If you are interested in BSD live CDs, here is another interesting option: PC-BSD LiveCD. This CD is probably one of the best live desktop BSD products built to-date. Based on FreeBSD 6.2, it includes KDE 3.5.6, X.Org 7.2, Kaffeine media player with support for MP3, OGG, DIVX and MPEG formats, Konversation IRC cleint, Smb4k samba client, Fusefs file system, Midnight Commander, and a total of 503 pre-compiled FreeBSD ports. The PC-BSD live CD is not fully automatic though; it boots into a terminal and it requires running “X -configure” before launching the KDE desktop with “startx”. Download it from here: pcbsdlive240607.iso. LiveCD ISOs will soon be available on the snapshots page at devs.pcbsd.org
This is a FreeSBIE 2.0.1 review by Steve Lake on Raiden.net
For a live cd that’s built on one of the greatest free operating systems in the world (FreeBSD 6.2 in this case), you would expect equal greatness about it. But I didn’t find that here. And that is by no means the fault of Freebsd in any way, but rather this particular remixing of it. Booting the disk gave me several quick and simple booth options to choose from that seemed familiar enough, including FreeBSD’s ever famous startup boot menu. After that it loaded into a simple boot screen that told you the system was loading, but gave you no progress indicators or hints how it was doing or if and when it might be done. You had to hit enter, as suggested in the lower right hand corner of the boot image, in order to see the boot messages in order to figure out where it was in the boot process. The fact that I had to do that wasn’t a big deal. At least for me. Annoying for certain, but I’m not so lazy that hitting the enter key is beyond me. What bothered me about is that I’m looking at this from a new users perspective. IE, someone who’s still new to Linux or BSD. While it’s simply a small bother for me, I know that this one thing would be a huge red X for a new user. So therefore I mention it here in hopes the developers will fix it.
Now as for the boot speed, I know that live cd’s are supposed to take a while to load, but not 4 ½ minutes!! In 4 ½ minutes I could have already been racking up a body count in open arena, or doing some diagnostic testing instead of waiting for this thing to boot, and that was just the time it took to boot into the console. I still had to manually start the GUI after that! As a comparison, DesktopBSD, another distribution built on Freebsd, booted to its live cd version complete with gui in just over a minute! If another distribution in a live cd environment can do that, something’s very wrong here. Now getting back to the “booting into the command prompt” part, I found that a bit bothersome. I can see the logic of that from a super user’s perspective, but if you’re a new user, or a more experienced user who doesn’t work much in the console, you’re going to immediately be lost at this point.
I’ll admit it. I’m in love with FreeBSD.FreeBSD is a Unix operating system that runs especially well on generic Intel-compatible hardware.FreeBSD doesn’t do anything special. In fact, anything I can do on my favorite OS, you can do on yours. So, what’s so great about FreeBSD? It just works. In fact, it always works. It never stops working. After using FreeBSD on all my web servers for the past 6 years, I really appreciate how little time I spend in the server room, messing with system configurations, plugging security holes, running out of system resources, and buying new hardware just to serve up a bunch of web sites.
So here is my list of reasons why you, too, should switch your servers to FreeBSD.
Read the full article by Marc Tufts on iMark.com.
PC-BSD is not a Linux distribution, but rather it could be considered among the first major FreeBSD-based distributions to live outside of the official FreeBSD. Like most distributions, it has implemented certain features in a way that attempts to distinguish it from the competition, and I will focus mostly on these differences. This test drive is intended to give an overview of what PC-BSD is and why one would consider using it.
First and foremost, PC-BSD is an attempt to make a user-friendly Unix. Many Linux distributions have a similar focus and attempt to achieve it in different ways, and PC-BSD should be considered alongside these distributions. Additionally, PC-BSD’s developers went to great efforts to make users who are transitioning from Windows more comfortable—more on that later.
The article concludes with:
In the end, I would suggest this distribution to new users provided they had someone to call in case of a driver malfunction during installation. I would also recommend PC-BSD to seasoned Unix users that have never tried using FreeBSD before and would prefer a shallower learning curve before getting down to business.
I’ve been going through all the open bug tickets cleaning up things that have been fixed and reviewing everything else to help Scott and the other developers fix the remaining issues. We’re down to about a half dozen known issues in the current RELENG_1_2 snapshots, which will hopefully all be fixed in a week or less. At that point, assuming we don’t find any other issues in the mean time, 1.2b2 will be released.As always, I can’t speculate on a release date for 1.2. That largely depends on what issues people find once 1.2b2 is out, and how much the developers’ real lives and paid work get in the way of open source work. Probably somewhere between 1-4 months from now. We’re shooting for sooner rather than later, as this release is already drastically more reliable and bug free than 1.0.1, but we also want to make sure there are no known issues in the 1.2 release.
Source: pfSense Blog
A very short comparison
Compared to m0n0wall, it (i.e. pfSense) has many many more features. That proves problematic for very basic systems, like the soekris net4501 which only has 64mb of ram. m0n0wall runs great on that platform, but pfsense requires 128MB of RAM so its a no go.
m0n0wall does have simplicity going for it, as well as security. Simplicity is nice in many ways – fewer things can go wrong, etc., and with no ssh or servers other than the webGUI which can use SSL, you’ve got a tight box – even the console is very limited.
There’s more detailed information on the differences and similarities between pfSense and M0n0wall on the FreeBSD systems page.
FreeNAS, an open source NAS server, can convert a PC into a network-attached storage server. The software, which is based on FreeBSD, Samba, and PHP, includes an operating system that supports various software RAID models and a Web user interface. The server supports access from Windows machines, Apple Macs, FTP, SSH, and Network File System (NFS), and it takes up less than 16MB of disk space on a hard drive or removable media.
FreeNAS is free to use and deploy without cost. It’s an open source project published under the BSD license. The software is popular enough to have gotten more than 20,000 downloads last month.
The article’s conclusion:
FreeNAS’s web management interface is comprehensive enough that to administer the server you don’t need to use the command line. There is provision for full shell access via SSH but I didn’t find the need to try it. Reading the forums on freenas.org, which are the primary venue for support, shows that some people do use the command line for some more exotic configurations, but for the basic user the Web management interface will be sufficient.
In my testing, the core FreeNAS system was stable, but it is possible to get the system configuration into a confused state. For example, when creating my first local user I ignored the message that a group must be created first and blindly went ahead and tried to create the user. This resulted in some internal errors, and from that point on all local user authentication failed. The only way to fix the situation was to restore the FreeNAS server to the factory defaults and reconfigure the system from the beginning. If you respect the warnings and messages, you shouldn’t have any problems.
To secure your server you need to change the default password for the Web management interface. It also might be worth disabling the console menu if physical access to the server isn’t limited.
One limitation of the software is the lack of granularity in setting access rights to shares. The local user authentication model is an all-or-nothing affair. You can’t set some users to be read-only or others to only have access to certain shares. Once a user is authenticated, he has full access to all the shared storage.
The FreeNAS server has lots of potential and is under active development; there were 11 point releases in the first four months of 2006 alone. It’s a good alternative for building a simple network server without having to install a full-blown version of Linux or FreeBSD. It is also a good way to make use of aging hardware, as its system requirements are quite modest by today’s standard.
Read the whole review here.
If you’re interested in setting up a FreeNAS server and want to know a bit more about the technical background, then have a look at this presenatation by Olivier Cochard-Labbe, the maintainer, done at BSDCan 2007)
Of all the many and free operating systems out there, few can begin to meet or surpass the quality, stability, and structured operation of FreeBSD. But out of the box, FreeBSD is and always will be a server OS. That’s the reason why some groups have created desktop versions of FreeBSD (such as PC-BSD and DesktopBSD) to provide users with a viable FreeBSD desktop.
Despite both of these really good alternatives to the stock FreeBSD install, some people believe that nothing beats setting up their own FreeBSD desktop right from scratch, and in this tutorial you’re shown how to do just that. What you’ll end up with is a desktop environment that is top notch and tailored right to your liking that is pure and uncustomized by anyone else, except you. So it’s a system you can have exactly your way to your liking.
For those who are new or unfamiliar with FreeBSD, this will also be a great way for you to learn how to use and troubleshoot the OS, because by going this way, while it is not the easiest and you’ll likely run into at least one snag or problem not listed in this tutorial that you’ll have to troubleshoot and solve, you’ll learn so much about the OS that you’ll either come to love it or hate it.
Remember, this tutorial is not for the faint-hearted. There are easier ways to set up a FreeBSD (based) multimedia system than shown in this tutorial; mostly via the previously two named desktop oriented FreeBSD distributions.
If you can’t wait for the official PC-BSD 1.4 release, go and download one of the triweekly ISOs. The last ISO (02 June) now includes Xorg 7.2, Beryl, Nvidia drivers and a lot more.
Please note, this is still in alpha development, so don’t be surprised if you come across problems and bugs etc. If you find any, please send them to the Beta Mailinglist.