Thank-you for your replies. I guess
my main concern was I'm not sure when to stop banging my
head against the wall and ask for help. The checklist kind
of goes like:

Did you read the FAQ and release notes?
Did you read the handbook?
Did read the man pages?
Did you search the mailing-list archives?

This list is probably best suited to very specific

Some the stuff I mentioned has little to do with BSD.

--- On Thu, 8/6/09, Polytropon <>

> From: Polytropon <>
> Subject: Re: FreeBSD for the common man(or woman)
(was: > upgrade 7.2
> To: "James Phillips" <>
> Cc:
> Received: Thursday, August 6, 2009, 7:45 PM
> On Thu, 6 Aug 2009 14:56:41 -0700
> (PDT), James Phillips <>
> wrote:
> > I checked the HP website: they will release the
> details of the PCL
> > language (version 4 or so) for a price.
> The PCL language is usually output by gs (the Ghostscript
> printer
> "driver" collection that translates PS into PCL and other
> printer
> languages).
Yes, I figured this out when I abandoned the Handbook and
looked at the ports collection. I've used GhostScript under
windows as well.
> > I finally got it working by installing the Apsfiler
> package in the
> > ports collection (no, did not send the post-card yet;
> the print
> > server is not functional yet.)
> Personally, I prefer apsfilter to CUPS, but maybe you would
> have liked
> CUPS better. It offers a browser based interface and offers
> lots of
> autodetection functionality. (But you can't install a
> parallel printer
> that isn't connected to the system easily, for example.)
I'm wondering how well apsfiler and CUPS cooperate. Samba
uses CUPS by default.

> Setting up a printer with the apsfilter SETUP script is
> very easy as
> long as you know which name the printer has - you mentioned
> HP. And
> if it's a HP Laserjet, you're lucky. You're even more lucky
> if your
> printer does support the PS standard, because then you can
> avoid using
> any printer filter (such as apsfilter) because PS is the
> default output
> format for printing, and it can be fed directly into the
> printer.

The printer is a $10 POS I got used. PS output seems to
confuse it. I'm tempted just to get a newer one.

(Laserjet 5L -> except it gets confused by PCL 5 as well)

> > made few tweaks of the system to better follow the
> Filesystem
> > Hierarchy Standard (such as symlinking /usr/local/etc
> to /etc/opt).
> Erm, excuse me? First of all, it's not encouraged to mix OS
> things
> with application things. You know that FreeBSD keeps the
> difference
> between "the OS" and "everything else" (which is
located in
> the
> /usr/local subtree). If you're coming from a Linux
> background, I
> could understand that you're not familiar with this
> concept.
> The /usr/local subtree can be completely removed and
> leaves
> you with a completely intact and functional OS.
> that
> you install by ports or packages goes into /usr/local,
> of course,
> the configuration files belong there, too.
> has the
> same structure as /etc, but it's reserved for
> software.
> Vice versa, configuration files of locally installed ports
> do not
> belong into /etc.
> Refer to 
>     % man hier
> to learn where things are kept on FreeBSD.
Using a symlink (/usr/local/etc -> /etc/opt) , the
system IS still functional if /local is not mounted.

putting the settings in /etc makes it possible to mount
/usr read-only (in theory).
According to Wikipedia, it is Linux-specific.

In any case, the changes are minor.
> > That machine is slowly degrading while I try to get
> the fileserver
> > working the way I want.
> That indicates a major problem. Either your hardware is
> faulty, or you
> are treating the software in the wrong way.

"Machine" in that sentence refers to win98 client. The HD
activity light stays on for no apparent reason (no
thrashing). I suspect malware, even if the Anti-virus can't
find it :(
> > The last time I did a complete re-install (of win98) I
> lost data
> > due to a damaged disk that I copied the data to (and
> learned that
> > bzip2recover is a quick hack that needs to be
> re-written properly
> > according to the source code).
> It's completely normal that you lose data on "Windows"
> platforms.
> That's why you have a UNIX server for backups.

I lost data under Linux that I used for doing the back-up.
I blame the cryptic HD error messages under Linux. Took
years to figure out what happened. I think FreeBSD
hard-drive failure messages were less cryptic.
> > I hope to replace windows with wine for the most part,
> but wine
> > simply installs the applications in the users' home
> directory
> > (breaking the FHS).
> No. You run wine as a user application, so you have
> user
> rights only.
> Then, wine of course provides a user-based installation of
> your
> desired "Windows" program.

An analogy would be to think of Wine like a generic
interpreter like the BSD Linux compatibility, or the Java
runtime for running Java applications. There should be a way
for the administrator to install windows applications in
something like /usr/local.

This would only be on the "client" machines anyway (not the
server). I Just hear a sucking sound every time I try to
install a 500MB+ game in the user directory.

> A workaround could be to create a special user, e. g.
> "wincompat",
> that is used to install the applications. His home
> directory
> /home/wincompat is then set to allow access for other
> users, so
> they can execute the (there installed) "Windows" programs
> instead of
> requiring a user-local installation.
> > This is only resolvable IMHO by having wine use a real
> database
> > back-end for the registry (allowing user-level "views"
> of the
> > data, while still isolating different users).
> That's a bit complicated, but still possible with the
> standard
> file attributes on a UFS file system - I hope I understood
> you
> correctly.

Wine uses a flat file (for the registry). I don't think it
supports per-user isolation, so each user has their own wine
environment instead. Again Wine, not BSD related.
> > Setting up NFS was a lesson in the intecracies of NIS
> twice
> > since my Linux clients do things a little differently.
> After
> > asking on one of the IRC channels that we are not
> advised to use; [...]
> We?
General public. Most the "supported" IRC channels require
> > [...] I edited the /var/yp/Makefile to suppress groups
> outside
> > the range of (1001 -2000). That basicly prevents the
> "special"
> > groups from being exported to the Linux clients (that
> use different
> > numbering)
> It's traditional to create a "name:name" for user "name".
> Of course,
> there's no problem of grouping your user names to
> "name:group1" and
> similar things; "name:staff" comes into mind.

yes, the user groups are in the 1001 + range. this is
consistent with what Debian does. The "special" groups like
ppp, audio, etc, are numbered differently. NFS only passes
user and group numbers over the network. So, to keep things
remotely sane, NIS in needed to keep all the user names
consistent. I originally didn't want to use NIS.

> > To do this, I DID need the gory low-level details in
> the handbook.
> > I didn't note the exact date, but I really didn't
> touch the server
> > for months after that. I copied my work to the Linux
> client because
> > the hard-disk was failing, and I still did not get
> DVD-burning
> > working.
> There's the growisofs tool from the ports. The port's name
> is
> dvd+rw-tools. You simply run
>     % growisofs -Z /dev/dvd -r -J somedata/
> or refer to
>     % man growisofs
> for detailed information. (I have a symling dvd -> cd0
> so it fits to
> the manpage.) Of course, you don't need ISO-9660 for data
> DVDs, you
> could record tar archives onto them directly, but that's
> another topic.

I'll look into that. I was planning on using dump/restore
for most the system, then using tar for selected directories
in /var.

> > At one point when doing a Google search for "fxp" I
> came across this message:
> >
> > Call for testers: fxp(4) WOL  <- My card!
> The fxp NIC is an Intel one, right? I still have one, works
> good, and
> is excellently supported.

yes. Mine is old though (Intel 82558)
> > At that point, I decided to install the FreeBSD
> testing release
> > (7.x).
> Testing? A release isn't for testing, it's for a productive
> and functional
> system. If you intend testing, you would require the latest
> sources from
> HEAD, which is 8-CURRENT at the moment.

It went stable by the time I installed it.
> > I finally installed FreeBSD 7.2 (release) on May 9,
> 2009. However, I
> > now note some feature creep:
> > In addition to file/print and backup server, I want
> to:
> > 1. Have it sleep when not in use (part of the delay
> was figuring out
> > how to get the router to send the magic packet. I read
> RFC's to
> > determine the proper way, and found a "hack" that will
> work on my
> > floppy-based router for my network set-up (send it
> every DHCP lease).
> Are you talking about the "wake on LAN" feature?
My old NIC requires a specially-crafted packet to wake up.
> > 2. I think I want to move the Voice/Fax/Modem to the
> machine. Recently
> > I realised a lack of WakeOnRing may impair phone answering if machine
> > is sleeping.
> I think that's been calling "wake on modem"... it reminds
> me to a funny
> accident when a customer told me that when his phone rings,
> his computer
> starts up. :-)

I'm hoping the serial port interrupt will be enough.
> > 3. I still hope to do "other things" once the machine is working
> > reliably.
> FreeBSD's good load management should make this possible.
May need to compile a custom kernel to free some memory.
avail memory with generic: 237 MB of 256.

Not a priority though.
> > I hope with the server properly set up, win98 may even be usable
> > again: just do a clean install every morning!
 > Doesn't it reinstall automatically by itself? :-)

Over a 100Mbps network, a 700MB image will take over a
minute to transfer.
Actually, that is not bad.


James Phillips

PS: forgot to cc the list.

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