Opened 6 years ago

Closed 6 years ago

#252 closed System Defect (fixed)

Install Bugs still chronic, x86 and x64 comparisons and various Suggestions.

Reported by: GeeKen Owned by:
Priority: critical Milestone:
Component: Installer Version: 8.0-RC
Keywords: Cc: trac-bugs@…





In my last bug report (#230) for Beta/RC-1 releases, I described
similar problems to those that I mention below. However those bugs applied to the Beta/RC-1 AMD-x64 install. x86 wouldn't install at all within Beta/RC-1, at that time.

Chris has came to the rescue and has made good progress with the installer, but there is a lot more to do. Now AMD-x64 variant installs from the full DVD, with some work and x86 installs only off the boot CD with major work.

At RC-2. neither install processes are yet easy enough for newbies !!!! (see descriptions of the numerous issues below).

The two machines I have used for the Install and Usage tests
are :

A) Intel x86 32 bit, Single-Core = HP pavilion a410n, 2.8 GHz Celeron CPU, with latest BIOS (2005), no Video Card.

This machine really tests things out, for some reason.

B) AMD x64 64 bit = HP Pavilion a6130n - AMD 64 X2 DUAL CORE 5000+, with latest BIOS (2007?) and integrated graphics.


Both of these machines are used every day, for varying tasks.

I installed FREEBSD 8 on my x86 machine to compare usability and I found that FREEBSD-8 simply goes into the x86 machine without problem and is fast.

I conclude that there are major things about the x86-PCBSD-8 Install process and Desktop system which are CURRENTLY degraded or that are made too complicated.

Separately, the same x86 machine runs fast and reliably on :

~ Linux Mint 8, Fluxbox (a lightweight Desktop).
~ Fedora 12

(to offer useful, technical comparison).

(However when I upgrade either of these Linuxes, major problems always arise and so I am sold on PCBSD. When PCBSD runs great it keeps running great and upgrades RELIABLY - very cool).

PCBSD-8 RC-2 IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC on my AMD x64 machine !!!!!! It's so fantastic on this PC that it has become the system of choice for me.

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2) INSTALLING/USING PCBSD-8 RC-2, on the Intel x86-32bit machine.

Very Problematic, not really achievable.


2.1) Installation Bugs - These are still "Massive", in scope.

2.1.1) Full DVD = non operational.

  • The Full DVD install does not work and does not get through to the graphical screens. It just gets slow and stops early in the process. The CD boot-only install does eventually work, but only after a lot of sweat and frustration. This is however a major improvement over Beta & RC-1 ! There I couldn't get x86 to Install AT ALL.

2.1.2) Inadequate testing must exist in x86 32 bit variant.

  • With the "full DVD" install I won't even begin to explain what happens BUGWISE, but its huge. I cannot believe that the dev/test teams don't see these massive departures from success.

I suggest that your dev/test teams get some older PC's and actually try the installs on about 6 very different machines from the2000, 2004, 2008 era's, using both AMD and Intel. Also try the same install test with Video Cards and without, on these same machines.

2.1.3) Video Resolution show stopper

The installer needs to start with Vid Res set at VESA resolutions (50 Hertz, 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 etc), so that ANY monitor can work all the way through the install process.

In both the 32 and 64 bit install, I got "mode not supported" errors from several LCD monitors. This halts the install because it cannot be seen, anymore > > > - - - - - - - - ? ? ? ? ?

I had to get my old CRT monitor out of the shed to see the process enough to understand what to do to get going again.

The installer process needs to be able to :

a) Offer full, easily controllable, manual intervention of Vid Res (and all install factors, see 2.1.4, below).

b) Hold the settings all the way through to when the Vid Res choices are again changeable after install. There the settings are reversible by pushing the Esc key. (If I can no longer see the screen after changing settings, I simply push Esc and the prior resolution setup returns. No Halt of Install) !!

The changes discussed next,in 2.1.4, would handle this issue as one subsection of several. (More powerful setup options must be made easily available to the Installer User).

2.1.4) Making the Pre-graphical installer Main-Menu USER-FRIENDLY.

The pre-graphical installer section has a menu that comes up. Most of my current frustration is that this menu is difficult to use and is different between the x86 and the x64 installers.

It is problematic because it :

a) Has no Help system to describe what the functions do or mean and about how to use the buttons. This needs to be improved.

b) Does not wait for instructions - it just times out and does whatever it wants to do after 10 seconds.

I don't want to have to wait around to try to "catch" it before it moves on. Nor do I want to be forced to attempt to understand and Edit the settings in only the few seconds that I have before it races forward.

Suggestion is that it is reprogrammed to proceed ONLY after a "OK to Proceed" question is answered "Yes" and then Enter is pushed. If Esc is pushed instead, then it would revert to the setup Menu.

Better still, a summary of what will happen is displayed after Enter is pushed and then we are asked to agree to the summarized settings before proceeding. And we have another chance to Edit the settings before actually proceeding with the expensive install process.

An install cycle is expensive because it consumes so much time, particularly when it has to be repeated over and over due to a chaotic install arrangement.Currently we have to learn about each install option by doing a full install to see what happens (which is too crazy).

2.1.5) Making the Pre-graphical installer Main-Menu EFFECTIVE.

Another issue is that it is not obvious how many of the Menu options at the install control menu (pre-graphical) can be switched on together and if these settings are interactive.

For example I may want ACPI off and VESA mode selected at the same time. So this menu must allow many settings to be set.

Any interactions between these settings must be considered during its programming.

These settings must apply throughout the install process.

Any command line instructions could be entered within this all-important menu.

Any later install "Halts" could make recommendations which are entered here on the next pass. This would be a more efficient use of my time.

The resulting settings should be able to be saved somehow so they won't get lost for that machine etc etc. That's probably a tricky one !

Emailing them out to the installing person (as currently happens with errors arising during the graphical part of the install) or to their BSD tracbug account are two possible options . Or something equally clever (save settings onto a USB stick ?)

2.1.6) Automatic ACPI disconnection is desirable after an Error

Chris and I emailed about potentially having self-selecting ACPI modes, in future installer versions. This is still needed. (The Linux Mint 8 installer must have this ability, already).

On the x86 machine, ACPI had to be switched off before install. During the AMD x-64 install it was OK to leave it in default setting, which is ACPI on.


When ACPI was left on in the x86 CD-Boot-only install, a list of suggestions came up when install halted. No instructions were give on how to USE these instructions. They were also written confusingly and were of no use to a medium level tekkie, like me.



2.2) Operational Bugs - x86 32 bit variant - Needs work !

See section 5 below for more discussion about this.

The Desktop in x86 32 bit seems to get slower and slower as I use it. The CPU gets more and more busy, according to "System Monitor", in idle mode, with windows open.

In similar circumstances, this is not the case with the x64 install on the x64 AMD machine. Its "System Monitor" shows little CPU activity when idle, as would be expected.

This needs difference needs to be investigated !

In the x86, it seems to mean a continual usage of the CPU for open windows - this could be the older integrated Video system needing constant work. (I will try installing a PCI video card in there).

The x86 install also seems to be a little unstable too, losing text during Edits etc etc ? ? ?

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3) INSTALLING/USING PCBSD-8 RC-2, on the AMD X64-64bit machine.

I only tried the full DVD install as it did work. I assume
the CD-boot only install will also work for AMD x64.

Chris's recent improvements have made the whole install go better, for sure

Here, it was only the Video resolution that was troublesome, made worse by the hard-to-control install menu. This situation is described in the 32-bit install summary above and applies to both 32 and 64 bit variants. Suggested solutions are given there.

  • *

4) RECENT INSTALL IMPROVEMENTS HAVE HELPED MAJORLY (since Bug Report #230 and various others)

a) If and when the install process gets through to the graphical part, the selection-menu to choose "Internet" install actually works now. (The "Internet" option radio button is no longer greyed out).

b) Bugs are no longer occurring or being reported, under the graphical section. Thats fixed ! - Cool !!

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5.1) KTORRENT INSTALL - this is the same issue on both x86 and x64.

KTORRENT and many other programs do not appear in the "INSTALLED SOFTWARE" manager screens, after download. It is as if these are a treated as minor programs OR are lost.

When I went to install KTORRENT, I didn't check if it was already in the machine - it may have been. The software manager didn't tell me that it was, so I assumed that it wasn't.

The first moment I knew it was weird was when I downloaded
the KTORRENT PBI in the software manager. AFTER it came down, it then disappeared from the software manager screen. I later found it under "Internet Apps" but it itself does not reside in the Software Manager "INSTALLED SOFTWARE" screen.

I just downloaded ABIWORD on the x86 machine and it
disappeared after down loading, too. Couldn't find
it anywhere - - -


5.2) MANAGING UPDATES OF SOFTWARE - comparison bewteen and handling of "MAJOR" & "MINOR" packages.

From 5.1), a De-markation should be made obvious between "background" software and "full-time" or "major" software, in the software manager system.

Personally I believe that all software should be in the software manager, maybe under separate headings - Major and Minor, or something similar.

Does the minor software get updated under System Updates, or not at all ? This is another important question for the future - - -



Great improvements have been made since Beta/RC-1. The crazy mouse wheel issue has been fixed and now works great, for example.

Now in x86 32Bit :

  • The desktop is slow and clunky. For comparisons sake, Linux Mint-8 "Fluxbox" is very fast and smooth, on the same machine.

This area needs work ! This was how PC BSD 7 / 7.1 were before 7.1.1 came out - - -

Now in both x86 and x64-AMD :

  • Mouse entered "scroll bar" scroll commands stack up entries and WON"T STOP SCROLLING when the left mouse button is released.

This needs to be stabilized. Once I release the left mouse I want the screen to stop scrolling !!


5.4) KTURTLE :) Thanks for getting KTurtle back into RC-2 under "Education Apps". This is such a cool program for kids and is useful for some day-to-day tasks, as its simple. And I can send it to other PCBSD users so that they can use the App. Useful - - - !

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6.1) The PBI builder app could be better explained in its extraction and use. For example, there is no obvious "Run" button. Maybe it works differently. A basic "how-to-use" tutorial would be useful, for this important App.
6.2) The BPM App. (Version 0.4.1b_16) looks very empty when downloaded ! Does it work ? What does it do ? (BPM means "BSD Ports Manipulator").
6.3 In Firefox 3.5.7, the whole machine is often halted when awaiting on the likes of YAHOO adverts, which are large, often animated, graphic files. I have fixed this a little by installing the Firefox "Add-On" which ignores such things.

Can we maybe have it so that the machine will be free to do other things while waiting for Firefox to finish getting downloaded files from Yahoo ? This should be easier on a dual-core machine but actually the AMD machine used is a dual core and suffers from this problem just like the x86 32 bit single core does. So a puzzle right there – "compositing off" makes no difference, by the way.
6.4) Often the Menu Boxes that I open cannot be read as the boxes are too small for the text to be shown, particularly when showing directory structures.

K3B has this bug in its menu windows, as does ARK. Maybe this is a bug in the underlying Windowing system that affects all Apps.

  • *


More Apps ported from FreeBSD. Particularly with the ability to :

a) Input webcam images in realtime and hopefully connecting through to the video editor Apps. This seems to be available in FreeBSD, which uses "Video4Linux" software (which is available on FREEBSD) to achieve this.

b) Also get Skype working with any webcam, directly in PCBSD.

  • *


There are massive departures from the ideal with x86 install.

  • With the "full DVD" install I won't even begin to explain what happens here. I cannot believe that the dev teams don't see these massive departures from success before releasing stuff.

I suggest that as part of the dev process, the dev/test teams get some older PC's and actually develop the installs on say 10 very different machines from the 2000, 2004, 2008 era's, AMD and Intel, with Video Cards and without. If the install is easy go find another machine until difficulties arise !!! The same dev and test teams should also install Fedora 12 and Linux Mint * Fluxbox on these same machines for the experience and comparison.

It took me 3 years to get PCBSD (versions 1 – 7) to work on a PC due to these kinds of issues. Things have improved but I don't want to have to keep spending half a day to install every PCBSD-8 RC !!

Anyone should be able to install it in an hour with some work, perception and understanding. The install system needs to accommodate any combination of errors and system components.

Manual intervention is AOK while the installer is evolving. At the moment little intervention is possible and is also made difficult bu a non-haltable selection table - see notes above.

The fact is that the Linux Mint 8 installer is flawless, fast,
all knowing, automatic and easy on the same machine that
stopped the PCBSD-8 install in its tracks. The Linux Mint 8
installer consumed 1/2 an hour of my time whereas the
PCBSD-8 x86 installer consumed 1/2 a day and only finally happened because of my previous experience with the PCBSD install scenario.

PCBSD-8 RC-2 IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC on my x64 machine !!!!!! (HP Pavilion a6130n - AMD 64 X2 DUAL CORE 5000+).

PCBSD-8 is so fantastic on the x64 AMD that it is the system of choice for me. That's why I am spending the time to write this - PCBSD-8 is a fabulous concept and I want to contribute to it getting more widely used and even better, as time goes by.

  • * *

Change History (3)

comment:1 Changed 6 years ago by kris

Thanks for the report! Glad to see you so enthused about 8.0 :)

I want to get to the bottom of your issues with 32bit though, asap. I'm using both 32bit & 64bit here on various systems, some older, some newer, and so far it works the same on both. The installer code is identical between the two, so I'm not convinced that its a problem with the installer, when it could be something with a driver or such. Here's what I'll need from you to adequately debug this:

On the 32bit installs, how much RAM is present?

When you boot the DVD (not using live mode), does it bring up the installer, and when you begin an install, what error does it bail out with? Click the "more details" button and send me the end of the log file there, or if you can, bring up xterm, enable networking, and copy the /tmp/.pc-sysinstall/pc-sysinstall.log file via sftp to another system and attach it here.

Also, if you end up with a system where the video doesn't work with the xorg-detected video driver can you try the option to run in VESA mode? That should fix the issue, assuming vesa works as well. We already auto-default to 1024x768

comment:2 Changed 6 years ago by GeeKen

Hi Chris

We meet again :)

Great that this issue is probably more at my
end - - - Yes - I suppose the drivers change
from machine to machine.

I hope I didn't try to install the 64 bit package
onto the 32 bit machine ! Does it check for this
obvious User error ? I suggest that it is programmed
to screenprint what it's identity is during the
install so the User can sanity check him/herself :)

On the 32 bit machine with full DVD install, it
didn't even make it past the first or second screen
of text after the BIOS finishes (which is when
it says "FREEBSD Bootloader" and the "/" symbol

It just slowed right down and stopped. I will have
to rerun the install for you soon, to record its messages.
Wanted to let you know that it was an early failure, nowhere
near the graphical install screens that I think you are
referring to above.

Your suggestion to select VESA mode is a non-starter
because I have to select "Non-ACPI" (mode 2), at which time
it goes forward immediately . I tried to go "6" (VESA)
then "2" (Non-ACPI) but it seems to forget the first one
always. (Even if I go round the other way, "2" then "6").

Hence my request in this "Big Bug Report #252" to
make the Installer Text Menu Screens really selectable and
made so it can't go forward until the user pushes Enter
after he/she has intelligently selected all the various
options required for the installer to use later on in
the process.

The machine has 1 Gigabyte of fast, DDR400 RAM and
the RAM always tests positive during Boot. This
machine is running fine and F_A_S_T on Mint 8 today.

More soon.

Another minor bug I found today in the x64 variant is that
PBI downloads are deleted after they download ONLY when
requested within the software manager. Going directly to
the PBI site still works, fortunately.

Another request I have is for getting a webcam to be
captured into a file on PCBSD-8. In Mint-8 (Linux) I do :

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/ /usr/bin/vlc

in a terminal window. This gets VLC media player to capture
the webcam stream from the webcams USB port. Only problem
is that it seems to screw up the video system which I
then need to recover from during the next boot.

What would be the equivalent command in PCBSD-8 to connect the
webcam stream to VLC/Kino/Avidemux, or similar. Maybe there's
a good technical or White paper available about this.
Any suggestion very welcome !

Also I note that Mint 8 has a good recovery system which can
be run after Boot - is there a similar thing in PCBSD-8 ??
It checks all packages and even does upgrades there and then
Very cool, of course it needs it !!

More soon Chris.

Thanks in advance !

Ken Gibbs

  • * *

comment:3 Changed 6 years ago by kris

  • Resolution set to fixed
  • Status changed from new to closed

Ok, I think I understand whats going on here :)

You are probably running the amd64 ISO on a 32bit only system, as you suspected. I don't have a way to test for that just yet, since its only running the boot-loader stuff at that point and we don't modify that at all from the FreeBSD defaults. (That would be very messy)

As for the boot-options screen, that is a great suggestion. I've made a note on the wiki to reformat it for 8.1 so that you can enable / disable multiple options like that:

Also, we've fixed the PBI download issue, where the PBI doesn't get installed / disappears:

As for VLC / webcam, the driver support isn't fully implemented in FreeBSD 8.0 yet, but should be in one of the upcoming releases. Once that's in place we'll then be able to figure out the VLC / capture tricks ;)

We do not have a "recovery" system like Mint at the moment. If you somehow corrupt your installation the safest thing to do is restore from a backup, or simply do a repair / upgrade from the original installation DVD, which will restore your packages :)

I'm going to go ahead and mark this ticket as closed for now. If you run into other bugs in the future, please open a ticket for each specific thing, since that's the best way to track / fix stuff.


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