KDE 4 under FreeBSD, (Not So) Final Thoughts

As you’ve probably guessed from my previous rants, I decided to try out KDE 4 under FreeBSD. It was really quite stunning, elegant, and simultaneously disappointing. I’ll cover the pros and cons here. Be aware that this is just a rough overview and covers my experiences with KDE 4 under FreeBSD; I may add another installment for KDE 4 under Ubuntu, which I have just recently installed as well.

KDE 4 is still in development and should be considered beta software. My comments here are representative of KDE 4.2.0 and, more specifically, the FreeBSD port. It is important to note that many of my complaints will probably be addressed in the coming months as the KDE developers implement missing features, fix bugs, and the KDE port to FreeBSD gains stability. Instead, it would be advisable to take my review as a commentary on the current state of KDE.


I will be posting my thoughts on KDE 4 running under Ubuntu in the coming days. Canonical’s patches and additions to KDE appear to make even the older version (4.1.x) very usable!
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Building Binary Packages in FreeBSD

It’s amazing how difficult it can be to find certain things on Google. It’s been a while since I’ve used FreeBSD, so I couldn’t precisely remember which way was the correct way of building binary packages. Some of the more “official” documentation seems to suggest creating a jail and building the packages from there. While the jailed approach is a good one, it isn’t exactly what I was looking for since the FreeBSD system I have running in a VM roughly mirrors my requirements for one that I’m intending to install on my desktop. As it turns out, I had forgotten about pkg_create; more importantly, I didn’t know that since FreeBSD 6.0, pkg_create allows for generating all dependencies for a given package (the last version of FreeBSD I used was 5.2).

Anyway, I’ll cut this short. I found this very handy link for creating binary packages in FreeBSD: http://www.math.colostate.edu/~reinholz/freebsd/pkg_create.html.

Edit May 25th, 2010: The link above now returns a 404 Not Found error, and I’ve long since forgotten what its contents were. However, archive.org still has a copy of this site from 2007. I’m not sure when it was taken down, and it’s possible that the version (above) doesn’t contain some newer, more interesting information. While I don’t remember precisely what excited me about the original link, I think it had something to do with the fact that pkg_create supports grabbing all of the dependencies in a single, fell swoop. While searching around to see if I could remember why I found this so exciting, I discovered that it’s possible to create a package of all installed ports on the system. You can find some tips here on how to do exactly that (scroll down to the second post).

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FreeBSD Ports: Making them Friendlier

The FreeBSD ports collection may be a tough nut to crack if you’re used to easier package distribution systems like those found on Ubuntu or Redhat. In many ways, I find it easier to manage. The ports collection grants you greater control over what is installed, how it is configured, what dependencies you’d like to build (or rebuilt), and what upgrade path you’d like to choose whenever upgrading packages. The ports collection is so good, in fact, that several Linux distributions now borrow from the principles set forth by the FreeBSD foundation what seems like eons ago (Gentoo and its derivatives, specifically). It can be daunting to manage ports at first, but you’ll find that it offers you freedom that simply couldn’t be had from binary packages.

After all, FreeBSD is about freedom. Read more…

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