Newbie help!

Jim Stapleton stapleton.41 at
Mon Apr 10 13:16:17 UTC 2006

I appologize is this stuff is too basic for you, but it sounds as if
you need a crash course in Unix basics, not just FreeBSD. This will
tell you how to do the basics. My suggestion is to go to the library
and pick up some books on  Unix use/administration and/or FreeBSD.
O'Reily makes some nice stuff.

Notation: Any time you see something inside square brackets, it's
optional. i.e. you might see:
command [optional stuff]

Next, when I put somthing between underscore, that means it's
_italicised_, which means you have to replace what I wrote, with what
the word describes.

First off, some basic Unix comands

$ cd _directory_
  change your current directory to a new direcotry. If _directory_
starts with a "/", then the new directory will be relative to the root
of the file systme, otherwise it will be relative to your current

$ ls [_directory_]
  lists the contents of the current directory, unless _directory_ is
specified, and then it lists the contents of _directory_

$ pwd
  Display "present working directory", or the directory you are in.

$ man _command_
  a rough outline of comman info, not the easiest to read initially,
but it's a good quick reference. It's the manual.

$ info _command_
  another form of documentation, like man.

$ which _command_
  this tells you if a command is installed, and where it is located.

$ less _file_
  This outputs a file to the screen, you can navigate the file using
the arrow keys.

$ ee _file_
$ emacs _file_
$ xemacs _file
$ vi _file_
$ vim _file_
  These are three basic (and not so basic) text editors you can find
on FreeBSD, ee and vi/vim are usually installed, you may have to
install emacs on your own. Each has several advantages and drawbacks,
and this topic is not the place to ressurect *that* holy war.

Some important directories
  The base directory off which everything can be found.

  The location of most executable files.

  various server/administrative executable files are located in these

  This directory gives file-like access to hardware devices, and is
one of those things you'll need to learn over time.

  All of the text files that configure the OS are here

  The directory containing each users information, with the user name
as the sub directory with the information for each individual user.

  This directory contains various shared pieces of data used
throughout the operating system. It's a bit more complex than the
rest, so I won't go into a lot of detail.

  This is like /usr/, and "/" except it has the "test" or "add-on" files only.

now to try getting you to a point where you can reference the
handbook, which is an excellent source of documentation.

First, see which web browser you have installed for text viewing:
$ which links
$ which lynx

if either of these returns something (such as /usr/local/bin/links ),
you can skip to the "== read the handbook ==" section, otherwise
continuw with the "== ports crash course ==" section.

== ports crash course ==

first you want to get to the directory of a web browser, I'm slightly
more comfortable with lynx than links, so I'll show you how to get

change your directory to the lynx port: all ports are under
/usr/ports, then there are several sub-directories in there which hold
various programs, related to the group name. Example: "www" has web
related programs.
$ cd /usr/ports/www/lynx/

now you want to install your web browser, running "make install" in a
program directory within ports will download, install and compile the
program (provided there are no errors).
$ make install
now clean up the work since you don't need it anymore
$ make clean
verify you have lynx installed, I noticed sometiems in earlier
installs, I had to log out and log back in before this would work (or
start a new shell, log out and back in will be easier for a newbie):
$ which lynx

== read the handbook ==
Open the handbook in your web browser, I believe this is the correct
directory to the handbook, but I'm not currently on a BSD machine, so
I can't verify easily. Replace "en" with the appropriate directory for
your language if you aren't using english:
$ lynx /usr/doc/en/books/handbook/index.html.

Now, you can navigate with the page-up and page-down keys, and use the
arrow keys to select links. Enter will follow the selected link, and
backspace will bring you to a page that has a bunch of links that list
recently viewed pages.

You'll want to read about setting up X windows, as well as the use of
ports and cvsup. The handbook describes these well, and is even more
user friendly than the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for all the
lack of a "Don't Panic" moniker on the front.

If you are like most Windows converts, you'll want to setup xorg,
firefox, and either KDE or Gnome quickly. If you are more into diving
in, you might like to install/try xfce (mentioned by another user),
ion, and/or window maker instead. These can be found uner "x11/" or
"x11-wm". Orif you are really bold, you can stick with "twm".

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