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.

FreeBSD 7.0 Beta4 LiveCD

Ivan Voras has created a new (installable) LiveCD (version alpha 2) based on FreeBSD 7.0-BETA4. This release fixes most of the bugs present in earlier versions, and introduces only one new feature: file systems are created on glabel devices.

The ISO can be downloaded here and more information can be found here.

What’s new in FreeBSD 7.0?

FreeBSD ports tree unfrozen

For those who haven’t noticed the announcement on the ports mailinglist, or noticed the flood of commits that started already before the announcement, the ports tree has been thawed, with the usual restrictions.

Interesting note:

Please also take into account that the 7.0 release won’t be for several weeks yet, so we really need you all to be careful about what you commit as we tags might need to be slipped later.

Full announcement (11/12/2007)

Genesis Software develops FreeBSD-based radars

Genesis Software engineers design, manufacture and customise computer equipment connected to radar receivers for research institutions and universities. The radars measure wind speed and meteor flux and these scientific radar systems are exported around the world.

This blog is not about radars or weather science, but the interesting fact is that FreeBSD is the operating system of choice for Adelaide company Genesis Software’s radar systems. FreeBSD has been used ever since research and development on the radars began eight years ago.

Computerworld Australia has interviewed software and network engineer Daniel O’Connor about the use of FreeBSD as their system of choice.

These are some interesting quotes from the article:

Some systems rely on modem access for connectivity and FreeBSD allows us to log in remotely. It’s very stable and we’ve had boxes up for more than two years. It’s free so you can experiment with it and it’s easy to develop for. We’ve used FreeBSD from the beginning since about 1996 and it has served us well.

There are other companies that make research radars but we’re probably unique worldwide. The software we develop gets information from the receivers and processes it. It’s also used for monitoring the systems. Skiymet meteor radar measures thousands of meteors every day.

Most radars can be configured via the command line or a GUI application but most of it is network administration which the customers don’t need to touch. We’re working on a more sophisticated version which will mark the beginning of automatic configuration.

Genesis Software also takes advantage FreeBSD’s “ports” system for software updates:

The radars might dial up once or twice a day and for updates we use a subset of the ports tree and make a customer release tree.

Internally, Genesis Software uses FreeBSD for network services including mail and file serving with developers using it on their workstations:

It’s effective, secure, easy to set up, and has lots of software available. It’s a mistake to trim everything to ‘one size fits all’ which is the same thing as Microsoft. The more diverse systems are, the less likely you are to end up with the monoculture effect where one virus wipes out your whole office. It doesn’t matter what choice it is but just one is not good.

Read the whole article here

LinuxReality Podcast: M0n0wall and pfSense

LinuxReality.com (a site with Linux related podcasts – similar to the BSD focused bsdtalk.blogspot.com) has posted a podcast (episode 84) that focuses on Linux and (network) security. In this episode Paul Asadoorian and Larry Pesce of the Pauldotcom Security Weekly Podcast are interviewed.

Amongst the many things discussed, M0n0wall and pfSense are also mentioned.

Download the podcast: MP3 or OGG

Frenzy 1.1 (BETA3) released

Frenzy logoSergei Mozhaisky has announced the third beta release of Frenzy 1.1, a portable toolkit for system and network administrators based on FreeBSD 6.2. More info on Frenzy here.

These are most important changes since the 1.0-release:

  • Base system is FreeBSD 6.2-STABLE, Xorg updated to 7.3.
  • System totally moved to unionfs file system organization, you can edit almost all files after boot.
  • Added Frenzy Extension Module support, utility for FEM creation is avaiable on FTP server.
  • Added ability to boot from ISO-file on HDD
  • Boot options with disabled ATAPI DMA or ATA DMA
  • Loader option “mode” (select console resolution)
  • Loader option “sound” (sound card auto-detection)
  • Added options for work with serial console
  • gcc removed from base system, it will be available as FEM module.
  • More than 100 applications added (among them ntfs-3g) and 18 applications removed.

You can download the ISO here.

If you come across any bugs or problems or you want feedback, just drop a message on the Frenzy Forum.

FreeBSD Fundraising

FreeBSD Foundeation logoThe FreeBSD Foundation is kicking off the End-of-Year Fund Raising Drive! The FreeBSD Project is not a company and to keep functioning it is dependent upon financial support from users and supporters. So far, $221,808 has been raised – short of the $250,000 target for this year. To find out what the money is used for please check the homepage.

Please contribute to keep FreeBSD free. Click here to donate (any amount will help).

FreeBSD FTP mirrors quality

At Statistics for FTP FreeBSD mirrors Edwin Groothuis has made an overview of how good the FreeBSD FTP mirrors are. It’s tot a full overview (just for the ISO images directories) but it will give an indication of the quality of the mirroring.

For Australia, for instance, it shows that at this moment in time ftp3.au.freebsd.org, or mirror.pacific.net.au, is the only one who is nicely mirroring everything, the rest is running behind or doing partly mirroring.

FreeBSD and Windows software (Wine)

There’s some encouraging news about running Windows applications on WINE on FreeBSD 7. More and more native Windows application can now be run on FreeBSD without too much tweaking. Wine-Review has recently been testing, running and benchmarking the installation of native Windows applications through WINE:

If you want to read up on some background info re WINE read this quick intro.