Selling FreeBSD

Paul Robinson paul at iconoplex.co.uk
Thu Jun 5 14:16:40 BST 2003


On Thu, Jun 05, 2003 at 01:48:08PM +0100, Andrew Hodgson wrote:

> Sorry if this has been discussed a thousand times before, but Paul
> Robinson's comment rang some bells with me. How does everyone feel about
> the issue of promoting and advocating FreeBSD? Has anyone succeeded in
> getting it implemented at work? Or in an educational setting?

Well, the -advocacy list seems to be full of people slagging off Linux and 
wanting to go out and make lots of noise about SCO not suing anybody over 
code in the BSDs. Not a great pitch. I seem to remember that Paul Richards 
went about selling FreeBSD in a very real sense, but recently I saw a mail 
where he was looking for "normal" work, so I'm guessing it's not the 
greatest money-earner in the world. As for getting it in at work - well, 
most people hanging around FBSD tend to be IS Managers or sysadmins, so it 
just gets installed without a fuss.
 
> Being something of a beginner myself, I reckon that from a new users
> point of view what might be off-putting is the lack of a nice-looking
> install process, automatic detection and mounting of removable disks,
> and the lack of a point-and-click solution for updates, software
> install, and lower-level configuration, among other things. Obviously
> this adds to bloat, but this is what I see being implemented on Linux.
> Not that any of that made ME switch ;) but then I am a g---.

You can install FreeBSD with a floppy disk and a network connection. The 
install process is straight-forward, uncomplicated and does it's job well. 
There is currently a project underway called libh:

http://rtp1.slowblink.com/~libh/

That is supposed to replace the current /stand/sysinstall process. 
Personally, I think it looks truly, truly, awful. However, once it's done, 
I'll probably rip off half the code and right a better installer that I'll 
use in my own environment. At the moment, trying to write a better installer 
than /stand/sysinstall is horrible.

As for auto-detect on removable disks - well, to be honest, not something 
I'm that keen on, personally. However, the code for it should be pretty 
straight-forward. Write it yourself. Go on, you know you want to.

The package management stuff is something Jordan Hubbard went on about, 
around a year ago, but not much has come along. Writing a nice front-end to 
pkg_add shouldn't be a problem. The amount of tools that something like 
Redhat or Mandrake have installed for you on your KDE desktop when you've 
just installed, does put FBSD a little bit to shame. This is an area where 
lots of people would be interested in you helping out, and it's not a lot of 
work. It's config management rather than code-writing.
 
> Reading a recent interview with the core members of the Project, this
> kind of thing isn't a priority at the moment. Which is fine for geeky
> types like me, but I'd love to see a version that does a nice Redhat or
> Mandrake-style install, with software designed for X that interfaces
> with the various config files for you, in a foolproof way of course! I'd
> love to write it myself, I'm just not clever enough yet.

You are clever enough, and you can at least start. Configuration files being 
tweaked are much easier to handle than writing code.

-- 
Paul Robinson




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