What kind of FreeBSD Installer do you like? (Poll)

We wrote about the latest developments with regards to FreeBSD’s default installer (sysinstall).

It would be interesting to see what kind of installer you prefer. GUI or text/ncurses based?

Feel free to leave any comments below.

What kind of FreeBSD installer do you prefer?

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  1. Steve says

    As a vision impaired user, I am apprehensive about the new installer. I can use sysinstall, and I’m not sure whether the same will be true about the new one. I can’t use PC-BSD’s graphical installer and most other installers for other OSes have been unusable, too.

    So, I don’t care, as long as I can use it. I hope users like myself will be kept in mind when designing the new installer. An option to invert the colour scheme would be enough to “fix” most installers I use.

  2. Roger says

    What about web-based installs? FreeBSD’s lack of large scale provisioning software has given Redhat/kickstart an incredible advantage, hundreds of thousands of servers for lack of this feature alone IME. Can’t believe it’s not even a poll option.

    But then we also don’t see FreeBSD source routing for multi-home systems, ethernet bonding, tools like ethtool, and serial console installs seem to have been deprecated around 6.X… Sure makes it difficult to use in the datacenter.

  3. Gerard says

    @Steve: You’re bringing up a very interesting point, Steve. I don’t think developers and designers focus enough on visually impaired people.

  4. Gerard says

    @ Thierry: A solutions needs to be found to keep current and future users happy. Most new users or people wanting to try FreeBSD, expect a GUI installer (unless they’ve used Debian etc).

  5. Gerard says

    @Roger: Agree, we need more advanced tools like sysutils/cfengine or sysutils/puppet to maintain large numbers of servers and desktops

  6. Gerard says

    @FAndrey: By splitting the installer in a front-end and back-end, adding scripts etc and different installer front-ends should be no problem.

  7. says

    I’m more than happy with sysinstall, more than likely because its just always been that way. I can’t say its massively intuitive to use but after you’ve installed a few systems with it then its fairly simple to use.

    Compared to some older beasts like the Irix 6 or Solaris 9’s text installers its a breeze.

    Most of the people I have introduced to FreeBSD have immediately commented on how ‘old’ the install process is for it. But then again, once you actually get into FreeBSD, if you didn’t have the stomach for sysinstaller, I doubt you’ll get much further when you start reading into ports and maintaining a FreeBSD box. =P

    I believe the main audience for FreeBSD wouldn’t be too bothered either way with what the installer looks like as long as it works.

  8. Justin says

    I believe a modern OS needs to cater for multiple user types. New users and Linux/Windows converts will generally look for a GUI installer.

    Long time BSD and maybe even Solaris users will maybe prefer a text based installer.

    Accessibility for users with poor eye site is another good point.

    As far as I am concerned there should be little to now barriers for installing FreeBSD. What the users does with the OS once its installed is their own business, but there should be nothing preventing users from at least try to use the OS.

  9. Gerard says

    The less hurdles the better, but on the other hand, as one of the other commentators said, if you can’t get past sysinstall, what do you want to do with the command line….?

  10. Justin says

    I agree that if a user cant use text based/ncurses install then the command line will probably be no help to them ether, but is that not what derivatives of FreeBSD are for like PC-BSD, FreeSBIE and pfSense. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreeBSD#Derivatives

    FreeBSD now has a good set of derivatives built with a specific target market and purpose in mind. If FreeBSD has a good, easy to use, flexible installer system (backend and frontend) then the entire FreeBSD community benefits especially the derivative OS’s.

    Do you not agree that if a FreeBSD derivative OS grows its developer community and install base then FreeBSD as a whole also grows and benefits from the shared growth and interest.

    In my opinion because FreeBSD is an entire OS not just a kernel, derivatives based on FreeBSD do not create fragmentation like in the Linux world. So something like a new and better installer for FreeBSD has the potential to grow many communities if the installer can be developed in a way that can be re-branded and re-used by its derivatives. This I believe is FreeBSD’s true future were it is the base OS for many other purpose built OS derivative.

  11. Gerard says

    @Justin: I agree that FBSD derived O/S’s can (and should) contribute back to FreeBSD where they have improved matters or fixed some bugs. PC-BSD for instance does this.

    Fragmentation is not as big an issue, but there are many FBSD based operating systems that were “going to change the world” and have now been abandoned, e.g. TrueBSD, DesktopBSD, FreeSBIE, RoFreeSBIE, Frenzy, AskoziaPBX, Evoke, etc. (note to self: need to update the FBSD derived systems page:


    In many of these cases, it might have been better to work closely and create something as part of the FreeBSD project, similar to nanoBSD.

  12. says

    @Roger: PXE and Scripted installs are very important and are possible. We also already have things like bonded interfaces (LACP, Cisco Etherchannel see: http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/network-aggregation.html). What else do you need from ethtool, ifconfig shows things like linkspeed? I am not sure about the current state of source routing.

    @Dave: Sysinstall has been replaced with bsdinstall in the upcoming FreeBSD 9. It is designed to look a lot like sysinstall, but be easier to maintain underneath the hood. For example it is mostly shell and broken out into small pieces that could be replaced piece by piece.

  13. PeterM says

    I don’t mind, whether the installer is GUI or ncurses/text as long as I don’t get an error nnn installation failed to install; I’m given an option like alt-f4 for real time installation progression. There is nothing worse then repeatedly re-installing with a failure and no clue to correct the problem before reattempting the install again. BTW I voted for the option to choose.

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