Chapter 2 Documentation and Support

2.1. What good books are there about FreeBSD?
2.2. Is the documentation available in other formats, such as plain text (ASCII), or PostScript®?
2.3. Where do I find info on the FreeBSD mailing lists?
2.4. What FreeBSD news groups are available?
2.5. Are there FreeBSD IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channels?
2.6. Where can I get commercial FreeBSD training and support?

2.1. What good books are there about FreeBSD?

The project produces a wide range of documentation, available online from this link: http://www.FreeBSD.org/docs.html. The same documents are available as packages, that you can easily install on your FreeBSD system. More details on documentation packages can be found in the next paragraphs.

In addition, the Bibliography at the end of this FAQ, and the one in the Handbook reference other recommended books.

2.2. Is the documentation available in other formats, such as plain text (ASCII), or PostScript®?

Yes. The documentation is available in a number of different formats and compression schemes on the FreeBSD FTP site, in the /pub/FreeBSD/doc/ directory.

The documentation is categorized in a number of different ways. These include:

  • The document's name, such as faq, or handbook.

  • The document's language and encoding. These are based on the locale names you will find under /usr/share/locale on your FreeBSD system. The current languages and encodings that we have for documentation are as follows:

    Name Meaning
    en_US.ISO8859-1 US English
    bn_BD.ISO10646-1 Bengali (or Bangla)
    da_DK.ISO8859-1 Danish (Denmark)
    de_DE.ISO8859-1 German
    es_ES.ISO8859-1 Spanish
    fr_FR.ISO8859-1 French
    hu_HU.ISO8859-2 Hungarian
    it_IT.ISO8859-15 Italian
    ja_JP.eucJP Japanese (EUC encoding)
    mn_MN.UTF-8 Mongolian (UTF-8 encoding)
    nl_NL.ISO8859-1 Dutch (Netherlands)
    pl_PL.ISO8859-2 Polish (Poland)
    pt_BR.ISO8859-1 Portuguese (Brazil)
    ru_RU.KOI8-R Russian (KOI8-R encoding)
    sr_YU.ISO8859-2 Serbian (Serbia)
    tr_TR.ISO8859-9 Turkish (Turkey)
    zh_CN.GB2312 Simplified Chinese (GB2312 encoding)
    zh_TW.Big5 Traditional Chinese (Big5 encoding)

    Note: Some documents may not be available in all languages.

  • The document's format. We produce the documentation in a number of different output formats. Each format has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some formats are better suited for online reading, while others are meant to be aesthetically pleasing when printed on paper. Having the documentation available in any of these formats ensures that our readers will be able to read the parts they are interested in, either on their monitor, or on paper after printing the documents. The currently available formats are:

    Format Meaning
    html-split A collection of small, linked, HTML files.
    html One large HTML file containing the entire document
    pdb Palm Pilot database format, for use with the iSilo reader.
    pdf Adobe's Portable Document Format
    ps PostScript
    rtf Microsoft's Rich Text Format[a]
    txt Plain text
    Notes:
    a. Page numbers are not automatically updated when loading this format into Word. Press CTRL+A, CTRL+END, F9 after loading the document, to update the page numbers.
  • The compression and packaging scheme. There are three of these currently in use.

    1. Where the format is html-split, the files are bundled up using tar(1). The resulting .tar file is then compressed using the compression schemes detailed in the next point.

    2. All the other formats generate one file, called book.format (i.e., book.pdb, book.html, and so on).

      These files are then compressed using two compression schemes.

      Scheme Description
      zip The Zip format. If you want to uncompress this on FreeBSD you will need to install the archivers/unzip port first.
      bz2 The BZip2 format. Less widespread than Zip, but generally gives smaller files. Install the archivers/bzip2 port to uncompress these files.

      So the PostScript version of the Handbook, compressed using BZip2 will be stored in a file called book.ps.bz2 in the handbook/ directory.

After choosing the format and compression mechanism that you want to download, you must then decide whether or not you want to download the document as a FreeBSD package.

The advantage of downloading and installing the package is that the documentation can then be managed using the normal FreeBSD package management comments, such as pkg_add(1) and pkg_delete(1).

If you decide to download and install the package then you must know the filename to download. The documentation-as-packages files are stored in a directory called packages. Each package file looks like document-name.lang.encoding.format.tgz.

For example, the FAQ, in English, formatted as PDF, is in the package called faq.en_US.ISO8859-1.pdf.tgz.

Knowing this, you can use the following command to install the English PDF FAQ package.

# pkg_add ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/packages/faq.en_US.ISO8859-1.pdf.tgz

Having done that, you can use pkg_info(1) to determine where the file has been installed.

# pkg_info -f faq.en_US.ISO8859-1.pdf
Information for faq.en_US.ISO8859-1.pdf:

Packing list:
        Package name: faq.en_US.ISO8859-1.pdf
        CWD to /usr/share/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq
File: book.pdf
        CWD to .
File: +COMMENT (ignored)
File: +DESC (ignored)

As you can see, book.pdf will have been installed into /usr/share/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq.

If you do not want to use the packages then you will have to download the compressed files yourself, uncompress them, and then copy the appropriate documents into place.

For example, the split HTML version of the FAQ, compressed using bzip2(1), can be found in the doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/book.html-split.tar.bz2 file. To download and uncompress that file you would have to do this.

# fetch ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/book.html-split.tar.bz2
# bzip2 -d book.html-split.tar.bz2
# tar xvf book.html-split.tar

You will be left with a collection of .html files. The main one is called index.html, which will contain the table of contents, introductory material, and links to the other parts of the document. You can then copy or move these to their final location as necessary.

2.3. Where do I find info on the FreeBSD mailing lists?

You can find full information in the Handbook entry on mailing-lists.

2.4. What FreeBSD news groups are available?

You can find full information in the Handbook entry on newsgroups.

2.5. Are there FreeBSD IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channels?

Yes, most major IRC networks host a FreeBSD chat channel:

  • Channel #FreeBSD on EFNet is a FreeBSD forum, but do not go there for tech support or try to get folks there to help you avoid the pain of reading manual pages or doing your own research. It is a chat channel, first and foremost, and topics there are just as likely to involve sex, sports or nuclear weapons as they are FreeBSD. You Have Been Warned! Available at server irc.chat.org.

  • Channel #FreeBSDhelp on EFNet is a channel dedicated to helping FreeBSD users. They are much more sympathetic to questions than #FreeBSD is.

  • Channel ##FreeBSD on Freenode is a general help channel with about 300 users at any time. The conversations have been known to run off-topic for a while, but priority is given to users with FreeBSD questions. We are good about helping you understand the basics, referring to the Handbook whenever possible, and directing you where to learn more about the topic you need help with. We are a primarily English speaking channel, though we have users from all over the world. If you would like to speak in your native language, try to ask the question in English and then relocate to another channel ##freebsd-lang as appropriate.

  • Channel #FreeBSD on DALNET is available at irc.dal.net in the US and irc.eu.dal.net in Europe.

  • Channel #FreeBSDHelp on DALNET is available at irc.dal.net in the US and irc.eu.dal.net in Europe.

  • Channel #FreeBSD on UNDERNET is available at us.undernet.org in the US and eu.undernet.org in Europe. Since it is a help channel, be prepared to read the documents you are referred to.

  • Channel #FreeBSD on RUSNET is a russian-language oriented channel dedicated to helping FreeBSD users. This is also good place for non-technical discussions.

  • Channel #bsdchat on Freenode is a Traditional-Chinese (UTF-8 encoding) language oriented channel dedicated to helping FreeBSD users. This is also good place for non-technical discussions.

Each of these channels are distinct and are not connected to each other. Their chat styles also differ, so you may need to try each to find one suited to your chat style. As with all types of IRC traffic, if you are easily offended or cannot deal with lots of young people (and more than a few older ones) doing the verbal equivalent of jello wrestling, do not even bother with it.

2.6. Where can I get commercial FreeBSD training and support?

DaemonNews provides commercial training and support for FreeBSD. More information can be found at their BSD Mall site.

The FreeBSD Mall provides commercial FreeBSD support. You can get more information at their web site.

Any other organizations providing training and support should contact the project in order to be listed here.

This, and other documents, can be downloaded from ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/.

For questions about FreeBSD, read the documentation before contacting <questions@FreeBSD.org>.
For questions about this documentation, e-mail <doc@FreeBSD.org>.