Note: An update is posted here for NetBSD 6.1.5: http://slice2.com/2015/01/03/howto-install-the-xfce-4-desktop-on-netbsd-6-1-5/

For a lightweight functional desktop, install XFCE 4. As root perform the steps below. This HOWTO covers 32 and 64 bit x86 hardware. Since NetBSD essentially runs on everything, simply adjust the repository path to your architecture from the list here: http://ftp.netbsd.org/pub/pkgsrc/packages/NetBSD/

1) Setup your binary repository.
> mkdir -p /usr/pkg/etc/pkgin
> touch /usr/pkg/etc/pkgin/repositories.conf
> vi /usr/pkg/etc/pkgin/repositories.conf and add your binary path:

For x64

For x32

2) Add the NetBSD ftp server to your host file. This is for convenience and can be removed when done.
> vi /etc/hosts and add: ftp.netbsd.org
> wq!

3) Export your path.
Note: I don’t know why the characters keep appearing after /ALL/ in the path statements below. It must be a WordPress bug and I’m not a developer. Just make sure that the end of the path statement ends with /6.1.2/ALL/” with no trailing characters. In other words, it should look like the paths depicted in step 1 above only it must end in a ” character.

For x64:
> export PKG_PATH=”http://ftp.netbsd.org/pub/pkgsrc/packages/NetBSD/amd64/6.1.2/All/”

For x32:
> export PKG_PATH=”http://ftp.netbsd.org/pub/pkgsrc/packages/NetBSD/i386/6.1.2/All/”

4) Install pkgin on your system.
> pkg_add -v pkgin-*
proceed ? [Y/n] Y

5) Update the pkgin database and install XFCE.
> pkgin update
Database needs to be updated.
proceed ? [Y/n] Y

> pkgin install xfce4
calculating dependencies… done.

4 packages to be upgraded: gtk2+-2.24.17nb5 pango-1.34.1nb3 tiff-4.0.3nb3 cairo-gobject-1.12.14nb4

67 packages to be installed: pkg-config-0.28 p5-Business-ISBN-Data-20120719.001nb1 jbigkit-2.0 py27-cElementTree-2.7.5 libIDL-0.8.14nb4 p5-Business-ISBN-2.06 p5-ExtUtils-PkgConfig-1.13nb2 p5-ExtUtils-Depends-0.304nb2 tiff-4.0.3nb6 cairo-gobject-1.12.16 xcb-util-0.3.9nb1 p5-glib2-1.262nb3 usbids-20081118 policykit-0.9nb15 pciids-20091229 libvolume_id-0.81.1 hal-info-20091130nb2 p5-URI-1.60nb2 ORBit2-2.14.19nb4 iso-codes-3.11.1 psutils-1.17nb4 orc-0.4.18 gstreamer0.10-0.10.36nb6 gobject-introspection-1.36.0nb3 pango-1.34.1nb4 libxfce4menu-4.6.1nb16 gst-plugins0.10-base-0.10.36nb7 a2ps-4.14nb4 libxklavier-5.0nb5 libnotify-0.7.5nb1 vte-0.28.1nb12 libexif-0.6.21 fam-2.7.0nb9 GConf-2.32.4nb7 p5-XML-Parser-2.41nb2 xfce4-exo-0.3.101nb23 hal-0.5.14nb12 xfconf-4.6.1nb20 startup-notification-0.12nb3 libxfce4util-4.6.1nb16 libwnck-2.30.6nb15 libglade-2.6.4nb19 hicolor-icon-theme-0.12 dbus-glib-0.100.2 dbus-1.6.14 libxfce4gui-4.6.1nb19 gtk2+-2.24.20nb1 xfce4-xarchiver-0.5.2nb20 xfce4-wm-themes-4.6.0nb16 xfce4-wm-4.6.1nb19 xfce4-volman-0.2.0nb23 xfce4-utils-4.6.1nb20 xfce4-thunar-1.0.1nb21 xfce4-terminal-0.4.2nb19 xfce4-settings-4.6.5nb21 xfce4-session-4.6.1nb19 xfce4-print-4.6.1nb21 xfce4-panel-4.6.2nb20 xfce4-orage-4.6.1nb21 xfce4-mousepad-0.2.16nb18 xfce4-mixer-4.6.1nb19 xfce4-icon-theme-4.4.3nb16 xfce4-gtk2-engine-2.6.0nb17 xfce4-desktop-4.6.1nb21 xfce4-appfinder-4.6.1nb21 gnome-icon-theme-2.30.3nb20 xfce4-4.6.1nb27 (73M to download, 160M to install)

proceed ? [Y/n] Y

6) Configure the system to run XFCE.
> cp /usr/pkg/share/examples/rc.d/famd /etc/rc.d/
> cp /usr/pkg/share/examples/rc.d/dbus /etc/rc.d/
> cp /usr/pkg/share/examples/rc.d/hal /etc/rc.d/
> echo rpcbind=YES >> /etc/rc.conf
> echo famd=YES >> /etc/rc.conf
> echo dbus=YES >> /etc/rc.conf
> echo hal=YES >> /etc/rc.conf
> /etc/rc.d/rpcbind start
> /etc/rc.d/famd onestart
> /etc/rc.d/dbus start
> /etc/rc.d/hal start

7) Configure X and start the desktop.
> echo xfce4-session >> /root/.xinitrc
> startx   (note: be patient, it may take a minute to load)


8) Close XFCE to prepare for installation of software.
a) Click on the mouse icon in the lower left corner of the desktop and click Log Out.


b) Click Log Out to exit XFCE.


9) Install apps as desired. This step is optional but I’m sure you want at least a current browser. Enter Y when asked proceed ? [Y/n] for each app.
Browsers and plugins:
> pkgin install firefox
> pkgin install opera
> pkgin install icedtea-web
> pkgin install xpdf
Security tools:
> pkgin install wireshark
> pkgin install nmap
> pkgin install iftop
GUI ftp/scp client:
> pkgin install filezilla
Office Suite:
> pkgin install libreoffice*

To launch firefox, enter the firefox command in an xterm.
To launch liberoffice, enter the soffice command in an xterm.
The list of all apps for NetBSD v6.1.2 are listed here:

9) Now that your apps are installed, start your desktop.
> startx