Jan Stedehouder has finished his series on “Desktop BSD – 30 days”. Read the verdict here.
On November 1st I started with this series about DesktopBSD and we are now six weeks later. Six weeks in which I played, wrestled and worked with DesktopBSD almost every day. If there was only one conclusion I was allowed to draw it would be this: after a while I kind of forgot I was working with a FreeBSD-based operating system. Yes, there have been quirks. Yes, there were problems with my hardware but I seem to be one of the few to have those problems, which indicates it can’t be blamed on DesktopBSD. Yes, it took some more time to install new software. But the overall conclusion has to be that I could do everything I needed to do on a day to day basis.
This series was started with defining the key requirements for any open source desktop that wants to be a serious contender on the market for end-users, both at home and in organizations. I will repeat them here:
1. the open source desktop needs to a recognizable and easily understandable graphical work environment;
2. the open source desktop should have a complete set of graphical tools for systems- and software management that can be used intuitively;
3. the open source desktop should support multimedia activities and peripheral devices without too much hassle, even if this can only be achieved by a pragmatic approach towards non-free software components;
4. the users of the open source desktop should have access to business-grade professional support if that is desired;
5. maintaining and developing the open source desktop should not be dependent on a single person or a relatively small group of developers and maintainers;
6. migration to the open source desktop will require re-training of end users and some level of real time support during the process. This means that good and accessible documentation should be at hand as well as easy access to end user support;
7. the open source desktop should have a solid track record for quality, stability and solid progress over the last few years.
DesktopBSD easily meets requirements 1, 2, 3 and 7. I know that work has commenced on providing a DesktopBSD handbook that no doubt complements the excellent FreeBSD handbook. When looking at the feedback provided on-screen, the team is really making an effort to provide the user with the information he/she needs at the time of actually using a specific function.
Both the team and the community are quite small. Support for novice users leans heavily on a small group of very active people. At this stage this isn’t such a bad thing, but it will get complicated if and when a new group of novice users without prior experience in BSD starts to use DesktopBSD.
Though -at the time of writing- DesktopBSD is still working towards it’s final version of 1.6, I can only conclude that this is a stable and mature operating system that really lowers the threshold to get started with FreeBSD on the desktop. I am still in doubt whether DesktopBSD has progressed far enough to be accessible for end-users with Windows-only experience right now. Linux users should have little or no problems getting off with DesktopBSD and do whatever they used to do with their Linux desktop. I can only encourage them to do so, as it would expand the user base of DesktopBSD and provide the team with more feedback and assistance to make the final leap. The strong focus on stability for the operating system, the development and maturity of the current set of DesktopBSD tools and the clear and concise on-screen information are solid building blocks for a future DesktopBSD release that will be easy to use for people with Windows-only experience.
The post can be read in its entirity here.