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