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Upon booting from the installation disc, the user is presented with this very spartan installer.
There is no need to fear the graphics-free installer. As can be seen above, the questions are very simple and often it is merely a case of hitting enter and going with the default option.
Files are copied from what OpenBSD calls "sets" to the hard drive, there is the option to grab the sets from off the CD, hard drive, via FTP, or via HTTP. Provided your internet connection is reasonable, we would recommend grabbing the sets via HTTP. A couple of the sets on our CD refused to install properly, yet worked perfectly fine when fetched via HTTP.
There are two ways to install extra applications in OpenBSD, ports or packages. In this screenshot, we are installing a minimal installation of GNOME using packages. Packages are binary installations and behave much like
rpm in Red Hat or
apt in Ubuntu whereas ports builds the applications from source, as in Gentoo.
GNOME is at version 2.24.3 in OpenBSD 4.6.
The automated partition sizes suggested during install showed their shortcomings early on. As can be seen, the /usr partition was quickly filled and was over 100 per cent capacity. Symlinking came to the rescue temporarily, but were I to install OpenBSD again, I would definitely condense a number of the partitions.
The first two commands shown here export the global variables needed for fetching ports and packages. The next two commands change into the /usr directory and grab the ports tree with a cvs checkout. (And yes, this would fail when enter was hit, and should have been run as non-superuser.)
Searching the ports tree is as easy as running the command
make search key=[search-term] from within the /usr/ports directory. In this example, we are searching for the gimp.
To build a port, change into its directory under /usr/ports and run the
make install clean command. This will fetch and build the programs and its dependencies — hopefully without too many errors.
In this screenshot we are installing OpenOffice.org via packages with verbosity turned on so we can better see what the
pkg_add program is doing.
Updating installed software is done by running
pkg_add -u from the command line. Here you can see our one major grievance with using OpenBSD: the amount of FTP errors returned. Typically these would disappear on subsequent reruns of programs, but the fact that we needed to rerun them was quite annoying.