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Operating Systems Software BSD

Another Step Towards BSD on the Desktop 536

Posted by timothy
from the happy-leenux-world dept.
linuxbeta writes "DesktopBSD is the latest easy to install BSD aimed squarely at the desktop. Installation screen shots. From their site: 'DesktopBSD aims at being a stable and powerful operating system for desktop users. DesktopBSD combines the stability of FreeBSD, the usability and functionality of KDE and the simplicity of specially developed software to provide a system that's easy to use and install.' DesktopBSD joins the ranks of PC-BSD and FreeSBIE."
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Another Step Towards BSD on the Desktop

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  • More BSD on the desktop can only be a good thing. Now that OS X is my primary desktop platform, I'm running into more and more BSD-Linux issues.
    • More like OS X's bizzar ass unix-Linux issues. No, really, OS X is out there. I think what they are doing with, say, launchd is cool. They are moving most of the config files over to XML. But their documentation sucks (yes I know how man pages work) and wtf is up with FreeBSD on top of Mach?
  • BSD v Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mantus (65568) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:50PM (#13283672)
    Could someone point me to (or post) a lowdown on the potential benefits of BSD has over linux (or vice versa) that doesn't include wild speculation and unfounded cynicism?

    Isn't a BSD distro going to be about the same as a Linux distro? Does the kernel make that big of a difference?

    Note the question marks. I am asking.
    • Re:BSD v Linux (Score:3, Informative)

      by debilo (612116)
      Please note that this is not a "distro", it's a plain FreeBSD with the addition of a graphical installer and some other nice tools.
    • Re:BSD v Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

      by wigle (676212)
      - easier to use - ports system - init scripts - easy updating with cvsup and make *world - filesystem layout - stable, secure - kernel config - separation between base system and add-on software - license
    • Unless there's something linux specific (eg the kqemu modules for qemu) I tend to stay away from Linux in favor of NetBSD. The reason for that is because on my el-cheapo HP Pavilion I can never get the linux 2.6 kernel to boot properly. I either have weird crashes that I can't tell what they relate to, or I have to boot with the usb=off (!) parameter or it will just not boot; period.

      If I use Linux, I use Debian only because it still ships with the 2.4 kernel which I can get to work (but still requires that
    • by xlr8ed (726203) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:02PM (#13283724)
      that doesn't include wild speculation and unfounded cynicism?

      You must be new here...
    • Its not the kernel. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Some Random Username (873177) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:22PM (#13283813) Journal
      No, the kernel doesn't make that big of a difference, and the kernel is all that linux is. BSDs are complete operating systems. The reason I don't use linux is because every distro comes with a messy userland full of random assorted crap from various sources, and most of the core utilities are bloated, poorly documented GNU junk.

      The BSDs have sane, useful, documented and functional userlands, which makes them a joy to use. There is no reason that linux distros couldn't be made with a nice userland too, but nobody seems to have done it. It seems like most linux users have never used a nice unix system, so they don't realize what they are missing.
      • by Digital Pizza (855175) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:53PM (#13283934)
        ...most of the core utilities are bloated, poorly documented GNU junk.

        Thanks for reminding me of something: whoever it is within Gnu that thought it'd be a great idea to deprecate man pages in favor of info documents, even if it's Stallman himself, I seriously want to kick his ass!

        There. That felt better.

        BTW, I agree with the rest of your post as well.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          I agree with you that man pages should not be deprecated (they serve their purpose damn well, and have a very long tradition).

          That said, texinfo has HUGE benefits for developers and users. It is a breeze for example to generate all sort of formats (pdf, html, text, info ...) for your manual, from the same .texi source. The integration with the autotools is also marvellous (make pdf, make html, make ps, ..).

          I think both man and info should remain, with man helping you when you just need to look at that cmdli
          • I've worked with systems that include info for over ten years now. I still can't get used to it; the info browser (/usr/bin/info) is immensely clumsy, and the use of texinfo tend to make the man page a second thought, making the entire documentation set extremely annoying.

            My conclusion is that texinfo never grew up, and that the niche it tried to fill has been taken by docbook.

            Docbook has one significant technological advantage over texinfo: The omission of a standard command line interface to replace

      • by 10Ghz (453478) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @05:56AM (#13284908)
        So, does *BSD have a *BSD-GUI that is a "joy to use", or do they use some some "random assorted crap from various sources"? On Linux I use KDE, and I'm toying with Gnome, but apparently those are crap. Could you point me to the *BSD-equivalent?

        What compilers do *BSD's use? Is it "GNU junk" or something else? What about X? X.org would be "crap from various sources", so apparently *BSD uses some uber-leet BSD-Xserver, right?
    • Re:BSD v Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

      Isn't a BSD distro going to be about the same as a Linux distro? Does the kernel make that big of a difference?

      Well, since this article concerns a desktop implementations, I'd be inclined to say no, not much difference. It's probably more relevant to ask about the benefits of KDE vs, Gnome. Your average Joe user will rarely if ever open a command shell, and even if he does, most of the commands are very similar if not identical. Now for specialized applications and servers, there are probably some (marginal
    • Re:BSD v Linux (Score:5, Informative)

      by rbullo (625328) <ross...bullock@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @11:39PM (#13284084) Homepage Journal
      Here you go. [over-yonder.net]
    • Re:BSD v Linux (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mekanix (127309)
      Could someone point me to (or post) a lowdown on the potential benefits of BSD has over linux (or vice versa) that doesn't include wild speculation and unfounded cynicism?

      I've been using FreeBSD exclusively on my Desktop for years. And I like it over any Linux-distro I've come across. Why?

      * The FreeBSD Handbook. Most (common) issues you'll ever encounter are addressed here.
      * Ports. It just works.
      * Stable. Haven't had a crash in ages that wasn't caused by overheated HW.
      * Logic. If something doesn't work out
  • by debilo (612116)
    What I'm really looking forward to is the graphical WLAN configuration tool, which apparently will allow for different profiles to be saved (not quite sure on that one, though). Also, the author told me that he'll additionally release most of his stuff as ports, so it can be used on stock FreeBSD installations too. I am very happy with that.
  • by airjrdn (681898) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:53PM (#13283682) Homepage
    Here's to hoping there's a LiveCD version. So far, the only LiveCD that recognizes my wireless card (Broadcom in an HP laptop) is Simply Mepis.

  • Necessary? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wigle (676212) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:53PM (#13283683)
    First of all, if you're using FreeBSD chances are you know how to configure an X11 environment. It's easy. Also, you have your choice of window managers; not everyone will choose KDE. Package management is already extremely easy with ports, especially with portupgrade. I definitely agree that FreeBSD with an official GUI would be awesome (the opposite approach of Windows, where the interface would simply be a frontend for scripts), but for a half-hearted attempt there's not much of a demographic.
    • Re:Necessary? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by debilo (612116) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:03PM (#13283729)
      What exactly makes you call this a "half-hearted attempt"? As far as I know, the author of DesktopBSD has been working on this project for months now with only little help from a few others, and he's been a victim of flames like yours above trying to ridicule his efforts several times now.

      . Until you've installed and tested it yourself, your post above is nothing more than a half-hearted attempt at a comment.
      • Maybe half-hearted is the wrong word. It's like a kid who toils for hours and pours his heart into trying to draw a portrait of someone. When he's done, it looks nothing like the person and you might call it nice to encourage the kid. But you certainly wouldn't call it a polished job. Judging solely from the screenshots, DesktopBSD looks nice... however, unlike Mac OS X, I wouldn't say it's ready to put in front of mainstream users quite yet.
         
        • i was thinking the same.. all it is is freebsd with kde and x11 preconfigured. that is it. i was hoping for a radical login screen or a completely graphical boot loader. bah.

          A+ for effor though, i may see if i can help on this project.. i've had a really wicked idea for a new os based off of freebsd and this may very well be the starting point.
  • Of recent there seem to be a growing number of projects that endeavour to make FreeBSD prettier/easier to install. I personally would like to see this kind of development become part of FreeBSD, and keep everything together and fully integrated. That I believe is one of FreeBSD's greatest strengths.
    • I am sure that if those tools/additions prove to be useful and stable, they'll eventually find their way into the official FreeBSD tree.
    • Only if you have a plan for incrementally changing FreeBSD. I don't think it likely that they'll accept sweeping changes from someone without a reputation yet.

      One of the consequence of having a reputation for stability is a reluctance to betray the user community with inadequately reviewed ideas.
  • It's great how the fancy graphical installation screen crashes back to an ugly terminal font in Screen10. It kind of throws off the whole good vibe that I'd been getting during the previous steps. Also, why is there a Next button active when the installation script obviously wants me to press Reboot? Strange, to say the least.

    But when it comes down to it, installation is only the gateway to the system. It isn't the system itself. MacOS could have the world's worst installation system, but the OS itself
    • by vga_init (589198) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:20PM (#13283796) Journal
      It's great how the fancy graphical installation screen crashes back to an ugly terminal font in Screen10.

      That's the bootloader, you nut. Even Fedora Core's bootloader uses that "ugly terminal font," just with different colors. Windows NT/2000/XP's bootloader looks like that too (and if you push the right buttons while booting your Mac, you'll get (you guessed it) a text-mode command prompt/boot loader (ie openfirmware). As with OpenFirmware, the FreeBSD bootloader can be configured silent so as not to display that menu). Sheesh. We give you KDE and you give us this hogwash about our installer. >:(

    • by Fweeky (41046) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:45PM (#13283901) Homepage
      "And in the end, you're still dealing with BSD, which is great if you're running a server, but sluggish (response times to system interrupts is slow, compared to Windows and MacOS) when running in a user-centric scenario."
      I'm sorry? I run both Linux, FreeBSD and WinXP desktops on a variety of hardware; "sluggish" isn't what I'd call FreeBSD. It plays a mean game of UT2004 too.
  • BSD or KDE? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vandan (151516) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:00PM (#13283712) Homepage
    Screenshots are great, but only when they're relevant.

    People who are keen enough to be interested in BSD will already know what KDE looks like. It would be far more instructive to show screenshots of things that are unique to this particular distribution of BSD. How about showing the GUI tool for software installation, or samba configuration, or something.

    All I know now is that BSD runs KDE ... and I knew that before I looked at the screenshots.

    I like the KDE background, though ;)
  • I tried FreeBSD as a desktop OS for a while until I realized:-

    * My GPU isn't going to get supported on BSD in this lifetime.
    * Recompiling KDE from ports when a new version comes out is not fun.

    It's OK I suppose if you use packages for everything and don't really need any graphics capabilities.
  • We don't need anymore forks of our favorite BSD projects. They're complete and perfect on their own, thank you! One of the classic benefits of BSD was that there were very few systems to choose from. The uniformity of the systems and cooperation within the projects was legendery (with some exception [openbsd.org]). All of these spinoffs of FreeBSD are making me nervous. I don't want it to go all linux on me. :-/ I have a hard enough time as it is distro hopping. When will the madness end?
    • It doesn't seem to be a "fork", just a bundle of good stuff for an existing base (FreeBSD). Kinda like Texstar packages for Mandrake, before Texstar started his own distro and before Mandrake was Mandriva, of course :)
      • It doesn't seem to be a "fork", just a bundle of good stuff for an existing base (FreeBSD).

        Oh, okay. But you recognize my concern, right? ;-) These alternative distribution still give me the heebie-jeebies.

    • They're complete and perfect on their own, thank you!

      This must be a definition of "complete and perfect" of which I am unaware.
      • This must be a definition of "complete and perfect" of which I am unaware.

        Maybe when you have children, a spouse (maybe both), or a special pet, you will be more aware of this definition. :-)

        I propose no absolute criteria for perfection and offer the title on purely subjective terms. In an absolutist sense, you're right.

    • "All of these spinoffs of FreeBSD are making me nervous. I don't want it to go all linux on me. :-/ I have a hard enough time as it is distro hopping. "

      That's what makes me nervous too, and I think stops more widespread adoption of Linux, is that there are too many distributions. People are trained to know that Mac software doesn't run on Windows, and Windows doesn't run on Linux, but when they hear that there are 100 versions of Linux, then they are concerned that a program they get for "Red Hat" might no
      • they are concerned that a program they get for "Red Hat" might not work for "Mandriva".

        What makes matters worse is that it's not a clear yes or no. It comes down to terms such as it might work, should work, or probably won't work. Incompatibilities can either be blatant, nonexistent, or sinisterly lurking someplace from which they can leap out and bite us in the bum later.

        We know that basically the same software is available for all of linux, but the packaging and distribution puts some compatibility is

        • Agreed; the situation is very bad - I peronally consider it dire - with commercial software. A lot of commercial apps only support a very short list of distributions, and versions within that distribution; if you wish to use another distro, or even stay up to date with the latest verision, then you'll lose support. That can be a very big deal.

          Were I work there are a lot of Linux boxes, commonly runnng some version of Redhat, with scientific instruments attached. The software for those instruments is c

          • Out of all the os, it's crazy that you picked solaris and windows as the posterchild for retaining binary compatibility.

            If there is a rpm with no dependencies, it will run on any linux version. For solaris, there would have been a sol8,sol9,sol10 version. For windows, there would have been a XP,2000 version. You might have meant dependencies instead of binary compatibility.

  • Does this mean I should have bought a nice little Toshiba Satellite (they're damn near giving them away these days!) and installed DesktopBSD?

    Grr.
  • by bahwi (43111) <incoming AT josephguhlin DOT com> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:37PM (#13283871) Homepage
    When is starts to fracture.

    For awhile there, we only had 3, and life was good. Now we have DragonFly, Darwin, and now DesktopBSD. Any system that splits up so much must be dead or dying!!
  • I just want one of the existing bsd's to get a better installer.
  • USB Keyboard (Score:3, Informative)

    by teslatug (543527) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:56PM (#13283944)
    Have they fixed the bug where you can't select boot with USB keyboard because you're using a USB keyboard?
  • Sigh, Looked through their site... looks like they think "Easy to install Software" means the same thing that every other Open Source Operating system does.

    I don't care if it's apt-get, RPM, Roll your own, or what not.... the difficulty with installing applications on a .nix like OS is what is keeping me from using it as my "Desktop".

    For YEARS (5 years plus now).... I've been saying this. No one WANTS to do anything about it though because of the benefits of the current methods.... yet it is thi
  • Hmmm.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by dirtsurfer (595452)
    "Welcome to the DesktopBSD Installation! This wizard will guide you through the process of installing DesktopBSD on your computer. Please take the time to carefully through all texts and explanations because improper settings can cause data loss."

    Always nice when you install a new OS and the first screen you see is a paragraph that has obviously not been proofread.
  • DON'T PANIC (Score:3, Funny)

    by ari_j (90255) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @11:13PM (#13284004)
    This wizard will guide you through the process of installing DesktopBSD on your computer. Please take the time to carefully through all texts and explanations because improper settings can cause data loss.


    Yep. Grammar notwithstanding, that's totally worry-free and friendly stuff, right there.
  • Anything that uses X-Windows will not get widespread user adoption.

    DesktopBSD looks good for a BSD, but it's still at least seven years behind the market.
  • Download RC2 Here (Score:4, Informative)

    by LogicX (8327) * <slashdotNO@SPAMlogicx.us> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @11:42PM (#13284092) Homepage Journal
    RC2 is actually out, just not listed on their download page. I found it on the Oregon Mirror [osuosl.org], however that mirror is extremely slow -- (20K/sec).

    I'm hosting a mirror of DesktopBSD-1.0-RC2-x86-CD.iso [fpux.com]
  • by pschmied (5648) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @12:10AM (#13284193) Homepage
    I keep thinking that the world would be better off if more developers payed attention to GNUStep [gnustep.org].

    Why not do it in a sane way such as:
    • Pick your hardware support carefully. NetBSD is good for this as things either work really well (usually the case), or they aren't supported at all. (I can configure NetBSD to use my Atheros wireless card out of the box using ifconfig. In Linux I have to know to download a beta "Mad Wifi" driver.)
    • Concern yourself with building the building block app kits like Apple has done. One of Apple's programming examples is TextEdit, which ships with the OS! Apple is agile because they have all the tinker toys, they just need to glue them together now.
    • Work on the Gui integration bits (i.e. wireless network controls, network profiles, video resolutions, printer management, etc) but do it with a cleanly abstracted design. Make sure that each item works flawlessly with a common set of hardware before expanding hardware support or adding features.
    • Build a community of app developers who like consistent look and feel and adhere to UI guidelines.
    • Take advantage of cross pollination from Apple. Allow app developers to build for StepBSD and Apple reasonably easily.

    This is my hope for a desktop oriented BSD. I'm typing this from OS X on my powerbook, but I think the world still needs a compelling open platform.

    -Peter
  • by dick johnson (660154) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @07:38AM (#13285234)
    I know it's not a free download...

    But there already is an easy to use BSD for the desktop. It's called Mac OS X.

    Yes. Yes. I know it only runs on Apple hardware (at this point).

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