After several years of mindlessly running Ubuntu on the desktop, I am attempting to dive (back) into running FreeBSD on the desktop. Considering that the majority of applications I use on the desktop are a browser (Firefox/Chrome), an ssh terminal, and Rhythmbox, how hard could this be?
Some of the hurdles
Given I still wanted to keep Ubuntu around and not redefine my default setup, I kept Grub2 as my bootloader on the MBR. I still needed a way to boot into FreeBSD at-will. I had installed FreeBSD on hd0a. Grub2 from Ubuntu makes finding the FreeBSD boot files incredibly easy:
>search -f /boot/kernel hd0, msdos2 > set root=(hd0, msdos2) > chainloader +1 > boot
Considering it has been a while since I ran FreeBSD for anything serious, I had always debated between ports and packages. In my distant memory, packages were not built for every piece of software I wanted, and building ports has the downside of long compile times, and potentially hairy dependency issues. With FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE, ‘pkg’ has become the default package manager, and thus far, I have had no issues finding packages for any software package I’ve wanted. Upon install, update the package repository:
# pkg update
and use the various ‘pkg search’ and ‘pkg install’ variants to search for, and install the various applications.
I’ve always been curious in the various tiling window managers. i3wm seems to have the most-sane configuration structure among the various other tiling window managers (xmonad, awesomewm, etc). My i3wm configs up on Github.
I am still working on making the tiling-window manager thought process more second-nature. One instance I’m still attempting to wrap my head around, is when I fire up a full-screen window from Chrome, which ends up ‘under’ my main Chrome window. This makes the refrain ‘where the heck did my window go’ quite common. Alongside the fact that there is a lot of font configuration and xorg.conf hacking required to make the desktop what I consider ‘pretty.’
I find myself booting back into Ubuntu more often than not, given I’m more comfortable with the Unity window manager workflow. But I do boot into FreeBSD when time permits to try and hack on making it an actual usable desktop OS. The journey continues.