links (for example from de_DE and en_US ), but we would not recommend this for a production system (so far it worked with the IDES system without any problems, though). The following locales are needed:

de_DE.ISO-8859-1 en_US.ISO-8859-1

Create the links like this:

# cd /compat/linux/usr/share/locale # ln -s de_DE de_DE.ISO-8859-1 # ln -s en_US en_US.ISO-8859-1

If they are not present, there will be some problems during the installation. If these are then subsequently ignored (by setting the STATUS of the offending steps to OK in file CENTRDB.R3S), it will be impossible to log onto the SAP system without some additional effort. Kernel Tuning

SAP R/3 systems need a lot of resources. We therefore added the following parameters to the kernel configuration file:

# Set these for memory pigs (SAP and Oracle): options MAXDSIZ="(1024*1024*1024)" options DFLDSIZ="(1024*1024*1024)" # System V options needed. options SYSVSHM #SYSV-style shared memory options SHMMAXPGS=262144 #max amount of shared mem. pages #options SHMMAXPGS=393216 #use this for the 46C inst.parameters options SHMMNI=256 #max number of shared memory ident if. options SHMSEG=100 #max shared mem.segs per process options SYSVMSG #SYSV-style message queues options MSGSEG=32767 #max num. of mes.segments in system options MSGSSZ=32 #size of msg-seg. MUST be power of 2 options MSGMNB=65535 #max char. per message queue options MSGTQL=2046 #max amount of msgs in system options SYSVSEM #SYSV-style semaphores options SEMMNU=256 #number of semaphore UNDO structures options SEMMNS=1024 #number of semaphores in system options SEMMNI=520 #number of semaphore identifiers options SEMUME=100 #number of UNDO keys

The minimum values are specified in the documentation that comes from SAP. As there is no description for Linux, see the HP-UX section (32-bit) for further information. As the system for the 4.6C SR2 installation has more main memory, the shared segments can be larger both for SAP and Oracle, therefore choose a larger number of shared memory pages.

Note: With the default installation of FreeBSD on i386, leave MAXDSIZ and DFLDSIZ at 1 GB maximum. Otherwise, strange errors like “ORA-27102: out of memory” and “Linux Error: 12: Cannot allocate memory” might happen.

10.7.8 Installing SAP R/3 Preparing SAP CDROMs

There are many CDROMs to mount and unmount during the installation. Assuming you have enough CDROM drives, you can just mount them all. We decided to copy the CDROMs contents to corresponding directories:


where cd-name was one of KERNEL, RDBMS, EXPORT1, EXPORT2, EXPORT3, EXPORT4, EXPORT5 and EXPORT6 for the 4.6B/IDES installation, and KERNEL, RDBMS, DISK1, DISK2, DISK3, DISK4 and LANG for the 4.6C SR2 installation. All the filenames on the mounted CDs should be in capital letters, otherwise use the -g option for mounting. So use the following commands:

# mount_cd9660 -g /dev/cd0a /mnt # cp -R /mnt/* /oracle/SID/sapreorg/cd-name # umount /mnt Running the Installation Script

First you have to prepare an install directory:

# cd /oracle/SID/sapreorg # mkdir install # cd install

Then the installation script is started, which will copy nearly all the relevant files into the install directory:

# /oracle/SID/sapreorg/KERNEL/UNIX/INSTTOOL.SH

The IDES installation (4.6B) comes with a fully customized SAP R/3 demonstration system, so there are six instead of just three EXPORT CDs. At this point the installation template CENTRDB.R3S is for installing a standard central instance (R/3 and database), not the IDES central instance, so one needs to copy the corresponding CENTRDB.R3S from the EXPORT1 directory, otherwise R3SETUP will only ask for three EXPORT CDs.

The newer SAP 4.6C SR2 release comes with four EXPORT CDs. The parameter file that controls the installation steps is CENTRAL.R3S. Contrary to earlier releases there are no separate installation templates for a central instance with or without database. SAP is using a separate template for database installation. To restart the installation later it is however sufficient to restart with the original file.

During and after installation, SAP requires hostname to return the computer name only, not the fully qualified domain name. So either set the hostname accordingly, or set an alias with alias hostname='hostname -s' for both orasid and sidadm (and for root at least during installation steps performed as root). It is also possible to adjust the installed .profile and .login files of both users that are installed during SAP installation. Start R3SETUP 4.6B

Make sure LD_LIBRARY_PATH is set correctly:

# export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/oracle/IDS/lib:/sapmnt/IDS/exe:/oracle/805_32/lib

Start R3SETUP as root from installation directory:

# cd /oracle/IDS/sapreorg/install # ./R3SETUP -f CENTRDB.R3S

The script then asks some questions (defaults in brackets, followed by actual input):

Question Default Input
Enter SAP System ID [C11] IDSEnter
Enter SAP Instance Number [00] Enter
Enter SAPMOUNT Directory [/sapmnt] Enter
Enter name of SAP central host [] Enter
Enter name of SAP db host [troubadix] Enter
Select character set [1] (WE8DEC) Enter
Enter Oracle server version (1) Oracle 8.0.5, (2) Oracle 8.0.6, (3) Oracle 8.1.5, (4) Oracle 8.1.6   1Enter
Extract Oracle Client archive [1] (Yes, extract) Enter
Enter path to KERNEL CD [/sapcd] /oracle/IDS/sapreorg/KERNEL
Enter path to RDBMS CD [/sapcd] /oracle/IDS/sapreorg/RDBMS
Enter path to EXPORT1 CD [/sapcd] /oracle/IDS/sapreorg/EXPORT1
Directory to copy EXPORT1 CD [/oracle/IDS/sapreorg/CD4_DIR] Enter
Enter path to EXPORT2 CD [/sapcd] /oracle/IDS/sapreorg/EXPORT2
Directory to copy EXPORT2 CD [/oracle/IDS/sapreorg/CD5_DIR] Enter
Enter path to EXPORT3 CD [/sapcd] /oracle/IDS/sapreorg/EXPORT3
Directory to copy EXPORT3 CD [/oracle/IDS/sapreorg/CD6_DIR] Enter
Enter path to EXPORT4 CD [/sapcd] /oracle/IDS/sapreorg/EXPORT4
Directory to copy EXPORT4 CD [/oracle/IDS/sapreorg/CD7_DIR] Enter
Enter path to EXPORT5 CD [/sapcd] /oracle/IDS/sapreorg/EXPORT5
Directory to copy EXPORT5 CD [/oracle/IDS/sapreorg/CD8_DIR] Enter
Enter path to EXPORT6 CD [/sapcd] /oracle/IDS/sapreorg/EXPORT6
Directory to copy EXPORT6 CD [/oracle/IDS/sapreorg/CD9_DIR] Enter
Enter amount of RAM for SAP + DB   850Enter (in Megabytes)
Service Entry Message Server [3600] Enter
Enter Group-ID of sapsys [101] Enter
Enter Group-ID of oper [102] Enter
Enter Group-ID of dba [100] Enter
Enter User-ID of sidadm [1000] Enter
Enter User-ID of orasid [1002] Enter
Number of parallel procs [2] Enter

If you had not copied the CDs to the different locations, then the SAP installer cannot find the CD needed (identified by the LABEL.ASC file on the CD) and would then ask you to insert and mount the CD and confirm or enter the mount path.

The CENTRDB.R3S might not be error free. In our case, it requested EXPORT4 CD again but indicated the correct key (6_LOCATION, then 7_LOCATION etc.), so one can just continue with entering the correct values.

Apart from some problems mentioned below, everything should go straight through up to the point where the Oracle database software needs to be installed. Start R3SETUP 4.6C SR2

Make sure LD_LIBRARY_PATH is set correctly. This is a different value from the 4.6B installation with Oracle 8.0.5:

# export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/sapmnt/PRD/exe:/oracle/PRD/817_32/lib

Start R3SETUP as user root from installation directory:

# cd /oracle/PRD/sapreorg/install # ./R3SETUP -f CENTRAL.R3S

The script then asks some questions (defaults in brackets, followed by actual input):

Question Default Input
Enter SAP System ID [C11] PRDEnter
Enter SAP Instance Number [00] Enter
Enter SAPMOUNT Directory [/sapmnt] Enter
Enter name of SAP central host [majestix] Enter
Enter Database System ID [PRD] PRDEnter
Enter name of SAP db host [majestix] Enter
Select character set [1] (WE8DEC) Enter
Enter Oracle server version (2) Oracle 8.1.7   2Enter
Extract Oracle Client archive [1] (Yes, extract) Enter
Enter path to KERNEL CD [/sapcd] /oracle/PRD/sapreorg/KERNEL
Enter amount of RAM for SAP + DB 2044 1800Enter (in Megabytes)
Service Entry Message Server [3600] Enter
Enter Group-ID of sapsys [100] Enter
Enter Group-ID of oper [101] Enter
Enter Group-ID of dba [102] Enter
Enter User-ID of oraprd [1002] Enter
Enter User-ID of prdadm [1000] Enter
LDAP support   3Enter (no support)
Installation step completed [1] (continue) Enter
Choose installation service [1] (DB inst,file) Enter

So far, creation of users gives an error during installation in phases OSUSERDBSID_IND_ORA (for creating user orasid) and OSUSERSIDADM_IND_ORA (creating user sidadm).

Apart from some problems mentioned below, everything should go straight through up to the point where the Oracle database software needs to be installed.

10.7.9 Installing Oracle 8.0.5

Please see the corresponding SAP Notes and Oracle Readmes regarding Linux and Oracle DB for possible problems. Most if not all problems stem from incompatible libraries.

For more information on installing Oracle, refer to the Installing Oracle chapter. Installing the Oracle 8.0.5 with orainst

If Oracle 8.0.5 is to be used, some additional libraries are needed for successfully relinking, as Oracle 8.0.5 was linked with an old glibc (RedHat 6.0), but RedHat 6.1 already uses a new glibc. So you have to install the following additional packages to ensure that linking will work:






See the corresponding SAP Notes or Oracle Readmes for further information. If this is no option (at the time of installation we did not have enough time to check this), one could use the original binaries, or use the relinked binaries from an original RedHat system.

For compiling the intelligent agent, the RedHat Tcl package must be installed. If you cannot get tcl-8.0.3-20.i386.rpm, a newer one like tcl-8.0.5-30.i386.rpm for RedHat 6.1 should also do.

Apart from relinking, the installation is straightforward:

# su - oraids # export TERM=xterm # export ORACLE_TERM=xterm # export ORACLE_HOME=/oracle/IDS # cd $ORACLE_HOME/orainst_sap # ./orainst

Confirm all screens with Enter until the software is installed, except that one has to deselect the Oracle On-Line Text Viewer, as this is not currently available for Linux. Oracle then wants to relink with i386-glibc20-linux-gcc instead of the available gcc, egcs or i386-redhat-linux-gcc .

Due to time constrains we decided to use the binaries from an Oracle 8.0.5 PreProduction release, after the first attempt at getting the version from the RDBMS CD working, failed, and finding and accessing the correct RPMs was a nightmare at that time. Installing the Oracle 8.0.5 Pre-production Release for Linux (Kernel 2.0.33)

This installation is quite easy. Mount the CD, start the installer. It will then ask for the location of the Oracle home directory, and copy all binaries there. We did not delete the remains of our previous RDBMS installation tries, though.

Afterwards, Oracle Database could be started with no problems.

10.7.10 Installing the Oracle 8.1.7 Linux Tarball

Take the tarball oracle81732.tgz you produced from the installation directory on a Linux system and untar it to /oracle/SID/817_32/.

10.7.11 Continue with SAP R/3 Installation

First check the environment settings of users idsamd (sidadm) and oraids (orasid). They should now both have the files .profile, .login and .cshrc which are all using hostname. In case the system's hostname is the fully qualified name, you need to change hostname to hostname -s within all three files. Database Load

Afterwards, R3SETUP can either be restarted or continued (depending on whether exit was chosen or not). R3SETUP then creates the tablespaces and loads the data (for 46B IDES, from EXPORT1 to EXPORT6, for 46C from DISK1 to DISK4) with R3load into the database.

When the database load is finished (might take a few hours), some passwords are requested. For test installations, one can use the well known default passwords (use different ones if security is an issue!):

Question Input
Enter Password for sapr3 sapEnter
Confirum Password for sapr3 sapEnter
Enter Password for sys change_on_installEnter
Confirm Password for sys change_on_installEnter
Enter Password for system managerEnter
Confirm Password for system managerEnter

At this point We had a few problems with dipgntab during the 4.6B installation. Listener

Start the Oracle Listener as user orasid as follows:

% umask 0; lsnrctl start

Otherwise you might get the error ORA-12546 as the sockets will not have the correct permissions. See SAP Note 072984. Updating MNLS Tables

If you plan to import non-Latin-1 languages into the SAP system, you have to update the Multi National Language Support tables. This is described in the SAP OSS Notes 15023 and 45619. Otherwise, you can skip this question during SAP installation.

Note: If you do not need MNLS, it is still necessary to check the table TCPDB and initializing it if this has not been done. See SAP note 0015023 and 0045619 for further information.

10.7.12 Post-installation Steps Request SAP R/3 License Key

You have to request your SAP R/3 License Key. This is needed, as the temporary license that was installed during installation is only valid for four weeks. First get the hardware key. Log on as user idsadm and call saplicense:

# /sapmnt/IDS/exe/saplicense -get

Calling saplicense without parameters gives a list of options. Upon receiving the license key, it can be installed using:

# /sapmnt/IDS/exe/saplicense -install

You are then required to enter the following values:

SAP SYSTEM ID = SID, 3 chars CUSTOMER KEY = hardware key, 11 chars INSTALLATION NO = installation, 10 digits EXPIRATION DATE = yyyymmdd, usually "99991231" LICENSE KEY = license key, 24 chars Creating Users

Create a user within client 000 (for some tasks required to be done within client 000, but with a user different from users sap* and ddic). As a user name, We usually choose wartung (or service in English). Profiles required are sap_new and sap_all. For additional safety the passwords of default users within all clients should be changed (this includes users sap* and ddic). Configure Transport System, Profile, Operation Modes, Etc.

Within client 000, user different from ddic and sap*, do at least the following:

Task Transaction
Configure Transport System, e.g. as Stand-Alone Transport Domain Entity STMS
Create / Edit Profile for System RZ10
Maintain Operation Modes and Instances RZ04

These and all the other post-installation steps are thoroughly described in SAP installation guides. Edit (

The file /oracle/IDS/dbs/ contains the SAP backup profile. Here the size of the tape to be used, type of compression and so on need to be defined. To get this running with sapdba / brbackup, we changed the following values:

compress = hardware archive_function = copy_delete_save cpio_flags = "-ov --format=newc --block-size=128 --quiet" cpio_in_flags = "-iuv --block-size=128 --quiet" tape_size = 38000M tape_address = /dev/nsa0 tape_address_rew = /dev/sa0


compress: The tape we use is a HP DLT1 which does hardware compression.

archive_function: This defines the default behavior for saving Oracle archive logs: new logfiles are saved to tape, already saved logfiles are saved again and are then deleted. This prevents lots of trouble if you need to recover the database, and one of the archive-tapes has gone bad.

cpio_flags: Default is to use -B which sets block size to 5120 Bytes. For DLT Tapes, HP recommends at least 32 K block size, so we used --block-size=128 for 64 K. --format=newc is needed because we have inode numbers greater than 65535. The last option --quiet is needed as otherwise brbackup complains as soon as cpio outputs the numbers of blocks saved.

cpio_in_flags: Flags needed for loading data back from tape. Format is recognized automatically.

tape_size: This usually gives the raw storage capability of the tape. For security reason (we use hardware compression), the value is slightly lower than the actual value.

tape_address: The non-rewindable device to be used with cpio.

tape_address_rew: The rewindable device to be used with cpio. Configuration Issues after Installation

The following SAP parameters should be tuned after installation (examples for IDES 46B, 1 GB memory):

Name Value
ztta/roll_extension 250000000
abap/heap_area_dia 300000000
abap/heap_area_nondia 400000000
em/initial_size_MB 256
em/blocksize_kB 1024
ipc/shm_psize_40 70000000

SAP Note 0013026:

Name Value
ztta/dynpro_area 2500000

SAP Note 0157246:

Name Value
rdisp/ROLL_MAXFS 16000
rdisp/PG_MAXFS 30000

Note: With the above parameters, on a system with 1 gigabyte of memory, one may find memory consumption similar to:

Mem: 547M Active, 305M Inact, 109M Wired, 40M Cache, 112M Buf, 3492K Free

10.7.13 Problems during Installation Restart R3SETUP after Fixing a Problem

R3SETUP stops if it encounters an error. If you have looked at the corresponding logfiles and fixed the error, you have to start R3SETUP again, usually selecting REPEAT as option for the last step R3SETUP complained about.

To restart R3SETUP, just start it with the corresponding R3S file:


for 4.6B, or with


for 4.6C, no matter whether the error occurred with CENTRAL.R3S or DATABASE.R3S.

Note: At some stages, R3SETUP assumes that both database and SAP processes are up and running (as those were steps it already completed). Should errors occur and for example the database could not be started, you have to start both database and SAP by hand after you fixed the errors and before starting R3SETUP again.

Do not forget to also start the Oracle listener again (as orasid with umask 0; lsnrctl start) if it was also stopped (for example due to a necessary reboot of the system). OSUSERSIDADM_IND_ORA during R3SETUP

If R3SETUP complains at this stage, edit the template file R3SETUP used at that time (CENTRDB.R3S (4.6B) or either CENTRAL.R3S or DATABASE.R3S (4.6C)). Locate [OSUSERSIDADM_IND_ORA] or search for the only STATUS=ERROR entry and edit the following values:

HOME=/home/sidadm (was empty) STATUS=OK (had status ERROR)

Then you can restart R3SETUP again. OSUSERDBSID_IND_ORA during R3SETUP

Possibly R3SETUP also complains at this stage. The error here is similar to the one in phase OSUSERSIDADM_IND_ORA. Just edit the template file R3SETUP used at that time (CENTRDB.R3S (4.6B) or either CENTRAL.R3S or DATABASE.R3S (4.6C)). Locate [OSUSERDBSID_IND_ORA] or search for the only STATUS=ERROR entry and edit the following value in that section:


Then restart R3SETUP. “oraview.vrf FILE NOT FOUND” during Oracle Installation

You have not deselected Oracle On-Line Text Viewer before starting the installation. This is marked for installation even though this option is currently not available for Linux. Deselect this product inside the Oracle installation menu and restart installation. “TEXTENV_INVALID” during R3SETUP, RFC or SAPgui Start

If this error is encountered, the correct locale is missing. SAP Note 0171356 lists the necessary RPMs that need be installed (e.g. saplocales-1.0-3, saposcheck-1.0-1 for RedHat 6.1). In case you ignored all the related errors and set the corresponding STATUS from ERROR to OK (in CENTRDB.R3S) every time R3SETUP complained and just restarted R3SETUP, the SAP system will not be properly configured and you will then not be able to connect to the system with a SAPgui, even though the system can be started. Trying to connect with the old Linux SAPgui gave the following messages:

Sat May 5 14:23:14 2001 *** ERROR => no valid userarea given [trgmsgo. 0401] Sat May 5 14:23:22 2001 *** ERROR => ERROR NR 24 occured [trgmsgi. 0410] *** ERROR => Error when generating text environment. [trgmsgi. 0435] *** ERROR => function failed [trgmsgi. 0447] *** ERROR => no socket operation allowed [trxio.c 3363] Speicherzugriffsfehler

This behavior is due to SAP R/3 being unable to correctly assign a locale and also not being properly configured itself (missing entries in some database tables). To be able to connect to SAP, add the following entries to file DEFAULT.PFL (see Note 0043288):

abap/set_etct_env_at_new_mode = 0 install/collate/active = 0 rscp/TCP0B = TCP0B

Restart the SAP system. Now you can connect to the system, even though country-specific language settings might not work as expected. After correcting country settings (and providing the correct locales), these entries can be removed from DEFAULT.PFL and the SAP system can be restarted. ORA-00001

This error only happened with Oracle 8.1.7 on FreeBSD. The reason was that the Oracle database could not initialize itself properly and crashed, leaving semaphores and shared memory on the system. The next try to start the database then returned ORA-00001.

Find them with ipcs -a and remove them with ipcrm. ORA-00445 (Background Process PMON Did Not Start)

This error happened with Oracle 8.1.7. This error is reported if the database is started with the usual startsap script (for example startsap_majestix_00) as user prdadm.

A possible workaround is to start the database as user oraprd instead with svrmgrl:

% svrmgrl SVRMGR> connect internal; SVRMGR> startup; SVRMGR> exit ORA-12546 (Start Listener with Correct Permissions)

Start the Oracle listener as user oraids with the following commands:

# umask 0; lsnrctl start

Otherwise you might get ORA-12546 as the sockets will not have the correct permissions. See SAP Note 0072984. ORA-27102 (Out of Memory)

This error happened whilst trying to use values for MAXDSIZ and DFLDSIZ greater than 1 GB (1024x1024x1024). Additionally, we got “Linux Error 12: Cannot allocate memory”. [DIPGNTAB_IND_IND] during R3SETUP

In general, see SAP Note 0130581 (R3SETUP step DIPGNTAB terminates). During the IDES-specific installation, for some reason the installation process was not using the proper SAP system name “IDS”, but the empty string "" instead. This leads to some minor problems with accessing directories, as the paths are generated dynamically using SID (in this case IDS). So instead of accessing:

/usr/sap/IDS/SYS/... /usr/sap/IDS/DVMGS00

the following paths were used:

/usr/sap//SYS/... /usr/sap/D00

To continue with the installation, we created a link and an additional directory:

# pwd /compat/linux/usr/sap # ls -l total 4 drwxr-xr-x 3 idsadm sapsys 512 May 5 11:20 D00 drwxr-x--x 5 idsadm sapsys 512 May 5 11:35 IDS lrwxr-xr-x 1 root sapsys 7 May 5 11:35 SYS -> IDS/SYS drwxrwxr-x 2 idsadm sapsys 512 May 5 13:00 tmp drwxrwxr-x 11 idsadm sapsys 512 May 4 14:20 trans

We also found SAP Notes (0029227 and 0008401) describing this behavior. We did not encounter any of these problems with the SAP 4.6C installation. [RFCRSWBOINI_IND_IND] during R3SETUP

During installation of SAP 4.6C, this error was just the result of another error happening earlier during installation. In this case, you have to look through the corresponding logfiles and correct the real problem.

If after looking through the logfiles this error is indeed the correct one (check the SAP Notes), you can set STATUS of the offending step from ERROR to OK (file CENTRDB.R3S) and restart R3SETUP. After installation, you have to execute the report RSWBOINS from transaction SE38. See SAP Note 0162266 for additional information about phase RFCRSWBOINI and RFCRADDBDIF. [RFCRADDBDIF_IND_IND] during R3SETUP

Here the same restrictions apply: make sure by looking through the logfiles, that this error is not caused by some previous problems.

If you can confirm that SAP Note 0162266 applies, just set STATUS of the offending step from ERROR to OK (file CENTRDB.R3S) and restart R3SETUP. After installation, you have to execute the report RADDBDIF from transaction SE38. sigaction sig31: File size limit exceeded

This error occurred during start of SAP processes disp+work. If starting SAP with the startsap script, subprocesses are then started which detach and do the dirty work of starting all other SAP processes. As a result, the script itself will not notice if something goes wrong.

To check whether the SAP processes did start properly, have a look at the process status with ps ax | grep SID, which will give you a list of all Oracle and SAP processes. If it looks like some processes are missing or if you cannot connect to the SAP system, look at the corresponding logfiles which can be found at /usr/sap/SID/DVEBMGSnr/work/. The files to look at are dev_ms and dev_disp.

Signal 31 happens here if the amount of shared memory used by Oracle and SAP exceed the one defined within the kernel configuration file and could be resolved by using a larger value:

# larger value for 46C production systems: options SHMMAXPGS=393216 # smaller value sufficient for 46B: #options SHMMAXPGS=262144 Start of saposcol Failed

There are some problems with the program saposcol (version 4.6D). The SAP system is using saposcol to collect data about the system performance. This program is not needed to use the SAP system, so this problem can be considered a minor one. The older versions (4.6B) does work, but does not collect all the data (many calls will just return 0, for example for CPU usage).

10.8 Advanced Topics

If you are curious as to how the Linux binary compatibility works, this is the section you want to read. Most of what follows is based heavily on an email written to FreeBSD chat mailing list by Terry Lambert (Message ID: <>).

10.8.1 How Does It Work?

FreeBSD has an abstraction called an “execution class loader”. This is a wedge into the execve(2) system call.

What happens is that FreeBSD has a list of loaders, instead of a single loader with a fallback to the #! loader for running any shell interpreters or shell scripts.

Historically, the only loader on the UNIX platform examined the magic number (generally the first 4 or 8 bytes of the file) to see if it was a binary known to the system, and if so, invoked the binary loader.

If it was not the binary type for the system, the execve(2) call returned a failure, and the shell attempted to start executing it as shell commands.

The assumption was a default of “whatever the current shell is”.

Later, a hack was made for sh(1) to examine the first two characters, and if they were :\n, then it invoked the csh(1) shell instead (we believe SCO first made this hack).

What FreeBSD does now is go through a list of loaders, with a generic #! loader that knows about interpreters as the characters which follow to the next whitespace next to last, followed by a fallback to /bin/sh.

For the Linux ABI support, FreeBSD sees the magic number as an ELF binary (it makes no distinction between FreeBSD, Solaris, Linux, or any other OS which has an ELF image type, at this point).

The ELF loader looks for a specialized brand, which is a comment section in the ELF image, and which is not present on SVR4/Solaris ELF binaries.

For Linux binaries to function, they must be branded as type Linux from brandelf(1):

# brandelf -t Linux file

When this is done, the ELF loader will see the Linux brand on the file.

When the ELF loader sees the Linux brand, the loader replaces a pointer in the proc structure. All system calls are indexed through this pointer (in a traditional UNIX system, this would be the sysent[] structure array, containing the system calls). In addition, the process is flagged for special handling of the trap vector for the signal trampoline code, and several other (minor) fix-ups that are handled by the Linux kernel module.

The Linux system call vector contains, among other things, a list of sysent[] entries whose addresses reside in the kernel module.

When a system call is called by the Linux binary, the trap code dereferences the system call function pointer off the proc structure, and gets the Linux, not the FreeBSD, system call entry points.

In addition, the Linux mode dynamically reroots lookups; this is, in effect, what the union option to file system mounts (not the unionfs file system type!) does. First, an attempt is made to lookup the file in the /compat/linux/original-path directory, then only if that fails, the lookup is done in the /original-path directory. This makes sure that binaries that require other binaries can run (e.g., the Linux toolchain can all run under Linux ABI support). It also means that the Linux binaries can load and execute FreeBSD binaries, if there are no corresponding Linux binaries present, and that you could place a uname(1) command in the /compat/linux directory tree to ensure that the Linux binaries could not tell they were not running on Linux.

In effect, there is a Linux kernel in the FreeBSD kernel; the various underlying functions that implement all of the services provided by the kernel are identical to both the FreeBSD system call table entries, and the Linux system call table entries: file system operations, virtual memory operations, signal delivery, System V IPC, etc... The only difference is that FreeBSD binaries get the FreeBSD glue functions, and Linux binaries get the Linux glue functions (most older OS's only had their own glue functions: addresses of functions in a static global sysent[] structure array, instead of addresses of functions dereferenced off a dynamically initialized pointer in the proc structure of the process making the call).

Which one is the native FreeBSD ABI? It does not matter. Basically the only difference is that (currently; this could easily be changed in a future release, and probably will be after this) the FreeBSD glue functions are statically linked into the kernel, and the Linux glue functions can be statically linked, or they can be accessed via a kernel module.

Yeah, but is this really emulation? No. It is an ABI implementation, not an emulation. There is no emulator (or simulator, to cut off the next question) involved.

So why is it sometimes called “Linux emulation”? To make it hard to sell FreeBSD! Really, it is because the historical implementation was done at a time when there was really no word other than that to describe what was going on; saying that FreeBSD ran Linux binaries was not true, if you did not compile the code in or load a module, and there needed to be a word to describe what was being loaded--hence “the Linux emulator”.

III. System Administration

The remaining chapters of the FreeBSD Handbook cover all aspects of FreeBSD system administration. Each chapter starts by describing what you will learn as a result of reading the chapter, and also details what you are expected to know before tackling the material.

These chapters are designed to be read when you need the information. You do not have to read them in any particular order, nor do you need to read all of them before you can begin using FreeBSD.

Chapter 11 Configuration and Tuning

Written by Chern Lee. Based on a tutorial written by Mike Smith. Also based on tuning(7) written by Matt Dillon.

11.1 Synopsis

One of the important aspects of FreeBSD is system configuration. Correct system configuration will help prevent headaches during future upgrades. This chapter will explain much of the FreeBSD configuration process, including some of the parameters which can be set to tune a FreeBSD system.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • How to efficiently work with file systems and swap partitions.

  • The basics of rc.conf configuration and /usr/local/etc/rc.d startup systems.

  • How to configure and test a network card.

  • How to configure virtual hosts on your network devices.

  • How to use the various configuration files in /etc.

  • How to tune FreeBSD using sysctl variables.

  • How to tune disk performance and modify kernel limitations.

Before reading this chapter, you should:

  • Understand UNIX and FreeBSD basics (Chapter 3).

  • Be familiar with the basics of kernel configuration/compilation (Chapter 8).

11.2 Initial Configuration

11.2.1 Partition Layout Base Partitions

When laying out file systems with bsdlabel(8) or sysinstall(8), remember that hard drives transfer data faster from the outer tracks to the inner. Thus smaller and heavier-accessed file systems should be closer to the outside of the drive, while larger partitions like /usr should be placed toward the inner. It is a good idea to create partitions in a similar order to: root, swap, /var, /usr.

The size of /var reflects the intended machine usage. /var is used to hold mailboxes, log files, and printer spools. Mailboxes and log files can grow to unexpected sizes depending on how many users exist and how long log files are kept. Most users would never require a gigabyte, but remember that /var/tmp must be large enough to contain packages.

The /usr partition holds much of the files required to support the system, the ports(7) collection (recommended) and the source code (optional). Both of which are optional at install time. At least 2 gigabytes would be recommended for this partition.

When selecting partition sizes, keep the space requirements in mind. Running out of space in one partition while barely using another can be a hassle.

Note: Some users have found that sysinstall(8)'s Auto-defaults partition sizer will sometimes select smaller than adequate /var and / partitions. Partition wisely and generously. Swap Partition

As a rule of thumb, the swap partition should be about double the size of system memory (RAM). For example, if the machine has 128 megabytes of memory, the swap file should be 256 megabytes. Systems with less memory may perform better with more swap. Less than 256 megabytes of swap is not recommended and memory expansion should be considered. The kernel's VM paging algorithms are tuned to perform best when the swap partition is at least two times the size of main memory. Configuring too little swap can lead to inefficiencies in the VM page scanning code and might create issues later if more memory is added.

On larger systems with multiple SCSI disks (or multiple IDE disks operating on different controllers), it is recommend that a swap is configured on each drive (up to four drives). The swap partitions should be approximately the same size. The kernel can handle arbitrary sizes but internal data structures scale to 4 times the largest swap partition. Keeping the swap partitions near the same size will allow the kernel to optimally stripe swap space across disks. Large swap sizes are fine, even if swap is not used much. It might be easier to recover from a runaway program before being forced to reboot. Why Partition?

Several users think a single large partition will be fine, but there are several reasons why this is a bad idea. First, each partition has different operational characteristics and separating them allows the file system to tune accordingly. For example, the root and /usr partitions are read-mostly, without much writing. While a lot of reading and writing could occur in /var and /var/tmp.

By properly partitioning a system, fragmentation introduced in the smaller write heavy partitions will not bleed over into the mostly-read partitions. Keeping the write-loaded partitions closer to the disk's edge, will increase I/O performance in the partitions where it occurs the most. Now while I/O performance in the larger partitions may be needed, shifting them more toward the edge of the disk will not lead to a significant performance improvement over moving /var to the edge. Finally, there are safety concerns. A smaller, neater root partition which is mostly read-only has a greater chance of surviving a bad crash.

11.3 Core Configuration

The principal location for system configuration information is within /etc/rc.conf. This file contains a wide range of configuration information, principally used at system startup to configure the system. Its name directly implies this; it is configuration information for the rc* files.

An administrator should make entries in the rc.conf file to override the default settings from /etc/defaults/rc.conf. The defaults file should not be copied verbatim to /etc - it contains default values, not examples. All system-specific changes should be made in the rc.conf file itself.

A number of strategies may be applied in clustered applications to separate site-wide configuration from system-specific configuration in order to keep administration overhead down. The recommended approach is to place site-wide configuration into another file, such as /etc/, and then include this file into /etc/rc.conf, which will contain only system-specific information.

As rc.conf is read by sh(1) it is trivial to achieve this. For example:

  • rc.conf:

    . /etc/ hostname="" network_interfaces="fxp0 lo0" ifconfig_fxp0="inet"

    defaultrouter="" saver="daemon" blanktime="100"

The file can then be distributed to every system using rsync or a similar program, while the rc.conf file remains unique.

Upgrading the system using sysinstall(8) or make world will not overwrite the rc.conf file, so system configuration information will not be lost.

11.4 Application Configuration

Typically, installed applications have their own configuration files, with their own syntax, etc. It is important that these files be kept separate from the base system, so that they may be easily located and managed by the package management tools.

Typically, these files are installed in /usr/local/etc. In the case where an application has a large number of configuration files, a subdirectory will be created to hold them.

Normally, when a port or package is installed, sample configuration files are also installed. These are usually identified with a .default suffix. If there are no existing configuration files for the application, they will be created by copying the .default files.

For example, consider the contents of the directory /usr/local/etc/apache:

-rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 2184 May 20 1998 access.conf -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 2184 May 20 1998 access.conf.default -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 9555 May 20 1998 httpd.conf -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 9555 May 20 1998 httpd.conf.default -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 12205 May 20 1998 magic -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 12205 May 20 1998 magic.default -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 2700 May 20 1998 mime.types -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 2700 May 20 1998 mime.types.default -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 7980 May 20 1998 srm.conf -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 7933 May 20 1998 srm.conf.default

The file sizes show that only the srm.conf file has been changed. A later update of the Apache port would not overwrite this changed file.

11.5 Starting Services

Contributed by Tom Rhodes.

Many users choose to install third party software on FreeBSD from the Ports Collection. In many of these situations it may be necessary to configure the software in a manner which will allow it to be started upon system initialization. Services, such as mail/postfix or www/apache13 are just two of the many software packages which may be started during system initialization. This section explains the procedures available for starting third party software.

In FreeBSD, most included services, such as cron(8), are started through the system start up scripts. These scripts may differ depending on FreeBSD or vendor version; however, the most important aspect to consider is that their start up configuration can be handled through simple startup scripts.

Before the advent of rc.d, applications would drop a simple start up script into the /usr/local/etc/rc.d directory which would be read by the system initialization scripts. These scripts would then be executed during the latter stages of system start up.

While many individuals have spent hours trying to merge the old configuration style into the new system, the fact remains that some third party utilities still require a script simply dropped into the aforementioned directory. The subtle differences in the scripts depend whether or not rc.d is being used. Prior to FreeBSD 5.1 the old configuration style is used and in almost all cases a new style script would do just fine.

While every script must meet some minimal requirements, most of the time these requirements are FreeBSD version agnostic. Each script must have a .sh extension appended to the end and every script must be executable by the system. The latter may be achieved by using the chmod command and setting the unique permissions of 755. There should also be, at minimal, an option to start the application and an option to stop the application.

The simplest start up script would probably look a little bit like this one:

#!/bin/sh echo -n ' utility' case "$1" in start) /usr/local/bin/utility ;; stop) kill -9 `cat /var/run/` ;; *) echo "Usage: `basename $0` {start|stop}" >&2 exit 64 ;; esac exit 0

This script provides for a stop and start option for the application hereto referred simply as utility.

Could be started manually with:

# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ start

While not all third party software requires the line in rc.conf, almost every day a new port will be modified to accept this configuration. Check the final output of the installation for more information on a specific application. Some third party software will provide start up scripts which permit the application to be used with rc.d; although, this will be discussed in the next section.

11.5.1 Extended Application Configuration

Now that FreeBSD includes rc.d, configuration of application startup has become easier, and more featureful. Using the key words discussed in the rc.d section, applications may now be set to start after certain other services for example DNS; may permit extra flags to be passed through rc.conf in place of hard coded flags in the start up script, etc. A basic script may look similar to the following:

#!/bin/sh # # PROVIDE: utility # REQUIRE: DAEMON # KEYWORD: shutdown # # DO NOT CHANGE THESE DEFAULT VALUES HERE # SET THEM IN THE /etc/rc.conf FILE # utility_enable=${utility_enable-"NO"} utility_flags=${utility_flags-""} utility_pidfile=${utility_pidfile-"/var/run/"} . /etc/rc.subr name="utility" rcvar=`set_rcvar` command="/usr/local/sbin/utility" load_rc_config $name pidfile="${utility_pidfile}" start_cmd="echo \"Starting ${name}.\"; /usr/bin/nice -5 ${command} ${utility_flags} ${command_args}" run_rc_command "$1"

This script will ensure that the provided utility will be started after the daemon service. It also provides a method for setting and tracking the PID, or process ID file.

This application could then have the following line placed in /etc/rc.conf:


This method also allows for easier manipulation of the command line arguments, inclusion of the default functions provided in /etc/rc.subr, compatibility with the rcorder(8) utility and provides for easier configuration via the rc.conf file.

11.5.2 Using Services to Start Services

Other services, such as POP3 server daemons, IMAP, etc. could be started using the inetd(8). This involves installing the service utility from the Ports Collection with a configuration line appended to the /etc/inetd.conf file, or uncommenting one of the current configuration lines. Working with inetd and its configuration is described in depth in the inetd section.

In some cases, it may be more plausible to use the cron(8) daemon to start system services. This approach has a number of advantages because cron runs these processes as the crontab's file owner. This allows regular users to start and maintain some applications.

The cron utility provides a unique feature, @reboot, which may be used in place of the time specification. This will cause the job to be run when cron(8) is started, normally during system initialization.

11.6 Configuring the cron Utility

Contributed by Tom Rhodes.

One of the most useful utilities in FreeBSD is cron(8). The cron utility runs in the background and constantly checks the /etc/crontab file. The cron utility also checks the /var/cron/tabs directory, in search of new crontab files. These crontab files store information about specific functions which cron is supposed to perform at certain times.

The cron utility uses two different types of configuration files, the system crontab and user crontabs. The only difference between these two formats is the sixth field. In the system crontab, the sixth field is the name of a user for the command to run as. This gives the system crontab the ability to run commands as any user. In a user crontab, the sixth field is the command to run, and all commands run as the user who created the crontab; this is an important security feature.

Note: User crontabs allow individual users to schedule tasks without the need for root privileges. Commands in a user's crontab run with the permissions of the user who owns the crontab.

The root user can have a user crontab just like any other user. This one is different from /etc/crontab (the system crontab). Because of the system crontab, there is usually no need to create a user crontab for root.

Let us take a look at the /etc/crontab file (the system crontab):

# /etc/crontab - root's crontab for FreeBSD # # $FreeBSD: src/etc/crontab,v 1.32 2002/11/22 16:13:39 tom Exp $ # (1) # SHELL=/bin/sh PATH=/etc:/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin (2) HOME=/var/log # # #minute hour mday month wday who command (3) # # */5 * * * * root /usr/libexec/atrun (4)
Like most FreeBSD configuration files, the # character represents a comment. A comment can be placed in the file as a reminder of what and why a desired action is performed. Comments cannot be on the same line as a command or else they will be interpreted as part of the command; they must be on a new line. Blank lines are ignored.
First, the environment must be defined. The equals (=) character is used to define any environment settings, as with this example where it is used for the SHELL, PATH, and HOME options. If the shell line is omitted, cron will use the default, which is sh. If the PATH variable is omitted, no default will be used and file locations will need to be absolute. If HOME is omitted, cron will use the invoking users home directory.
This line defines a total of seven fields. Listed here are the values minute, hour, mday, month, wday, who, and command. These are almost all self explanatory. minute is the time in minutes the command will be run. hour is similar to the minute option, just in hours. mday stands for day of the month. month is similar to hour and minute, as it designates the month. The wday option stands for day of the week. All these fields must be numeric values, and follow the twenty-four hour clock. The who field is special, and only exists in the /etc/crontab file. This field specifies which user the command should be run as. When a user installs his or her crontab file, they will not have this option. Finally, the command option is listed. This is the last field, so naturally it should designate the command to be executed.
This last line will define the values discussed above. Notice here we have a */5 listing, followed by several more * characters. These * characters mean “first-last”, and can be interpreted as every time. So, judging by this line, it is apparent that the atrun command is to be invoked by root every five minutes regardless of what day or month it is. For more information on the atrun command, see the atrun(8) manual page.

Commands can have any number of flags passed to them; however, commands which extend to multiple lines need to be broken with the backslash “\” continuation character.

This is the basic set up for every crontab file, although there is one thing different about this one. Field number six, where we specified the username, only exists in the system /etc/crontab file. This field should be omitted for individual user crontab files.

11.6.1 Installing a Crontab

Important: You must not use the procedure described here to edit/install the system crontab. Simply use your favorite editor: the cron utility will notice that the file has changed and immediately begin using the updated version. See this FAQ entry for more information.

To install a freshly written user crontab, first use your favorite editor to create a file in the proper format, and then use the crontab utility. The most common usage is:

% crontab crontab-file

In this example, crontab-file is the filename of a crontab that was previously created.

There is also an option to list installed crontab files: just pass the -l option to crontab and look over the output.

For users who wish to begin their own crontab file from scratch, without the use of a template, the crontab -e option is available. This will invoke the selected editor with an empty file. When the file is saved, it will be automatically installed by the crontab command.

If you later want to remove your user crontab completely, use crontab with the -r option.

11.7 Using rc under FreeBSD

Contributed by Tom Rhodes.

In 2002 FreeBSD integrated the NetBSD rc.d system for system initialization. Users should notice the files listed in the /etc/rc.d directory. Many of these files are for basic services which can be controlled with the start, stop, and restart options. For instance, sshd(8) can be restarted with the following command:

# /etc/rc.d/sshd restart

This procedure is similar for other services. Of course, services are usually started automatically at boot time as specified in rc.conf(5). For example, enabling the Network Address Translation daemon at startup is as simple as adding the following line to /etc/rc.conf:


If a natd_enable="NO" line is already present, then simply change the NO to YES. The rc scripts will automatically load any other dependent services during the next reboot, as described below.

Since the rc.d system is primarily intended to start/stop services at system startup/shutdown time, the standard start, stop and restart options will only perform their action if the appropriate /etc/rc.conf variables are set. For instance the above sshd restart command will only work if sshd_enable is set to YES in /etc/rc.conf. To start, stop or restart a service regardless of the settings in /etc/rc.conf, the commands should be prefixed with “one”. For instance to restart sshd regardless of the current /etc/rc.conf setting, execute the following command:

# /etc/rc.d/sshd onerestart

It is easy to check if a service is enabled in /etc/rc.conf by running the appropriate rc.d script with the option rcvar. Thus, an administrator can check that sshd is in fact enabled in /etc/rc.conf by running:

# /etc/rc.d/sshd rcvar # sshd $sshd_enable=YES

Note: The second line (# sshd) is the output from the sshd command, not a root console.

To determine if a service is running, a status option is available. For instance to verify that sshd is actually started:

# /etc/rc.d/sshd status sshd is running as pid 433.

In some cases it is also possible to reload a service. This will attempt to send a signal to an individual service, forcing the service to reload its configuration files. In most cases this means sending the service a SIGHUP signal. Support for this feature is not included for every service.

The rc.d system is not only used for network services, it also contributes to most of the system initialization. For instance, consider the bgfsck file. When this script is executed, it will print out the following message:

Starting background file system checks in 60 seconds.

Therefore this file is used for background file system checks, which are done only during system initialization.

Many system services depend on other services to function properly. For example, NIS and other RPC-based services may fail to start until after the rpcbind (portmapper) service has started. To resolve this issue, information about dependencies and other meta-data is included in the comments at the top of each startup script. The rcorder(8) program is then used to parse these comments during system initialization to determine the order in which system services should be invoked to satisfy the dependencies. The following words may be included at the top of each startup file:

  • PROVIDE: Specifies the services this file provides.

  • REQUIRE: Lists services which are required for this service. This file will run after the specified services.

  • BEFORE: Lists services which depend on this service. This file will run before the specified services.

By using this method, an administrator can easily control system services without the hassle of “runlevels” like some other UNIX operating systems.

Additional information about the rc.d system can be found in the rc(8) and rc.subr(8) manual pages. If you are interested in writing your own rc.d scripts or improving the existing ones, you may find this article also useful.

11.8 Setting Up Network Interface Cards

Contributed by Marc Fonvieille.

Nowadays we can not think about a computer without thinking about a network connection. Adding and configuring a network card is a common task for any FreeBSD administrator.

11.8.1 Locating the Correct Driver

Before you begin, you should know the model of the card you have, the chip it uses, and whether it is a PCI or ISA card. FreeBSD supports a wide variety of both PCI and ISA cards. Check the Hardware Compatibility List for your release to see if your card is supported.

Once you are sure your card is supported, you need to determine the proper driver for the card. /usr/src/sys/conf/NOTES and /usr/src/sys/arch/conf/NOTES will give you the list of network interface drivers with some information about the supported chipsets/cards. If you have doubts about which driver is the correct one, read the manual page of the driver. The manual page will give you more information about the supported hardware and even the possible problems that could occur.

If you own a common card, most of the time you will not have to look very hard for a driver. Drivers for common network cards are present in the GENERIC kernel, so your card should show up during boot, like so:

dc0: <82c169 PNIC 10/100BaseTX> port 0xa000-0xa0ff mem 0xd3800000-0xd38 000ff irq 15 at device 11.0 on pci0 dc0: Ethernet address: 00:a0:cc:da:da:da miibus0: <MII bus> on dc0 ukphy0: <Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface> on miibus0 ukphy0: 10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto dc1: <82c169 PNIC 10/100BaseTX> port 0x9800-0x98ff mem 0xd3000000-0xd30 000ff irq 11 at device 12.0 on pci0 dc1: Ethernet address: 00:a0:cc:da:da:db miibus1: <MII bus> on dc1 ukphy1: <Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface> on miibus1 ukphy1: 10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto

In this example, we see that two cards using the dc(4) driver are present on the system.

If the driver for your NIC is not present in GENERIC, you will need to load the proper driver to use your NIC. This may be accomplished in one of two ways:

  • The easiest way is to simply load a kernel module for your network card with kldload(8), or automatically at boot time by adding the appropriate line to the file /boot/loader.conf. Not all NIC drivers are available as modules; notable examples of devices for which modules do not exist are ISA cards.

  • Alternatively, you may statically compile the support for your card into your kernel. Check /usr/src/sys/conf/NOTES, /usr/src/sys/arch/conf/NOTES and the manual page of the driver to know what to add in your kernel configuration file. For more information about recompiling your kernel, please see Chapter 8. If your card was detected at boot by your kernel (GENERIC) you do not have to build a new kernel. Using Windows NDIS Drivers

Unfortunately, there are still many vendors that do not provide schematics for their drivers to the open source community because they regard such information as trade secrets. Consequently, the developers of FreeBSD and other operating systems are left two choices: develop the drivers by a long and pain-staking process of reverse engineering or using the existing driver binaries available for the Microsoft Windows platforms. Most developers, including those involved with FreeBSD, have taken the latter approach.

Thanks to the contributions of Bill Paul (wpaul), as of FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE there is “native” support for the Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS). The FreeBSD NDISulator (otherwise known as Project Evil) takes a Windows driver binary and basically tricks it into thinking it is running on Windows. Because the ndis(4) driver is using a Windows binary, it is only usable on i386 and amd64 systems.

Note: The ndis(4) driver is designed to support mainly PCI, CardBus and PCMCIA devices, USB devices are not yet supported.

In order to use the NDISulator, you need three things:

  1. Kernel sources

  2. Windows XP driver binary (.SYS extension)

  3. Windows XP driver configuration file (.INF extension)

Locate the files for your specific card. Generally, they can be found on the included CDs or at the vendors' websites. In the following examples, we will use W32DRIVER.SYS and W32DRIVER.INF.

Note: You can not use a Windows/i386 driver with FreeBSD/amd64, you must get a Windows/amd64 driver to make it work properly.

The next step is to compile the driver binary into a loadable kernel module. To accomplish this, as root, use ndisgen(8):

# ndisgen /path/to/W32DRIVER.INF /path/to/W32DRIVER.SYS

The ndisgen(8) utility is interactive and will prompt for any extra information it requires; it will produce a kernel module in the current directory which can be loaded as follows:

# kldload ./W32DRIVER.ko

In addition to the generated kernel module, you must load the ndis.ko and if_ndis.ko modules. This should be automatically done when you load any module that depends on ndis(4). If you want to load them manually, use the following comman