[Please note: this is a historical post – I’m no longer running *BSD in 2014, and this is a collection of thoughts on its setup in case I decide to return to the operating system. Further posts from me will focus on other Linux experiences.]
So after not too much effort, I’ve gotten PC-BSD to replace my FreeBSD installation and am back up and running. Some minor tips, interesting facts and tweaks:
From the PC-BSD Control Panel, a very simple way to select the default sound device.
I’m assuming the situation would have been better than the Kubuntu trials and tribulations with PulseAudio – all the possible nVidia HDMI output ports are listed in this dropdown list, as well as my onboard sound and USB/stereo audio adapter. In Phonon, the list is much simpler:
No greyed-out cards or “missing sink”s – Phonon just shows the default sound card from PC-BSD.
So far this has been a pretty great introductory experience – the desktop is polished, KDE integration appears to work well, and manual configuration has been limited to what I’d consider more advanced functionality like the SSH daemon.
In the ramp-up to the 2013 Linux Experiment, I got ambitious and decided to try not only FreeBSD as my official entry, but to install one or more versions of Linux at the office (so take that, anyone who says “Well FreeBSD isn’t Linux!” I’m aware.)
There are a number of reasons I wanted to check out Linux in an office environment, and was able to consider this secondary experiment:
- Most of my work is Linux-based already. We have moved away from Windows-based systems fairly drastically since 2011, and there is minimal Windows administration effort. The much more common presence of professionally managed Windows virtual machines means that I can use tools like rdesktop if a Windows UI is absolutely required. Having a built-in SSH client is one of the reasons I picked a MacBook Pro for a corporate laptop, and Linux distributions offer the same ssh packages.
- I have the good fortune to have multiple corporate-issued systems available on short notice. If the experiment goes poorly, I’m only down for ten minutes to reconnect a Windows or OSX-based system. I can then resume my remote tasks through the diligent use of screen and multiple SSH tunnels.
- Another point in favour is that most IT support is now self-directed for software issues; there is a large (and growing) Linux user community internally and corporate documentation now tends to indicate proper server names and connection information rather than “just use Outlook”.
- Finally, there’s an easy way to back out if something goes wrong – it’s possible to reimage a laptop and rejoin it to the corporate domain without engaging technical support. I don’t keep files locally and my key configuration files are all backed up on a remote Git server, so getting back to Windows 7 wouldn’t be too hard at all.
Hopefully with this adventure I’ll be able to better able to contribute internally to the Linux user community, and appropriately redacted, share the trials and tribulations of running Linux (mostly) full time in the workplace. Wish me luck!
Looks being the key word there because I haven’t actually been able to successfully run either of these seemingly awesome pieces of software.
Amahi is the name of an open source software collection, for lack of a better term, that resembles what Windows Home Server has to offer. I first came across this while listening to an episode of Going Linux (I think it was episode #85 but I can’t remember anymore!) and instantly looked it up. Here is a quick rundown of what Amahi offers for you:
- Currently built on top of Fedora 10, but they are hoping to move it to the most recent version of Ubuntu
- Audio streaming to various apps like iTunes and Rhythmbox over your home network
- Media streaming to other networked appliances including the Xbox 360
- Acts as a NAS and can even act as a professional grade DHCP server (taking over the job from your router) making things even easier
- Built in VPN so that you can securely connect to your home network from remote locations
- SMB and NFS file sharing for your whole network
- Provides smart feedback of your drives and system, including things like disk space and temperature
- Built-in Wiki so that you can easily organize yourself with your fellow co-workers, roommates or family members
- Allows you to use the server as a place to automate backups to
- Windows, Mac & Linux calendar integration, letting you share a single calendar with everyone on the network
- Implements the OpenSearch protocol so that you can add the server as a search location in your favorite browser. This lets you search your server files from right within your web browser!
- Includes an always-on BitTorrent client that lets you drop torrent files onto the server and have it download them for you
- Supports all Linux file systems and can also read/write to FAT32 and read from NTFS.
- Sports a plugin architecture that lets developers expand the platform in new and exciting ways
- Inherits all of the features from Fedora 10
- Finally Amahi offers a free DNS service so you only have to remember a web address, not your changing home IP address
FreeNAS is a similar product, although I use that term semi-loosely seeing as it is also open source, except instead of being based on Linux, FreeNAS is currently based on FreeBSD 7.2. Plans are currently in the works to fork the project and build a parallel Linux based version. Unlike Amahi, FreeNAS sticks closer to the true definition of a NAS and only includes a few additional features in the base install, letting the user truly customize it to their needs. Installed it can take up less than 64MB of disk space. It can (through extensions) include the following features:
- SMB and NFS as well as TFTP, FTP, SSH, rsync, AFP, and UPnP
- Media streaming support for iTunes and Xbox 360
- BitTorrent support allowing you to centralize your torrenting
- Built-in support for Dynamic DNS through major players like DynDNS, etc.
- Includes full support for ZFS, UFS, ext2, ext3. Can also fully use FAT32 (just not install to), and can read from NTFS formatted drives.
- Small enough footprint to boot from a USB drive
- Many supported hardware and software RAID levels
- Full disk encryption via geli
Both of these can be fully operated via a web browser interface and seem very powerful. Unfortunately I was unable to get either up and running inside of a VirtualBox environment. While I recognize that I could just install a regular Linux machine and then add most of these features myself, it is nice to see projects like that package them in for ease of use.
This is definitely something that I will be looking more closely at in the future; you know once these pesky exams are finished. In the mean time if anyone has any experience with either of these I would love to hear about it.
While publishing this, the folks over at Amahi sent out an e-mail detailing many new improvements. Turns out they released a new version now based on Fedora 12. Here are their notable improvements:
- Amahi in the cloud! This release has support for VPS servers (Virtual Private Servers).
- Major performance and memory improvements, providing a much faster web interface and a 30% smaller memory footprint.
- Based on Fedora 12, with optimizations for Atom processors built-in, preliminary support in SAMBA for PDC (Primary Domain Controller) with Windows 7 clients and much more.
- Completely revamped web-based installer.
- Users are more easily and securely setup now, the with password-protected pages and admin users.
- Brand new architecture, with future growth in mind, supporting more types of apps, and more importantly, bring us closer to supporting Ubuntu and other platforms. Over 100+ apps are working in this release out of the gates!
It all sounds great. I will be looking into this new version as soon as I have a moment to do so.
Categories: Debian, Fedora, Free Software, Hardware, Linux, Open Source Software, Tyler B Amahi, Debian, Fedora 10, FreeBSD, FreeNAS, NAS, Windows Home Server