FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi

I’m a FreeBSD guy. My first computer was a FreeBSD machine that my dad had running in a closet. I learned how to use Emacs as well as the command line on that black-screen white-text no-mouse interface. That’s how real programmers spend their childhood! 😎 😜

I’ve only heard good things about FreeBSD. While not known as particularly desktop-friendly (various Linux distros win here) I’ve heard tales of its rock-solid stability. I wanted to try running on FreeBSD again, just to see what all the fuss was about.


Installing was relatively straight forward. I followed the instructions here.

Once I got the card flashed (took about an hour) and booted, I reset the passwords for users root and freebsd. Note that at time of writing WiFi wasn’t supported; I had to hard-link an Ethernet cable. It found the connection without any trouble, so that was nice.

Initial Setup

Setting up the clock

The clock is necessary to start working with the ports. Set the config variables in /etc/rc.conf:

ntpd_sync_on_start=YES  # This one might not be necessary

You should be able to just run this without rebooting. (I ended up rebooting, but I think I did things out of order.)

service ntpd start

Installing the port tree

Run the following: (I think you can do this in any directory)

portsnap fetch
portsnap extract

Installing the critical tools: Emacs and Git

I tried going into /usr/ports/editors/emacs/ and running make install, but I must have had an option wrong because it tried installing… I think the entire X Windowing System. Yikes.

I gave up after about a day and instead ran pkg install emacs-nox and pkg install git; those ran pretty quickly.