DesktopBSD – Unix for the masses

Reptiler reports:

Currently I’m playing around with DesktopBSD. This actually is because I’m anyway playing with Xen, so I decided to use the time I spend on Xen to try out a few more systems. One of those is DesktopBSD, a version of FreeBSD customized for desktop-use. Thus it offers what we are used to from many Linux-distros today, ease of use and installation, automatic hardware-detection and -setup, KDE, a nice package-manager etc.
By the way, I’m not using the latest version, which is 1.6. The version I use is 1.6RC2, just because I had the image on DVD anyway. But I guess it’s recent enough for this.

As said, DesktopBSD is based on FreeBSD, which becomes quite obvious when updating packages, because those come directly from the FreeBSD-mirrors.

One thing I personally really like is the function to check the installed software for security-holes. This is simply done by comparing the list of installed software with one (or more, I don’t know the internals of those function yet) of those websites where they keep track of that kind of information. The gathered information then can be seen in the package-manager, which I think is a really nice function.

[...]

Overall DesktopBSD leaves a good impression after the first few tests. For those who always wanted to try BSD this might be an option worth considering.

Read the whole article on Nuxified.org

DesktopBSD 1.6 reviewed

raiden.net has a pretty nice review of the latest version of DesktopBSD, 1.6

DesktopBSD logoDesktopBSD, a derivative of Freebsd designed for desktop use, has come a long way since its early inception back in late 2005. Originally created as a way to bring the power of Freebsd as a desktop OS to new users, it has now blossomed into a desktop experience even the most hardened geek, or greenest novice can love. Back in April of last year we reviewed version 1.3 and gave it great marks overall, but with some need for improvement. So how does version 1.6 stack up against its predecessor? Has it improved any? Let’s find out.

…. cont.

and he concludes the article with:

So how do I rate DesktopBSD 1.6? I’d say it’s a lot better than previous versions. It strikes just the right balance between being friendly to the new user, and yet powerful and geek enough to satisfy the more seasoned user. The developers did a good job this time around and I think they should pat themselves on the back. There’s still room for improvement, but isn’t that true with any distro? But it’s not improvements to make it good, or even great. It’s already great. The next step up will be to make it exceptional. A hard rung to climb, but not if you’re determined to be the best there is out there, and DesktopBSD is easily on its way towards that goal!

The review can be read in its entirety here.

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.

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FreeBSD in 2007 – a review

2007 is over. It was a very successful year for open source software and another 12 interesting months have passed for FreeBSD. In this post I want to look back at 2007 and see how FreeBSD faired, what happened in “FreeBSD land” and how FreeBSD based operating systems have developed. This post will be a sort of summary of the messages I posted during 2007.

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We’ll be looking at:

Start of this blog

Around April last year I was toying with the idea of starting a FreeBSD related news blog with the view to raise more awareness of FreeBSD and show it’s a perfect alternative to Linux. My first post was on 17 May 2007 and since then visitor numbers have rapidly gone up and feedback from visitors indicates that there’s definitely interest in such a blog. With the continuing growth of my WordPress.com hosted blog, I wanted to get some more flexibility and the ability to install plugins and scripts. Hence my move to Bluehost/FreeBSDOS (BTW, if you’re looking for cheap and reliable webhosting, I can really recommend them).

FreeBSD in 2007

FreeBSD LogoUnfortunately 2007 didn’t see the final release of FreeBSD 7.0; just 4 beta’s and a RC1. Well, maybe not “unfortunately”, because a top-quality product is better than a rushed-out flaky one that needs to be fixed and patched soon after its release. FreeBSD 7.0 incorporates some new and exciting technologies which will put this version a-par with, if not ahead of, Linux. Exciting stuff.

The FreeBSD Foundation have issued their quarterly newsletters (Q2, Q3, Q4), keeping the world up-to-date with the latest developments and news. The Foundation received a lot of coverage online and in the blogosphere with their Absolute FreeBSD book auction and their fund raising drive. The 2007 fundraising goal was $250.000, but a total of $403,511 was achieved. Well done.

There are already a couple of Linux related magazines for sale in stores, but BSD magazines aren’t available currently. “An interesting opportunity“, Software Media LLC/LP Magazine must have thought. They will issue first issue at the beginning of Q2 2008 and will contain an article by Dru Lavigne and Jan Stedehouder (Jan used and reviewed both PC-BSD and DesktopBSD for a month in his PC-BSB: the first 30 days and DesktopBSD: the first 30 days series).

Conference-wise, the ‘normal’ BSD conferences (BSDCan, EuroBSD, MeetBSD) were held, with a new one in Turkey (BSDConTR).
CONTINUED

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DesktopBSD 1.6 final released

The wait is over. After about 20 months since v1.0, 1.6 has been released.

This release is the first stable release of the 1.6 branch and comes with a great number of new features and improvements. It is based on the second release candidate of FreeBSD’s upcoming production release 6.3 and provides the user with an enhanced KDE 3.5.8 desktop environment.

Congratulations to the DBSD Team

The most notable new features are:

  • FreeBSD 6 as a modern and reliable base system
  • X.Org release 7.3, improving support for modern graphics hardware
  • Live CD/DVD feature for testing the system without installation
  • Revised installer supporting upgrades from 1.0 and previous 1.6 RCs
  • Improved package manager usability and performance
  • Many enhancements and bugfixes for the DesktopBSD tools
  • Support for multiple processors and multi-core CPUs
  • Inclusion of the NVIDIA graphics driver for hardware 3D rendering
  • DesktopBSD build servers as an up-to-date package source

Release Notes | Download Page

DesktopBSD – day 30 – the verdict

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.

Conclusions

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.

DesktopBSD vs PC-BSD

Jan Stedehouder has almost finished his DesktopBSD – the first 30 days series and the following are his observations with regards to how PC-BSD and DesktopBSD compare:

Today may be a good day to at least do a formal comparison between DesktopBSD and PC-BSD. I guess it can’t be avoided. Two FreeBSD-based open source desktops with similar goals, but finding different solutions.

The similarities between PC-BSD and DesktopBSD are there of course. Both use a graphical installer to assist the new user with getting FreeBSD on his/her system and both have chosen for the KDE desktop. DesktopBSD allows to boot into a live environment before actually dedicating it to your harddrive, while PC-BSD ships with Compiz Fusion.

The default software collections are different as well. DesktopBSD has chosen for Firefox, Thunderbird and Pidgin. A choice that makes sense as these applications are well-known and used on Windows and Linux. PC-BSD seems to stick more to KDE-based programs like Konquerer, Kontact and Konversation. However, these are minor differences.

DesktopBSD sets itself apart through the DesktopBSD tools and particularly the Package Manager. This graphical frontend for the packages and ports collection provides an easy tool for installing, upgrading and managing the software on your system. Working with Package Manager shouldn’t be a problem for Linux users that have experience with similar tools (Synaptic, Adept, Portage).

For PC-BSD the PBI’s are unique. The work on the PBI Build Server is progressing and that will result in a far larger collection of packages. This should contribute to a wider adoption of PC-BSD among people who used to work under Windows, since the PBI system emulates their “double-click-and-install” experience the most.

There is no need to try to figure out which one is better. I just marvel at both developments and I can see they both provide an answer to the needs of different groups of users. I can imagine a future where the DesktopBSD tools are enhanced to allow installing and managing PBI’s for FreeBSD-based systems, even if only for PC-BSD systems.

DesktopBSD added to Vietnam BSD/Linux Mirror

The Saigon Linux Group (SLG) added DesktopBSD to the Vietnam BSD/Linux Mirror.

The Vietnam BSD/Linux Mirror is the only public mirror available in Vietnam to promote open source technology within Vietnam managed by the Saigon Linux Group with the bandwidth and IP address donated by GHP Far East Co., Ltd.

The SLG hopes to continue it’s support of both BSD and Linux by offering more distributions and software on it’s servers in the new year.

Source: saigonlinux.com (05/12/2007)

DesktopBSD 1.6RC3 for AMD64 released

DesktopBSD 1.6RC3 for AMD64 is now available for download via BitTorrent and from our mirror sites. It includes several improvements made since the release of 1.6RC3 for i386, including:

  • Better performance by disabling SMP on single core/processor computers
  • Fixed installation on disks with special partition names
  • Inclusion of the FreeBSD ports collection on the DVD

The new release candidate comes with Xorg 7.3 and uses KDE 3.5.8 as its desktop environment.

Many desktop applications are included, such as:

  • Amarok 1.4.7
  • K3B 1.0.3
  • KTorrent 2.2.2
  • Mozilla Firefox 2.0.0.9
  • Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0.0.9
  • OpenOffice.org 2.3.0
  • Pidgin 2.2.2
  • VideoLAN Client (VLC) 0.8.6c

Upgrades from 1.0, previous release candidates and even the i386 version are supported. Language packages for 18 different languages are included and can be installed from the DVD.