Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 22nd May 2007 21:05 UTC, submitted by Nix_User
PC-BSD LinuxHelp has reviewed PC-BSD. "PC-BSD is turning out to be an excellent alternative to other desktop operating systems. After testing and using PC-BSD for some time now, I can't but admire the sheer amount of work that is put into creating, developing and molding an OS for the lay person albeit with a strong slant towards FreeBSD. The fact that PC-BSD is able to accomplish all the tasks expected by an end user - be it using the Internet for communication, listening to music, watching movies or using it for recreation purposes holds it in good stead as a viable desktop operating systems."
Thread beginning with comment 242468
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE: I love PC-BSD
by Doc Pain on Tue 22nd May 2007 22:56 UTC in reply to "I love PC-BSD"
Doc Pain
Member since:
2006-10-08

"[...] the pbi packages are easy, even for beginners."

Why "even"? :-) The PBI system is designed especially for beginners who usually have enough hard disk space not to care for duplicated dependencies and "dependency hell". PBI is a very good solution here, but keep in mind: You pay comfort with hard disk usage. But as we all know, this is no problem today.

Personally, I prefer using the pkg_add and make methods for installing applications, but PC-BSD offers the best choice: Use what you like - ports, precompiled packages, or PBI packages.

"The only thing that I would suggest is wider package selection of PBI's, but I love what they have done so far."

PC-BSD targets the usual home user who'll find nearly every application he could need preinstalled in the KDE system. I tended to miss some "strange" software in the PBI database, but that is my personal fault because I'm still using obsolete and ancient software. :-)

I'd like to comment some statements from the section "Suggestions for further improvement of PC-BSD" in the article:

"1. The three BSDs namely FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD have their own independent ports. PC-BSD team could also start maintaining its own independent ports system instead of depending on the FreeBSD ports. One disadvantage of depending on FreeBSD ports is that you have to sometimes wait a long time before the software gets updated in the ports."

You could use the precompiled packages (which is the usual way in FreeBSD). I would not recommend PC-BSD to have an own ports subsystem because it possibly would get incompatible with FreeBSD, violating the claim "PC-BSD is FreeBSD".

"2. When a user enters a root password to do system administration tasks using GUI, PC-BSD should offer to remember the root password so that the user does not have to enter it the next time he want to run a program in super user mode."

This is dangerous. Why does the author suggest this? He could have suggested PC-BSD to login as root without any password automatically, just to gain maximal comfort for the user. :-)

"Many Linux distributions such as Debian and Fedora have this feature."

I'm not sure if "Linux has" is a valid proof for a need...

"At present, if I want to install say 10 PBI's I have to enter the root password 10 times - ie. each time I execute the PBI, it asks for root password which gets really tedious."

Here, the PBI package manager could run the remove command on the installed PBI packages as a batch job, requiring only one entering of the root password.

"KDE dialog has a check box which offers to "keep the password" but it doesn't seem to have any effect."

This is strange.

"3. The PBI should have an option to install software system wide or on a per user basis. This suggestion might seem strange but in a multi-user environment, it is not possible to hand over the root password to every one."

The author seems to have an idea why there is a difference between the system user(s) and the system administrator. The last one mentioned is the person with the rights to install software. The user usually is not. But I can follow his mind, today's users are system administrators (or seem to be / should be). So it would be imaginable to have a path beneath $HOME added to the $PATH where PBI packages local to the user could be installed and executed.

"And if a user wants to try out a software by downloading the PBI, he should be allowed to install it in his home directory if he cannot enter the root password."

And he should be able to have malware and spyware installed automatically, yeah, we all know where this thoughts lead to... :-)

"4. The PBI should also support execution from the command line. This is not a must have feature but it can be convenient to execute and install a PBI package in certain situations where you have booted into console mode."

This feature could be useful where the system administrator uses SSH or a console to do maintenance operations to a system. Something like

# pbi_add k3b

could be a nice feature, I agree here.

"5. It would be nice to have a GUI front-end which allows a lay person to write custom firewall rules for PF."

There are many, just to mention the standard KDE text editor, even the X-Terminal running ee serves this purpose. People who create PF settings are usually smart enough to use these tools. :-)

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: I love PC-BSD
by Chuck Norris on Tue 22nd May 2007 23:17 in reply to "RE: I love PC-BSD"
Chuck Norris Member since:
2007-03-24

You seem to know a little bit about PC-BSD but not enought though...

You pay comfort with hard disk usage

No. The disk usage that additional libraries occupy is close to none. Try to install a PBI, and a package and compare. There are cases where it is the opposite (ie: the installed Apache PBI uses less space than the package).

I agree that the root password should be asked only once, with a time out such as a 15min or 13min time out. Who wants to type 10x his password in a minute?

Not letting the user install his own software because of malware is a myth. He will always be able to find some applications that can be extracted and run from his /home directory. If you search enough, you'll find them. Making it official and allowing a user to install a PBI in his own directory is a good idea. If he install malware, at least it will not have root privileges.

You can already install a PBI in text mode.

If you think using vi or ee is a solution to edit the rules of your firewall, then ask Windows users to use Notepad to edit the Windows firewall exceptions. Nice.

You shouldn't have to know the PF synthax by heart to add firewall exceptions. With such a closed mentality, the linux desktop won't go very far.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: I love PC-BSD
by Doc Pain on Wed 23rd May 2007 00:29 in reply to "RE[2]: I love PC-BSD"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"You seem to know a little bit about PC-BSD but not enought though..."

You're seeing the truth. I'm using FreeBSD as one of my main systems, but my neighbor is fine with PC-BSD, so I sometimes look "into" his system. PC-BSD is not for me, but I like the PBI concept very much.

"No. The disk usage that additional libraries occupy is close to none. Try to install a PBI, and a package and compare. There are cases where it is the opposite (ie: the installed Apache PBI uses less space than the package)."

You're right, there are cases where it's the opposite. The PBIs are composed very well. Maybe it is because of KDE that I think of the disk space occupation... :-)

"Not letting the user install his own software because of malware is a myth. He will always be able to find some applications that can be extracted and run from his /home directory."

Of course you're right, you can even install local applications with FreeBSD's pkg_add and make, just set a few $*BASE variables, and it works.

There is a security machanism: The proper system administration. In worst case, a user can damage his account, delete all his files and lose his password. But this won't affect the OS itself, the installed applications, and other users. Only if users are granted root privileges, these means of system security could be overridden.

"If you search enough, you'll find them. Making it official and allowing a user to install a PBI in his own directory is a good idea. If he install malware, at least it will not have root privileges."

I agree.

"You can already install a PBI in text mode."

"If you think using vi or ee is a solution to edit the rules of your firewall, then ask Windows users to use Notepad to edit the Windows firewall exceptions. Nice."

I don't know "Windows", so I cannot tell. :-)

The firewall should be set up by the system administrator one, in the beginning. The administrator is the one who knows which ports to open and which services to enable. The user should not need to know. But because most users today are their own system administrators, the requirement for a secure setting at install time is there. I set up my firewall years ago and I did not need to change settings until today. This could be different in experimental settings, I assume.

"You shouldn't have to know the PF synthax by heart to add firewall exceptions. With such a closed mentality, the linux desktop won't go very far."

Hmmm... take my comment above and let me add a car analogy - it's just because people like car analogies. If you want to participate in the public traffic, you need to know some things, such as how to drive the car and what the traffic rules say. You even have to prove that you know, otherwise you would not get a driving license.

So, if you need to play around with PF, you should know what you're playing with. Trial & error is not always the best solution.

But I agree with your last statement. If Linux wants to get more usage share (and oh joy oh market share), it has to be more like this "Windows"... :-) No, honestly. User friendlyness is a valid point. People get confused by text they need to read. And they do not want to learn how to do it, they just want to do it, or, to be more precise, they want their PC to do it automatically by itself. So a packet filter that does not need any user interaction (self learning system?) would be the best solution, I think.

Reply Parent Score: 5