Selling FreeBSD

Andrew Hodgson andrewh at
Thu Jun 5 14:46:23 BST 2003

Paul Robinson wrote:
> 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.

Sure. I guess I wasn't talking about a retail solution, although on the
other hand, seeing it presented more often in places like Borders or PC
World would definitely help. (Is this an -advocacy thread? It's
UK-specific, so...hmm.) I wish my company would adopt it, I would
suddenly become an expert!

> > 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.

Of course, I did this just last night! The net install is the best thing
since sliced bread, it always works for me. I guess I meant *pretty* and
reliable, not just reliable! Even implementing a mouse pointer might

> There is currently a project underway called 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.

Yeah, sysinstall is the nuts. It does exactly what it says, but it *did*
take a bit of perseverance on my part. It's not exaclty foolproof, but
then I'm not complaining, just trying to be Devil's Advocate.

> 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.

True. :-)

> 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.

This is it, rather than having to do a lot of tweaking the Linux install
seems to put it all there for you, something people like us don't like,
but mainstream consumers greatly desire. 

> > 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.

I just need to start coding rather than thinking about it - it's just
having the time. Must start doing this...maybe Tk/Tcl is a nice way in,
getting apps up and running relatively quickly?



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