October 14th, 2003, 23:09
This is something that I posted to my local FreeBSD Users Group Mailing list that I thought I would share. A person was looking for a good book on FreeBSD and asking how some of us installed FreeBSD on our systems, this is what I wrote. If I missed something, please let me know.

I am offically known as a Book Hound. I prefer to have my information in my hand and not online. Don't get me wrong, I use online stuff as well, but, I like having my information on my shelf. I will give you a run down on the books that I have and I will give you what I think are the pros & cons of each. The books are in no particular order.

1. Absolute BSD, Michael Lucas. I like this book and the way the author goes about describing things. This book can be for the expert or the novice. There is quite a lot of information that is not in the other four. The book gives good informaiton without totally over loading you. This one is worth the money.

2. FreeBSD Handbook, Murray Stokley & Nik Clayton. You can not go wrong with this book, it is the "Bible" for FreeBSD. Some of the information expects you to know what you are looking for. There is also the online version of this book which is kept totally up to date.

3. FreeBSD Unleashed, Michael Urban & Brian Tiemann. Another good book. There are times that the authors expect you to know more than the total Novice will know, but, you should be able to get through it fine.

4. FreeBSD, Annelise Anderson. This is the Total Newbie's Besfriend. This book is written to totally hold you hand and bring you into the world of FreeBSD. I bought this and then bought the FreeBSD Handbook.

5. The Complete FreeBSD, Greg Lehey. This book expects you to know quite a bit and I find it somewhat hard to use, IMHO. It has some really good information in it that the others do not.

If I were to purchase just 2 of these books, I would the the FreeBSD Handbook and Absolute BSD. I have heard some not so good things about FreeBSD Unleased 2nd Edition and there is the new 4th Edition of The Complete FreeBSD that I do not have yet either. These are just my opinions.

If you are planning on doing an install, this is the way that I install all of my systems now. Do everything in small steps. The reason for this is so you can correct the goof ups before you want to get the stick and beat the computer until you feel better. My first install, I installed like I would have in Windows, FreeBSD, KDE, Mozilla, XMMS, GAIM, and so on. Everything worked and the machine was quite stable, BUT, I could not use the portupgrade tool because all of the dependicies were goofed up because I install everything at ONCE.

1. Do a minimum install consisting of the base install, the crypto, and the ports collection.
2. Install cvsup-without-gui.
3. Create your supfile & refuse files.
4. cvsup sources & ports, make buildworld and so forth. All of the procedures are well documentated in the books that I have mentioned.
5. Create your make.conf file, create your custom kernel. If nothing else, just make sure that both of these specify your processor. This will help your software installs later. In the make.conf make sure that it shows you as a citizen of the USA. There is certain software that will be benifit from this.
6. Then install XFree86. X will take most of the night to compile. I usually start this and go to bed.
7. Choose which windowmanager/desktop enviroment that you want and plan on the compiling to take quite some time. If you install kde or gnome, start this before going to bed. I personally use xfce. This is a topic of some debate on most forums.
8. Then start to install the software that you want to use.

If you would like some more guidence, do not be afraid to ask. There are other people on this list that knows TONS more than I do, trust me. I have learned what I have just written in the last several months by reading the mentioned books and asking others on this list. Some of my favorite online FreeBSD specific sites are screamingelectron.org, bsdforums.org, bsdvault.net, and onlamp.com/bsd and of course freebsd.org with the handbook not to mention the complete mailing lists. There is a lady on onlamp.com/bsd named Dru Levine that has several really good articles on setting up a new machine. I would recommend starting off with the 4.x branch of FreeBSD. There is nothing wrong with the 5.x, it is just my preference.