Deploying a desktop on FreeBSD is not as hard as many people claim. In fact, if you “just want to be up and running” quickly, it’s entirely possible to do so. I often take this approach, before I start compiling things for my particular setup.
I’m going to show you how to do this properly, using VirtualBox and vagrant, just for the sake of this post.
How to Quickly Build a FreeBSD Desktop
As usual, once we boot into FreeBSD, we’ll want to check for any updates. It’s best to make sure we have the latest and greatest version of our release. As well as the most up-to-date version of any and all packages, as possible. Then go ahead and reboot, if necessary
Update FreeBSD and Your Package Repository
freebsd-update fetch freebsd-update install reboot pkg update pkg upgrade
Great, now we can get to building our FreeBSD desktop, for the sake of productivity we’ll start with the binary pkg version. You’re going to slap me, if you spend more than 20 minutes building your first FreeBSD desktop from scratch. But, this is all you had to do.
pkg install desktop-installer desktop-installer
Select Your Favorite Window Manager
No joke. That’s all there is too it. I selected (8) for LXQT. But, you may select which ever you like. In general, Gnome or KDE tend to be larger, clunkier desktops full of bells and whistles, full featured, etc.. while the other’s tend to be more of a hodge podge.
But, you’ll probably find, as I have, that the flexibility offered by XFCE, Openbox, MATE, LXQT, etc.. is worth the hassle of rolling your own desktop. Of course, for the keyboard-only crowd, there’s i3/i3-gaps, bspwm, awesome and many more to choose from.