Jay O'Brien wrote:

I finally have XFree86 working, at least to the point that I can type "X" and get the expected grid and "X" mouse cursor.

That in itself doesn't seem very useful, but it works.

As a learning exercise, which Desktop environment should I install as a first effort, and how do I run it?

Entirely up to you. GNOME and KDE are full featured "desktop environments", and rather large builds; if you just have the hots to get started immediately, something smaller might be the thing; blackbox, fluxbox. Kind of "middle ground" might be XFCE or Enlightenment (and there are literally dozens of others...probably some that are quite good, but I've never tried and maybe not even heard of 'em...)

Everything (as you're noticing) is highly configurable, so you learn
how and where to do this, that, and the other to get things to
look and work the way you want.

Oh, and be sure and "read the friendly manual".  Some things
there are real helpful when wading into X for the first time.
(Or at least they were to me.)

I'm referring to the FreeBSD Handbook at:
Desktop Environments

I intend to install Mozilla as a browser, in case that makes any difference.

Not really. Unless you've slow hardware, etc. Mozilla will eat some resources, and if you're running a big DE (KDE or GNOME) and Mozilla and a few other apps on a Pentium II you might not get a very "snappy" response from your box...

Also, what is the mechanism that interprets the "X" command to run XFree86?

Well, startx(1) is a good one, though other ways exist.

Something you might try as a first step.  You must be root,
of course:

%cd /usr/ports/x11-wm/fluxbox
%make install clean
%cd /usr/ports/www/mozilla
%make install clean

Then, go to your HOME directory and edit or create
".xinitrc".  Start out simple, one line is all that's necessary:

exec fluxbox

Then, from the CLI console:


startx(1) reads a few files in your homedir, ending with .xinitrc,
and then executes fluxbox (in this example) after starting the
X Server.

Blackbox/fluxbox, AFAICR, don't do "iconification" without additional
tweaking (more programs). Use the right and middle mouse buttons
to access "pop up" type menus.

If you've got time, bandwidth, and machine to burn (CPU/RAM, etc.),
you could go straight for one of the big DE's. I've never tried KDE,
but I'm liking GNOME o.k. All you'd need in .xinitrc is "exec gnome-session".

Ports generally install some documentation in /usr/local/share/[portname],
/usr/share/[portname], etc. These files are invaluable for learning the
basics of getting "up and running" --- look for README or INSTALL, etc.
Plus, most have a man page as well, as do all the "system calls", if you will,
listed above....


Kevin Kinsey
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