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My experience w/ FreeBSD 6 (Long)

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by mfackler, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. mfackler

    mfackler

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    I have recently taken on the project of upgrading my personal web server from running Apache on an old P2 with RH 9 to a brand new home built AMD running FreeBSD 6.0. I wanted to not only upgrade my server but to learn FreeBSD as well. (Don’t ask me why. I’m funny like that I guess) I am completely self-taught. I just like this kind of stuff. I consider myself probably an advance hobbyist. The learning curve on FreeBSD was in fact VERY steep for me. I have however come to LOVE it. I kind of feel like I have found a “home.” FreeBSD seems to fit me very well. I had some breaks along the way, some lucky some not so lucky. In as much a Glock Talk is probably the only forum on the internet that amounts to a pinch of poo (and some of the lucky breaks came from here) I wanted to share. Maybe help out the next person.

    First up I found this set of cheat sheets . I found them very accurate and helpful. My running system is years ahead of what it would have been without them. In fact as a small token of gratitude I plan on forwarding this post to that sight as well. Perhaps some of my discoveries may be included there as well.

    I run into my first gotch’ya during install. It wouldn’t. I checked the md5sums of this iso, redownloaded, reburned, everything and sysinstall kept telling me it couldn’t write the FS. Lucky for me someone on Glock talk said something about 40 conductor VS 80 conductor HD cable. I don’t pretend to understand all that much about hardware, so I looked it up in Scott Muller’s “Upgrading and Repairing PCs.” Sure enough I had a brand new 40-conductor HD cable. Swapped it out with an 80 conductor and FreeBSD installed like a champ. Like I said I am not going to speak to what technically was going on with this I will leave that to the hardware people like Scott Muller and to someone who knows much more about FreeBSD then I. I will say it was a very EZ mistake to make and VERY difficult to track down. It was a lesson I will never forget. I would surely keep this in mind.

    The next problem was a little easier to track down. I was not able to get my network configured with DHCP. It finely dawned on me that aside from the LEDs the onboard NIC had shown me NO signs of life. I tried Knoppix. No network! I even tried a Window Ultimate Boot CD. No network! I disable the on board NIC and installed a 3Com card I had around. Worked like a top. Network now Up and Running J Note to self. Don’t forget the hardware.

    I then upgraded my ports tree and began to install software. Some things would install most would not. It’s sad to say, but the most valuable lesson I gained from all this was. “Make, Make Install, Make Clean” SHOULD work. I have found M$ (and most everyone else) Advertises things as ridiculously simple. It seldom works out that way in the end. I was attempting all sorts of things trying to get “make” to work. I even read the porters handbook. Once I found out it should work as advertised out of the box, I began to look elsewhere. I installed FreeBSD on another old box I had around, upgraded the ports tree and installed from ports anything I wanted. I now became VERY suspicious of my hardware. The MoBo was purchased from e-bay. (Never again) and it finely hit me like a ton of bricks. This board was advertised as “new in the box” “only opened for inspection” It arrived sans back plate, (MSI graciously sent me a new one without charge) manual, and driver CD. As mentioned above the on board NIC was DOA. I was willing to bet the price of a new MoBo this one was a goner. New MoBo arrived (retail new in box) and I went to work rebuilding the box. Now here is the kicker! I got things back up to where they were before and experienced “similar” errors with Make! For some reason I caught something about File dates. It hit me that I had not yet set the BIOS time on the new MoBo! I did that on the old one? Didn’t I? I honestly can’t remember if I did or not! Next PC I build I will have to try that old board as now I can’t say for sure it’s junk. I do now believe setting the correct BIOS time is an important step in installing FreeBSD. I’m sure this is real basic, but I really didn’t read that any place. Again a lesson I will never forget.

    From here on out things got MUCH easier. I caught the importance of the “wheel” group. Looking back I’m glad I did. I think its importance could be better emphasized. I seem to recall some of my scripts not running like I thought. Seems you need a restart to make the shell recognize them as executable. Nothing big just need to “CAREFULLY” RTFM.

    The cheat sheets talk about installing accf_http as a “CPU optimization.” In fact I got a warning message if I didn’t

    I had a heck of a time getting my ServerName set in httpd.conf. Two things I believed caused my confusion. 1) I thought you could enter an IP address (private in my case) and be done. NO! Apache22 attempts to use the machine name anyway. 2) This has always confused me. Seems everyone uses a different “default” my.domain, localdomain, your.domain, what ever. Finely I figured out my DHCP server runs on my IPCop and it sends out “Localdomain” as the default this is the one that matters. Editing /etc/hosts on my FreeBSD box to include
    192.168.1.173 bsd1.localdomain bsd1 did the trick for me.

    This was all pretty basic stuff but was hard earned for me. I hope if you have read this far you find it useful.

    Be Safe

    Mike
     
  2. hwyhobo

    hwyhobo

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    I am really glad to hear good ol' FreeBSD is serving you well. I used it since 1.x version, although I've strayed away recently as we use Linux as the primary UNIX-like OS at work (besides Windows). I like Linux, I think it's wonderfull (I also used it since release 0.99 pl 97). Still, my heart is with FreeBSD, and I know I will go back to it at some point. It's a great OS, and it was always rock solid for me. I was never as confident in any other OS.