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08.20.20

BSD (for Tiny Core Users)

Posted in BSD, GNU/Linux at 11:38 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

A lifeboat

Summary: “You wouldn’t call a lifeboat a “step backwards” if knew you needed one. Stay on the ship, if you prefer it.”

You can still use this introduction, even if you don’t use Tiny Core. I am using Tiny Core lately, because it is one of the better distros for avoiding systemd.

As I’ve said in the book that was just run here, GNU/Linux is dead. I still use it, I can certainly understand if you do, I would ideally like the GNU Project to be salvaged. Its mission is very important.

“Very recently, I was told that BSD is a step backward for freedom. I do not agree. We have a setback, this is true — but nobody is going to salvage or save the Linux kernel.”On the subject of copyleft, this article is more about kernels than licenses. I have defended the value of copyleft on many occasions, as well as HyperbolaBSD.

Very recently, I was told that BSD is a step backward for freedom. I do not agree. We have a setback, this is true — but nobody is going to salvage or save the Linux kernel. Torvalds won’t. GKH certainly won’t, he’s part of the problem. The Linux Foundation won’t, IBM won’t, Alex Oliva won’t. But before you blame Alex Oliva, I don’t think anybody will save it — that’s what I mean when I say GNU/Linux is dead.

What about Hurd? You go ahead. Maybe this will be a renaissance for the Hurd kernel. I never talk about that, because I seriously doubt it. But it’s a cool kernel, the lead developer is a backstabber and personally, there’s no interest in Hurd here. People will continue developing it of course, just like they keep working on ReactOS.

“RMS said that if it isn’t actively maintained, the FSF can’t endorse it.”The difference between a “step backward” and a “setback” is the starting point. If not for setbacks that have already happened, BSD (in general) would be a step backward in some way, from where we WERE 5 years ago. Until this week, “5 years ago” was also the last time I tried BSD. I’ve spent 5 years looking at our odds of salvaging or forking Linux. I don’t think they exist, but maybe they do.

BSD may be a step backward from where we were, but they’re not (IMO) a step backward from where we are. Ultimately I think BSD is all we’ve got for the future of the GNU Project. I’m far from alone in this — in many ways I’m behind on this.

I personally talked to rms about the options for a Free-as-in-freedom version of BSD a year or two ago. I asked if he knew of any such option — he did not. It was then that I found LibreBSD — but it’s based on GitHub, and receives few updates. It frequently looks abandoned.

“Eventually Hyperbola — the only FSF-approved distro to take modern threats to software freedom seriously — would switch to BSD. To me this alone speaks volumes.”RMS said that if it isn’t actively maintained, the FSF can’t endorse it. Eventually Hyperbola — the only FSF-approved distro to take modern threats to software freedom seriously — would switch to BSD. To me this alone speaks volumes. It isn’t the basis for my argument, though it makes me feel we are on the right track. The Hyperbola team is serious about your freedom. Trisquel gives you systemd, and Trisquel fans / users quote lies from systemd’s own creator to justify its inclusion.

As was said on another Free software blog, most of the people who hate systemd do not use free kernels or fully-free distros. But they are crapping on those who used free kernels and/or fully-free distros until systemd showed up. They’re not giving you the whole picture.

A number of those people (myself included) have retreated to options that give users more control over adding and removing components, but which sadly lack fully-free kernels.

“Alpine is not fully-free, Tiny Core is not fully-free, but Trisquel is Free In License Only.”This isn’t because fully-free kernels are no longer important — it’s because lots of things are important, and a distro with a fully-free kernel that is controlled by Microsoft (GitHub) and IBM is still controlled by Microsoft and IBM — and that’s NOT free. We’ve made this point a thousand times, but people ignore it. On our side of the argument are fully-free FSF-approved distro devs like Denis Roio (DYNE:bolic) and Hyperbola.

You guys should listen up.

Alpine is not fully-free, Tiny Core is not fully-free, but Trisquel is Free In License Only.

Meanwhile, the Linux kernel is getting things like DRM and corporate sabotage, not to mention it’s the battleground for a fight against copyleft — using copyleft.

Given the concerns about Copyleft being used by corporations against freedom (this shouldn’t be considered impossible, when the point of Copyleft was the exact opposite — using a monopoly against itself — so you’re going to argue that it’s impossible to use something that uses a monopoly against itself — AGAINST ITSELF? This is basic recursion, you should know better…)

“Meanwhile, the Linux kernel is getting things like DRM and corporate sabotage, not to mention it’s the battleground for a fight against copyleft — using copyleft.”I’m not against copyleft, but CopyleftConf being co-opted should make us think about why this is happening. In my opinion, we should have a Free Software taskforce to watchdog and comment on the future of copyleft as a solution — and/or threat. I have no horse in that race — I’ve defended copyleft as a political solution, but if it fails and becomes a problem, I would simply not use it then.

If we can continue the trend of using copyleft as a working solution as the GNU Project has in the past, we probably should. But it may take some effort.

My interest in BSD is the same interest that GNU had in Linux — we need a kernel. I realise that BSD has its own permissively-licensed tools, but the first version of BSD I ever used was GNU/KfreeBSD — a hybrid solution if anything, with the GNU userland.

Maybe instead of bending over for Debian, someone should have done more to defend things like GNU/KfreeBSD instead of defending a weapon like systemd used against it and everything like it. It’s too late now, but go ahead.

You’ll never be free again with the Linux kernel, so what are YOU going to use?

“…linux-libre isn’t (and won’t be) a fork, so a fully-free linux kernel that will become less and less free over time isn’t a solution as far as I’m concerned.”Again, I have no problem with temporary solutions like Alpine and Tiny Core. I asked rms and Alex Oliva for a libre kernel for Tiny Core on numerous occasions. I know it doesn’t work that way — but it would have helped, they could have listened. Oliva used to (as far as I could tell) promote linux-libre by creating it for certain distros, he really should have added Tiny Core to the list. It’s not like Arch was fully free, but there was still a linux-libre for it. (I’ve used Parabola before. Also ConnochaetOS).

But linux-libre isn’t (and won’t be) a fork, so a fully-free linux kernel that will become less and less free over time isn’t a solution as far as I’m concerned. It’s just a holdover. Feel free! But I’m looking for solutions.

I routinely promote Hyperbola as an ideal, but my first GNU/Linux distro wasn’t fully free, however it WAS a huge step forward from Windows.

“When people see you say no, even once, you may inspire them to follow your example. To give help consistently, you can make this refusal a firm practice, but refusing occasionally is still help.”Richard Stallman

“I could just sit here and fiddle with Tiny Core, but the reason I’m running Tiny Core is to say “no” to systemd and GitHub, as much as possible.”Is it better to be fully-free? OF COURSE it is. I didn’t switch to Debian until they had removed the non-free software from their kernel. That was a giant leap forward. I barely ever used non-free wifi either (I barely ever use wifi at all for that matter). The person who told me BSD is a step backwards, neither uses a fully-free/FSF-approved distro, plus he sometimes uses non-free wifi. I mean, this is ridiculous — I was (and lean towards being) more of a free software purist than he is now.

I am STILL advocating we say “no” to all of this non-free stuff.

The difference is, I know where we are right now — and BSD is likely a step forward from where we are, not from where we were. If you have a time machine, great — get in and enjoy GNU/Linux. Maybe from somewhere in the past, you can fix its future (according to some authors, you’ll only create an alternative timeline. But hey, it’s a timeline where free software sucks less than in this one. Enjoy!)

I’m using BSD to get closer to HyperbolaBSD. I could just sit here and fiddle with Tiny Core, but the reason I’m running Tiny Core is to say “no” to systemd and GitHub, as much as possible. I’d love to say no to MUCH MUCH more — that’s going to take time and effort. And more people realising what HyperbolaBSD already has.

I thought about Fury and Nomad (these are other BSD flavours), but both are developed on GitHub. I just stopped using a GNU/Linux distro for that, I’m not interested.

I’m interested in OpenBSD, because that’s what LibreBSD and (I think) Hyperbola are based on, but I downloaded it a while ago and haven’t managed to get it installed yet. I’m also interested in NetBSD. DragonflyBSD is 64-bit only, I’m not interested in that (This is also why I haven’t tried PCLinuxOS).

I was avoiding FreeBSD for various reasons, above all their ridiculous Code of Conduct. They switched to a slightly less ridiculous one recently — okay, so it’s not my first choice. But Tom is in love with some aspects of it, so I’ll compromise a little and try it if it installs more easily than OpenBSD (which I’ve retained the same amount of interest in.)

Bingo!

So at freebsd.org you’ll find docs plus an FAQ

So far, I’m leaning on the EXTENSIVE FAQ, mostly.

Under “Get FreeBSD” I find numerous options fo the i386 platform — Installer Images (nope) and Virtual Machine Images (yes!)

I will explain why I made this choice in a moment.

So I click back and then forward, to 11.4-RELEASE — click on the raw.xz and download about .24 GB, which I then copy to my Tiny Core server. I figure its specs are most likely to work on the first try. I have trouble booting this thing from anything except CD or DVD, I don’t want to spend the media (the easiest to find media here is also the crappiest) and I don’t want to swap drives out today.

So I boot Tiny Core to ram, no extensions — copy the raw.xz to ram and write it to the drive (again, this is from ram) using unxz -c FreeBSD-11.4-RELEASE-i386.raw.xz | dd of=/dev/sda … if I’d followed some relevant instructions I would have paid attention to details like sector size.

I read basically zero instructions, and simply worked out my own way to install this — with a single command, once the file was on the system in ram. I know this image is for VM users, it’s exactly what I was looking for and doing it this way converted my server partition scheme from DOS to GPT. Which is not quite what I’d hoped for, but is pretty cool if you think about it.

I rebooted and hoped for the best — and it’s running FreeBSD.

Fewer things worked immediately than I wanted, but more things worked than I expected — the USB keyboard works, the screen works, it actually boots!

Because I’ve used BSD a little, plus I’ve never been interested in Linux developers’ attempts to deprecate things for whatever hipster douchebag garbage Lennart and Co. are pushing, it wasn’t all unfamiliar. As with Tiny Core, ifconfig still works. It’s friendly and simple, I like it. I didn’t have to look up how to check if there was a DHCP lease.

Based on my experience I tried Single-user mode first. I don’t think Multi-user worked yet; I don’t know if I got the DHCP lease in Single-user mode or not — I know Multi-user does.

The eth0 interface (I know, systemd has its own BS) is sk0 on FreeBSD. You won’t need to, but if you want to run the DHCP client for some reason it’s “dhclient sk0″.

I didn’t get it working until today, but to mount /dev/sdb2 on /mnt/usb with an ext2 partition it’s mount -t ext2fs /dev/da0s2 /mnt/usb.

Single-user mounts / as read-only, to fix this “mount -o rw /” works. I used addser to create a user-privileged user, passwd to set the root password. I bet bsgconfig (very nice setup tool) would have let me do this as well, but I didn’t find it until later.

Once you have a password or user account, you can login to it from Multi-user mode. It’s a menu option when you first start up. From there (as root) I mounted a usb with an ext2 partition — it should also work with ext3 (you still use -t ext2fs) but I haven’t tried it. EXT3 Journaling is not supported.

Multi-user mounts / as rw (“soft-updates” — up to 30 seconds before a write syncs) and the sync command is available, but I don’t know if it works the same as in GNU/Linux.

The reset and clear commands work. You will find you have sh instead of bash — it is more minimal. The userland differs a bit from FreeBSD to OpenBSD to GNU — ls is in all of them, while BSD is closer to POSIX-only; GNU extends options.

In theory, bsdconfig lets you install more packages. I haven’t managed yet. I think it’s OpenBSD that lets you run Linux (ELF) binaries, but only 32-bit ones — I don’t know if FreeBSD does (let alone without installing extra things). I’d really like to have GNU Wget back.

Running bsdconfig, I saw an option to install PyPy. I’d love to. The clock is set now (old server, dead battery) so maybe it will install now. I recommend reading the FAQ at least. I’m on part 8.

I’m amused and pleased that uname -a works. I guess it’s from Unix (maybe that’s the “u” in “uname”) but I know Unix is what gave us things like ls and sed, it’s these commands I’m not sure whether they’re Linux-specific (most “Linux” commands are GNU commands or originally Unix commands, of course) that I find most interesting at the moment.

I want to learn BSD, so I will be more ready to use HyperbolaBSD when I get it running. So instead of just talking about BSD as an option for the future of Free software, I can actually have greater familiarity with the topic.

This is research. But if you think this is a step backwards — particularly one I’m making, rather than trying to move forward after a setback — that’s your opinion. You’re welcome to it. I’m still trying to be more free. Guess what? We don’t have the options we used to have.

GNU/Linux isn’t a real option anymore. But go ahead; some of us who do care a great deal about freedom are looking into other options, with very good reason. Some of us talk about GNU/BSD now; but GNU/BSD isn’t going to happen without a kernel. Or without BSD.

I said more than a year ago that we needed lifeboats. That’s what this is, you know. BSD is (now, thanks to Microsoft, GitHub and IBM) a lifeboat for the GNU Project, while the FSF supports Microsoft, GitHub and systemd. You wouldn’t call a lifeboat a “step backwards” if knew you needed one. Stay on the ship, if you prefer it. The rest of us hope to rebuild, but at least will try.

Some of the points of this article may prove due to misunderstanding what was said. That’s okay, no harm done — but I don’t think running FreeBSD right now is frivolous or silly, or I wouldn’t do it.

Long Live rms, and happy hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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