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FreeBSD Basics Turn FreeBSD into a Multimedia Workstation

by Dru Lavigne

I recently purchased a shiny new PC and decided to turn it into a multimedia desktop. I spend far too much time in research and networking; I figured it was time to delve deeper into the world of Flash, DVD, and mp3s.

FreeBSD still seems to get a bad rap as a desktop. The impression is still out there that sure, it's a rock-solid server, but you need a master's degree in rocket science in order to get a sound card or Java to work. Hogwash. Granted, you still have to take the time to build and configure the components you desire, but that is the beauty of FreeBSD. No company is deciding for you what you want in your desktop, and you have the satisfaction of knowing you built your system your way. Not to mention the literally hundreds of multimedia applications to choose from, some which put their commercial counterparts to shame.

In today's article, I'll concentrate on a fresh install that is totally up-to-date, then move on to integrating Java, Flash, and streaming multimedia into a browser. I'll be taking the slow, systematic route, so follow along and pick out the bits that are interesting to you.

Being the paranoid person that I am, I like to install from CD, reboot into a firewalled system, than CVSup to the latest sources. Before starting any install, I always copy the following onto a floppy:

I then start the install from CD and choose to install everything, including the ports collection. Once bin has been installed, I press Alt-F4, which now has a prompt. I then mount the floppy and copy over the first three files:

mkdir /floppy
mount -t msdos /dev/fd0 /floppy
cp /floppy/.cshrc .
source .cshrc  (I now have my favorite prompt)

cp /floppy/.cshrc /usr/share/skel/dot.cshrc (now the users I create will 
					    also get my favorite prompt)

cp /floppy/ipfw.rules /etc/
cp /floppy/rc.conf /etc/
umount /floppy

Usually, by the time I've unmounted the floppy, the install is also finished and prompting me for post-install configuration. I then reboot and watch the messages to ensure that my firewall rules successfully load.

Now that I'm protected by a firewall, I'll go out on the Internet and download the latest sources and today's port collection. First, I'll install the cvsup-without-gui utility:

cd /usr/ports/net/cvsup-without-gui
make install clean

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