I Got Rid of FreeBSD

A quick update on operating systems: I just erased FreeBSD and installed Ubuntu on my ThinkPad. While learning how to set up FreeBSD was a good learning experience, the operating system wasn’t at all user-friendly. It’s much easier to use Ubuntu Linux, so I’m glad I made the switch.

Before I go, I wanted to let everyone know my new blog is located at NicholasScribner.com. I will likely be posting my photography on that site instead of this one, which means this site won’t be updated as often.

Disable Tap-to-Click in FreeBSD

After setting up FreeBSD last month, one thing that instantly annoyed me was how tap-to-click was turned on by default. This is where tapping the touchpad results in a click. The problem was my hand would often brush against the touchpad and lead to false clicks. It soon got to the point where I just stopped using the touchpad altogether and used the ThinkPad’s “TrackPoint” nub in the center of the keyboard and the clickable buttons bellow the keyboard. This was inconvenient for me because I am most used to using the the trackpad on laptops.

After posting to The FreeBSD Forums last week, I was told the solution was found in this post originally posted by tzoi516.

To disable tap-to-click on my Lenovo ThinkPad X270, I did the following:

  1. Enter the superuser account by entering % su and entering the password.
  2. Edit /boot/loader.conf in the easy editor by entering # ee /boot/loader.conf
  3. Add the following line: hw.psm.synaptics_support=1
  4. Save and close the easy editor by pressing Esc and following the prompts.
  5. Edit /etc/sysctl.conf in the easy editor by entering # ee /etc/sysctl.conf
  6. Add the following line: hw.psm.tap_timeout=0
  7. Save and close the easy editor by pressing Esc and following the prompts.
  8. Restart the computer (I’m not sure if this step is necessary, but I did it for good measure).

After completing those steps, tap-to-click no longer worked!

Note: I am posting these instructions for my own reference, but anyone is free to follow them.

How I Installed Xfce on FreeBSD

Yesterday, I successfully installed Xfce, a lightweight desktop environment, on my FreeBSD computer (a Lenovo ThinkPad X270). I couldn’t haven done it without the generous help of The FreeBSD Forums. Now my FreeBSD computer looks like any other modern desktop (such as Mac or Windows).

FreeBSD 12.0-RELEASE after installing and running Xfce

In this forum post, I received help on how to set up Xfce. I followed the forum’s instructions, and everything worked out perfectly.

Below are instructions one can follow to set up Xfce. Note that these instructions apply to computers with integrated Intel graphics, so check with The FreeBSD Forums or someone before trying these instructions yourself. These instructions are mainly for myself, so I can set up Xfce again in the future–if need be–but anyone can follow them.

  1. Enter the superuser/root account by entering % su and the password for the root account. Note that the command prompt on the shell (%, $, #, etc.) is dependent on what user is currently logged in. Therefore, the % should not actually be typed out. Once in the root account, the command prompt will be #.
  2. Follow 4.4.1. Getting Started with pkg in the FreeBSD Handbook to bootstrap the system by running the following command: # /usr/sbin/pkg
  3. Then enter # pkg install drm-kmod
  4. Enter the easy editor to edit the file /etc/rc.conf by entering the following command: # ee /etc/rc.conf
  5. Once in the easy editor, on a new line, enter the following: kld_list=”/boot/modules/i915kms.ko”
  6. Make sure to hit Enter so the file starts on a new line after saving.
  7. Save and exit the easy editor by pushing Esc and following the prompts to save and exit. The KMS driver should now be set up.
  8. Now install Xorg by following 5.3 Installing Xorg in the Handbook. Enter # pkg install xorg
  9. Because the KMS driver was set up, one can skip ahead in the Handbook to 5.7.3. Xfce. To install the Xfce package, enter # pkg install xfce.
  10. Enter the easy editor again to edit /etc/rc.conf by entering the following: # ee /etc/rc.conf
  11. On a new line, enter dbus_enable=”YES”
  12. After entering the above, hit Enter so the file starts on a new line. Then hit Esc and follow the prompts to save and exit.
  13. Start the /etc/rc.conf lines by entering # service dbus start
  14. Next, enter # kldload /boot/modules/i915kms.ko
  15. Simply rebooting would also achieve steps 13 and 14.
  16. If one didn’t reboot, enter # exit to leave the superuser account.
  17. If everything worked, one should see the Xfce desktop after running % startx as a regular account.

Thanks to the users k.jacker and Beastie of The FreeBSD Forums for the instructions.

I Installed FreeBSD for the First Time!

Today, I installed FreeBSD, an advanced Unix-like operating system, for the first time. This endeavor had been a long time in the making, and I am very grateful for the FreeBSD Forums for helping. I would’ve been stuck without them!

I have wanted to use FreeBSD basically all my life. I didn’t really seriously consider using it, however, until December 2018. I did some research and posted on their Forums and, in February 2019, I purchased a Lenovo ThinkPad X270 from Amazon because of its reputed compatibility with FreeBSD. I put the install on hold for a while, since I was in school. Then, in May, I tried installing it again, but I wasn’t able to get it to work. Last week, I put Ubuntu on the computer instead because I basically thought I would never be able to get FreeBSD to work. That all changed today…

My first glimpse at FreeBSD: the FreeBSD Boot Loader Menu

The problem was SecureBoot was enabled in the computer’s BIOS, so I went into BIOS and disabled SecureBoot. I created the USB drive with Rufus and followed Ubuntu’s instructions for creating a USB stick on Windows. The only thing I could’ve done better was, after the installation finished, removing the USB drive after rebooting the computer.

Nonetheless, I am very happy I made it this far. Currently, it only works as this command-line interface, so my next plan is to put a desktop environment (DE) on it so it looks like a modern computer. This may take some time and work, though!

A June Afternoon in Centennial Lakes Park

I took these 10 photos today at Centennial Lakes Park in Edina, Minnesota. I was there with my mom and our puggles, Pugsley and Missy.

A walkway and bridge
Pugsley takes a look at the water
Missy and Pugsley enjoy some shade
My mom and our dogs
My mom and our dogs
My mom and our dogs at an underpass
My mom and our dogs
A fountain
Sign for the Hummingbird Garden
My mom and our dogs in the Hummingbird Garden

I’m Back!

After what at least seems like a long break from home and from Linux, I am now (as of yesterday evening) back at my parents’ house in Chanhassen, Minnesota, and using Ubuntu Linux.

This afternoon, at 4:00 p.m., I took a 45-minute walk around my neighborhood. Today also marked the first time I experimented with aperture priority (Av) mode on my Canon EOS R mirrorless camera and kit lens (24-105mm). I have a feeling I will be spending most of my time in aperture priority mode with the Canon EOS R — just as I have with my previous Nikon DSLRs.

Additionally, I have decided to stay with Ubuntu. My previous statement about it being a beginner Linux distro was perhaps naive. Ubuntu is one of the main Linux distros today, and it’s user-friendliness is a positive, not a negative. I also tried installing FreeBSD on another computer this morning. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even able to get to the FreeBSD Boot Menu, so this might take some work.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the nice spring photos!

My house
The National Weather Service’s Doppler radar looms high over my neighborhood
A dandelion seedhead
Dandelion flower heads
Young conifer cones
Wildlife Sanctuary sign
Trees next to the National Weather Service’s Doppler radar

Portland International Jetport

I am at Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine, and about to return to Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport.

I am still using a Windows computer.

A tarmac at Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine


I will be moving out of my dorm at the University of Minnesota tomorrow.

I’m Switching Linux Distributions

I have been using a Windows laptop since March of 2019, since I had to move out of my parents’ house and into a dorm at the University of Minnesota. Later this year, I plan to buy another laptop and run a different Linux distribution. Ubuntu was easy to install and use, but I didn’t realize it was the Linux distribution often recommended to beginners. Therefore, I am going to try to find a different distribution that is more advanced. I have already researched how to install FreeBSD — another free and open-source Unix-like operating system — and I hope to use FreeBSD and other operating systems in the future.

Walter Library

I noticed these trees blooming on campus at the University of Minnesota last week and wanted to photograph one by Walter Library. Since March of 2019, I have been living in a dorm on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota.

I am still using a Windows computer.

Trees bloom on the East Bank campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis