PC-BSD vs DesktopBSD; similarities & differences

Similar to my m0n0wall vs pfSense; similarities & differences post, I thought I’d also post a “PC-BSD vs DesktopBSD; similarities & differences” overview since I get so much trafic from people trying to find out what the similarities and differences are.

A common misconception about DesktopBSD is that it is intended as a rival to PC-BSD as a BSD-based desktop distribution. Neither the DesktopBSD nor the PC-BSD project intend to rival each other; the two projects are completely independent with distinctive features and goals. PC-BSD has introduced a new package management (PBI) that lets you easily install packages, whereas DesktopBSD has developed a graphical utility that makes installing standard FreeBSD packages and ports easy. Let’s have a look at the similarities and the differences.


  • Both based on FreeBSD (Stable) + come with the KDE desktop interface. Neither of the projects has the intention to fork FreeBSD. Instead, all FreeBSD releases are tracked.
  • Both geared towards desktop use
  • Easy to administer BSD desktops for the casual user
  • Graphical and easy installation
  • Nvidia drivers included; automated detection and configuration of supported cards.



  • PC-BSD Logois backed by iXsystems with professional support and a paid developer
  • offers a different/optional packaging method to install binary packages (PBIs) with a simple click & run interface. This installation method is in addition to the standard FreeBSD installation methods (ports and packages(pkg))
  • Supports Adobe Flash7 & 9


  • DesktopBSD logois a volunteer project and has a slow release cycle
  • looks to streamline the whole FreeBSD installation and configuration process with added, easy to use, GUI tools
  • has created the DesktopBSD Package Manager, a graphical tool for managing, installing and updating standard FreeBSD packages and the FBSD ports system.
  • has their own package building infrastructure, so up-to-date binary packages for many desktop-related ports are always available
  • is available for the AMD64 platform

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