Hell froze over, KDE5 on FreeBSD arrived

At work I use a lot of FreeBSD on dozens of systems, but all of that is through boring SSH consoles. Linux is my daily driver on the desktop. I mostly gave up on running FreeBSD on my laptop because of the deplorable state of Gnome and KDE on it. Until last week, when I chanced upon /usr/ports/x11/kde5 in one of my ports trees. This had been years in the making and, frankly, I had given up on ever seeing KDE5 for FreeBSD. But here it is! After days of compiling I’m writing this post from my fresh modern KDE5 desktop. First impression? It rocks!

Major kudos to Adriaan de Groot for the positively herculean effort he put into this over the years. FreeBSD may have a small following on the desktop, but if you ever happen read this Adriaan: I’m one happy camper thanks in no small part to you! There’s a free drink waiting here with your name on it if you’re even in the vicinity of Waalwijk.

Down to the nitty-gritty. Installing the goodies is surprisingly simple, although compiling the whole slew of ports will take a long time. Essentially you just compile x11/xorg and x11/kde5, enable dbus in /etc/rc.conf and you’re all set to start KDE. Place the following line in the .xinitrc file at the root of your homedir:

exec /usr/local/bin/startkde

Run the startx command from the console and KDE should greet you after a while. First boot may take quite a while as a lot of stuff under the hood is initializing. Later startups will be much faster. If your system supports 3D accelerated desktop effects, make sure your user acccount is a member of the ‘video’ group so you have the necessary permissions to use it.

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