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FreeBSD Cheatsheet

FreeBSD 10 Cheatsheet

MIT License

Copyright 2015 Barry Allard

Latest version here

Common Tasks

Install GNU make

    (cd /usr/ports/devel/gmake && make install clean clean-depends)

Install Bash

    (cd /usr/ports/shells/bash-static && make install clean clean-depends) && chsh -s `which bash`
    grep bash /etc/shells

FreeBSD installation "sets" (aka "Components")

  • Usual defaults: none of games lib32 ports src doc
  • doc: /usr/share/doc non-man page docs
  • lib32: 32-bit compat libs for 64-bit systems
  • src: /usr/src Kernel and userland sources
  • ports: /usr/ports, unnecessary since it be created (downloaded) at any time via portsnap fetch extract

Linux differences

  • sed is BSD sed (GNU sed is port textproc/gsed)
  • make is BSD make (GNU make is devel/gmake)
  • awk is BSD awk (GNU awk (gawk) is lang/gawk)
  • sh is BSD Bourne shell, not bash (bash is shells/bash)
  • vi is the original Bill Joy editor (vim is editors/vim)
  • strace is dtruss
  • watch is cmdwatch (sysutils/cmdwatch)
  • libtool is in devel/libtool
  • git is in devel/git
  • perl is in lang/perl5.22
  • python is in lang/python27
  • ruby is in lang/ruby22
  • The built-in system OpenSSL is rarely current (latest is security/openssl)
  • The default downloading tool is fetch (curl is ftp/curl)
  • readline lib is devel/readline
  • clang is the default compiler
  • There is no service process manager (i.e., upstart, systemd), so runit/daemontools can be useful
  • Root shell defaults to csh
  • sudo is not part of the base system, so use su until security/sudo is installed
  • sed -i s/a/b/ whatever -> sed -i '' s/a/b/ whatever
  • find -name foo -> find . -name foo


  • Update the system (base system only, not ports): freebsd-update fetch install && reboot
  • System configuration: /etc/rc.conf


  • Audit all ports for latest known security issues pkg audit -F
  • Setup pf


  • Restart a service service {{service_name}} restart
  • Make a service always run at boot: /etc/rc.conf append {{service_name}}_enable=YES
  • Port installed config files are usually in /usr/local/etc however they can also be in /etc
  • Start a service without permanently enabling it service {{service_name}} onestart


  • List all packages installed pkg info
  • Packages FS hierarchy: /usr/local
  • Install a prebuilt binary package (could be old): pkg install foo
  • Update ports (build files, not packages at /usr/ports): portsnap fetch extract upgrade
  • Update all installed ports: (cd /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/portmaster && make install clean clean-depends) && portmaster -a --delete-packages --no-confirm
  • More ports doc: man ports
  • Build and install package from source: (cd /usr/ports/{{category}}/{{portname}} && make install clean clean-depends)
  • Search for a port: (cd /usr/ports && make search name=foo)
  • Ports development
  • Upgrade perl5 from 5.18 to 5.22 portmaster -o lang/perl5.22 lang/perl5.18
  • Most common /etc/fstab additions
# bash requires fdescfs(5) mounted on /dev/fd
fdesc	/dev/fd		fdescfs		rw	0	0

# htop requires linprocfs
linprocfs   /compat/linux/proc   linprocfs   rw   0  0

VMware Guest Tools

  • Needs lang/perl5.22 and misc/compat6x before installing via ./
  • em[0-9]+ are the fastest adapters
  • turn off tso sysctl net.inet.tcp.tso=0 && touch /etc/sysctl.conf && echo net.inet.tcp.tso=0 >> /etc/sysctl.conf

Bare-metal and virtualized console niceities

Season to taste with these:

# add to /etc/rc.conf
keyrate="fast"                       # for fast people
moused_enable="YES"                  # turn on the pseudo-graphical mouse
moused_flags="-A 1.2 -m 2=3 -m 3=2"  # For Linux-like console "paste" compatibility on VMware Fusion
allscreens_flags="-h 4000 MODE_352"  # For higher-res SVGA console on VMware Fusion and 4000 lines of scrollback

Bare-metal and virtualized other

  • Time synchronization: ntimed (net/ntimed) is far more efficient, accurate and secure than either ntpd or openntpd

Setup SSH securely

Go here

Other nifty things FreeBSD can do

  • Run Xen dom0 (run Linux, FreeBSD, Windows, etc., no XAPI however)
  • ZFS (FreeNAS... which is mostly just a Django app on top of FreeBSD)
  • Docker alternative: ezjail
  • The fastest, carrier-grade UDP network stack on the planet
  • Far, far slimmer syscall ABI
  • Run Linux binaries
  • Run Varnish on ridiculously huge, bare-metal boxen
  • Appliance like pfSense or your-fancy-enterprise-app-and-gigabucks-startup-here (see also nanobsd)
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