Selling FreeBSD

Paul Robinson paul at
Tue Jun 17 13:48:11 BST 2003

On Tue, Jun 17, 2003 at 10:52:26AM +0100, Jose Marques wrote:

> I've not been reading this list recently so apologies for my late comment.
> FreeBSD does have something reasonably similar.  If you have the full CVS
> repository then you can build your own FreeBSD install CD.  See:
> 	/usr/src/release/Makefile

That is not the same as JumpStart. The purpose of the discussion was about 
making FreeBSD easier to install, easier to manage, increasing visibility, 
etc. I don't think asking people to edit Makefiles is going to win us fans 
in the OEM market.
> Also sysinstall can read a configuration file, see:
> 	man sysinstall

Oh dear, oh dear. Not sysinstall. We all hate sysinstall. Although, well
pointed out. The man page is very good at pointing out excellent ways to
bodge what a simple process my grandmother should be able to do, in such a
way that it's a pain in the proverbial to modify easily. :-)
> It's therefore possible to setup a bootable install CD that produces a
> configured system.  I did this myself once to produce a STABLE install CD.

Well done. Now ask your parents to have a go at it. If they're not able to
do it, it's too complicated for the OEM market or for taking on any other OS
in any marketing space. It's a fundamental mental flaw in the FreeBSD
development community that if something hard to do or doesn't work "quite
right" is documented, that part of the project is "finished" and *anybody*
with a brain cell should be able to do it. This is not the way to win 
friends and influence strategists.

> I've not found JumpStart to be all that sophisticated.  It lets you
> partition your disks and choose what packages to install but you still
> need to write scripts to do post-install configuration.  It's also very
> slow on a busy network.

Installing FreeBSD via FTP on a 56K modem is very slow too. If you think 
about it, if you replaced "JumpStart" with "sysinstall" in that paragraph 
and referred to going through /usr/ports (and cat'ing pkg-descr manually 
sometimes) instead of writing scripts, it's not that different to what we 

Installers do not solve the problems FreeBSD has, but by thinking about what
is required in an installer we realise our package managment sucks, ports is
useful but confusingly unwieldy for a user like my Mum and at the end of the
day users don't actually give a damn how many sectors the partitions take up
on their hard drives. These are all useful things to know.(tm)

Claiming /usr/src/release/Makefile and sysinstall are solutions to the 
problems we have, however, is the road to ruin - i.e. complacency.

Paul Robinson

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