- Choosing a USB flash drive
- Downloading and writing the image
- The NomadBSD setup
- Key bindings
- Global keybindings
- Terminal keybindings
- Enable/Disable desktop components, and auto-start programs
- Adding applications to the plank panel
- Display manager settings: Auto login, default user, and theme
- Adding a preconfigured user account
- Extending filesystem support
- BTRFS and XFS
- Wireless Networking
- Installing software packages
- Installing Linux® browsers for watching Netflix, Prime Video, etc.
- Multihead setup
- Changing display settings
- Selecting the default audio device
- Using an alternative window manager
- Advanced Topics
- Resetting NomadBSD
- Disabling the automatic graphics driver setup
- Installing NomadBSD on a hard disk
- Running NomadBSD in VirtualBox™
- Installing Linux® packages
- Resetting NomadBSD
- Boot process
- The boot process stops at the mountroot prompt
- Automatic graphics card detection crashes the system
- Distorted/squished EFI framebuffer screen
- Hybrid Combination/Switchable Graphics
NomadBSD is a 64bit live system for USB flash drives, based on FreeBSD®. Together with automatic hardware detection and setup, it is configured to be used as a desktop system that works out of the box, but can also be used for data recovery, for educational purposes, or to test FreeBSD®'s hardware compatibility.
Choosing a USB flash drive
NomadBSD performs well on USB 2.X flash drives, but writing many small files can be very slow. To improve performance, you should consider using a USB 3.X flash drive even on a USB 2.X port, as they tend to be faster. See USB 3.0 Flash Drive Roundup. Do not use cheap no-name thumb drives they sell at super markets and drug stores. These drives are very slow and unreliable.
Downloading and writing the image
Instructions for writing the image to a flash drive from different operating systems can be found here.
The NomadBSD setup
When you boot NomadBSD for the first time, it will run the setup wizard which
allows you to set your locale, timezone, keyboard settings, password,
encryption, and default applications. The setup creates a new partition for
/data directory which uses the remaining space on the storage device.
Depending on the size, creating the file system can take several minutes.
- Openbox menu. You can reach it by pressing the Windows® key (or Super key)/⌘ key (Mac®), or by right-clicking on the background image (root window).
- DSBBatmon. By hovering over the icon you can see the battery's current status and charge. Clicking on it brings up the configuration menu.
- DSBMixer. By hovering over the icon you can see the current volume of the master channel. Using the mouse wheel on it lets you change the master volume. Clicking on it brings up the main window of DSBMixer.
- DSBMC. Clicking on the icon brings up the main window in which you can see all the mountable storage devices attached to the system. Use the context menu of the device icons to select an action (un/mounting, opening, playing, ejecting) or double click to mount and open the device in your default file manager. You can use the preferences menu to change the file manager, autoplay setting, and multimedia programs.
- NetworkMgr. Clicking on the icon shows the menu from which you can connect to wireless networks.
- Date and time. Clicking in that area brings up a calendar.
|Alt+F2||Open DSBExec to execute a command.|
|Ctrl+Alt+L||Lock the screen.|
|Ctrl+Space||Open dmenu-run to execute a command.|
|Open XFCE 4 screenshooter.|
|Ctrl++||Increase font size|
|Ctrl+-||Decrease font size|
|Shift+Ctrl+C||Copy selected text|
|Shift+Ctrl+V||Paste copied text|
|Ctrl+Shift+T||Open a new tab|
|Ctrl+Shift+W||Close current tab|
|Alt+Left cursor||Previous tab|
|Alt+Right cursor||Next tab|
|Alt+[1-9]||Switch to tab N (1-9)|
|Ctrl+Shift+Left mouse button||Open link|
|Shift+PageUp||Scroll up one page|
|Shift+PageDown||Scroll down on page|
|Ctrl+Shift+Up||Scroll up one line|
|Ctrl+Shift+Down||Scroll down one line|
Enable/Disable desktop components, and auto-start programs
The program DSBAutostart (Openbox menu → Settings → Autostart Settings) allows you to control which programs are automatically executed when the graphical interface starts. Further, it allows you to enable/disable some components of the NomadBSD desktop. The changes take place after logging out and in again.
Adding applications to the plank panel
Open your preferred graphical file manager, and navigate to
You can also get there by clicking the shortcut Applications on the side pane.
Use Drag&Drop to add application icons to the plank panel.
Display manager settings: Auto login, default user, and theme
The display manager, SLiM, used by NomadBSD is configured to automatically log in the default user nomad. The program nomadbsd-dmconfig (Openbox menu → Settings → Display manager settings) allows you to change/disable the default user, and to enable/disable auto login. Furthermore, it lets you change the theme. If you want to add a new theme, copy the theme's directory to /usr/local/share/slim/themes/. To see a preview in nomadbsd-dmconfig copy a screenshot of the login screen to /usr/local/share/slim/themes/your-theme-name/preview.png.
Adding a preconfigured user account
If you want to add a further preconfigured user account use nomadbsd-adduser (Openbox menu → System → Add user). Since NomadBSD is configured to automatically log in the user nomad you need to change that behaviour in order to be able to log in as another user. See nomadbsd-dmconfig.
NomadBSD comes with a bunch of pre-installed filesystems (CD9660, FAT, HFS+, NTFS, Ext2/3/4). You can mount storage devices via DSBMC (see Overview), which is a graphical client for DSBMD.
You can enable automount in DSBMC under File → Preferences → Automatically mount devices
Alternatively, you can use dsbmc-cli:
Execute the command
dsbmc-cli -a to automount all currently connected
storage devices, and to enable automounting on devices attached later to the
system. To start this command automatically on session start, open
DSBAutostart, and add a new entry for the above command.
Extending filesystem support
The following subsections describe how to extend the filesystems support. Rebooting the system, or restarting DSBMD is not necessary.
Unfortunately, sysutils/fusefs-exfat requires a license from Microsoft®, and so it can't be pre-installed. You have to build it yourself by using the ports:
# pkg install autoconf automake
# svnlite co https://svn.freebsd.org/ports/head/Mk /usr/ports/Mk
# svnlite co https://svn.freebsd.org/ports/head/Templates /usr/ports/Templates
# svnlite co https://svn.freebsd.org/ports/head/sysutils/fusefs-exfat /tmp/fusefs-exfat
# cd /tmp/fusefs-exfat
# make DISTDIR=/tmp install
or the Git repo:
# pkg install autoconf automake
# git clone https://github.com/relan/exfat.git
# cd exfat
# autoreconf --install
# make && make install
BTRFS and XFS
Install the package fusefs-lkl for BTRFS and XFS support.
# pkg install fusefs-lkl
The program networkmgr, which runs in the tray, allows you to connect to wireless networks.
Installing software packages
You can install and upgrade software packages with OctoPkg (Openbox menu → System → OctoPkg) which is a graphical front-end to FreeBSD's pkg.
Installing Linux® browsers for watching Netflix, Prime Video, etc.
The program lbi-gui (Openbox menu → Network → Linux Browser Installer GUI) allows you to install Widevine capable Linux versions of the Chromium and Brave browser.
By default, NomadBSD enables all connected outputs (monitors). The tool
(Openbox menu→ Settings → ArandR) allows you to configure
the position, resolution, etc. of your monitors. Save your changes to
~/.screenlayout/default.sh which is automatically executed on session start.
Changing display settings
The program (Openbox menu→ Settings → Display Settings) allows you to change the brightness, gamma, screen mode, display power management (DPMS) settings, etc.
Selecting the default audio device
Right-click on the speaker/volume indicator icon in the panel, and choose Preferences from the menu. In the preferences window go to the Default device tab, select the sound card/device, and click on Ok. In order to take effect make sure to restart your audio application(s).
Using an alternative window manager
You can install different window managers and desktop environments on
NomadBSD. Select the one you want to start by pressing
<F1> in the
graphical login manager (SLiM).
If you are a tester, or your experiments with the systems left a total mess, you might want to reset NomadBSD.
Warning: The reset will delete
/usr.local.etc. Make a backup if there are any files
you want to keep.
You can reset NomadBSD as follows:
- Boot into single-user mode by (re)booting and choosing
2in the boot menu.
After rebooting you'll be greeted by the setup again.
If you have modified or deleted system files from directory trees other than
you might not be able to cleanly reset NomadBSD.
Disabling the automatic graphics driver setup
If you want to create your own graphics driver settings, you can disable
initgfx by adding
Installing NomadBSD on a hard disk
Start Openbox menu → System → NomadBSD Installer and follow the instructions.
Note: The NomadBSD installer will use the entire disk. Installing to a single partition is currently not possible.
Running NomadBSD in Virtualbox™
Download and extract an image you intend to run.
Create a virtual harddisk (VDI) from the image:
VBoxManage convertfromraw nomadbsd-x.y.z.img \
nomadbsd-x.y.z.vdi --format VDI
Change the size of the virtual harddisk, so that you have enough space to store files, and install packages. NomadBSD's base system requires approx. 4 GB, so resizing the VDI to 8 GB (8000 MB), which is the minimum recommended size, will give you about 4 GB for your files.
VBoxManage modifyhd nomadbsd-x.y.z.vdi --resize 8000
Note: Increasing the size of the VDI after running the NomadBSD setup will not have any effect on NomadBSD's filesystem capacity.
Start VirtualBox™, and create a new virtual machine. Select Use an existing virtual hard disk file in the Hard disk settings, and choose nomadbsd-x.y.z.vdi which we created in 2.
Go to Settings → Display and set the video memory to 128MB or more.
Go to Settings → System → Processor and set the number of processors to 2.
Installing Linux® packages
Before you can install Linux® packages it is necessary to enable Linux® binary compatibility. Let's say you want to install linux-sublime you can proceed as follows:
# sysrc linux_enable=YES
# service abi start
# pkg install linux-sublime
If you experience any problems, consult the NomadBSD Errata first.
The boot process stops at the mountroot prompt
If you are using a USB 3.X port, try to use a USB 2.X port instead.
Automatic graphics card detection crashes the system
If the graphics driver detection crashes the system, you can use a
non-accelerated fallback driver (VESA or SCFB) by disabling the automatic
detection in the boot menu. Press
7 to toggle it.
If you are booting a system with ATI/AMD graphics via UEFI, you might experience some problems. Due to a conflict with the EFI framebuffer, NomadBSD might crash or hang when the graphics driver gets loaded, or it just isn't able to start the X window system.
Try the following workaround:
- (Re)boot and enter the boot submenu
Onby pressing the key matching the item number.
- Go back to main menu, and press
Note: You won't see any boot messages until the graphics driver gets loaded.
If you see an error message like
device_attach: nvidia0 attach returned 6
you could try to add
Distorted/squished EFI framebuffer screen
If you happened to see that the screen content seems to be squished into the upper 1/3 of your monitor you can try the following:
Reboot, and then enter the loader prompt by pressing
3 at the boot menu. Then type:
gop set 0 boot
If that didn't solve the problem, enter the loader prompt as described above,
list gop to see a list of supported modes. According to the list
try another mode number for the
gop set command in 2.). If you found a mode
that resolves the problem, you can save that setting by adding the line
exec="gop set X" to
X is the mode number.
Another way to solve this problem is to boot your system in legacy mode. Consult your EFI/BIOS manual.
Hybrid Combination/Switchable Graphics
NomadBSD doesn't support switchable graphics like Optimus yet. If the Xorg server fails to start, disable one of the GPUs in your system's BIOS/UEFI.