Simplifying FreeBSD Installation
jerrymc at clunix.cl.msu.edu
Mon Mar 8 06:44:14 PST 2004
Some comments on your comments.
> 1) The installation procedure is not as polished as say that of
> WinXP, but that is to be expected. It has been pointed out by others that
> while the routine does offer many useful configuration options, it fail to
> fully explain them to the user. The often-stated remark "Read the
> Directions" or words to that effect are not truly germane to this issue.
I agree that the initial install time descriptions are weak in many
places. When you come upon a choice and the built in "help" only
says make a choice between whatever the listed items are and doesn't
give any information about why one might want to choose one or another
of the choices, it isn't much help. Now, I have noticed this same
failing in MS installation help, but then it doesn't matter so much
because you don't really have a choice there anyway. You're stuck
with whatever you are preordained for. MS believes in predestination
and they are god you know.
> 2) While network support is robust, it is not easily configured
> within the OS. There are few if any "wizards" to guide the user. I have a
> simple home networking system. Three computers - 2 = WinXP & 1 = FreeBSD
> 5.2.1 - up and running. They are connected via a hub and then to a router
> connected to a cable modem. It is not the most modern setup I agree, but
> it is functional. Just to get FreeBSD to do a correct DHCP took a custom
> script for the dhclient.conf file that someone was kind enough to give me.
> Then getting the three computers to actually network together is another
> story. Say what you want about networking, but since MS is the most used
> OS available today, it would behoove FreeBSD to have in place a system to
> routinely network with MS and not have to install additional software and
> then be forced to reconfigure all of the computers to work with it. I can
> attest to the fact that most individuals do not have the time or
> inclination to go about that chore.
It might help to have some wizards for network setup, but in the FreeBSD
world, the network topologies are many and varied. So, just doing a
MS predestination trick and creating a wizard that limits you to someone's
narrow idea of a network would cause more trouble than just learning how
to do it right. A couple of wizards to do a couple of very basic, no
extras setups for say a dialup and a NIC hookup to an existing and
well functioning lan might be useful, but FreeBSD goes so much beyond that
that it leaves the world of wizards far behind.
> 3) From what I have been able to deduce, the packages available from
> FreeBSD are not as current as the ports collection. Downloading something
> like Open Office or the complete KDE 3.2 suite and then installing it from
> ports is not something most users would envy. It is a time consuming and
> possible tedious venture. The packages should be kept as current as the
I have downloaded a number of freeware things in the MS world from places
like Tucows.com and Download.com and have also downloaded the precompiled
package of openoffice from http://projects.imp.ch/openoffice/ and found
the amount of effort to be about the same. I did need to know a little
more about my directory paths doing the openoffice install, but otherwise
it was no more than doing the ftp and running pkg-add on the downloaded
file and then running the setup program. Those are exactly the same
steps I would have to take to install some piece of MS world freeware.
Plus, somewhere in the installation, maybe it was in the XFree86 setup, I
don't remember, it offered me the choice of preferred windows manager
and it installed and did real basic setups for both afterstep and KDE for
me with no problem. It also offered Gnome, but that was just too much
overkill for me the last time I tried it so I didn't bother with that.
Later, I wanted to tinker with my afterstep, so I had to learn where to
find some stuff, but gee whiz, not everyone is a dumb as you seem to
think they are.
> 4) The installation procedure should offer the user a method of
> starting KDE, Gnome or whatever automatically upon boot-up.
The installation procedure gives the oportunity to install and prepare
some generic windows manager plus Afterstep whose simplicity I prefer for
most things (though I do wish it had anchors for each window I open), as
well as the desktop managers KDE and Gnome. It seems to happily install
them and all the related dependancies with only the effort of clicking the
As for starting them upon boot-up, that isn't a very good idea. As you
must be aware by now, when you first boot up FreeBSD, no one is logged in.
A user must log in to begin any work on the machine. You can modify
a login session to start up one of these things if you want although
having the user type startx is not much of a strain either. Whether you
leave it as startx or put something in .login or whatever bash place it
would have to go, the ability for each user to have their own environment
is worth a tiny bit of extra system administration.
> Having to do
> it all manually, whether adding the commands to the proper files or simply
> using the command line is not good enough. The average user has little
> time or patience to read through the XFree86 literature in addition to the
> KDE or Gnome paraphernalia then go through the configuration process which
> requires him/her to know specific monitor, and video card settings, etc to
> get the system up and running. This does not even include the additional
> effort of getting a 'wheel mouse' or 'optical mouse' properly configured.
> As we are all too well aware of, such problems rarely occur in the
> Microsoft OS. In any case, at least the latest versions.
No one is going to move to FreeBSD if all they want is someone to do
everything for them. That type of person will not be swayed by evidence
of a more powerful, better supported, more secure system. They are
only interested in not doing anything. Most of them would prefer not
to even have to stick in a CD or DVD if possible. So, FreeBSD or any
of the other real OSen will not attract them.
> Well that is enough of my ramblings. I just though that I might add my 2
> cents to the mix.
> Gerard Seibert
> gerard-seibert at rcn.com
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