FreeBSD 7.2 Installation Manual

Manolis Kiagias sonicy at
Fri Jun 12 18:10:23 UTC 2009

Nick at wrote:
> Nowhere up to that point in the Installation chapter and process (I
> didn't need to have said) did it mention X.
> What is the point of having a step-by-step installation manual which
> then concludes with "If the X server has been configured and a Default
> Desktop  chosen, it can be started by typing startx at the command
> line." when up to that point it hasn't mentioned X!?  Mentioning it
> three chapters later is not really very helpful to people struggling
> to get the thing installed step-by-step!

The Handbook is not really intended to be a "step by step" guide,
although some chapters serve this purpose in particular areas. The
problem (and sometimes, the strength) of step-by-step how-to guides is
that they provide specific instructions for specific setups. For
example, if you were to write a "Guide to a FreeBSD Desktop" then
obviously this info would appear immediately after the basic install.
But bear in mind X is an optional component in FreeBSD, and there are
plenty of installations (servers) that don't need it and don't have it.
FreeBSD becomes what you want of it, it does not dictate a particular
usage. When you install a popular linux distro (like Ubuntu or OpenSuse)
you already have a fixed idea of what you will have after a standard
install. This is much less so in FreeBSD but you have the power to
customize it to your heart's content.  This power comes at a price
however: you will not be able to be immediately productive with your new
system, until you master more than the basics.  You have to be more
patient, keep on studying and understanding how it works. This knowledge
means your system will never break (because you will know how it works,
and you will know how to fix it) and its also useful in other systems.
(When you learn how X works you can solve GUI problems in Ubuntu too).
Please keep up your effort, and be sure FreeBSD will reward you in the end.
And we do take documentation very seriously, so please send comments.
You are right it is sometimes easy to overlook things that a beginner
may stumble upon.

> Step-by-step guides are difficult to write, especially be people that
> know a lot about the subject beforehand as details tend to get glossed
> over.
> When it doesn't work (as has happened to me) and you have to
> Ctrl-Alt-Del then you are left feeling lost and confused - a bit like
> Linux ten years ago.  (OpenSuse installed and worked graphically
> perfect).
> Shouldn't there be an X configuration stage in the installation process?

It would probably be nice to have at least a link to Chapter 5 here.
I would suggest to replace this line:

"If the X server has been configured and a Default Desktop chosen, it
can be started by typing startx at the command line."

with something like:

"If a graphical desktop is desired, the Xorg server and a desktop
environment / widow manager will have to be installed and configured.
Please see section <link to chapter 5>"

I could do it now, but I believe Glen would like to give it a try ;)

More information about the freebsd-questions mailing list