FreeSBIE - Live Bootable FreeBSD

Posted Jul. 16, 2004 in Linux/Unix/BSD -

FreeSBIE is a live, bootable CD based on FreeBSD (like Knoppix and Ubuntu for Linux). Pop the CD into your CDROM, reboot the system and you have a live working FreeBSD system using the XFCE desktop without harming the rest of your system. FreeSBIE 1.0 uses FreeBSD 5.2.1

You can find out more about FreeSBIE at the FreeSBIE website. They have a list of FAQs and download mirrors.

Buy FreesBIE from the Linux CD Mall in New Zealand.

I have so far only tested this on one PC (the one I normally use as my Windows desktop) and within a VMWare environment. It boots up fairly quickly; once you start up the GUI it can take some time for individual applications to start running but this is because they must be loaded off the CD before they can run. This is typical for all live CD distributions.

Some screenshosts (and comments) of FreeSBIE are shown below:

Boot Menu and Options

FreeSBIE boot

After booting up this is the menu you first get. After 9 seconds it will automatically start the default option 1, which is to boot into FreeSBIE. There are also options to boot with ACPI disabled, in safe mode, in single user mode, with verbose logging, escape to a loader prompt or to reboot the system. I only tried the default option.

Select Language and Keyboard Layout

FreeSBIE Select Language

After selecting the boot option you get to select your language...

FreeSBIE Select Keyboard Layout

and keyboard layout. Being an English speaker I chose the US English option and didn't bother to try other language options. Note that some of the applications (in particular the file browser shown in the last screenshot) have Italian menus.

After the system has booted up a message is displayed showing you your various options. This scrolls off the screen so to read it you need to use less /root/.message. I have a copy of the full text from this file here.

I did have some problems with getting my network connection working; for some reason it wouldn't get an IP address from my local DHCP server so I had to manually allocate one using the ifconfig command. I don't have a modem in my desktop so I don't know how well (or if at all) FreeSBIE works with a modem and dial up connection.

Console Screensaver

Console Screensaver

If you stay using the console the screensaver will pop up now and then. This is shown above. This is the FreeBSD daemon mascot.


To start the GUI from the command line, type xinit at the command line. This starts the XFCE GUI desktop environment. Some example screenshots of this environment are shown below.

Running XFCE on
View a larger version of this screenshot

The background is reminiscent of the default Windows XP background. The taskbar at the bottom of the screen autohides. Move your mouse over the area at the bottom of the screen and it will appear. Move it away and it disappears. There's also a similar bar at the top of the screen which shows the current running applications.

The application running off to the right is a system monitor type application, displaing information such as date and time, processor usage, number of running processes, number of users logged in, network activity and memory usage.

I could not work out if there is any way to mount the exisitng hard drives (my desktop has both Windows NTFS and Linux ReiserFS drives) but my knowledge of FreeBSD is somewhat limited so I am not sure if this is possible or not.

There are a number of applications to try out including Mozilla Firefox, Nmap, GFTP, Mutt, Pan, Bluefish, Ethereal, Evolution, Gaim, XMMS, The Gimp and many others.

Running XFCE on
View a larger version of this screenshot

This screenshot shows the file browser overlaid on a command line console.

The screenshots were captured from FreeSBIE running in VMWare on Windows.