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Welcome to the PC-BSD FAQ!

The FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is meant to answer the questions that users new to PC-BSD ask most. This document is under constant development, meaning that you may come across mistakes and out-of-date information. If you find a mistake or have a question you cannot find an answer to, let us know on the Documentation Forum[1], the Documentation Mailinglist[2], or by leaving a comment at the PC-BSD Blog[3]. We hope this FAQ is both simple and useful and makes using PC-BSD an enjoyable experience. We value your opinion and thank you for your support.

Please note that the original FAQ site at http://faqs.pcbsd.org/ had been broken and woefully out-of-date for quite some time, and now is out of service. The original intent was that content from that FAQ site would be transferred here and updated in the process. There now is a guideline for this page to assist those with desire to shape it - volunteers welcomed!


The FAQ is divided into categories. Each category contains related questions which you can click on to find their answers. You can use your browser's search utility to search for key words to help find the answer you are looking for. Or, you can read through parts of the FAQ that sound interesting and learn something new along the way.

If you cannot find your answer here, it may be in the PC-BSD Users Handbook.

PC-BSD Installation

Is it possible to install PC-BSD on an extended partition?

No. PC-BSD can only be installed on primary partitions. Unless you are planning on using the entire hard disk, your partitions need to be created prior to starting the installation. This means that if you want to create multiple partitions or install other operating systems, you will need a third-party partition manager. If Windows or Mac OS X is already installed, you can use their disk management utility. You can also use an open source utility such as Parted Magic[4].

How do I edit GRUB in Linux to boot PC-BSD?

The GRUB section of the PC-BSD Users Handbook shows how to do this for both GRUB versions 1 and 2.

Post-Installation Issues

Software Installation

How do I install software on my PC-BSD system?

The easiest way is to install PBI software using Software Manager. This is the recommended method as it does everything for you and provides an easy way to find, install, upgrade, and uninstall applications that have been tested to run on your PC-BSD system. It also ensures that you do not inadvertantly overwrite or delete files or libraries needed by the operating system or other applications. Instructions on how to use Software Manager are in this section of the PC-BSD Users Handbook.

Advanced users familiar with the FreeBSD ports and packages collection can use Ports Jail to safely manage their FreeBSD applications. Instructions on how to use Ports Jail can be found in this section of the PC-BSD Users Handbook. NOTE: using ports or packages outside of Ports Jail can over time render your system unusable, especially if a major library changes. Be forewarned and use Ports Jail.

It is not recommended that you download .tgz files directly from sites such as Sourceforge as most software needs to be ported to work on a FreeBSD/PC-BSD system. If the application you are looking for is not in Software Manager or Freshports[5] (which allows you to search for all available FreeBSD ports/packages), it is better to submit a request for a PBI.

When adding a new program without using the pbi system, you may want to use it immediately but all that is returned is a "no such command" error. In this situation, at the command prompt type rehash. What this does is recalculates the hash table for the path variable, which basically means that the newly added program or command becomes recognized as having been installed and will now be accessible to you.

Can I use Linux software on my PC-BSD system?

First, you should know that most "Linux" software is really "open source" software. That is, it is freely available for many operating systems, not just Linux. Most software that runs on Linux should also run on PC-BSD.

Like FreeBSD, PC-BSD uses something called Linux Binary Compatability. In a nutshell, that means you can run many Linux applications as-is. This section[6] of the FreeBSD Handbook explains this compatability in more detail and describes when it does not work.

However, you do not have to setup Linux Binary Compatability on your PC-BSD system as it is already configured for you and should "just work". To install applications, see the PC-BSD FAQ How do I install software on my PC-BSD system?.


How do I enhance fonts in OpenOffice?

Fonts in OpenOffice.org are rather difficult to look nice because OpenOffice.org has its own rendering engine. Basically you can only enable/disable antialiasing at certain fonts sizes instead of taking your system font configuration into account.

You can use Software Manager to install Microsoft fonts, then launch OpenOffice and click: Tools -> Options -> OpenOffice.org -> View. Make sure the boxes "Use system font for user interface" and "Screen font antialiasing" are checked and increase the Pixels to 16. Click the OK button and OpenOffice should look like Microsoft Windows with clear and clean fonts.

This section of the PC-BSD Users Handbook has more information on using True Type fonts.

Application Problems

Using PC-BSD

Help, I Forgot My Password!

How do I reset my root password?

Do not panic! Simply restart the system, and select "2. Boot PC-BSD in single user mode" when you see the boot menu. You will see some boot messages which end in this line:

Enter full pathname of shell or RETURN for /bin/sh:

Press enter and you will see a # prompt. Type the following command:

# mount -a -o rw

This will mount all of your filesystems in read/write mode. You can now change the root password with this command:

# passwd
Changing local password for root
New Password:

When you are finished, type exit to continue booting the system.

How do I login as root?

The PC-BSD login manager disallows root logins for security reasons and there really isn't a reason to login as root on your PC-BSD system. If a command requires administrative access, PC-BSD will prompt you for the administrative password.

If you are using the command line within KDE and need to pass the administrative password to that command, put the word kdesu in front of your command. Advanced users can also use the su command to temporarily switch to the superuser account.

How do I login to a window manager other than KDE?

In order to switch to another desktop environment, you must first log out of KDE using the KDE menu -> Leave -> Logout. When you see the login screen, click the button in the lower left corner (round circle with lines). It will open a menu showing all of the currently installed window managers. By default, Fluxbox[7] and twm[8] are installed for you. Fluxbox is a light-weight window manager that is easy to use and makes a good choice for older hardware where KDE runs too slowly. twm is designed for the user who prefers to use the command line and wants an extremely basic windowing system.

Since these window managers are installed with PC-BSD, they provide access to the PC-BSD system tools. This means that you can still use PC-BSD specific utilities such as Software Manager and Update Manager. However, you will quickly discover which utilities came with KDE as these will be missing in the launch menus of other window managers.

If you would like to use GNOME, see the FAQ How do I use GNOME on PC-BSD?. If you would like to install another window manager, see the FAQ How do I install another window manager on PC-BSD?.

How do I use GNOME on PC-BSD?

GNOME is not installed with PC-BSD, but you can install it using Software Manager. Simply search for "gnome" in the Software Browser tab of Software Manager, then click on its Download link to install GNOME. GNOME is quite large (about 500 MB) so it will take a bit of time for it to download and install. When the installation is finished, a message will indicate that you need to log out of KDE and select GNOME from the drop down menu of listed window managers (it will be added to this list for you).

The GNOME PBI will install many GNOME utilities for you which you will find listed in GNOME's application launcher menu. However, it is not integrated with the PC-BSD system utilities such as Software Manager and Update Manager. You will also soon discover which utilities were KDE applications and which are GNOME applications as each of these desktop environments provide their own applications.


How do I install another window manager on PC-BSD?

Will future versions of PC-BSD pre-install GNOME and integrate PC-BSD tools into its menus?

For 9.0, the developers are working on de-coupling PC-BSD's tools from KDE. This means that having a desktop which can use any window manager may become a reality in the future.



Compatible Hardware

Incompatible Hardware


Error Messages

Preliminary Questions

PBI Tutorials

FreeBSD General Support

Developer Documentation


  1. http://forums.pcbsd.org/forumdisplay.php?f=25
  2. http://lists.pcbsd.org/mailman/listinfo/docs
  3. http://blog.pcbsd.org/
  4. http://partedmagic.com/
  5. http://www.freshports.org
  6. http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/linuxemu.html
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluxbox
  8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/twm
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