Linked by Uri Sharf on Mon 2nd May 2005 20:23 UTC
PC-BSD PC-BSD is a new FreeBSD 5.3 distribution, with a graphical installer and KDE 3.4 as its desktop. A new beta version was just released, and though I can't say I have much experience with FreeBSD, or any *BSD for that matter, I was curious enough to try it. And I'm glad I did. From a desktop user's point of view, completely oblivious to the many virtues and sound foundation of all things BSD, all I really ever wanted was an OS that is solid, easy to install and, well ... fun to work with.
Order by: Score:
I agree...
by MrX on Mon 2nd May 2005 20:29 UTC

This has a bright future, they already have Firefox and Thunderbird in the download section. I wish the developers well..BSD made easy for the masses..

X

All the best!
by mojo on Mon 2nd May 2005 20:39 UTC

Wish them all the best and good success, even though I won't be using it myself, it's a good way to give people a taste of BSD in easy way.

-Assad

I agree...
by dikatlon on Mon 2nd May 2005 20:44 UTC

I have always been using the linux kernel, but know I did take a play with BSD. And I tested PC-BSD, and I like it very much!

I will put this at my desktops at home..

This is what we have been ...
by Dino on Mon 2nd May 2005 20:53 UTC

Well, finally a binary package management system for BSD. I am downloading as I type this. The new pacakage manager looks promising ;) Great work guys. Once more people start working on this soon many more packages (gnome, etc.) will be supported.

-D

Meat Please?
by DrJ on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:00 UTC

I'd like to see PC-BSD succeed, but I'm afraid the article didn't offer much help in determining really what is installed and what PC-BSD does and does not do.

For example, JAVA and Flash are inconvenient to install and integrate with the browser. Are these set up automatically? What about printing? Does it use lpd or cups? Or do you have to set that up yourself? What about a good set of truetype fonts? Is there a mechanism set up through cron to update the system and ports automatically? Backup routines? Any kernel tweeking done, or do you wind up with the standard GENERIC kernel? What about audio and codecs?

All I could tell is that KDE came up at the end of the install. That's good, but...

RE: nvidia
by molnarcs on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:04 UTC

What I read on their homepage, their package management is radically different from FreeBSD - having self contained packages (installing all needed libraries) in the package's own directory. That said, if ports fully works, than installing the nvidia driver is as simple as typing make install clean in its port directory.

If you need certain modules to load at boottime (but I guess you won't need much, for I think the default kernel will have everything compiled in) the place to do that is /boot/loader.conf. The syntax is simple. Once you get the nvidia driver installed (check the Makefile to see additional option, like enabling support for FreeBSD's own agp driver, and further instructions will be displayes when the port is installed) you only need to put this line in /boot/loader.conf
nvidia_load="YES"

Later, when you discover how easy is to build/configure your own kernel, you'll notice that everything that is commented out will be built as modules automatically. Take a look at the content of /boot/kernel - there you'll have all the modules you need. If you see via dmesg what your sound driver is, you can simply look for it in /boot/kernel, and load it by putting, for example snd_via8233_load="YES" if that's what it is in your loader.conf.

Want a simple yet powerful firewall? The command to load or unload modules is kldload and kldunload respectively. So lets try out pf, that originates from OpenBSD - that will be kldload /boot/kernel/pf.ko. Once you get it loaded, you can write a ruleset. What you might find interesting is how easy is to do that compared to iptables. I have written a short example here:
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=147549&cid=12398323

Have fun with FreeBSD/PC-BSD!

RE: dino
by molnarcs on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:16 UTC

Well, finally a binary package management system for BSD.

This is a huge misconception - FreeBSD has an excellent binary package management system. You can think of ports as a bonus! pkg_add -r openoffice is equivalent to apt get install openoffice! The FreeBSD package building cluster regurarly build packages out of ports - and the above command will install them from the package repository. In fact, what makes FreeBSD really amazing is the easyness by which you can create binary packages. If you have the portinstall/portupgrade tools, installing a package is like this:
portinstall mplayer

Now if you want a binary package built after install, you do this:

portinstall -p mplayer

If you want the package manager to look for binary packages and build from source only if there is none available, you:

portinstall -P mplayer

If you want binary updates exclusively, you:

portinstall -PP mplayer.

You can even create a binary package from a port you installed (it doesn't metter if you built it from ports or installed from a binary originally): pkg_create -b <package_name> will create a binary package. That binary package will have all the info a normal .deb or .rpm package does. It has info about the dependencies it needs to install before it is installed for instance. So if you move the binary to another computer, it will tell you what dependencies it needs if they are not available in the same directory it installs from. It may even try to fetch it automatically from the net (like normal pkg_add -r does).

Do you need the latest and greatest openoffice2.0 builds? Find them here (note that all the localized versions are available as well - and I think no current linux distro has that!) - ftp://ooopackages.good-day.net/pub/OpenOffice.org/FreeBSD/1.9m96/

Download a package that suits you, and as root in its
directory just type pkg_add openofficesomething. It will tell you if you miss something (that you can either build from ports or install via pkg_add!).

correction
by molnarcs on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:18 UTC

portinstall/portupgrade tools, installing a package is like this:
portinstall mplayer

THAT would install mplayer from ports of course, not install a package like a said. The next lines should clarify that, I just wanted to avoid confusion ;)

...
by jack on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:25 UTC

I'll get alot of flack for saying this, but I don't see many users clamoring for a "user friendly", whatever that means, BSD flavoured OS (I thought Mac OS-X filled that niche).

BSD is better suited for the DYI crowd, as opposed to the spoonfed crowd that usually flocks towards the GNU/Linux OS.

This is getting silly, just how many more BSD forks we'll we see in the upcoming year?

Good
by Smartpatrol on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:34 UTC

BSd for the masses..personally i feel this is a casue FreeBSD should have taken up along time ago. BSD is (in my opinion) techincally superior to Linux in many ways. Why not main stream it!

Jack...
by DrJ on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:36 UTC

*sigh*

Let me be the first to give you some flack. I don't see this as a fork -- it is merely a front end to FreeBSD to aid in getting a usable desktop set up. That's not hard, but it does take a lot of work to get right (ask me how I know...). And BSD currently resides with the DIYers (but let's not overlook the server area) because that's what it takes to get a desktop going.

In spite of my earlier, surly-sounding message, I have great hopes that this will be done right. The added mass of users will make porting native applications to BSD much more commercially attractive.

@molnarcs @jack
by Dino on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:37 UTC

@molnarcs: Understood. I have had too many broken ports errors and waking up many a mornings and finding an error when I had asked it to compile the source. After a while I just want it to work. I did not care if it was optimized for my system or not ;)

@jack: I am not sure one can consider this a fork. They are not messing around with the FreeBSD OS or the core utilities. Just adding more package mgmt and a KDE centric 'distribution'.

package manager
by anon on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:53 UTC

Wow... if anyone's missed it:

The PC-BSD package manager doesn't use pkg_add, or the ports system, or even RPM. Instead we've developed more of a straight-up installer approach. Software packages are installed into their own separate directories, complete with libraries and all. The goal is to have installed programs be entirely self contained, so that if the lib's on the system change, the package will be unaffected. Each package is installed into its own subdirectory under "/usr/local/MyPrograms/". The PC-BSD installer takes care of making links, setting up binaries to find their required libraries, creating icons, etc. Removing the app is also managed by PC-BSD. The directory is simply removed, along with any relevant icons / links created.



This approach is something major OS's all learned to master very early on, (I.E. Windows , Mac ) but the *nix world still struggles with. Many systems and distributions install packages and libraries all over the system, creating a tangled web of dependencies, where one wrong move could render many other programs inoperable. This can make installing or upgrading programs very difficult, unless a specific RPM or binary has been created for your exact distribution, which sometimes are in short supply.

We hope by adopting this approach, casual users will be able to simply download and install programs, without having to worry about what may end up broken or malfunctioning as a result.



RE: jack
by molnarcs on Mon 2nd May 2005 21:54 UTC

This is not a fork nor is it intended to be - the same way as FreeSBIE is not a fork either.

As to superiourity - sais who? What do you mean by superiourity? You can't compare FreeBSD to linux directly - because the latter is just a kernel. Now if you compare FreeBSD to a specific distribution, we can debate pro and cons, but saying that FreeBSD is superiour to linux makes no sense and it only creates ill will. I must also have to add that based on my experience with the bsd community (on bsdforums.org) the opinion jack holds is a minority. Perhaps 'interesting' could be a better word, having for instance both 1:1 linux-like threading library - libthr - and M:N threading library - libpthread (formerly known as libkse), wich haven't been implemented elsewhere although SUN experimented with it. This is old, but still interesting reading: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=95211&cid=8187733

In my personal opinion, FreeBSD is superiour in one respect: usability. That's right folks, as surprising as it may sound, FreeBSD was much easier to learn for me than any of the linux distroes I have tried. Once the reviewer gets down to configuring the system, he will see why there is no graphical tools available - perhaps there is no need to. Case in point is configuring pf - since it has almost an english syntax (see one of the links I provided above) and excellent documentation, a *nix noob will pick up the basics more easily than with iptables (or even frontends like shorewall). Same goes for system config. You install apache2.x, to enable it you put apache2_enable="YES" in rc.conf. Same with samba: samba_enable="YES". Not to mention the excellent documentation bsd has and the (newbie) friendly user community - and I make this statement coming from a Mandrake background.

Re: This is what we have been ...
by Anonymous on Mon 2nd May 2005 22:03 UTC

This is a huge misconception - FreeBSD has an excellent binary package management system. You can think of ports as a bonus! pkg_add -r openoffice is equivalent to apt get install openoffice!

Maybe... You can't mix package and ports at the same time, unless you are at the near release peroid. The packages and ports are always out of sync. Example, current FreeBSD 5.3's pkg_add will grab GNOME 2.6 while ports tree has GNOME 2.10.

The FreeBSD package building cluster regurarly build packages out of ports - and the above command will install them from the package repository.

False for regurarly build packages for pkg_add. The default of pkg_add (packages) are only at the every release cycle of FreeBSD version. You can get the fresh packages by the third-party like marcuscom.com for the most current packages of GNOME.

This looks promissing
by Joe User on Mon 2nd May 2005 22:05 UTC

I wish them luck ;)
We need more diversity.

RE: packages
by molnarcs on Mon 2nd May 2005 22:32 UTC

You can't mix package and ports at the same time

Yes, you are right - but you can choose not to use ports at all, and go binary only if you wish to. Then there is a range of packages that get regular binary updates - though not all of them (btw, I thought that the binary repository only lags behind a few weeks - can't you specify a more current binary repository than the one for your specific RELEASE?) - and usually these are the packages users care for: openoffice, kde, gnome, etc.

How much you can mix packages and ports - well, that's not an easy question of course. Probably the less dependencies a package has, the more likely you can build it from source and use binary upgrades for the rest of the system. Perhaps it would be great if installing an older binary would not downgrade the rest of the packages if it is not necessary.

Also, there is a new charter for freebsd portmanagers. Announcment is here: http://www.FreeBSD.org/news/status/report-jan-2005-mar-2005.html#Po...

Charter: http://www.freebsd.org/portmgr/charter.html

What caught my attention:
The Ports Management Team has the following specific responsibilities:
Assure the integrity of the Ports Collection by managing commits to the ports portion of the FreeBSD CVS repository. This includes maintaining certain key files directly; running test builds of proposed large changes; and acting as arbiter over other commits.
Maintain the automated package building cluster, and make the resulting packages available for download by FreeBSD users.
Work with the FreeBSD Security team to insure that security problems are indentified and handled in a timely fashion.

As I said, I thought you can already do what the above passage says - but even if you can't, it might be possible in the near future.

More alternatives are good.....
by Turnacoil on Mon 2nd May 2005 22:40 UTC

Well.

Nice to see that more and more specialized os'ses are comming along with userfriendliness...

Still... Let the masses keep windows, and the spyware plus virusses... (my girlfriend only uses windows, so unfortuantely i am one of them).

Still, i would like to see more and more operating-systems for the nerd, so he and she will compute without spyware and virus.

RE: afterthought
by molnarcs on Mon 2nd May 2005 22:46 UTC

Just an aftertought: you can most certainly upgrade a port that was originally installed from ports without any problems - if there is an updated binary available. The only problem with mixing ports and packages is when you install something new that needs libraries older than you have currently installed (therefore it will deinstall them to satisfy its own dependencies). I maintain two old PCs with the same package selection. I build packages from source on the faster one, then I simply copy them via ftp to the older one (a packard bell 300Mhz celeron), than portupgrade -PP in the directory where I put them. Portupgrade finds all updated packages (of course I have to update the ports collection before doing that) in the current directory, and will proceed upgrading them. It is in this respect that you can mix ports and packages. Initially, some ports were installed from source on the slower pc (bash, mc, and the likes) - but now I upgrade only with binaries built either on my home pc or the faster PC sitting next to it.


So yes, you are right, you can't just mix ports with packages whenever you want - but you can do it if you give it careful thought or in situations I described above. And of course you can just download whatever binary update you need from the package site (like this: ftp://ftp.fsn.hu/pub/FreeBSD/ports/packages/) where - I just checked - there are even updates for less mission critical programs (just saw wesnoth 0.9.1 there which came out only a few weeks ago).

Installing vision
by bsdit on Mon 2nd May 2005 22:57 UTC

I love their idea of making it easier to install software on BSD. Oh Linux, where art thou without your repositories?

http://www.pcbsd.org/PMScreenshots.html

Viva Le OS
by Anonymous on Mon 2nd May 2005 23:34 UTC

The more the marrier I say. The more open source OSes out there the more free we all are of OS monopolies. Keep on rocking.

hmm, live-cd...
by hobgoblin on Mon 2nd May 2005 23:51 UTC

seems more and more *nix distros go live-cd these days.
the solution that pc-bsd is using seems similar to what gobolinux is doing (self contained apps and so on) only that gobolinux keeps the libs in seperate dirs.

in fact i have been thinking about giving gobolinux a spin and see how it behaves when used...

packages and menus
by P on Tue 3rd May 2005 00:14 UTC

Is anybody else scared that each application seems to get its own submenu in the K Menu? Imagine installing 50 applications, the K menu would get HUGE, in addition to all the submenus already in there from KDE itself...

????
by Kman on Tue 3rd May 2005 00:46 UTC

I have little to no experience with any of the BSD's . So I was wondering. How is this differenrt from Fresbie, I installed that with no problem at all and it worked. That is it installed to the hard drive, and I was able to check email with very little to no effort.

Fork?
by mojo on Tue 3rd May 2005 01:26 UTC

For all those saying this is a fork, it's not, Dragonfly BSD is a true fork of FreeBSD, not PC-BSD, which is merely a repackaged FreeBSD. Think Mandrake in it's early years when it would base it's releases on Redhat's.

Re: This is what we have been ...
by itanic on Tue 3rd May 2005 01:40 UTC

Maybe... You can't mix package and ports at the same time, unless you are at the near release peroid. The packages and ports are always out of sync. Example, current FreeBSD 5.3's pkg_add will grab GNOME 2.6 while ports tree has GNOME 2.10.
There is nothing inherently preventing you from mixing packages and ports at the same time. You could easily use the -f switch with pkg_add and use pkgdb -F if you need to use different versions.

Not to mention, GNOME 2.10 has had packages for a while. Perhaps you are looking for the point RELEASE packages instead of the STABLE packages?

False for regurarly build packages for pkg_add. The default of pkg_add (packages) are only at the every release cycle of FreeBSD version. You can get the fresh packages by the third-party like marcuscom.com for the most current packages of GNOME.
No, what you are saying is absolutely false. Packages are built readily. They are not instanteously updated after ports are (for they need to be built from ports in the first place), but they usually come quite soon after.

PC-BSD
by anon on Tue 3rd May 2005 03:28 UTC

PC-BSD - Idiot-proof install.... in general, good to see some more variety, interesting project - however, I've just installed FreeBSD 5.4 rc3 .....

# pkg_add -r <packagename>

Easy up-to-date binaries via the above - kdebase 3.4.0 Firefox 1.0.3 - no bloat....

All good though - interesting to see how it develops ;)

RE:This is what we have been ...
by Lars Hansson on Tue 3rd May 2005 03:41 UTC

> Well, finally a binary package management system for BSD.
All of the BSD's has had "binary" package management since time eternal.

go for it
by Peter on Tue 3rd May 2005 06:07 UTC

I'm downloading PC-BSD right now.Maybe they can get real x86_64 support going.I wish them good luck.

Bootloader is critical
by Anonymous on Tue 3rd May 2005 06:22 UTC

And that they fix the installer... I love this initiative though and have it already installed. I think it both looks good and feels simple enough. Haven't really had time to deepdive through it yet, but from my point of view, now I don't have to bother about Linux anymore.

Good job guys.

RE:jack
by sasquatch666 on Tue 3rd May 2005 06:37 UTC

MacOS X may fill this niche for PPC ,but what about the X86 platform?what fills the niche there WinXP? Myself I think this is a great idea and can't wait to try it!It's like the BSD version of SimplyMepis.Cool!

re"RE:jack"
by Peter on Tue 3rd May 2005 06:49 UTC

MacOS X may fill this niche for PPC ,but what about the X86 platform?what fills the niche there WinXP?

Looking bluntly at the sheer marketshare figures XP.But the role MacOSX has in ppc land is reality still vacant for x86(_64).

Just an opinion
by axbat on Tue 3rd May 2005 08:50 UTC

Really, not to troll..

PC-BSD FAQ, #1
"PC-BSD was created to offer both home and business desktop users a solid alternative to other systems available"

...for those who already using *BSD. And lack of software for those using "other OSes" on the other hand. Really that still remains a challenge for those looking for an alternative system.

if i'm not mistaken Linspire (or how is it now?) is kinda user-friendly Debian. anyone mentioned mass-switching to Linspire as the deviant arrived?

i'd prefer to see more user-needed applications than new incarnations of an OS. Will the problem be solved sooner or later since now? i'd like to hope

Good luck to PC-BSD anyway

Congrats
by Tyr on Tue 3rd May 2005 10:47 UTC

Congrats to the pc-bsd team. They seem to have gotten a lot of things right. I especially like the fact they chose 1 desktop environment and went with that exclusively (although I'm a gtk/gnome/xfce man myself).
Also the package installer should be great for non power-users, although I would like to see the size of these packages that include all libraries with them ( & are they statically compiled?)

Graphical app installer
by Zambizzi on Tue 3rd May 2005 12:06 UTC

The screenshots of this look very promising. This is exactly what Linux distros are lacking for easy desktop use.

Re: axbat
by Anonymous on Tue 3rd May 2005 13:08 UTC

Linspire is Linux... many of us prefer not to use Linux because of it's chaoitic nature.

Choice is good, and this is the first really friendly BSD out there as far as I can tell.

Besides, FreeBSD has been around for what is it now 15 years? and is likely to stay.

Linspire has been around??? Ahh thought so... I rest my case.

Great review !
by Anonymous on Tue 3rd May 2005 13:26 UTC

So what he is basically saying: He managed to install since there was no way to mess that one up. Beyond that, all we learn is the things about which he needs to get a clue first, in order to sort them. - Why am I not impressed? Please stop posting "stuff" like that.

Installs are way over-emphasized
by walterbyrd on Tue 3rd May 2005 13:38 UTC


It gets old. Reviews of Linux, and now BSD, distros, are about 90% based on the install.

Installs should be something you do once in a great while. Day to day usuage matters much more, but that is hardly ever reviewed in any depth.

Reviewers typically install the OS, use the OS for about ten minutes, then base their whole review on that. If you want a great review, just have a great installer, nothing else seems to matter much.

What I want to see is: what features (other than the install) make a particular distro truely unique, and better than other distos? How well do those features actually work? How well does the distro hold up in day to day usuage?

The news about FreeBSD ...
by Anonymous on Tue 3rd May 2005 13:51 UTC

The news about FreeBSD is that it is PC-BSD is installable by mere mortals. Runing KDE 3.4 on FreeBSD, surprisingly enough, looks pretty much like runing it on any other Linux distro. That was the idea, and this is how it is stated in the introduction.

Re:Installs are way over-emphasized
by Stephen Lumsden on Tue 3rd May 2005 13:55 UTC

I would second the above comment. Too many reviews here seem to desktop/install-centric and there is ofthen not enough coverage of maintainability/statibility with OSes coverage. That said its nice to see FBSD with a better gui option.

PC-BSD
by GWJ Mateo on Tue 3rd May 2005 13:55 UTC

This is a great thing. I wish there were some more hardware supported (my soundcard and ALi, is fubared), but this is the first BSD that I have up and running desktop with. Kudos!

desktop bsd
by anonymous-mon on Tue 3rd May 2005 14:30 UTC

Is this the only targeted desktop bsd? Will dragonfly eventually play in this same space?

It's all about installing
by Anonymous on Tue 3rd May 2005 14:52 UTC

"I would second the above comment. Too many reviews here seem to desktop/install-centric and there is ofthen not enough coverage of maintainability/statibility with OSes coverage. That said its nice to see FBSD with a better gui option."

But PC-BSDs goal" is to ***make it easier to install FreeBSD***, not to create a better one. After it was installed what makes it different then any other FreeBSD? Nothing much. Note that the Package Manager and the idea of bundels are not present in the current Beta available for reviewers. This is where the meat is, once some more info will be available.

USB Malloc()
by Chuckles Barnes on Tue 3rd May 2005 15:35 UTC

At least the FreeBSD'ers can use their webcams ;)
When will the Linux guys fix the dreaded USB malloc() bug???

good grief.

Chuck-

Clarifications.
by jack on Tue 3rd May 2005 17:01 UTC

GNU/Linux is not superior to FreeBSD, or vice versa.

From a users prespective GNU/Linux is a much more viable alternative since it has more commercial support than any other alternative Operating System. Take for instance all the drivers, commercial apps, and OSS developed with only GNU/Linux in mind. From that point of view GNU/Linux is alot better suited for the spoonfed type.

From a technical perspective it may be the other way around, I won't bother getting into that.

With the new "Mac Mini", Mac OS-X is a more viable option for end users if you really wanted you could drop a few hundred bills and get an OS that even your Ex-Girlfriend could use. MS-WinXP is not a BSD based OS, as far as I know so ...

RE: Anonymous
by axbat on Tue 3rd May 2005 18:34 UTC

"Linspire is Linux... many of us prefer not to use Linux because of it's chaoitic nature."

i use FreeBSD as a desktop OS - at home and at work and don't understand Linux spirit, but spoonfeeding like issuing fully-GUIded-easy-to-install-OS-with-pampers-comfort isn't a good idea. Such blindly-press-to-setup OSes cause degradation of users (imho). i've seen enough CeWl-BSD-doods asking after semi-automatic installation at forums: "WTH that INIT process? May i kill it?" another good example is messing up system crontab and users' crontabs - "Oh why my script gives me the error message - 'root:command not found'"? they know or heard _something_, but don't know WHAT exactly.

First, let's remember the difference - FreeBSD is seldom mentioned as a system that provides headache-free one, quite the opposite. It's a server OS that may not provide multimedia capabilities, nevertheless anyone who wants is free to use it as such a system.

Second, GUI-wrapped variants seem (imho again) to lack brain-training.

of cause i'm glad that many people are interested in the power of *BSD, but even GUI-free setup process constrained that crowd of guys sticking to BSD because it's just cool. Let them learn how to read manuals first.

Third, quite right those BSD admins, who is worried that new wave of just-hatched juniors knowing how to install BSD
m/_ _m/ and nothing more will undercut their reputation.

"... really friendly BSD out there ... " is a self-rolled kernel and a tweaked-to-my-needs userland that makes me work effectively ,)

P.S. i didn't meant to hurt someone, just expressed my observations. Dixi.

RE:axbat
by Adam on Tue 3rd May 2005 20:19 UTC


but spoonfeeding like issuing fully-GUIded-easy-to-install-OS-with-pampers-comfort isn't a good idea.


It is if you want users.

Re: installs are over-emphasized
by greg on Tue 3rd May 2005 20:49 UTC

Yeah, I second that. Like, I had to install WinXP, the first time in my life (my laptop came with XP Home, I wanted to replace it with XP Pro, and I also had a new bigger and faster hard drive) So I've partitioned the drive (to have a second partition for Linux), installed the XP, installed the extra drivers from the laptop vendor, everything came up, rather uneventful. Well, the conclusion is that WinXP install works. What does it tell us about XP as a whole? Very little, indeed.

Problems
by molnarcs on Tue 3rd May 2005 20:51 UTC

If PC-BSD wants to be a viable DESKTOP OS, it needs to deal with two problems: Flash and JAVA.

If I were them, I would ship an OS ready for both. linux_load="YES" in /boot/loader and options PSEUDOFS in the kernel for supporting linux's procfs. Entry in the fstab. libmap.conf set up in /etc/ for browser plugins (it's harmless even if you don't have linuxpluginwrapper).

1) Flash
The problem: no native flash from macromedia. Currently there is only flash6 support using linux binaries, but users have to edit a bunch of files and install a few dependencies (linux-base for instance) to get it working properly. Not that it is difficult, the instructions are pretty clear, it's just not as smooth as installing other apps. So PC-BSD should present a custom graphical installer for both flash and JAVA, explaining the situation. I have something simple in mind: a next next kind of wizard that first installs linux-base, then by pressing next, the pluginwrapper and the linux rpms.

2) JAVA. This is more difficult - and FreeBSD devs can do nothing about it. RMS, Perens, etc is right. JAVA is not free enough - FreeBSD cannot distribute JAVA binaries, so JAVA is usually build by hand (so there is native JAVA both 1.4.x and 1.5 - it just needs to be built). Correction: FreeBSD can distribute 1.3 JAVA - my question is: is that OK? I mean: does it work for all JAVA enabled websites? Because if it does, installation is simple enough. Install menu should offer a direct link to the site where the user can click to accept the licence, than download should be done automatically (or semi-automatically - a custom konqueror window would do the trick).

If however, 1.3 sucks too much, a user can be informed of the situation, and might be offered a choice: install JAVA when he or she can spare the time it needs to be built (or rather, his/her computer can spare the time). Java build needs 4GB space, so user might choose a partition with enough space to build it (offer it automatically, or display a message if there is no such partition). Remember the location, pass the variable to make, offer the easiest possible way to download/install linux-jdk (for bootstrap) - and the needed sources for the native build. This LOOKS like a very involved process, but if the installer is carefully thought out, it is not as complex as it may seem from my description:
1) Install Java button
2) Menu comes up with brief description (max 6-7 lines) of what will happen.
3) If user chooses to do it, next screen with "Now you'll be taken to a website where you must accept the licence" > take him/her there
4) Download/install automatically
5) Next step in the process - another EULA (yeah, see how free is JAVA) than automatic download of the needed files, begin build process, with estimated ETA (based on the characteristics of the machine - which might be presented at the beginning of the process, informing the user that he may leave his/her pc on for the weekend/night/whatever time period.

I know, this sucks, support Perens/RMS/whomever is complaining to SUN to rectify the situation. Petition Macromedia to provide native flash version (it shouldn't be too difficult).

PC-BSD FOR THE MASSES?
by stopme on Tue 3rd May 2005 21:18 UTC

PC-BSD will be definitely be exiting in the following releases. I believe to their principles and their capability to deliver quality os.

however, this new type of distro will be for the masses and my greatest concern is that the LOGO will be the main issue.
People will think twice to have this distro because the logo itself is frightening!

Yes! I'm afraid this logo is not for the masses. Please change the logo just for the masses.

Just installed it
by Vindevogel on Tue 3rd May 2005 21:44 UTC

My 2 cents ...

1) Installation is for dummies. Really. I must admit that I used a spare pc, so I hit the "Use entire disk" option. I think I filled out one form afterwards: root pass and user pass. That's it. KDE came up right, good work in that.

2) KDE configuration is not as good as Kubuntu's. I still do not see the use of having "Kontact" everywhere plus "KMail", "KOrganizer". Just put up Kontact, that's enough.

3) Change the boot loader with a graphic one.

4) Provide something to easily set the keyboard at boot time. Not everybody lives in the United States.

5) Get Java support, Flash installed, and, especialy, get Open Office installed by default !

6) Some packages are not needed in the base setup. It took quite some time to install everything. Most Linux distros are faster to install.


I will give this thing a go for a couple of days. It looks promising and I wish the developers a lot of luck.

BTW: This is not a fork.

Good Job guys
by Pollo Loco on Tue 3rd May 2005 21:53 UTC

Look, its a good idea, if you can and want to install FreeBSD the regular way, then have at it, its your choice, but to be able to to just point and click through an instalation like this is great. I'm a Linux user but now I'm dowloading PC-BSD, to use as a desktop, and since a lot of Linux users will try it out, why not welcome them instead of calling them babies that have to be hand fed? If you guys think that *BSD is a great distro, and should be given as much attention as Linux, here's your chance to prove it.

kdewww
by dt on Wed 4th May 2005 03:09 UTC

I just finished several hours tinkering with PCBSD, and while I liked the idea, I just couldn't get through KDE. I just feel like I'm constantly overwhelmed with options and it's exhausting!!

graphical bootloaders
by lanjoe9 on Tue 10th May 2005 22:15 UTC

the problem with graphical bootloaders (as far as I know, feel free to correct me) is that they tend to fail frequently or to require more space than they have (thus using files stored in the OS's partition). Then, if for any reason these files get lost (installing a new OS, mistakes, etc) EVERYTHING stops working until another bootloader is put in its place.

Perhaps something that looks like the Be Boot Loader would be the ideal?
The FreeBSD bootloader has some limitations though, when I installed Ubuntu, I had to install Ubuntu's bootloader in its own partition and FreeBSD in the master boot record. Not difficult, BTW.