Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Finally Got PC-BSD 9.2

FreeBSD with KDE 4.10.5 is here! I know FreeBSD isn't Linux Mint, but it is KDE 4.10.5.
BSD is often seen as Linux’s
scarier cousin. Its name is
mentioned in hushed tones and
its users are thought of as elite
programmers and ├╝ber sysadmins.
However, when we went to the PC-BSD
website to download the latest ISO, we
saw the main screenshot featured
Facebook and a YouTube video of funny
cats. Not exactly leet browsing material.
Perhaps it is for mere mortals after all.
PC-BSD aims to be user-friendly, like
a BSD equivalent of Linux Mint. Of
course, BSDs aren’t like Linux distros
because they don’t all share kernel –
though their features are broadly
similar, the main projects all maintain
their own. You could perhaps think of
PC-BSD, though, as a distro of FreeBSD.
Installation couldn’t have been
easier: just select Desktop or Server
and set it to work. Once it’s done, the
system walks you through creating a
user and you’re done. Frankly, a few
popular Linux distros could learn a thing
or two about user-friendly installation
“PC-BSD aims to be
user-friendly, like a BSD
version of Linux Mint.”
from PC-BSD. The install gives you a
KDE desktop, though other
environments are available. The only
slight blip was a warning message
telling us that we had less than 50GB of
hard drive space. This seemed a little
excessive, given that the install only
took up 7.2GB, and a message like this
might cause people to worry that the
install will fail. We ignored the warning
and it worked fine on our 20GB disk.
If it weren’t for the logo on the
desktop, many Linux users wouldn’t
realise they weren’t using a penguin-
flavoured OS. The range of apps
installed by default seems a little light,
though, considering the 3.4GB
download. There’s no office suite,
Konqueror is the only web browser, and
there’s little else of interest – you have
to install everything you need.
PC-BSD comes with the famous
ports package management system,
It may carry the cute exterior of KDE (pun intended), but underneath beats
the heart of a BSD.
but GUI-loving users needn’t be afraid.
There’s also AppCafe which is a fully
graphical software installation that’s
one of the best we’ve come across.
There’s only about 1,100 apps here –
we say only because there’s almost
70,000 on the Ubuntu Software Centre
– but you should find software for most
common tasks. There were a few
surprises, like Apache OpenOffice
instead of the more popular LibreOffice
(or even Calligra Suite given the OS’s
predilection for KDE). As we said,
there’s software to suit most tasks, but
you don’t have as much choice as you
may be used to. You still have the option
of installing open source software the
old fashioned way, and most Linux
software should compile on BSD.
On files
For years, the biggest difference
between BSD and Linux has been the
way they deal with filesystems. BSD’s
ZFS has long been the envy of Linux
sysadmins. This version of PC-BSD
comes with lpresnap which simplifies
the process of taking ZFS snapshots,
though at the moment it’s only available
on the command line. A graphical
version is promised for the next version.
ZFS now works on Linux, and BTRFS
is also starting to be used, so the
technical gap between the two systems
is closing. At the same time, though,
some of the BSDs (especially PC-BSD)
have become easier to use, closing the
game on Linux in that respect.
Unless you have an ideological
preference for the BSD licence over the
GPL, it’s hard to give you a specific
reason to give BSD a try – but we highly
recommend that you take it for a spin
anyway. Not because of any great
technical difference, but because it
gives you another view of a free
Unix-like OS – and it’s easy enough to
whip up in a virtual machine or on a
spare computer


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