in FreeBSD, UNIX

This article is a part of a series on FreeBSD, the BSD operating system derived from Unix®. Check out the whole series on the dedicated FreeBSD page for more tutorials and tips on FreeBSD.

Now that we’ve finished installing FreeBSD, we can move on to configuring FreeBSD for desktop usage. We’re going to be performing some initial system configuration, some software, and a simple but powerful window manager called Window Maker. Users of NeXT’s NeXTSTEP operating system in the 1990s will be familiar with Window Maker. For the rest of us, it’s easy to learn and configure, with a few similar features to Apple’s macOS.

Unlike the first post in this series, this is very much so an opinion piece as well as a tutorial. There are a lot of alternatives to the software and configurations that I recommend. They work for me, and they will work for you as they are, but you might decide that you prefer something different. Use what suits you, and your workflow, best.

Preface: Network or hostname issues

If at any point throughout this tutorial you are unable to use a service such as pkg due to bootstrapping failures, or if at this stage you are seeing a regular error such as the one below:

Jul 13 03:16:48 freebsd ntpd[645]: error resolving pool 0.freebsd.pool.ntp.org: 
hostname nor servername provided, or not known (8)

You need to reconfigure your hostname and/or nameservers.

Log in as root and enter ee /etc/rc.conf to open the system configuration information file. The first line should show the hostname that we configured in the first part of this series. Mine looks like this:

hostname="freebsd.rauchland.co.il"

If that line is fine, or after editing it to correct it, exit ee (FreeBSD’s Easy Editor) by hitting your esc key, followed by two enter presses.
Next, check your nameservers. Enter ee /etc/resolv.conf to open the resolver configuration file. You should see nameserver IPs listed – either that of your router, or an appropriate third party nameserver. If you only see nameserver 127.0.0.1, you may need to fix the file. My resolv.conf looks like this:

nameserver 208.67.222.222
nameserver 208.67.220.220
nameserver 127.0.0.1
options edns0

The two non-local IPs, 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220, are Cisco’s OpenDNS public domain name service. You can use those IPs, or the IPs of any other public DNS.

Fixing these two files should fix any network issues you are having throughout this tutorial. Now that the appetiser is out of the way, on to the main course.

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