Ignacio Torres Masdeu

Technical musings of a proud father of three living in Bages, a Catalan county.


Last note: 2016 wk.35: Back to FreeBSD

Published on 2016-08-29

13 Fructidor an 224 de la Révolution

So long, GNU/Linux

After running NixOS and Guix on my laptop for the most part of a year I decided to leave those behind and go back to FreeBSD.

I really liked the concept of a purely functional distribution but I really don’t like the path Linux is going. I have no problems with launchd or SMF but systemd is neither. The fact that development of systemd started while SMF and launchd already existed is a clear signal of NIH syndrome.

Add to that the fact that Nix Expressions feel alien and even the promised land of idempotent configuration is not so enticing anymore.

So with that Guix had my attention until we got to the point that people will only take my ZFS datasets from my dead cold hands. i.e., I’m not willing to stop using the best filesystem humankind has known for a licensing issue. Especially when the GPL alternative is known to obliterate the user’s data.

Hence, I’m back to FreeBSD. Namely TrueOS, the rebranding of PCBSD.

ZFS data migration and TrueOS install

Coming from a ZFS enabled NixOS the data migration was as easy as creating a zpool on an external usb, making a snapshot of my home dataset and copying it to the usb zpool. Roughly:

zpool create wd500 /dev/sdb
zfs create wd500/mig
zfs snapshot -r /home@migration
zfs send -R tank/home@migration | zfs receive -v wd500/mig/home

Meanwhile download the last TrueOS usb image and copy it to an usb key:

curl -o /tmp/trueos-latest.img http://download.trueos.org/master/amd64/latest.img
dd if=/tmp/trueos-latest.img of=/dev/sdc bs=1M

When both things are finished export the zpool and reboot just to do things by the manual. I prefer to disconnect the USB drive to avoid mistakes.

zpool export wd500

The TrueOS install process is easy so I won’t get into details. After I rebooted into my new system it was a simple matter of doing the same process backwards. Import the USB drive zpool and transfer the snapshot back:

zpool export wd500
zfs create tank/mig mountpoint=/usr/mig
zfs send -R wd500/mig/home@migration | zfs receive -v tank/mig/home

And from there simply put everything on it’s place. For an instance I have separate datasets for Media, ownCloud and Mail so:

for i in Maildir Media ownCloud; do
  zfs rename tank/mig/home/itorres/${i} tank/usr/home/itorres/${i}
done

It’s not simply the laptop

I have four servers at home:

The thing is that I’m getting old and I don’t really want to run *BSD, Linux and Illumos all at once at my home. So I wanted to settle on one or two (one for desktop, another for servers).

I really like SmartOS and Illumos so before going all in with FreeBSD I will probably decommission mir and reinstall it as a Triton head node.