Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 by The FreeBSD Documentation Project
188.8.131.52 2002/01/20 02:02:04 bmah Exp $
This distribution is a release of FreeBSD 4.5-RELEASE, the latest point along the 4-STABLE branch.
FreeBSD is an operating system based on 4.4 BSD Lite for Intel, AMD, Cyrix or NexGen ``x86'' based PC hardware and Compaq (formerly DEC) Alpha computers. Versions for the IA64, PowerPC, and Sparc64 architectures are currently under development as well. FreeBSD works with a wide variety of peripherals and configurations and can be used for everything from software development to games to Internet Service Provision.
This release of FreeBSD contains everything you need to run such a system, including full source code for the kernel and all utilities in the base distribution. With the source distribution installed, you can literally recompile the entire system from scratch with one command, making it ideal for students, researchers, or users who simply want to see how it all works.
A large collection of third-party ported software (the ``Ports Collection'') is also provided to make it easy to obtain and install all your favorite traditional UNIX utilities for FreeBSD. Each ``port'' consists of a set of scripts to retrieve, configure, build, and install a piece of software, with a single command. Over 6,300 ports, from editors to programming languages to graphical applications, make FreeBSD a powerful and comprehensive operating environment that extends far beyond what's provided by many commercial versions of UNIX. Most ports are also available as pre-compiled ``packages'', which can be quickly installed from the installation program.
This release of FreeBSD is suitable for all users. It has undergone a period of testing and quality assurance checking to ensure the highest reliability and dependability.
FreeBSD may be obtained in a variety of ways. This section focuses on those ways that are primarily useful for obtaining a complete FreeBSD distribution, rather than updating an existing installation.
FreeBSD -RELEASE distributions may be ordered on CDROM or DVD from several publishers. This is frequently the most convenient way to obtain FreeBSD for new installations, as it provides a convenient way to quickly reinstall the system if necessary. Some distributions include some of the optional, precompiled ``packages'' from the FreeBSD Ports Collection.
A list of the CDROM and DVD publishers known to the project are listed in the ``Obtaining FreeBSD'' appendix to the Handbook.
You can use FTP to retrieve FreeBSD and any or all of its optional packages from ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/, which is the official FreeBSD release site, or any of its ``mirrors''.
Lists of locations that mirror FreeBSD can be found in the FTP Sites section of the Handbook, or on the http://www.freebsdmirrors.org/ Web pages. Finding a close (in networking terms) mirror from which to download the distribution is highly recommended.
Additional mirror sites are always welcome. Contact <freebsd-admin@FreeBSD.org> for more details on becoming an official mirror site.
Mirrors generally contain the floppy disk images necessary to begin an installation, as well as the distribution files needed for the install process itself. Many mirrors also contain the ISO images necessary to create a CDROM of a FreeBSD release.
For any questions or general technical support issues, please send mail to the FreeBSD general questions mailing list <freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.org>.
If you are tracking the -STABLE development efforts, you must join the FreeBSD-stable mailing list <freebsd-stable@FreeBSD.org>, in order to keep abreast of recent developments and changes that may affect the way you use and maintain the system.
Being a largely-volunteer effort, the FreeBSD Project is always happy to have extra hands willing to help--there are already far more desired enhancements than there is time to implement them. To contact the developers on technical matters, or with offers of help, please send mail to the FreeBSD technical discussions mailing list <freebsd-hackers@FreeBSD.org>.
Please note that these mailing lists can experience significant amounts of traffic. If you have slow or expensive mail access, or are only interested in keeping up with major FreeBSD events, you may find it preferable to subscribe instead to the FreeBSD announcements mailing list <freebsd-announce@FreeBSD.org>.
All of the mailing lists can be freely joined by anyone wishing to do so. Send mail to <majordomo@FreeBSD.org> and include the keyword help on a line by itself somewhere in the body of the message. This will give you more information on joining the various lists, accessing archives, etc. There are a number of mailing lists targeted at special interest groups not mentioned here; more information can be obtained either through majordomo or the mailing lists section of the FreeBSD Web site.
Important: Do not send email to the lists asking to be subscribed. Use the <majordomo@FreeBSD.org> address instead.
Suggestions, bug reports and contributions of code are always valued--please do not hesitate to report any problems you may find. Bug reports with attached fixes are of course even more welcome.
The preferred method to submit bug reports from a machine with Internet mail connectivity is to use the send-pr(1) command or use the Web form at http://www.FreeBSD.org/send-pr.html. ``Problem Reports'' (PRs) submitted in this way will be filed and their progress tracked; the FreeBSD developers will do their best to respond to all reported bugs as soon as possible. A list of all active PRs is available on the FreeBSD Web site; this list is useful to see what potential problems other users have encountered.
Note that send-pr(1) itself is a shell script that should be easy to move even onto a non-FreeBSD system. Using this interface is highly preferred. If, for some reason, you are unable to use send-pr(1) to submit a bug report, you can try to send it to the FreeBSD problem reports mailing list <freebsd-bugs@FreeBSD.org>.
For more information, ``Writing FreeBSD Problem Reports'', available on the FreeBSD Web site, has a number of helpful hints on writing and submitting effective problem reports.
There are many sources of information about FreeBSD; some are included with this distribution, while others are available on-line or in print versions.
A number of other files provide more specific information about this release distribution. These files are provided in various formats. Most distributions will include both ASCII text (.TXT) and HTML (.HTM) renditions. Some distributions may also include other formats such as PostScript (.PS) or Portable Document Format (.PDF).
README.TXT: This file, which gives some general information about FreeBSD as well as some cursory notes about obtaining a distribution.
RELNOTES.TXT: The release notes, showing what's new and different in FreeBSD 4.5-RELEASE compared to the previous release (FreeBSD 4.4-RELEASE).
HARDWARE.TXT: The hardware compatability list, showing devices with which FreeBSD has been tested and is known to work.
INSTALL.TXT: Installation instructions for installing FreeBSD from its distribution media.
ERRATA.TXT: Release errata. Late-breaking, post-release information can be found in this file, which is principally applicable to releases (as opposed to snapshots). It is important to consult this file before installing a release of FreeBSD, as it contains the latest information on problems which have been found and fixed since the release was created.
Note: Several of these documents (in particular, RELNOTES.TXT, HARDWARE.TXT, and INSTALL.TXT) contain information that is specific to a particular hardware architecture. For example, the alpha release notes contain information not applicable to the i386, and vice versa. The architecture for which each document applies will be listed in that document's title.
These documents are generally available via the Documentation menu during installation. Once the system is installed, you can revisit this menu by running the sysinstall(8) utility.
Note: It is extremely important to read the errata for any given release before installing it, to learn about any ``late-breaking news'' or post-release problems. The errata file accompanying each release (most likely right next to this file) is already out of date by definition, but other copies are kept updated on the Internet and should be consulted as the ``current errata'' for this release. These other copies of the errata are located at http://www.FreeBSD.org/releases/ (as well as any sites which keep up-to-date mirrors of this location).
As with almost all UNIX-like operating systems, FreeBSD comes with a set of on-line manual pages, accessed through the man(1) command or through the hypertext manual pages gateway on the FreeBSD Web site. In general, the manual pages provide information on the different commands and APIs available to the FreeBSD user.
In some cases, manual pages are written to given information on particular topics. Notable examples of such manual pages are tuning(7) (a guide to performance tuning), security(7) (an introduction to FreeBSD security), and style(9) (a style guide to kernel coding).
Two highly-useful collections of FreeBSD-related information, maintained by the FreeBSD Project, are the FreeBSD Handbook and FreeBSD FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions document). On-line versions of the Handbook and FAQ are always available from the FreeBSD Documentation page or its mirrors. If you install the doc distribution set, you can use a Web browser to read the Handbook and FAQ locally.
A number of on-line books and articles, also maintained by the FreeBSD Project, cover more-specialized, FreeBSD-related topics. This material spans a wide range of topics, from effective use of the mailing lists, to dual-booting FreeBSD with other operating systems, to guidelines for new committers. Like the Handbook and FAQ, these documents are available from the FreeBSD Documentation Page or in the doc distribution set.
A listing of other books and documents about FreeBSD can be found in the bibliography of the FreeBSD Handbook. Because of FreeBSD's strong UNIX heritage, many other articles and books written for UNIX systems are applicable as well, some of which are also listed in the bibliography.
FreeBSD represents the cumulative work of many hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals from around the world who have worked countless hours to bring about this release. For a complete list of FreeBSD developers and contributors, please see ``Contributors to FreeBSD'' on the FreeBSD Web site or any of its mirrors.
Special thanks also go to the many thousands of FreeBSD users and testers all over the world, without whom this release simply would not have been possible.
This file, and other release-related documents, can be downloaded from ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/releases/.
For questions about FreeBSD, read the documentation before contacting <questions@FreeBSD.org>.
For questions about this documentation, e-mail <doc@FreeBSD.org>.