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Home » , , » Jibbed is a (non-installable) live CD based on NetBSD.

Jibbed is a (non-installable) live CD based on NetBSD.

I've always had a good deal of respect for the various flavours of BSD. Each of them holds down an interesting niche in the open source community and I generally enjoy using them when I have the opportunity. So it was with a good deal of excitement that I read about Jibbed, a live CD based off the latest version of NetBSD. I, admittedly, have had little experience with the operating system whose claim to fame is the ability to run on anything, even a toaster, and this seemed like a good chance to see what was new in NetBSD.

The Jibbed web site displays a clean and easy-to-navigate layout. It's very easy on the eyes and contains lots of useful information on the project. This includes some frequently asked questions (and answers), a Wiki and ways to contact the developer. By the time my download was done and checked for errors, I was already feeling hopeful about this project. The Jibbed image file is medium in size, weighing in at about 465 MB. For my safari into Jibbed I used two physical machines, a LG laptop with a 1.5 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM and an ATI video card. I also used a generic desktop box with a 2.5 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM and a NVIDIA video card. To round out the experiment, I set up Jibbed in a virtual machine too.

Jibbed starts up and chugs through a bunch of text (much of which is in an alarming red colour) before dropping the user at a command prompt. By default, the system logs the user in under an account called "live". This prevents someone from accidentally doing damage to their system and it's good to see. The "live" user can easily switch over to being root without a password to perform administrator functions. As suggested on the project's web site, I ran "startx" and was given a clean and fairly standard-looking Xfce desktop.

Updates (via Distrowatch):

Jibbed Zafer Aydogan has announced the release of Jibbed 5.1, a NetBSD-based live CD featuring automatic hardware detection and the Xfce desktop: "And again it's NetBSD time. A new version of the Jibbed live CD has finally arrived. It is freshly built from the NetBSD 5.1 sources, which is the first feature update of the NetBSD 5.0 branch. It includes many bug fixes and contains the latest packages from pkgsrc. As always, it uses X.Org from base and the Xfce desktop. Jibbed is a bootable live CD based on the NetBSD operating system that works directly from a CD without need for a hard drive. Automatic hardware detection provides support for a wide variety of graphics cards, sound cards, network interfaces, and USB devices. This live CD showcases a complete NetBSD environment, including compiler sets, and provides features like tmpfs to simulate read-write access on read-only media."

Here is the brief
release announcement.

Download (MD5): jibbed-5.1-i386-LiveCD.iso (601MB), jibbed-5.1-amd64-LiveCD.iso (690MB).

Recent releases:

• 2010-11-20: BSD Release: Jibbed 5.1
• 2009-08-27: BSD Release: Jibbed 5.0.1
• 2009-05-14: BSD Release: Jibbed 5.0
• 2009-03-23: Development Release: Jibbed 5 RC3
• 2009-02-08: Development Release: Jibbed 5 RC
• 2009-01-11: Development Release: Jibbed 5 Beta

Jibbed 5.0.1 - changing the default look

My video settings were correctly detected and the Xfce desktop's default look balances sober with pleasant. There are the usual suspects of applications along the quick launch bar at the bottom of the screen, including AbiWord for word processing and Mousepad for text editing. There is also a media player. Pidgin is included for instant messaging and there is a re-branded copy of Firefox (version 3) for web browsing. The quick launch bar also has a CPU monitor, which lets the user know how much work the processor is doing. Included in the application menu are Filezilla to transfer files, a calendar application, programs to change system settings and one lonely arcade game.

The system comes with a graphical tool called App Finder, which helps find programs based on category. This is a handy application for people unfamiliar with either BSD or Xfce and it's nice to see this effort at user friendliness. There aren't very many programs to choose from and Jibbed takes the approach of one application per task.

My network connection was detected and activated automatically. There were no graphical tools that I noticed for configuring my network settings, so any changes would have to be made from a command line. For using that network connection, Jibbed comes with common command-line networking programs, such as SSH, telnet and FTP clients. A secure shell server is provided, but not activated by default. In fact, no common network services appeared to be running, making Jibbed fairly secure out of the box.

Hardware was a bit of a mixed bag while using Jibbed. My printer wasn't detected, for example. My mobile broadband device wasn't picked up either and Jibbed refused to boot when running in a virtual environment. (I had a chance to exchange e-mails with Zafer Aydoğan, the developer behind Jibbed. He informed me that Jibbed works in VMware, but does not run in the current offering of VirtualBox. The system will run in Parallels, but without networking capabilities.) When inserting a USB flash drive, the system would churn for a while, but wouldn't mount or otherwise acknowledge the device. Any mounting of local drives or USB devices had to be done manually. While BSD veterans probably won't mind this, it's an inconvenience to those of us who have become accustomed to the Linux way of doing things and need to look up a quick reference to the device-naming convention used by BSD.

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On the positive side, my network card was properly detected, sound worked out of the box and the video card was handled flawlessly. And, while I wasn't able to print to a physical printer, a function for exporting files to PDF was included in the print system. Jibbed ran very well on my desktop machine. It also ran on my laptop, though when booting on the laptop, I was treated to a continuous stream of warnings. My laptop's wireless card was detected and Jibbed tried to set up a wireless connection automatically.

Jibbed 5.0.1 - word processing and calendar applications

It should be no surprise to NetBSD fans to hear that Jibbed is a fairly light operating system. When running a desktop and doing minor tasks, about 300 MB of memory was used. When I pushed the system a little by running the media player, browsing the web, taking screen shots and doing some word processing, memory usage jumped to just over 400 MB. Running from the command line without a desktop requires a bare 40 MB of RAM.

For those who don't like the default look and feel, Jibbed comes with a collection of various themes. There is also a handy tool for manipulating the desktop background colours, including a slide bar that will adjust brightness. The configuration panel is rounded out with tools to change mouse, keyboard, video and sound settings. On the negative side, documentation is a bit sparse. The standard UNIX manual pages are included and work well as a quick reference. They're also important to those of us who are accustomed to typing Linux commands, but want to check for minor differences in the BSD equivalents. Beyond the man pages there isn't much to help people along, aside from a short README file that offers commands to start the desktop and change the default password.

Jibbed 5.0.1 - looking up commands and getting help
(full image size: 225kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)

Jibbed does not have an installer to transfer the operating system from the CD to the local hard drive. The lack of an installer is a bit of a disappointment, but the project's website says one will be added in the future. For now, Jibbed is a live CD only.

Being a live CD, packages aren't updated on the system. Users should upgrade to the latest versions of the CD as they come out. However, Jibbed does come with a package manager, called pkg_src. Running the package manager led me into another quirk of Jibbed: parts of the file system are writeable and others are read-only. The user's home folder and the system's /tmp folder are writeable. Other places, including the program folders under /usr are read-only. This means that to add or remove packages on Jibbed, the user must first remount system folders in read/write mode. I'm uncertain as to whether this is a security feature or an unexpected quirk.

I was pleased to discover that the live CD comes with a functioning C compiler. This makes Jibbed a handy tool for testing code for cross-platform compatibility without requiring a copy of NetBSD to actually be installed on the test machine. A developer with virtually no BSD experience can pop in the Jibbed CD and test their code. However, the project's best asset may be its sole developer, Zafer Aydoğan. He is a bright and friendly fellow who shows a willingness to respond to queries and offer assistance wherever he can. He has the kind of enthusiasm I love seeing in an open source project.

Throughout the time I used Jibbed, the system was stable. Performance was about what I'd expect from a live CD - good but not snappy. The interface was clean and there were no unpleasant surprises. All in all, Jibbed is a solid product. Judging by its medium size and fairly small collection of desktop software, I have to assume that Jibbed is not designed to be a day-to-day operating system. It shows off the latest software from NetBSD and it does that well. This CD seems to be directed at folks who either use NetBSD and want to see what's coming down the pipe without doing a fresh install or for people who are curious about trying NetBSD but don't want to take the plunge yet. I like what this project has to offer and I hope an installer and some small improvements are made to user friendliness to make Jibbed a truly great experience.
source: Distrowatch

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