FreeBSD On The Desktop (Part IV: A New Hope)

Due to my recent bad luck with electricity, I was using my home server as a desktop all last week. As a result, I have some more notes to add about using FreeBSD as a Desktop machine, which I hope others may find useful.

Read on for more about Printing, Firefox and Thunderbird interoperability, mounting a USB mass storage device, CD burning with K3B, and Video playback.

First: Printing. It was surprisingly easy. My printer at home is an HP PhotoSmart 7450 that is hooked up to my wife’s PC and shared. This printer is supported via the HPIJS driver. I started CUPS, browsed for the printer, gave it my username and password, and it just worked. It printed a test page in full color and it looked quite good. I didn’t need to print anything major so I have not tested it thoroughly.

I had to do some fiddling to get Firefox and Thunderbird to launch each other for links (web links from TB, mailto from FF)

Getting Thunderbird to launch Firefox (for links) add this to prefs.js:

user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.ftp", "/usr/X11R6/bin/firefox");
user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.http", "/usr/X11R6/bin/firefox");
user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.https", "/usr/X11R6/bin/firefox");

Getting Firefox to launch Thunderbird (for mailto) add this to prefs.js:

user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.mailto","/usr/X11R6/bin/thunderbird");

Next, I also had to copy some pictures off of my digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix FZ-30, which presents it self as an ordinary USB mass storage device. Using it was pretty simple. I simple had to create a mount point and mount the camera, then unmount it when I was finished (before unplugging it!) The steps were as follows:

mkdir /mnt/camera
plug in camera
mount -t msdos /dev/da0s1 /mnt/camera (I added an entry in /etc/fstab for this)
cp /mnt/camera/dcim/102_pana/* /home/shared/newpix/
umount /mnt/camera
unplug camera

I did that as root, but with some /etc/devfs.conf magic, it could be done as a normal user. Speaking of devfs.conf, I did have to make some alterations in order to get K3B working to let me burn CDs as myself instead of as root. I added the following lines to /etc/devfs.conf:

perm cd0 0666
perm pass0 0666
perm xpt0 0666

I also needed to playback some videos, and I found that VLC is what I prefer to use, but it doesn’t support quicktime (or I missed the option to compile in support for it…) but I used mplayer and it played the quicktime video I needed.

For this week at least, I didn’t encounter anything that I had to do which was not possible under FreeBSD that I could have done under Windows.

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