Monthly Archives: March 2010

FreeBSD 8.0 x86 and KDE4 full-screen in VirtualBox 3.1.4

I recently downloaded and installed FreeBSD 8.0 as a VirtualBox guest (running in an OpenSolaris host, natch), and quickly discovered two things; i) FreeBSD doesn’t use a desktop GUI by default, and ii) Oracle don’t provide VirtualBox Guest Additions for FreeBSD, such that one cannot handily run a FreeBSD guest full-screen.

The following is a quick how-to which will address both issues, for new guys like me wanting to install FreeBSD 8.0 quickly and use a desktop GUI at larger than 800×600 resolution. For kicks, I thought I’d use KDE for this example – only really having used GNOME on my OSS OS tinkerings to date.

I am using VirtualBox 3.1.4 on an OpenSolaris snv_134 x64 host, and I’m going to install a VM using 8.0-RELEASE-i386-dvd1.iso. This guide assumes familiarity with installing VirtualBox guests. Host and guest OSs must have internet access.


First hiccup; I had to attach the FreeBSD guest hard disk to a SATA (not IDE) controller in my VM, otherwise I encountered the error described by the original poster at

VirtualBox SATA settings

From the FreeBSD ports packages installation options, install:


FreeBSD ports installer screen 1

FreeBSD ports installer screen 2

FreeBSD ports installer screen 3

Once FreeBSD reaches the end of the installation process, reboot, login as root, then edit /etc/rc.conf to include the following:

local_startup="${local_startup} /usr/local/kde4/etc/rc.d"




Alter the non-root account you (hopefully) made during installation such that it can su to root:

# pw user mod davenz -G wheel

See for more information.

Now, reboot the guest and you should now see a KDE welcome/login screen.


Next, we install open source VirtualBox Guest Additions. Be warned that this section may take quite some time to finish – and you also need guest internet access.

Open a terminal and enter the following:

# portsnap fetch update
# portsnap extract
# cd /usr/ports/emulators/virtualbox-ose-additions && make install clean

I used the following options when prompted:

VirtualBox Guest Additions build options

VirtualBox Guest Additions build options 2

Once complete, add the following to /etc/rc.conf:


Reboot the guest, and when KDE runs you should now notice mouse integration between host and guest OS is now working.


Next, we enable a guest display resolution of 1280×1024 pixels.

Reboot FreeBSD into single user mode, login as root, and perform the following:

# mount -a
# Xorg -configure
# mv /root/ /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add the following after the “Device” section identifying the “VirtualBox Graphics Adapter” (in my case, I removed all the other “Display” subsection entries as well):

Section "Screen"
        DefaultDepth 24
	Identifier "Screen0"
	Device     "Card0"
	Monitor    "Monitor0"
	SubSection "Display"
		Viewport    0 0
		Depth       24
                Modes       "1280x1024"

Reboot the machine, et voila:

FreeBSD 8.0 full-screen in VirtualBox


Live Free(BSD) or die…

Well, the (mostly) awesome Ben Rockwood sums up the situation with Solaris 10 quite nicely. I know we’ve still got OpenSolaris, but I’m feeling sufficiently motivated at this point in time to begin learning another Unix:

FreeBSD 8.0 in VirtualBox

FreeBSD, come on down.

Oracle supports Solaris 10 on approved hardware systems only?

Oracle Towers

I have to say, I’m feeling very disappointed with how this is playing out:

Talk about a barrier to entry. Supporting Solaris 10 on branded systems only, and having prohibitively expensive support fees on top of that will be a sure-fire way to lose (again!) user and developer mindshare for Solaris 10. Sun made similar mistakes which they tried to rectify (apparently too late) – and my feeling is Oracle may be repeating history.

This would appear to send a clear message to SMBs, casual users, CS students with an interest, and others that Solaris 10 is not for them – and an unfortunate way to once again make some fantastic technology exclusive. Also, this can be read as a serious lurch towards vendor lock-in.

Personally I think this is a mistake, and on those systems where I cannot afford to deploy Solaris 10, I will sadly be forced to look for alternatives. Even If Oracle were to offer an inexpensive support package such that security and maintenance patches are available then that would be something – such as they do for their Enterprise Linux offering.

Enable sound in a VirtualBox Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit guest

As helpfully pointed out here, you have to manually install the audio driver for your guest.

With ICH AC97 configured as the audio driver for my guest, the following driver installer worked fine:

Realtek AC97 driver installation

Fix the Java plugin on Firefox 3.6 / OpenSolaris x64

Assuming Firefox 3.6 at (for example) /opt/firefox3-6/firefox/

$ cd /opt/firefox3-6/firefox/plugins
$ pfexec ln -s /usr/jdk/jdk1.6.0_18/jre/lib/i386/ .

Restart Firefox.

Who isn’t suing Intel – redux

Continuing on from this, looks like nVidia has recently established their own ‘lil anti-Intel site:

I’m sure Intel make decent products and what-have-you, but really, where there’s this amount of smoke I think there has to be some fire.

Build Scribus 1.3.6.svn on OpenSolaris x64 – part 2 (UPDATED)

Full build instructions as copied/pasted from my bug report – note that this will enable you to build Scribus, but opening/saving Scribus project files is broken. If anyone has a workaround for this let me know…and hopefully the Scribus developers will have a fix soon.

EDIT: Saving files does work (there is a bug report here), given the following workaround. It seems Cmake ignores the install directory specified by -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=~/scribusinstall. If you copy the contents of sfw_stage to ~/scribusinstall, saving .sla files apparently then works fine. See below for these commands, options, and directories in context.

Also be warned that this whole process can take a while – building Qt for example on an Intel Q8200 quad-core system took about a couple of hours.



Saturday 13th March 2010



Download osol-dev-134-x86.iso from

Test case system is an Intel Q8200 (Gigabyte EG31MF-S2 system board) with 4GB RAM.



Use the OpenSolaris IPS package manager GUI to install the following:




Download qt-everywhere-opensource-src-4.6.2.tar.gz from

Copy and unpack the file to /tmp

In /tmp/qt-everywhere-opensource-src-4.6.2/ run the following:

$ ./configure -platform solaris-g++ -no-webkit
$ gmake
$ pfexec gmake install

This installs Qt at the default location of /usr/local/Trolltech/Qt-4.6.2

(Note: if you encounter mmap errors when building, increase the swap space following the instructions at

Add the following to your ~/.profile (assuming ksh or bash)

QTDIR=/usr/local/Trolltech/Qt-4.6.2; export QTDIR



$ mkdir ~/scribusinstall
$ mkdir ~/scribussource
$ cd ~/scribussource
$ svn co svn://
$ cd Version135/Scribus
$ mkdir builddir
$ cd builddir
$ /usr/bin/cmake .. -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=~/scribusinstall
$ make
$ pfexec make install

Scribus binary is installed to ~/scribussource/Version135/Scribus/builddir/sfw_stage/bin. See the edit at the top of this page to complete the installation.

Scribus 1.3.5svn running on OpenSolaris

Build Scribus 1.3.6.svn on OpenSolaris x64 – UPDATED

(EDIT: looks like I’m unable to open nor save .SLA files with this – which is not particularly useful. Stay tuned…)

(EDIT #2: see here for the workaround)

This has taken me an age to complete, but I’ve had success in the last hour.

My bug report is here. In summary, on Ubuntu Linux (for example) the latest development builds of Scribus have no problems with the Qt packages available from the (Synaptic) default repositories. On OpenSolaris however, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Qt packages available at, as I’ve discovered after many hours fruitless tinkering.

I’ve found that I can build Scribus 1.3.6.svn successfully, using Qt 4.6.2 as built from source. Thankfully this is a pretty straightforward (albeit long) process.


Details covering package prerequisites etc are now here.

Firefox 3.6 Personas, Opera 10.50

Exciting times for fans of cross platform browsers (sorry IE and Safari).

They say open source has made computing fun again, and Firefox Personas is a great example of this. Thousands and thousands of cool skins, and being able to insta-preview each one with a mouse hover is pretty neat!

Some of the themes are delightfully garish:

Firefox Personas theme

I’ve only just updated my OpenSolaris development box with Firefox 3.6 (available from here), so once I’ve frittered away a few hours of time having fun with Personas, I’ll look forward to checking out the speed and reliability enhancements. Mind you, I’m pretty darn happy with Firefox these days anyhow, what with being practically the only truly cross platform and open source browser out there. That, and it’s a great browser too.

Meanwhile, Opera 10.50 has been released, and although Linux and UNIX versions are not there yet, a quick play around on a Windows 7 machine reveals it to indeed be very fast, and quite slick. Proof there’s still a place for proprietary software when it’s done right, and when its producers appreciate that customers want the same browsing experience regardless of platform. Let’s hope the Solaris x86 release of Opera 10.50 finally has Flash 10 support!

While I’m on the topic, I will say I’m not particularly interested in Google Chrome. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, but frankly I’m uncomfortable using a browser developed by a search and advertising giant, and Google’s recent serious privacy blunders really don’t help. Sorry Google, you do a great search product (regardless of the prospect of anti-monopolistic scrutiny in the near future), but I feel a lot healthier leaving my browser, office applications, and operating system to other companies, thanks.


And now I’m off to try more Personas…

Access Apple MobileMe iDisk from OpenSolaris

Turns out iDisk is WebDAV compliant, and using a generic client seems to be far quicker and more reliable in operation than either managing iDisk content with the MobileMe BUI, or using iDisk+Finder in Mac OS – the latter of which appears to have dire performance issues.


Follow the steps (on an OSOL snv_133 x64 system)…

OpenSolaris - connect to server...

Use secure WebDAV (standard HTTP works okay too), and enter your iDisk address in the form of

Use secure WebDAV...

iDisk is now connected

When dragging and dropping files to upload using Nautilus, I noticed that the “File Operations” status bar doesn’t accurately reflect data transfer progress – more often than not the progress bar will sit at some arbitrary reading without any movement. However, looking at Gnome System Monitor -> Network History one can see that data is indeed being uploaded when this happens.