Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Nov 2009 19:41 UTC, submitted by Gabor
FreeBSD Astute readers probably already saw this one waiting in our backend, but since there was no official announcement yet, I decided to wait. Now that it's officially here, let's rejoice: the FreeBSD team has released version 8.0 of their operating system, packed with new features and improvements.
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RE[2]: What's the point with *BSD?
by Doc Pain on Fri 27th Nov 2009 14:27 UTC in reply to "RE: What's the point with *BSD?"
Doc Pain
Member since:
2006-10-08

Installer: OK, I agree.


Checo out PC-BSD, a desktop-oriented FreeBSD version which features a GUI installer. Is this more the way you think an installer should look like?

I have many friends who use PC-BSD on their desktops and are completely happy with it, no issues so far. So I would recommend it to try for everyone who things that FreeBSD is "too old-fashioned". PC-BSD comes with KDE and many applications preinstalled, as well as an innovative package installer which can be used with a web browser. Well, in my opinion, manually downloading things from the web and clicking on it - to install a program - is quite old-fashioned... :-)

If you want Linux, go use Linux.


That's a good statement. Nobody is forcing anyone to use FreeBSD. It has its places and its users. If you don't want to belong to them, it's completely okay.

ZFS: ZFS is a fine FS, and leagues above what FreeBSD did have. If some of the recent additions to better apply roll-backs can be used, it will remain a fine FS for a long time.


You say it: For a long time. I prefer carefully engineered and implemented filesystems over those that appear and disappear in masses. For storage facilities, a reliable filesystem is very important. I'm familiar with ZFS, coming from a Solaris background. While I was comfortable with UFS, ZFS has a lot to offer. I would rather stay with ZFS than migrating all data from one file system to another one.

Package management: I've never stuck with a FreeBSD release long, so n/a.


The native tools of FreeBSD offer you a good basis for managing your software, be it in binary form or by source. Additional programs, such as portmaster, make things much more comfortable. Of course, there are GUI frontends for them so you can manage your software with the mouse.

Reliability: Linux has reliability/compatibility issues mostly regarding desktop users. Time and time again, it shows that's it's really a server OS. It beats out much of the competition, but it ain't perfect.


Well, I never had performance problems on my desktop. Sometimes, I read stories about Linux users complaining that their audio is skipping or that video playback gets desynchonized from audio. I cannot imagine that. It's 2009. Computing power is much more than some years ago. One of my first systems was a 150 MHz Pentium (1 - one, to emphasize this) with 64 (later 128) MB EDO RAM. I could compile the kernel, download an ISO via FTP, burn a CD, browse the web with a responsive Opera and have XMMS play MP3 files AT THE SAME TIME and WITHOUT SKIPPING AUDIO. It's true!

I think most performance issues on the desktop are related to the more and more upcoming tradition of bloat. I have told here (at OSNews) that bload isn't bad per se, and that it is needed (or at least an unavoidable side-effect) for modern software creation, a result of reducing development costs and always using the most modern technology. I have often complained that the "feeled overall speed" of applications is reduced when the programs are updated, usually in order to use a newer version of a library, e. g. the translation from Gtk 1 to Gtk 2. It may be that those new libraries offer new functionality, but what's the point when a program doesn't use it? You get a new interface, wow, but the program needs much more time to come up, and even worse, accessibility is reduced (e. g. the doubleclick = select doesn't work anymore in Gtk 2 since the list entries do switch into input fields, but those input fields lose focus and can't be fed by the edit buffer via the middle mouse button). The joy of the new modularized X is another topic. While it is great not to need xorg.conf in order to access modern GPUs, it can cause trouble when you can't get things working with new X that worked flawlessly in old X (e. g. XFree86), especially when you need specific settings (e. g. a german keyboard layout). The place of a centralized configuraton file (xorg.conf) has been abandoned in favour of various configuration files (for HAL, for DBUS, for PolicyKit etc.), and some of them require XML editing (instead of often more comfortable plain text). Finally, there's not sufficient documentation for those settings, or the settings are changing from day to day, so documentation isn't up to date.

Yes, to sum it up: There are many things that make me wish FreeBSD would be better, but in fact, those things aren't caused by FreeBSD! Most annoyances are grounded in incompatible hardware and bloated software.

It sometimes makes me angry, but when things don't work, I simply don't use them, because I don't need them. And just for toying around, it's not worth being angry. Life's hard enough. :-)

Reply Parent Score: 2

bradley Member since:
2007-03-02

Guy's... it's always the same argument between Linux and BSD. This has been going on since the turn of the century (feels like)... even the words are still the same.

Question: When will this end?

Why can't we just choose the operating system of our choice... live and let live, and stop putting the other down!


Senseless

Reply Parent Score: 2

Oliver Member since:
2006-07-15

Well, this is some kind of a problem. Because there are many users, who don't like news about "free" operating systems other than Linux. And even within the Linux community they fight each other if they don't have anything to say about this very evil empire in Redmond.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Why can't we just choose the operating system of our choice... live and let live, [...]


But that *is* what we're actually doing, isn't it?

[...] and stop putting the other down!


I agree with that, but still, there are individual opinions that form criticism about some particular OS. It's worth discussing them, because they can lead to improvements in this OS. An example is the rewrite of FreeBSD's USB subsystem.

Reply Parent Score: 2

cerbie Member since:
2006-01-02

I've used PC-BSD, but for me, it has practically nothing over a good Linux. But, once you get below the GUI, it is different enough that I can't go and dismiss it.

It may be 2009, but good hardware isn't dead. My Mobile Pentium III 1.13 Thinkpad, with its SuperSavage video, will not die. And, until it does, or a netbook with an equivalent display and keyboard come around, I'm not ditching it.

When going to BFS fixes audio and X problems, something else is going on, deep down in there, and it's not good. Then, X won't even do double buffering (not strictly a Linux problem)...come on, it's 2009, and Windows did it with the same hardware back in 2001, when the thing was brand new. Videos above about 400x300 simply don't play right with X. That's why I made such a bit comparing to BeOS: a better OS scheduler would (and DOES) go a long way, but it wouldn't be quite as critical, if the rest of the software were made to be lighter, and made with a more of a 'big picture' view of software usage (as opposed to, 'my program is all that runs for me, so that's what I design for').

Trying OSes like DeLi, it's obvious that the problems go down deep into the software infrastructure (though that distro, in particular, is a bit too geared to very old hardware, with matching older kernels and such, for my daily use).

Reply Parent Score: 2

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I've used PC-BSD, but for me, it has practically nothing over a good Linux. But, once you get below the GUI, it is different enough that I can't go and dismiss it.


Well, I have the same experiences. Personally, I would not use it because it's very KDE centric (and I'm not a big fan of KDE, I have to admit), but it's a great OS for novice users. The advantage for me (as a professional user) is that, despite all the fancy GUI stuff, it's FreeBSD under the hood, the OS I'm most comfortable with. So if a friend has a problem with his PC-BSD installation, it's easy to use "basic means" of FreeBSD for diagnostics and intervention.

But as you said, for some fields of use, especially when a user requires "Flash" and some "nich market programs" such as native Mathematica or MatLab, he would be better off using a Linux distribution.

It may be 2009, but good hardware isn't dead.


I know that, because I realize it every day. Furthermore, I know that often people have problems getting fancy hardware (especially USB stuff and some wireless devices) working correctly with FreeBSD. The same applies to "egg-laying wool milk sow" type printers that require very specific drivers. Why doesn't this disturb me? Because I simply refuse to buy such devices. I'm happy with used office-class devices, such as a good laser printer that can understand PS and PCL and can communicate through ethernet, or a good SCSI scanner. Of course, that's extraordinary, I can understand that, but it is a good example that FreeBSD has no problems talking to hardware that has been designed to run for a long time (in opposite to our "modern" throw-away-after-use hardware).

My Mobile Pentium III 1.13 Thinkpad, with its SuperSavage video, will not die. And, until it does, or a netbook with an equivalent display and keyboard come around, I'm not ditching it.


This applies to most of my home IT infrastructure. :-)

Now that you know a bit about the kind of IT stuff I'm using I can try to introduce why I so much like the FreeBSD OS:

With every release, the system provides more features and runs faster ON THE SAME HARDWARE. It's so great to see that - you update your system, your system runs better!

Still, there's a downside: What the OS gives, the applications take away. X runs slower, libraries need more time to load, things that worked before need some intervention to work again.

After all, and I need to emphasize this, it is not the fault of the FreeBSD developers. I always keep in mind that they are delivering a great OS for free.

I can use the same modern OS on new hardware, as well as on my old hardware that is still working flawlessly, and I can profit from the advantages of this OS, no matter which platform I run it on, or how good the resources are that this particular platform provides.

Of course, this is just my very individual point of view. And I'm not so stubborn that I could not image ditching FreeBSD one day - it will surely happen when it doesn't run the applications anymore that I need, or when it forces me to buy things I don't want to buy, or when it simply runs too slow. (By the way, this is one reason why I don't like KDE very much, next to its insufficient german language support.)

Reply Parent Score: 2

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Well, I never had performance problems on my desktop. Sometimes, I read stories about Linux users complaining that their audio is skipping or that video playback gets desynchonized from audio. I cannot imagine that. It's 2009. Computing power is much more than some years ago. One of my first systems was a 150 MHz Pentium (1 - one, to emphasize this) with 64 (later 128) MB EDO RAM. I could compile the kernel, download an ISO via FTP, burn a CD, browse the web with a responsive Opera and have XMMS play MP3 files AT THE SAME TIME and WITHOUT SKIPPING AUDIO. It's true!


That's one thing I've always like about FreeBSD: sound just works! Their modified version of OSSv3 that supports in-kernel mixing, auto-device cloning (apps just open /dev/dsp, the kernel auto-maps that to either a hardware channel (/dev/dsp0, /dev/dsp1) or a software channel (/dev/dsp0.0, /dev/dsp0.1) and everything just works and sounds nice. Been that way since the 4.x days (possibly earlier, but I didn't use FreeBSD as a desktop until 4.0, 3.x was just on servers).

It still boggles me why the Linux devs went the ALSA route instead of just fixing OSSv3 like the rest of the Unix world did. Talk about cutting yourself off, and creating lock-in.

A lot of my Linux-using aquaintances don't believe me when I tell them that FreeBSD uses OSS and has all the features that ALSA was supposed to bring, and still hasn't delivered (even with PulseAudio). ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

That's one thing I've always like about FreeBSD: sound just works! Their modified version of OSSv3 that supports in-kernel mixing, auto-device cloning (apps just open /dev/dsp, the kernel auto-maps that to either a hardware channel (/dev/dsp0, /dev/dsp1) or a software channel (/dev/dsp0.0, /dev/dsp0.1) and everything just works and sounds nice. Been that way since the 4.x days (possibly earlier, but I didn't use FreeBSD as a desktop until 4.0, 3.x was just on servers).


In the 4.x days, sound was a bit complicated because it required you to build a custom kernel, as far as I remember, because the KLD infrastructure wasn't so comfortable those days. Took 24 hours on my 150 MHz P1. :-) Today, you can just kldload the proper module and sound runs.

But all imaginable sound devices worked, starting with an ISA SoundBlaster, and today I'm using a PCI sound card that supports the cmi driver - I try to avoid using the AC'97 kind "sound emulator through CPU". Works like a charm, and worked for many years. It's interesting that playing audio doesn't create massive CPU load on FreeBSD systems.

One problem I see is the already present idea to moving all stuff to USB; I'm talking about "USB sound cards", USB microphones, USB headphones and other stuff. Support for them may lack.

But as I said earlier: I don't own it - I don't care for it. :-)

Reply Parent Score: 2