PC-BSD – Making FreeBSD on the Desktop a reality – Kris Moore

FreeBSD has a reputation for its rock-solid reliability, and top-notch performance in the server world, but is noticeably absent when it comes to the vast market of desktop computing.

Why is this? FreeBSD offers many, if not almost all of the same open-source packages and software that can be found in the more popular Linux desktop distributions, yet even with the speed and reliability FreeBSD offers, a relative few number of users are deploying it on their desktops. In this presentation we will take a look at some of the reasons why FreeBSD has not been as widely adopted in the desktop market as it has on the server side. Several of the desktop weaknesses of FreeBSD will be shown, along with how we are trying to fix these short-comings through a desktopcentric version of FreeBSD, known as PCBSD. We will also take a look at the package management system employed by all open-source operating systems alike, and some of the pitfalls it brings, which may hinder widespread desktop adoption.

This talk was done at AsiaBSDCon 2009

PDF summary – Direct video link

PC-BSD 7.1 Galileo – reviews

PC-BSD LogoPC-BSD 7.1 was released two weeks ago. Distrowatch had a first look, but now there are also (short) reviews on the IT Massive and ExtremeTech.

Both reviews, though not scientific but more a like personal opinion, do like PC-BSD but also point at some weak points.

The IT Massive’s summary is:


 I love FreeBSD and I tried really hard to like PC-BSD but I’m sorry to say that I don’t. I like the concept of the BSD desktop but I feel its still a few years behind the Linux desktop in hardware support and you’re likely going to have more luck there.

However the PC-BSD people have done good work in making BSD more accessible to normal users which is impressive. PC-BSD has some very interesting ideas for the open source desktop like the PBI install system, I would like to see more Linux distributions do something similar to PBI or what Linux Mint does. For the most part I don’t think that not using the command line would be a problem since most tasks have graphical tools.

ExtremeTech concludes:


A few shortcomings aside, I really like PC-BSD 7.1. It’s free, easy to install, and offers a lot of value for any computer user that is willing to look beyond the usual operating system choices. There’s plenty of software available for download and, unlike certain Linux distributions, it’s incredibly easy to install or to remove from your system.

Real diversity in choice of operating systems is something that we should all value. As much as I like Linux why should the choice just come down to Windows or Linux? Or even Mac OS X? PC-BSD is offering users yet another alternative that’s free, secure, and very stable.

I definitely think PC-BSD is worth a download….


PC-BSD 7.1 vs. Kubuntu 9.04 Benchmarks

The well-know bench marking website Phoronix has carried out a benchmark run between Kubuntu 9.04 and PC-BSD 7.1 (20/04/2009)

Earlier this month PC-BSD 7.1 was released, which is based upon the FreeBSD 7.1 stable release, but of course with the extra packages and changes that make PC-BSD an easier to use BSD-based desktop operating system. PC-BSD 7.1 ships with X.Org 7.4 and KDE 4.2.2 installed along with many other packages when using the x86 or x64 DVD installations. Though with the Phoronix Test Suite now having enhanced support for PC-BSD, we decided to see how well PC-BSD 7.1 performs against Kubuntu 9.04.

Both systems perform almost equally (only seconds of difference), but Kubuntu scores more points in this test than PC-BSD.

I’d say that this test is not altogether “fair” as different versions of GCC and X.org have been used. This could easily have quite an impact on the results.

It would be interesting to see if Phoronix did this test again later on this year when FreeBSD 8.0 has come out.

Details and graphs of the test

PC-BSD 7.1 brings FreeBSD Warden to the desktop (update)

A number of online resources have writen about PC-BSD 7.1 referring to its speed, simplicity and ease-of-use. Internetnews.com writes how the Warden Project (FreeBSD Jails Management) can be used on PC-BSD.

The Warden is a powerful, yet easy to use tool which makes creating / managing jails easy. The Warden has features such as exporting / importing jails, automatic startup, and easy installation of packages or “Inmates”.

The Warden includes a GUI for PC-BSD desktops, as well as a command-line menu / syntax for remote administration via SSH. Inmate packages, such as AMP (Apache, MySQL, PHP) and others may be also downloaded from PBIDir and installed into jails managed by The Warden.

Though this feature may not be directly be used by home-users, it will be handy for admins of small companies that want the power and stability of FreeBSD and the easy PBI package installation of PC-BSD.

According to iXysystems (which since 2006 has ‘owned’ PC-BSD), “The Warden makes jail creation and management accessible to a greater number of users, and provides a secure and isolated environment for all sorts of uses, such as a mail server, database server, or webserver, to name a few. Warden configurations, called Inmates, can be used to instantly load pre-configured jails into the Warden.”

That’s pretty neat in my opinion and could be the use case that helps to but PC-BSD 7.2 on more enterprise desktops as an admin tool for FreeBSD servers.

Internetnews.com article

First look at PC-BSD 7.1 – Distrowatch.org

Distrowatch.org has taken PC-BSD 7.1 for a spin and written up a fair review in Issue 298 (13 April 2009).

It’s fair to say that while I’m a free software guy, I’m not a BSD guy. Like many, I’ve done the odd install here or there, used a BSD-based appliance for one task or another, but it’s never been on my mind when it comes to the desktop. There are a few reasons for this, primarily it’s because I’ve been using Linux for so long and it does everything I need. I also do much of my work via the command line and am comfortable with the way Linux lays things out and am used to the GNU utilities that Linux distros provide. I’ve also often thought of BSD as playing catch-up (rightly or wrongly) and also for other pragmatic reasons like having to deal with different partitions layouts and dual booting hassles. In the past, I have even loaded the installer and then given up when it got to partitioning. Strange for a person like me, but I just never had the motivation to pursue it further. Still, I saw this new release of PC-BSD 7.1 “Galileo” and, having read somewhere that this was to BSD what Ubuntu was to Linux (I assume they mean “things working out of the box” and “ease of use”), I thought I’d give it a try. As I said, I’m not an expert in this area, so be nice. Here goes.

Overall this install of PC-BSD was a very pleasant experience, and much more advanced that I thought it would be. For me though, because I’m so used to the Linux way of doing things, I feel like I’m a little crippled on BSD, like on OS X. That’s not to say that I couldn’t learn how BSD works, but it would mean investing time in doing so. I can’t really find any compelling reason to switch, except perhaps if I wanted to expand my skill set. For others however, I think that BSD (and PC-BSD in particular) would make a fine choice, especially if you like the idea of PBI installs. Overall, it’s fair to say that I have been very impressed by PC-BSD and can see how for many it would be an excellent desktop environment. Well worth investigating further.

Whole article (distrowatch.org 13/04/2008)

iXsystems releases PC-BSD 7.1 “Galileo Edition”

pcbsd-galileo-boxThe PC-BSD Team announced last week the availability of PC-BSD 7.1 – Galileo Edition. 

I was on holiday, hence the late announcement here.

Version 7.1 contains a number of enhancements, improvements and bugfixes from the 7.0 series. 

  • FreeBSD 7.2-Pre
  • KDE 4.2.2
  • The new KDE 4 printer applet enables users to easily add and manage printers and print jobs without using the CUPS web interface.
  • The Add / Remove Programs tool and the Update Manager have been consolidated into “Software & Updates.”
  • The Updater Tray has been modified into a small tray-only applet that shows users when updates are available. This is far less taxing on the CPU than its previous versions.
  • FreeBSD ports and packages can now be installed in a clean localbase by utilizing the “runports” command.
  • Greater stability for Flash 9 allows users to get higher quality from Flash sites such as Hulu and Youtube.
  • Enhancements have been made to PC-BSD’s System Installer, including upgrade functionality for those who wish to upgrade / repair PC-BSD while preserving their user data.
  • Fixes have been made to bugs in the Wi-Fi and Networking tools, as well as to previous Linux Emulation problems.

Links: Download | Official Press Release | Changelog | Release Notes

PC-BSD 7.1-RC1 released

The PC-BSD Team has announced the availability of PC-BSD 7.1-RC1, running FreeBSD 7.2-Pre, and KDE 4.2.1

Version 7.1RC1 contains a number of enhancements and bugfixes from beta1. For a full list of changes, please refer to the changelog.

Version 7.1-RC1 of PC-BSD is available for download from the mirrors, as well as bittorrent from www.gotbsd.net. Also, translators are encouraged to check the Pootle Translation page to confirm that their language is fully translated in preparation for 7.1-Release. As with the beta, please report any and all bugs to the Testing mailinglist!

Website | Changelog | Download | Release Notes 

beta release: PC-BSD 7.1-Beta1

PC-BSD LogoThe PC-BSD Team has announced the availability of PC-BSD 7.1-BETA1, running FreeBSD 7.1-Stable, and KDE 4.2.1

Version 7.1 contains a number of enhancements and improvements. For a full list of changes, please refer to the changelog. Some of the changes are:

  • KDE 4.2.1
  • Xorg 7.4
  • Separate PC-BSD and FreeBSD localbase, allows running both PBIs and FreeBSD ports without touching the desktop.
  • Upgrade option during sys-installation preserves users PBIs, ports and home directory while updating PC-BSD.
  • Improved Online Update Manager, uses less CPU resources.
  • Desktop speed improvements

Version 7.1-BETA1 of PC-BSD is available for download from the mirrors, as well as bittorrent from www.gotbsd.net.

Also, the Pootle Translation page has been updated with the latest strings, translators should now be able to finish localizing PC-BSD into their languages.

In order to prepare for 7.1-Release, please report any and all bugs to the Testing mailinglist!

Links:  Download | Changelog | Website

PC-BSD 7.1(“Galileo”) Alpha1

Now that KDE 4.2 is available for FreeBSD, the PC-BSD Project has released a first alpha-built of PC-BSD 7.1.

PC-BSD LogoHighlights of the build are:

  • FreeBSD 7.1-Stable
  • Xorg 7.4
  • KDE 4.2

As you will remember the PC-BSD version numbering changed last year to reflect the version of the underlying FreeBSD system. PC-BSD 7.1 is based on FreeBSD 7.1 (stable)

There were some initial problems  with the Xorg update to 7.4 which caused a new slew of problems which had to be fixed before even getting to alpha quality. It looks like Xorg 7.4 is the cause of some problems, but they should be fixed up inthe ports a bit more right now.


Here’s the DVD ISO for 32bit to play with:

MD5 (PCBSD7.1-ALPHA1-x86-DVD.iso) = 1de22b5129211e745ec53bb9fceea7fd

This is ALPHA quality, expect bugs, but please report them to help us improve the software. This will require a fresh install, the upgrade
portion will be working later on, after the new System Installer is committed and included.

Should you come across any problems or bugs, please report them to the PC-BSD Testing mailinglist.