[PC-BSD Testing] PC-BSD 8 RC2 testing: issues and suggestions

Kris Moore kris at pcbsd.com
Tue Feb 16 13:28:53 PST 2010

On 02/13/2010 14:02, finid at linuxbsdos.com wrote:
> Hi:
> This is my first time of digging into PC-BSD, and here are some of the
> "issues" and suggestions I have after installing this RC.
> My test machine is an Intel Quad Core 64-bit with just one HD.
> 1. The installer - Since I have just 1 HD in the PC, I was expecting the
> installer to select it automatically. Instead it was giving me three
> options to choose from - da0, da1 and ad4. ad4 is the HD. Looks like it is
> detecting the flash reader port and USB port as possible hard drives.

Did you have any media in those ports at the time of install? If so, 
then that's a valid choice for some systems :)

> 2. If you select "install PC-BSD bootloader" at the Disk section, I think
> the next section could be a Bootloader section. A section where you may
> configure aspects of the bootloader. For example, if BTX is
> password-protectable, this would be the place to set the password.

The master boot loader for FreeBSD is *very* basic, if you do a man on 
boot0cfg, you'll see that the only options we even have are packet, 
setdrv, and update, which normally shouldn't be touched :) No fancy 
password stuff here!

> 3. When you select auto-partition at the Disk section, I think it would be
> nice to give the user an opportunity to review the slices. That would be a
> good time to decide whether to encrypt the slices. You could do this if
> you custom-partition, but it would be nice to give us the opportunity to
> review the slices before proceeding with the rest of the installation.

That may be something to consider added it as idea for 8.1 :)

> 3a. By default, the installer creates slices for /, /usr, /vasr and swap.
> How about giving /home its own slice?

Well, /home is actually /usr/home by default. We could give /usr/home 
its own partition, but that seems really unnecessary by default, since 
that limits other things such as installing apps, not knowing how much 
to give /usr for software and /home for user data would be a pain.

> 4. Since disk encryption is supported, I think it would be better to have
> an option to encrypt the disk as a unit instead of the individual slices.
> I'm thinking along the lines of Fedora's implementation of disk encryption
> (see
> http://linuxbsdos.com/2010/02/02/how-fedora-protects-your-data-with-full-disk-encryption/).

I'm not sure this is possible in BSD yet. We still need some kind of 
non-encrypted /boot partition in order to load the encryption keys, 
mount the partition, etc. So in that case its not really full-disk 
encryption again.

> 5. Is enabling the auto-login feature a good security practice? I think
> this should be off by default.

For most desktop users having it on is the preference. However, you are 
able to uncheck it pretty easily :)

> 6. In the Components section, some of the applications under Available
> Components are those you will have to install after rebooting into your
> new system. Why not have them installed by default. I'm referring
> especially to OpenOffice.org and Firefox.

Not all users want OpenOffice / Firefox. Some may simple want to use 
abiword or opera. Since its really an "optional" application we don't 
install them by default :)

> 7. I understand that this is KDE-based distribution, but not everybody
> wants to use KDE. During installation, I think it would be nice to give
> users the opportunity to install their choice of DE. We can do this after
> installation, but ...

We are not a typical distro in that sense. Instead of being a collection 
of various apps, which means no two systems are alike, we try to 
standardize on a base DE, and make that work the best possible for the 

> 8. While in the Software Browser tab of pbiDIR it seems as if there is no
> way to tell if an application is already installed. The system will
> actually install an application that is already installed.

This is fixed now in SVN, it'll warn you that you will be over-writing 
any app you try to install which already is loaded.

> 9. If you choose "Automatically update software" in the Software tab of
> Software Manager Configuration, how often does it check for updates? Could
> we specify the time interval for the system to check for updates?

It checks every 12 hours, or when you load the Software Manager. I've 
added that feature request to the wiki for 8.1 though since that makes 
good sense to have in the future. :)

> 10. The system could not id the vendor of my monitor, an LG HDTV Monitor
> M237WD. I chose 1024x768 screen resolution, and that was the highest
> screen resolution available after the system was up and running.

Xorg often doesn't get monitor detection right. If that's the case you 
may need to click the "advanced" tab and manually enter the horz / vert 
refresh rates to go to higher-resolutions. (Or use the defaults there)

> 11. The network manager applet should be in the systray by default.
> Currently, it is not.

That's more user-preference, I like to have it off, since its simply 
another app sitting there using cpu for no reason :)

> 12. I have an HP Deskjet F4280. It is not auto-detected or
> auto-configured. It is not even in the printer database. In short, i could
> not add the printer to the system.
> 13. How is disk encryption supposed to work on PC-BSD? I chose to install
> one of the slices, and was expecting to be asked to enter a password or
> passphrase at some point during the installation. But that did not happen.

Right now we encrypt using randomized keys, which are stored in 
/boot/keys. (The installer notifies you to back these up) However I 
already have that request in for 8.1 so we can use password prompts 
during bootup.

> 14. NTP synchronization is selected by default, but after installation, I
> noticed that NTP was not configured. The system could not contact any of
> the time servers when I then tried to configure it.

I'm still investigating this. It looks like a bug with the kde gui, 
since NTPD is working at the command-line already. (Need to add 
ntpd_sync_on_start="YES" to rc.conf to correct huge time-offsets, this 
is done in SVN already)

> 15. I think PC-BSD needs a welcome application. This is a kind of
> application that would be started on first boot and allow a user to
> customize different aspects of their desktop. Pardus and Linux Mint have
> an application just like that.

Great idea! Added to list for 8.1 on the wiki :)

> 16. There are certain apps I think should be installed by default if they
> are in the repo. Java JRE is one of them. It would be nice if it is
> installed by default.

Again, that's user preference. I personally don't install java at all on 
my desktops. I prefer to keep the default system cleaner, that way I 
don't have to immediately start removing apps right after I install. 
(Leave that to the Windows vendors)

> More to come.
> --
> Fini Decima



Kris Moore
PC-BSD Software

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