OpenBSD Journal

Status of GNOME 3 on OpenBSD

Contributed by jj on from the gnomeo-and-jacoutot dept.

Antoine Jacoutot writes in with an update on the current status of Gnome 3 on OpenBSD:

It's been a while since I wanted to write something about the state of GNOME as a day-to-day Desktop on OpenBSD. It's no secret amongst OpenBSD people that the company I work for maintains (amongst other things) a park of a few thousand OpenBSD Desktops around the world.
The past:
  • I never look at the past.
The present:
  • "OpenBSD is an elistist OS, it is too hard to use."
# pkg_add gnome
# echo 'multicast_host=YES' >>/etc/rc.conf.local
# echo 'pkg_scripts="${pkg_scripts} dbus_daemon avahi_daemon gdm"' >>/etc/rc.conf.local
... oh yeah that was "hard"!

Just make sure no Display Manager other than GDM is configured to start at boot. That is all there is to it really, so reboot and enjoy.

To make it easier for people to automatically use removable media, like USB sticks and CD/DVD-ROM, I wrote a small application called toad(8) (Toad Opens All Devices). This application talks to ConsoleKit to detect the currently active user and uses this information to mount devices with proper ownerships. It mounts them under /run where GMount (GLib) can see them so that GVFS applications like Nautilus can be used to unmount and/or eject them with a single click (aka Joe-user friendly). toad(8) uses the OpenBSD devices hot plugging monitor daemon: hotplugd(8).

# pkg_add toad
Added to that that Chromium and Firefox are now very good at displaying multimedia web content, anything you may miss are the Flash-based advertisings.

The pr0n:

Since an image is worth a thousand words, here's a short webcast showing GNOME 3.10.2 running on OpenBSD-current (soon to be OpenBSD 5.5):
https://www.bsdfrog.org/tmp/undeadly-gnome.webm

The future:

There is some more and more awareness in the GNOME community that at least two major BSDs (OpenBSD and FreeBSD) have people actively working to make GNOME a viable option for them and I think it can benefit all sides.

As far as my little person is concerned, I am currently working on setting up a buildbot infrastructure with JHBuild to be able to run continuous builds of the GNOME HEAD repository (which the FreeBSD folks are doing already). "JHBuild is a tool used to build the whole GNOME desktop from the version control system". That will help us catch portability issues very early. It will also help OpenBSD fix some of its tools (I am looking at you libtool!).

We spent the last couple of years pushing a maximum number of local patches upstream and as of today, most of then got accepted. But there is obviously still work to do...

The upcoming most challenging task will certainly be to develop compatible APIs provided by systemd and that GNOME uses (timedated, localed, hostnamed and logind). Some parts are trivial, some others not as much.

A special "thank you" goes to Ryan Lortie from the GNOME project who has been an enormous help pushing us to move forward as well as Koop Mast from the FreeBSD-gnome team who has included me in their regular chats and with whom we share most of the same issues.

Big thanks to Antoine for this update on the state of our small garden gnomes.

(Comments are closed)


  1. By Anonymous Coward (199.243.65.6) on

    Okay, time to try OpenBSD on my desktop again!

    1. By Anonymous Coward (216.243.27.134) on

      Wow, installing and running Gnome in three lines.. that failed to work on my brand new install of OpenBSD 5.6. If those three lines actually worked, I would call it "easy".

      And I am sure they worked on your machine. But they did not work on mine. And if you look for instructions for how to install Gnome on OpenBSD, you find a bunch of different ways to do it, most of them longer than yours, and only a few of them will work on any given machine.

      Anyway, I will keep trying. There are a lot of things about OpenBSD that I like, and that I would like to achieve for myself.

      But stop telling yourself lies about how easy it is.

  2. By David Gwynne (2001:388:e000:ba00:3117:fac5:537e:7183) david@gwynne.id.au on

    i cant believe you didnt know rhythmbox. poor jmatthew@

    1. By David Gwynne (dlg) on

      > i cant believe you didnt know rhythmbox. poor jmatthew@

      show, not know :(

      1. By Antoine Jacoutot (ajacoutot) on http://www.bsdfrog.org/

        > > i cant believe you didnt know rhythmbox. poor jmatthew@
        >
        > show, not know :(

        Oh damn it you're right! Especially since I actually use it :-)
        By the way jmatthew@, I can has mpd support in rhythmbox...

  3. By Bonaventure Aquinas (31.193.133.168) on

    Thanks for the hard work to make OpenBSD have the best support for gnome of all the BSDs! I don't use Gnome but do use some of its applications and appreciate having a stable work environment.

  4. By Tracy (50.46.13.188) on

    Great article. However, I tried to install toad and pkg_add cannot find that package. What should I set PKG_PATH too?

    1. By sneaker (sneaker) on

      > Great article. However, I tried to install toad and pkg_add cannot find that package. What should I set PKG_PATH too?

      http://www.openbsd.org/faq/faq15.html#Easy

      1. By Tracy (50.46.13.188) on

        > > Great article. However, I tried to install toad and pkg_add cannot find that package. What should I set PKG_PATH too?
        >
        > http://www.openbsd.org/faq/faq15.html#Easy
        >
        >
        Let me have another try at this...

        I realize it's an older version of Gnome, but I successfully installed Gnome 3.8.3p0 today with PKG_PATH set to ftp://ftp5.usa.openbsd.org/pub/OpenBSD/5.4/packages/i386/. However, toad is not there.

        Does this mean that toad will be released when OpenBSD 5.5 is released? Or, do I need to be updating my 5.4 system with current? Just trying to figure out why toad is not showing up in the packages area...

        #thanks

        1. By Anonymous Coward (151.33.24.80) on

          > > > Great article. However, I tried to install toad and pkg_add cannot find that package. What should I set PKG_PATH too?
          > >
          > > http://www.openbsd.org/faq/faq15.html#Easy
          > >
          > >
          > Let me have another try at this...
          >
          > I realize it's an older version of Gnome, but I successfully installed Gnome 3.8.3p0 today with PKG_PATH set to ftp://ftp5.usa.openbsd.org/pub/OpenBSD/5.4/packages/i386/. However, toad is not there.
          >
          > Does this mean that toad will be released when OpenBSD 5.5 is released? Or, do I need to be updating my 5.4 system with current? Just trying to figure out why toad is not showing up in the packages area...
          >
          > #thanks

          Yes, either wait for 5.5 to be officially release on 1 May or grab a snapshot and follow current.

  5. By Ted Walther (174.1.146.68) ted@reactor-core.org on

    I've been watching the whole systemd debate in Debian. Debian and now Ubuntu is switching to systemd because they say that Gnome is making systemd a hard dependancy.

    Seeing how easy you make it look to install Gnome under OpenBSD, I have to ask: is this "systemd" dependancy a fairytale? Did you write toad to fill in the bits that Gnome would be getting through systemd on Linux? Is toad the complete fix to this "systemd dependancy", is the dependancy more of a myth, or is there more items like toad coming down the pike to fill in missing gaps?

    1. By Ted Walther (174.1.146.68) ted@reactor-core.org on

      I see now that you addressed this in the last two paragraphs of your article. Thank you. Somehow I didn't catch that on the first read through.

  6. By Anonymous Coward (2.36.152.32) on

    Not related but I couldn't resist:

    From http://www.openbsd.org/plus.html:

    Allow X(7) to run with machdep.allowaperture=0 on inteldrm(4) and radeondrm(4).

    A great day for humanity. OpenBSD 5.5 is going to be the best release in years.

  7. By Anonymous Coward (24.113.147.35) on

    Why am I forced to use GDM? Shouldn't GNOME not try to force dependencies to have better integration, rather than trying to manipulate the open source environment, impacting our desktop and what we can use? This just seems like Ubuntu in a different form.

    1. By Antoine Jacoutot (ajacoutot) on http://www.bsdfrog.org/

      > Why am I forced to use GDM?

      Who said you are forced to use anything?
      Try manipulating your brain, that may have a good impact on your life.

      1. By thomasw_ (142.22.16.55) on

        > > Why am I forced to use GDM?
        >
        > Who said you are forced to use anything?
        > Try manipulating your brain, that may have a good impact on your life.

        Exactly, you could always do something like what the FAQ suggests:>

        startx /usr/local/bin/gnomeX

    2. By Marc Espie (espie) on

      > Why am I forced to use GDM? Shouldn't GNOME not try to force dependencies to have better integration, rather than trying to manipulate the open source environment, impacting our desktop and what we can use? This just seems like Ubuntu in a different form.

      You're not.
      Do some research.
      Window manager. Modern. Look it up. freedesktop. if you don't like it, participate.

  8. By sthen (82.68.199.130) on

    ...............................................................................
    ...............................................................................
    
    Since this story seems to come up easily in searches for running GNOME
    on OpenBSD, here's a quick update for people trying this in newer versions.
    
    * The rc.conf.local format has changed; "pkg_scripts" must now be a single line.
    
    * For information about running GNOME on your version of OpenBSD, run
    "pkg_add gnome" and see /usr/local/share/doc/pkg-readmes/gnome*.
    
    * For the most recent version of the pkg-readme file (applies to -current
    snapshots), see ports/meta/gnome/pkg/README-main on cvsweb.
    
    * GNOME really wants DRM acceleration (as does KDE4). If you're seeing
    a "sad face" crash when it starts up, the most likely possibility is that
    this isn't supported for your graphics hardware in the OpenBSD release
    you're trying. As far as Intel drivers go, 5.8 supports Haswell, for
    Broadwell you need to run -current or wait for 5.9.
    
    ...............................................................................
    ...............................................................................
    

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