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Date:      Tue, 26 Aug 2003 10:41:52 -0700
From:      Tim Kientzle <kientzle@acm.org>
To:        Tyler Kellen <tyler@statuo.com>
Cc:        freebsd-hackers@freebsd.org
Subject:   Re: Minimalist FreeBSD 4.8
Message-ID:  <3F4B9BE0.5010209@acm.org>
In-Reply-To: <000001c36bef$da8d1260$a700000a@TYBOX>
References:  <000001c36bef$da8d1260$a700000a@TYBOX>

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Tyler Kellen wrote:
> I've got a 4.8 minimal install on an extra machine. As an LFS user
> I find the FreeBSD 4.8 minimal install to be pretty far from minimal.

You've found one of the major differences between FreeBSD and Linux.
In short, FreeBSD is a complete system.  It's designed, developed,
and maintained as a single coherent project.  (There are a few
components that are imported from outside sources, but the key approach
is still the same:  the source code from those outside projects is
integrated into FreeBSD's source code and then maintained as a
part of the integrated FreeBSD project.)

In contrast, Linux distributions are assembled from the results
of a number of independently-managed projects.

As a result, it is quite natural to remove (or not install)
components of a Linux distribution.  This is a less natural
thing to do with FreeBSD.  It is possible, and minimal FreeBSD
systems are being used in a lot of embedded systems (such as
routers, email appliances, and the like), but it does require
a bit of expertise to get there.

 > I've checked
> out the PicoBSD project, the MiniBSD project and the FreeBSD From
> Scratch projects extensively. I'm not famillar enough with FreeBSD to
> get any of them up and running the way I want.

Those projects are intended more for people knowledgable about FreeBSD
who want to customize FreeBSD for specialized applications.
They really aren't designed for people just getting started.

 > I'm looking for a way to strip down my 4.8 box to nothing but gcc and
 > vi. Unfortunately I don't quite know how to get there.

 > I'm hoping to end up with an empty system that I can fool
 > around with and learn from the bottom up.

My advice:  start deleting things and see what happens.
You can always re-install from the CDROM and start over if
necessary.

In the case of FreeBSD, though, a better way to start learning the
system is probably to install a basic system, then learn how to compile
and update the system from source code, and then start playing with
the various customization options there (read "man make.conf" carefully,
experiment with kernel configuration, etc.).  That will help you get
a feel for how the various pieces interact and which ones are
important for what uses.  You may want to set yourself a goal
of building your own customized release CDs (e.g. "make release").
By the time you get there, you'll have a pretty good feel for
the FreeBSD system as a whole.  If you have programming skills,
you can then start digging into the source code and seeing how
it all works internally.  If not, you can still get a lot out
of browsing through the source tree to see what's there and
how it all fits together.

And, of course, read the mailing lists and ask questions.
You've already got that part.

FreeBSD is a great system.  Welcome to the club!

Tim Kientzle



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