FreeBSD on the Desktop (Was iBook THIS THREAD MUST DIE NOW)

Kevin O'Connor kevin at
Wed Jan 5 19:09:34 GMT 2005

>-----Original Message-----
>That's what I want too...desperately. What's more to the point is that
>there are 1000's upon 1000's of people who want a no admin workstation
>but there seems to be no such thing on the market.
>ATM, I've got pesky neighbours/family/friends galore asking for
>assistance and I'm sure I'm not alone on this list. I've tried the
>"I'm a *nix man and I don't really know my way around Windows".
>Well that's perfectly true but I still feel like I'm leaving them in
>the lurch and more importantly *they* feel like I'm leaving them in
>the lurch!
>The thing is I really don't mind helping them out. If you can't take
>time to help your friends out then your life isn't worth living IMO.
>Also help people out and one day they'll help you out, right?
>I want to be able to offer them a computing platform that means:
>1. Minimum amount of my time helping out
>2. Minimum outlay to them. ie. use existing hardware
>3. Minimum outlay to me :)
>I think Apple hardware/software, irrespective of it's merits (and I'm
>sure there are some;), rules itself out on the basis of 2 and Windows
>with 1 (and 3).
>Dual boot FreeBSD boxes remotely managed via ssh, using portupgrade, a
>pile of scripts and cron jobs running a basic suite of software. Not
>an original plan by any means but I think it's the only realistic way
>for me to help out my friends short of getting to know Microsoft's
>knowledge base inside out (I'd rather nail my tongue to the ceiling).
>Anyway, I think I'll give it a go. I've got any number of willing
>victi^H^H^Hguinea pigs and they're getting a bit desperate.
>I want to work out the time and costs and see if it's the possible
>basis of a business. It would be interesting to see how little time
>could be spent on admin, after all FreeBSD has got a pretty good
>toolset for automating lots of things. I suppose economies of scale
>would come into it.
>The unknown factor is how many people would take to a Unix machine,
>would they care at all? I haven't the foggiest idea really, any
>observations greatly appreciated.
> Frank

At the risk of starting a flame war DON'T DO IT. FreeBSD is one of the best
all-round open source servers available but as a desktop it's not even
average. It lacks the auto configuration and installation of X, which is a
must have for most users. All the usual desktop apps need installing, no
GUIs for the basic stuff like setting up printers, NIC IP addresses or OS
software updates. The BSDs as an OS have their strengths as tools for
experienced users or people who want to become experienced. I know people on
this list will say "but I've got it as a desk top" Well that's OK but I'll
bet it took more than a couple of hours to install it from scratch,
configure X, get it to go out onto the Internet, I'm assuming an end user
who does not have an ADSL router for that one. 
Compare it to Suse 8.x and 9.x. They come with nice GUIs almost from the
start of the install, Yast to update both the programs and the dependencies,
it will even tell you if things conflict. 

As a simple to install, simple to use glorified type writer and
Internet/email box you just can't beat some of those Linux systems.
Just to clarify the first sentence FreeBSD only makes it as one of the best
server OSs because OpenBSD is better for some roles. 

For all Orthodox Christians out there have a good Christmas.

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