Raspberry Pi


Although we are currently not providing installation images for Raspberry Pi, we are investigating whether doing so would be feasible and beneficial.

The same insructions are roughly applicable to other aarch64 based systems such as rk3399 ones like the PineBook Pro and the pine64 rockpro64_rk3399 as well.


This page is intended for technically advanced users and developers, not for end users. This page is work in progress. Instructions are brief and assume prior knowledge with the subject.

This page describes how to run the main components of helloSystem (referred to collectively as helloDesktop) on Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry Pi 4 devices, starting with the official FreeBSD 13 image that does not even contain Xorg.

It describes how to build and set up the main components of helloSystem by hand, so this is a good walkthrough in case you are interested in bringing up the helloDesktop on other systems as well.

If there is enough interest, we might eventually provide readymade helloSystem images for Raspberry Pi in the future. This depends on how usable helloSystem will be on the Raspberry Pi (e.g., whether we can get decent graphics performance).


  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B or B+, Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, or Raspberry Pi 400

  • Suitable power supply

  • Class-1 or faster microSD card with at least 8 GB of memory

  • HDMI display

  • Keyboard and mouse (we recommend the official Raspberry Pi keyboard since helloSystem can automatically detect its language)

  • Ethernet (WLAN is not yet covered on this page)


  • Install the official FreeBSD 13 image (not FreeBSD 14) to a microSD card

  • Copy this file to the microSD card you are running the Raspberry Pi from. You will need it because you will not have an internet browser at hand

  • Edit config.txt in the MSDOSBOOT partition to contain the correct resolution for your screen. Apparently the screen resolution is not autodetected on the Raspberry Pi?



Please let us know if you know how to get screen resolution autodetection working on FreeBSD with Raspberry Pi

Booting into the system

We will be doing all subsequent steps on the Raspberry Pi system itself since we are assuming you don’t have any other 64-bit ARM (aarch64) machines at hand.

  • Insert the microSD card into the Raspberry Pi

  • Attach keyboard and mouse (we recommend the official Raspberry Pi keyboard since helloSystem can automatically detect its language)

  • Attach the display (on the Raspberry Pi 4, the display needs to be attached to the HDMI port next to the USB type C power port)

  • Attach Ethernet

  • Power on the Raspberry Pi

  • After some time you should land in a login screen

  • Log in with root, password root

  • Install some basic software with pkg install -y xorg xterm nano openbox fluxbox git-lite

NOTE: fluxbox is not strictly needed and can be removed later on, but it gives us a graphical desktop session while we are working on installing helloDesktop

Starting a graphical session

Start Xorg with

echo startfluxbox > ~/.xinitrc

Doing it like this is the easiest way since the display DISPLAY environment variable and other things will be set automatically.

Compiling and installing helloDesktop core components


The launch command is central to helloSystem and is used to launch applications throughout the system.

git clone https://github.com/helloSystem/launch
cd launch/
mkdir build
cd build/
cmake ..
make -j4
make install
cd ../../


git clone https://github.com/helloSystem/Filer
cd Filer/
mkdir build
cd build/
pkg install -y libfm
cmake ..
make -j4
make install
ln -s /usr/local/bin/filer-qt /usr/local/bin/Filer # Workaround for the 'launch' command to find it
cd ../../


It seems like Filer refuses to start if D-Bus is missing. We should change it so that it can also work without D-Bus and at prints a clear warning if D-Bus is missing. Currently all you see if D-Bus is missing is the following: ‘** (process:3691): WARNING **: The directory ‘~/Templates’ doesn’t exist, ignoring it’, and then Filer exits.


pkg install -y <...>
git clone https://github.com/helloSystem/Dock
cd Dock
mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
make -j4
make install
# Currently Dock is installed to /usr/bin/cyber-dock. In the future is should be in /usr/local/bin/.
ln -s /usr/bin/cyber-dock /usr/local/bin/Dock # Workaround for the 'launch' command to find it
cd ../../


git clone https://github.com/helloSystem/QtPlugin
cd QtPlugin/
mkdir build
cd build/
pkg install -y libqtxdg
cmake ..
make -j4
make install
cp ../stylesheet.qss /usr/local/etc/xdg/
cd ../../

Icons and other assets

Install icons and other helloSystem assets that are not packaged as FreeBSD packages (yet). It is easiest to run bash, then export uzip=/, and then run the corresponding sections of script.hello. Here are some examples.

For the system icons:

pkg install -y wget
wget -c -q http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/universe/x/xubuntu-artwork/xubuntu-icon-theme_16.04.2_all.deb
tar xf xubuntu-icon-theme_16.04.2_all.deb
tar xf data.tar.xz
mkdir -p "${uzip}"/usr/local/share/icons/
mv ./usr/share/icons/elementary-xfce "${uzip}"/usr/local/share/icons/
mv ./usr/share/doc/xubuntu-icon-theme/copyright "${uzip}"/usr/local/share/icons/elementary-xfce/
sed -i -e 's|usr/share|usr/local/share|g' "${uzip}"/usr/local/share/icons/elementary-xfce/copyright
rm "${uzip}"/usr/local/share/icons/elementary-xfce/copyright-e

wget "https://raw.githubusercontent.com/helloSystem/hello/master/branding/computer-hello.png" -O "${uzip}"/usr/local/share/icons/elementary-xfce/devices/128/computer-hello.png

For the system fonts:

wget -c -q https://github.com/ArtifexSoftware/urw-base35-fonts/archive/20200910.zip
unzip -q 20200910.zip
mkdir -p "${uzip}/usr/local/share/fonts/TTF/"
cp -R urw-base35-fonts-20200910/fonts/*.ttf "${uzip}/usr/local/share/fonts/TTF/"
rm -rf urw-base35-fonts-20200910/ 20200910.zip

Proceed similarly for the cursor theme, wallpaper, applications from the helloSystem/Utilities repository, and other assets.

Installing required packages

Install every package that is not commented out in packages.hello that are installable.


Not every package will be installable. This probably means that the package in question has not been compiled for the aarch64 architecture on FreeBSD 13 yet.

You can use this script to automatically install all listed packages:

curl -fsS $url | egrep -v '^#' | while read line ; do
  pkg install -y -U $line || echo "[error] $line cannot be installed"

To enable automount, run service devd restart.

Installing overlays

git clone https://github.com/helloSystem/ISO
cp -Rfv ISO/overlays/uzip/hello/files/ / 
cp -Rfv ISO/overlays/uzip/localize/files/ / 
cp -Rfv ISO/overlays/uzip/openbox-theme/files/ /
cp -Rfv ISO/overlays/uzip/mountarchive/files/ / 


If we provided the temporary packages that are used in the helloSystem ISO build process for download, then one could just install those instead of having to do the above.

Adjusting fstab

Edit /etc/fstab to look like this:

/dev/mmcsd0s2a  /       ufs     rw      0       0

Otherwise the root device may not be found upon reboot.

Enabling D-Bus and Avahi

Zeroconf does not work if /usr/local/bin/dbus-daemon --system is not running. hence add the following lines to `/etc/rc.conf’ to enable it:


and then start it service dbus start.

Editing start-hello

Edit the start-hello script to use the launch command instead of hardcoding /Applications/....

# Details to be inserted here.
# This script is work in progress.

Starting helloDesktop session

echo start-hello > ~/.xinitrc
killall Xorg

Type startx to start an Xorg session; it should now load a helloDesktop session.

Sometimes it does not load all the way, in this case it is necessary to start xterm (right-click the desktop) and invoke start-hello from there again. The reason for this is unknown.

Adding a user

Added a new user with Applications -> Preferences -> Users

cp /home/user/.openbox* .
cp -r /home/user/.config/* .config/

Known issues


Any help in improving the situation is appreciated.

No 3D graphics and video acceleration

  • Very low FPS video

  • No 3D acceleration

Not sure whether vc4-kms-v3d is usable with FreeBSD.


Any help in improving Raspberry Pi graphics on FreeBSD appreciated.

Also see: https://papers.freebsd.org/2019/bsdcan/vadot-adventure_in_drmland/

Missing login window

The slim package is missing, hence we don’t have a login window at the moment.

Web browser

The Falkon browser can be launched, but trying to load more than the most basic web pages such as http://frogfind.com/ leads to an instant crash:

# cat /root/.config/falkon/crashlog/Crash-2021-04-17T10:21:20.txt
Time: Sa. Apr. 17 10:21:20 2021
Qt version: 5.15.2 (compiled with 5.15.2)
Falkon version: 3.1.0
Rendering engine: QtWebEngine

============== BACKTRACE ==============
#0: 0x213810 <???> at /usr/local/bin/falkon
#1: 0x499b4994 <_pthread_sigmask+0x524> at /lib/libthr.so.3


The exact same crash also happens on a RockPro64 with 4GB of RAM.

How do projects like the official Raspberry Pi OS (Debian based desktop) manage to do web browsing and video playing in a browser on the Raspberry Pi?

RAM compression

On Linux, there is also zram which is enabled by default on Android and Chromium OS. Did anything ever come out of https://wiki.freebsd.org/SummerOfCode2019Projects/VirtualMemoryCompression?

macOS also does RAM compression when memory is getting low: https://www.lifewire.com/understanding-compressed-memory-os-x-2260327.

Windows also does RAM compression: https://www.tenforums.com/windows-10-news/17993-windows-10-memory-compression.html.

The following seems to “work” but can make the Raspberry Pi unacceptably slow:

mdconfig -a -t malloc -o compress -o reserve -s 700m -u 7
swapon /dev/md7


Please let us know if you know how to properly use RAM compression on FreeBSD.


Do not use ZFS on memory-constrained machines.

Missing icons

Set QT_QPA_PLATFORMTHEME env variable before staring Xorg session.