Why Linux Sux?

Imagine you have a disk full of your precious data that you want to mount to a new Ubuntu Linux system and add user to match the existing home directory.

# adduser user
Adding user `user' ...
Adding new group `user' (1000) ...
Adding new user `user' (1000) with group `user' ...
Creating home directory `/home/user' ...
Stopped: Couldn't create home directory `/home/user': File exists.

Removing directory `/home/user' ...
Removing user `user' ...
Removing group `user' ...
groupdel: group 'user' does not exist
adduser: `groupdel user' returned error code 6. Exiting.

Now you can say your all precious data goodbye. No questions asked. Core Linux utility adduser just found your existing data and erased them without even asking. The years is 2021 (30 years since Linux was created).

This is why for over 15 years I am only working with BSD Operating Systems [1] [2] [3] [4]. Its Open-Source with long-term maintenance and self-compatibility in mind.  BSD license is even more liberal than GPL for your products [5]. You should try BSD too :-)

[1] https://www.freebsd.org/
[2] https://www.openbsd.org/
[3] https://netbsd.org/
[4] https://www.dragonflybsd.org/
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_products_based_on_FreeBSD

Synaptics TouchPad on Panasonic CF-MX4

This wulf7 [1] is a really nice guy that helped me run full featured Synaptics TouchPad with FreeBSD on Panasonic Toughbook CF-MX4 [2][3]. Now it works for moused and libinput with all multitouch gestures like two or three finger scroll, scale, etc! The problem was in detection mechanism as device is connected over multiplexer with both PS/2 and SMBus but multitouch works only over SMBus. Although fix requires change and rebuild of FreeBSD Kernel I hope it gets quickly to the upstream [4]. I had a chance to exercise building whole FreeBSD distribution into the USB memstick image, so I could test driver fix on a target computer without even touching its hard drive contents :-)

/* psm has a special support for GenMouse + SynTouchpad combination */
if (active_ports_count >= 2) {
    for (port = 0; port < KBDC_AUX_MUX_NUM_PORTS; port++) {

That 2 above had to be changed into 1 in /usr/src/sys/dev/atkbdc/psm.c. Nice? That’s what I call a one-bit-fix :-)

In addition, when you work with Synaptics Touchpad in Xorg and you want to use its all features like tap-to-click, natural (swapped) two finger scroll, two and three finger gestures, don’t use moused,xmodmap, or xinput as this will produce inconsistent behavior in applications based on different toolkits (i.e. GTK will scroll up while Qt will scroll down etc), instead use the new way of input based on libinput and modify MatchIsTouchpad section of /usr/local/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/40-libinput.conf like:

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "libinput touchpad catchall"
        MatchIsTouchpad "on"
        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event5"
        Option "NaturalScrolling" "on"
        Option "Tapping" "on"
        Option "ClickMethod" "clickfinger"
        Driver "libinput"

[1] https://github.com/wulf7/iichid
[2] https://github.com/wulf7/iichid/issues/51
[3] https://github.com/wulf7/iichid/issues/53
[4] https://reviews.freebsd.org/D28502

LimeSuite on FreeBSD

I have ported LimeSuite [1] to FreeBSD [2]. You can now work with LimeSDR [3] / LimeSDR-Mini [4] and others on my favourite OS. Please visit MyriadRF [5] for various radio inspirations. Have fun! :-)

[1] https://github.com/myriadrf/LimeSuite
[2] https://www.freebsd.org/
[3] https://limemicro.com/products/boards/limesdr/
[4] https://limemicro.com/products/boards/limesdr-mini/
[5] https://myriadrf.org/

Mounting external ZFS volume

If you need to perform a data recovery from an external ZFS [zfs] volume you may find those hinds helpful:

  1. Attach encrypted partition where ZFS pool resides with:
    geli attach /dev/your_device_partition
  2. Import ZFS pool at given mountpoint (/mnt/zfs):
    zpool import -af -R /mnt/zfs
  3. Modify mount point location for a given dataset that may have mountpoint set to none what marks it as no mount (note this mountpoint will append to parent mount point location):
    zfs set mountpoint=ROOT zroot/ROOT/default
  4. Mount and mount all pool datasets:
    zfs mount -a
    zfs umount -a
  5. Mount/umount given dataset:
    zfs mount zroot/ROOT/default
  6. You can verify if your ZFS pool is active with:
    zpool status
  7. You can see what ZFS datasets are available with mount points with:
    zfs list

[zfs] https://www.freebsd.org/doc/handbook/zfs.html

Added GOBI2000 support to FreeBSD U3G

I have added support for Panasonic ToughBook CF-F9 U3G GOBI2000 to FreeBSD U3G kernel module [1]. I have added firmware for Panasonic CF-F9 and HP EliteBook 2740p along with gobi_loader updates [2] that are required for 3G modems to work.

At first U3G module will create /dev/cuaU0 interface for QDL firmware load, then after successful firmware load device will reload itself to a modem mode and U3G module will provide additional /dev/cuaU0.* nodes for operations (/dev/cuaU0.2 is the AT command intarface).

In order for this modem to work on FreeBSD you also need to tune some configutation files:

  • /etc/devd.conf:
    attach 100 {
     match "vendor" "0x04da";  #adjust your device VID
     match "product" "0x250e"; #adjust your device PID
     action "/usr/local/sbin/gobi_loader -2000 /dev/cuaU0 /boot/firmware/gobi/";
  • /etc/ppp/ppp.conf:
     set log Phase Chat LCP IPCP CCP tun command
     ident user-ppp VERSION
     set device /dev/cuaU0.2
     set phone *99\#
     set redial 5 10
     set speed 115200
               \"\" AT AT-OK-AT ATH OK ATZ OK ATE1Q0 OK \
               AT+CFUN=1 OK-AT-OK \
               AT+CPIN? READY-AT+CPIN=\"YOUR_PIN_HERE\"-OK \
               AT+CGDCONT=1,\\\"ip\\\",\\\"internet\\\" OK \
               \\dATDT\\T TIMEOUT 40 CONNECT"
     set timeout 20
     enable dns
     set ifaddr
     add default HISADDR

You now should be able to use your 3G modem connection with ppp -ddial, after you add your local user to the dialer group with pw groupmod dialer -m your_user_name. Remember to have U3G compiled in. Enjoy the Internets! :-)

[1] https://github.com/freebsd/freebsd/pull/115
[2] https://github.com/cederom/gobi_loader

Docker and Travis are Linux only solutions

If you wonder to use Docker [1] or Travis CI [2] for build test or more advanced automation, note that these are Linux [3] only solutions and will not work with other operating systems such as FreeBSD [4]. You may want to take a look at old good Jenkins [5] for wider application possibilities :-)

[1] https://www.docker.com/
[2] https://travis-ci.org/
[3] https://www.linux.com/
[4] https://www.freebsd.org/
[5] https://jenkins.io/

FreeBSD PXE Network Install

Sometimes you need to perform a network installation (i.e. when no USB or DVD drive is allowed to boot, but you can boot PXE). In case of FreeBSD you can use DNSMASQ to serve the DHCP that will assign the initial client address and configuration along with PXE boot image served over tFTP. At this point you will have bootloader running, so you can serve filesystem over NFS to obtain working environment and/or the installer..

  • Create a directory that will hold the target filesystem over network. In my case that was
  • Put OS/Installer files inside above directory
    cd /usr/local/tftp/FreeBSD
    wget http://(..)/file.iso
    7z x file.iso
  • Edit /etc/exports to export the filesystem over NFS
    /usr/local/tftp/FreeBSD -ro -alldirs -network
  • Install the dnsmasq
    pkg install dnsmasq
  • Setup the /usr/local/etc/dnsmasq.conf
  • Restart services
    service nfsd onerestart
    service dnsmasq onerestart
  • In case you get bootloader running but troubles with NFS make sure that mountd is running. Also you can see who is using the NFS shares with
    showmount -a

PXE Boot always use initial DHCP/tFTP to fetch configuration and bootloader, so the first stage is similar and should work with other Operating Systems and Bootloaders as well, the rest is up to bootloader itself..

FreeBSD Synaptics Trackpad/Touchpad

Use advanced features of your Synaptics Trackpad on a laptop running FreeBSD [1] with:

  • set in /boot/loader.conf:
  • set in /etc/rc.conf:
  • set in /etc/X11/xorg.conf:
    Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "Mouse0"
        Driver          "mouse"
        Option          "Protocol"      "auto"
        Option          "Device"        "/dev/sysmouse"
        Option          "ZAxisMapping"  "4 5 6 7"

If you want to have “MacBook” like two-finger scrolling along with other parameters you can set in /etc/sysctl.conf:







[1] https://wiki.freebsd.org/SynapticsTouchpad


If you want to use NTFS volumes on FreeBSD [1], you need to use FUSE infrastructure andNTFS-3G [2] port. Syntax of fstab is a bit differen in this case:

/dev/ntfs_partition /mnt/ntfs_mounpoint fuse rw,locale=pl_PL.UTF8,mountprog=/usr/local/bin/ntfs-3g 0 0

Also remember to put fuse_load=”YES” in /boot/loader.conf and install the sysutils/fusefs-ntfs port. Do not use hibernated volumes.

[1] https://www.freebsd.org
[2] https://www.freshports.org/sysutils/fusefs-ntfs

FreeBSD on a Hybrid Graphics Laptop

If you happen to get a nice laptop with a powerful graphics card, such as polish HYPERBOOK SL502VR [1], it is highly probable that you will use UEFI boot mode. In that case you need to use SCFB [2] driver instead of VESA. Use the xf86-video-scfb package to get Xorg running.

Hybrid Graphics at first used MUX device that did a LCD connect to a selected video card on boot. Nowadays both cards use common Video Framebuffer [3] to draw over a screen. The simple video card (Intel in my case) is always active, while the more powerful and power consuming video card is started on-demand (nVidia in my case). This however requires a dedicated DMA BUF implementation, which is not yet available on FreeBSD, so none of the cards can see any monitor connected, resulting in “No Screens Found Error” from Xorg.

I have already reported a bug/feature request to nVidia. Also developers of FreeBSD are working on the Hybrid Graphics implementation.

[1] http://sklep.hyperbook.pl/hyperbook-sl502-vr-p651rp6g-gtx-1060-p-25965.html
[2] https://wiki.freebsd.org/Graphics/SCFB
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framebuffer


If you want to build your own disk array, let’s say RAID, on your computer to increase disk space and efficiency, you should know about few important things in general:

  • You can consider MBR and x86 obsolete. New way is GPT, UEFI, AMD64.
  • Large RAID arrays (over 2TB) will not work with older hardware and OS (except FreeBSD) due to architecture limitations.
  • To use large RAID volumes you must use GPT partition scheme. MBR will not do the job.
  • Some systems can use GPT only with UEFI BIOS (i.e. Windows works with GPT only via UEFI). You may be forced to buy new motherboard.
  • UEFI and GPT is totally different way of bootstrap so you can forget what you know about BIOS and MBR here.
  • Hard Drives have hidden corruption-fix mechanisms in firmware that will make your RAID array fail to operate. For RAID choose dedicated drives such as WD RED (not Green, not Black, not Blue).

In order to use GPT and UEFI I have replaced my nice ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 motherboard with M5A97 R2.0 only because M4 series did not support UEFI. New BIOS is totally different, but I am not really sure if replacing the hardware was mandatory..

Summing up, if you want to use large RAID volumes make sure first that you can use GPT and UEFI BIOS is present on your AMD64 hardware. If not, still you can use the FreeBSD as it knows how to bypass some limitations. Also remember to use dedicated HDD for RAID operations.

FreeBSD sFTP SSHD chroot nologin

There are situations when you have a nice server out there, and you want/need someone to upload important files, but you only want to give them a minimal access to the system. You can use SSHD with sFTP and /sbin/nologin shell for that in chroot environment (dedicated limited userspace). Note that SCP in fact requires a working shell, so you need to use sFTP in this case..

Create a new user account with existing ftp group and /sbin/nologin shell:

# adduser

Alternatively you can modify an existing account to share:

# pw groupmod ftp -m username
# pw usermod username -s /sbin/nologin

You need to set correct permissions to the user home directory and public directory inside for upload:

# chown root:wheel /home/username
# mkdir /home/username/public
# chown username:ftp /home/username/public

Now modify the SSHD server configuration file /etc/ssh/sshd_config and append:

Match Group ftp
        ChrootDirectory         /home/%u
        ForceCommand            internal-sftp
        AllowTcpForwarding      no
        PermitTunnel            no
        X11Forwarding           no

Remember to restart the SSHD in order to apply new configuration:

# service sshd restart

Once the account is not necessary anymore remember to remove it:

# pw userdel username