Thoughts on Rails

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Fun with PCBSD

with 2 comments

I’m installing PCBSD on a few of my friend’s computers… and so far I have run into different issues on different computers. PCBSD installed perfectly fine on my own computers, but its giving me grief on other computers.

While installing on one computer very similar to one of mine, PCBSD would start up, try to load the graphical installer and just hang. I made a wild guess at the reason since the major difference was the amount of RAM that both have. I had added 256MB to the stock 128MB but the other one had only 128MB to play with. So I detached my hard disk drives and connected the HDD from the other computer (as primary master) and went ahead with the install. The installation went on smoothly as expected. (Since I had already installed on this same machine before, only the HDD was different). Then I moved the HDD back to the machine with 128MB and started it up – PCBSD worked fine, only slow. With that, I cleared one machine – with an advice to upgrade the RAM.

Next machine, was my own “jaguar” which I had used in the previous installation. Yes, I had installed PCBSD on it previously – but it was only for experimentation, and not for production use. Now was the time to install it once and for all… I recently bought a 160GB HDD, so I thought I might as well install PCBSD on it. The installation went on fine, but when the time for booting up came – the machine was not ready to boot. It kept complaining that the kernel was not found, a message relating to LBA etc. I searched for a solution and found out that some people had success with another HDD – again, not exactly a solution, but I decided to go ahead with my 40GB HDD instead. Yep, like previous install – it worked!

I attached the second 160GB HDD (which also had a NTFS partition with some data on it) and PCBSD nicely placed an icon under “Start > System Menu > Storage Media”. I happily clicked on it, and I noticed that for my machine, time stood still. Er… I mean it hanged. Then just at the right moment, system fan hissed to startle me (I know these machines are conspiring against me) as the machine rebooted automatically. I let the thing start up again, then this time I checked the properties of the Unmounted HDD Icon… it was trying to mount NTFS partition as UFS… smart! Well, that brought out the geek in me and I dropped to command line, mounted the partition with:

# mkdir /cdrive
# mount -t ntfs /dev/ad1s1 /cdrive

That solved the problem. I copied the data from NTFS to my home directory, rebooted and using the PCBSD install CD, ran fdisk, disklabel and converted the whole 160GB HDD to UFS. Now mounting it is not a problem anymore – just had to

$ kdesu konqueror

Then right click on the Mounted HDD icon and set the permissions for allowing write access to everybody. (Later I’ll move the permissions to users from specific group only, but first I need a working system.)

Next came another computer – this one was a bit different, not the same configuration. I had two systems of this kind too – so I decided to take 128MB RAM from one machine and add it to the other for the sake of installation. So I began with a fairly advanced machine (AMD Athlon 2GHz), 256MB RAM and 40GB HDD – the monitor was the same, but the graphics processor had changed – this time the installer loaded and started – but the monitor complained about being out of frequency. Obviously, X server was not configured correctly. So I pressed the keys [ Ctrl + Alt + F1 ] together to fall back to the console, pressed [ Ctrl + C ] to kill the installer process and chose utilities > shell from the menu. The simple method was to let X configure itself – so I ran the command (we are in the /root/ directory at this time)

# X -configure

Then tested that it was actually the correct configuration:

# X -config

It worked!!! Copied it to /etc/X11

# cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf

and then started the installer with

# startx

I could install PCBSD on the system after that. When it wanted to reboot after finishing he installation, it hanged again at the last step where it shuts down acpi. I had to manually turn off the machine. Next boot I removed the installation CD and chose option 2 [Start with ACPI disabled], and checked if the machine turned off properly now – it did. So again, started the machine with option 2 in the boot menu, edited the file /boot/device.hints to add

# kdesu kwrite /boot/device.hints

And added:


at the end of the file. Next time the computer will boot nicely.

So far, the experience hasn’t been exactly peachy, but it is much more easier than FreeBSD to set up a new machine! Kudos to PCBSD team for bringing us closer to seeing BSD everywhere. I wish the the best for future since their efforts hold a lot of promise and importance.

If you have not tried PCBSD yet, you probably should soon. 🙂


Written by hiway

February 6, 2007 at 4:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Instead of using ‘kdesu kwrite’, I would prefer ‘sudo vim’ , considering the amount of memory used in each case 🙂


    February 10, 2007 at 11:05 am

  2. Shantanu: Yes, everyone has their own preferences… that’s why I love *NIX! And, yes, you can certainly use “sudo vim” if you don’t have much RAM on the particular machine… but I’m a spoilt brat now and like GUI and nice proportional fonts more.


    February 10, 2007 at 11:44 am

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