FreeBSD on Beagle Bone Black (with X11)

X11 clients on the Beagle Bone Black .. that’s X11 over the network, with the X Server elsewhere. No display as yet. The FreeBSD wiki notes that there’s no (mini) HDMI driver yet. So I built some X11 programs, xauth(1) and xmessage(1), and installed them on the Bone. Since I bought a blue case for the Bone, and it is the smallest computer in the house (discounting phones .. let’s call it the smallest hackable computer in the house) the kids decided to call it smurf. Here’s a screenshot of poudriere’s text console as it builds packages.

Poudriere build console

Poudriere build console

Timestamps on the left are since the start of the overall build, so after 20 minutes and 11 seconds I had an xmessage(1) package built. Building that package only took (timestamp in the middle) 1 minute and 41 seconds, with the time preceding that all spent in building dependencies, like X Athena Widgets. Woo! Rock the pre-Qt dancefloor.

Since smurf pulls packages from my (cross-)build machine, all I needed to to was pkg install xauth xmessage to install everything, and that leads to screenshots like this:

Screenshot with xmessage(1)

XMessage running on the Beagle Bone Black

I’d show a screenshot with Qt5 designer, too (cross-compiling all of Qt5 took a little over a day, with 16 hours of that on qt5-webkit), but that mostly shows it dumping core as it fails to find a system- or user-dbus. Once I have that sorted, I’ll have a nice little machine on which it’s totally pointless to run Qt apps, but I will finally have an excuse to do a little QML and C++ to write a Qt5, ARMv6-FreeBSD, Beagle Bone Black user LED application — so’s to rock the house with four blinkin’ LEDs.

6 thoughts on “FreeBSD on Beagle Bone Black (with X11)

  1. Great work. This is exactly whrere I am going with my project too.
    But I am trying GTK+/Anjuta/Glade approach. I Want to do a simple embedded app with minimal overhead and no user input. Display only. Want tp start with lite desktop and make wittle it down

    Have you tried FreeBSD Head? The two snapshots for the BBB both have HDMI support.
    July and August images.

    Thanks Very Much

  2. Frank: thanks for the heads-up (ha!) about FreeBSD-CURRENT, that might make a whole lot of difference. I can run Qt apps over the network, no problem (although Qt Designer is a huge application, and consequently slow on the BBB). If you (and I) are looking at large-screen display (e.g. on a monitor) then the HDMI output is useful, but otherwise a cape, for small display sizes and no X11-overhead, might be a better approach. There’s at least one YouTube video of BBB+Linux and direct framebuffer writes from Qt.

  3. Thanks Adridg . I feel dumb leaving a message about GTK when I read Bobulates about page..I am new to programming and am struggling on which platform to learn, QT or QTK. Nice to have two to chose from in case I run into trouble.

    DirectFB is something i have been reading about. It seems like the lowest level..Thanks for nudging me that way. I want to do on-screen(hdmi) gauges for boats. Like shaft RPM, rudder position, engine temp, ect….No user interaction. Just display with 2-3 layers of graphics overlaid.

    • No worries, Frank. I’d rather have interesting things to talk about including GTK, than nothing — and after all, we’re solving similar problems and what helps one of us, helps us all. That’s part of the beauty of Free Software.

      Oh, and thanks for reminding me of that about: page, it needs some serious updating.

  4. I bought a power cape from AndiceLabs. It is my first encounter with LiPo batteries.

    I am also eyeballing this:

    About 2x-3x more $$$ than BBB but very capable. ADI just released their version. When the MinnowboardMax was announced last year they were supposed to be $100us.
    They are selling for $140us now.. I really want an 4G Sierra card on a “lure”, -that costs another $50us…..Got to have your accessories. Buy them later and SOL on small runs boards like these…Next year it will be Minnowboard Ultimate!!! Released a year late of course.