Brilliant and very useful for FreeBSD, IMHO

Roger 'Rocky' Vetterberg listsub at
Mon Apr 7 07:34:57 PDT 2003

Eric Anderson wrote:
 > [..snip..] Well, I'm just about 180 degrees different on the
 > desktop OS theory as you are.  I've been using FreeBSD as my
 > desktop OS for several years now.  I run it on my notebook (which I
 > am using now), and my desktop. Both are my "workstations" - my
 > desktop rarely gets rebooted, and of course my notebook is like my
 > wallet, with me everywhere I go.
 > It's actually the finest desktop OS I have ever used.  Now, I do
 > have XP installed on my notebook, but I rarely boot into it.  In
 > fact, I only do so to test Windows things for my users.  I'm not a
 > big fan of "super mario windows" looking GUI's (like the default XP
 > setup - eek!), but I can appreciate a decent UI when I see one.
 > Windows isn't there yet. Now, I'm a KISS (keep it simple, stupid)
 > believer, so I run fluxbox. It's so darn easy to config, and so
 > simple to use.
 > Just for informations sake, I taught my wife to use FreeBSD as her
 >  desktop OS in about 15 minutes.  She got used to fluxbox and used
 > it like she has known it for years.  Also, recently I showed a unix
 >  "newbie" FreeBSD, and let him play with is and several Linux os's,
 > and he finally decided on FreeBSD because (in his words) "it's just
 > so simple and easy to get things done".
 > Just my $0.02.
 > Eric

I agree with much of what you say, but I guess it all depends on what
you use your computer for.
When I do serious work, it usually means booting windows and then open
a bunch of ssh sessions to the closest bsd machine. When I work, all I 
really do is console based, so if I do it from a windows machine via 
ssh or natively from a bsd console makes absolutely no difference to me.
When I dont work I play games, I surf the web, look at movies, play
mp3s or whatever, and in those areas, bsd has a long way to go. A big 
part, probably 95% or so, of all windows programs and applications are 
crap and not worth the diskspace they are written on, but there are 
some really usefull utilities out there, and I have so far not found 
their equals in fbsd.

As for your wife, is she able to install from scratch, get XFree86 
perfectly configured, sound working, printer installed and internet 
setup after a mere 15 minute lesson? No offense to your wife, but if 
she manages that, she is truly one of a kind.
To be able to get a novice user to use a gui to surf and check email 
does not mean it is a good desktop os. The user should be capable of 
installing and setting up the gui themselves from scratch, without 
help or documentation. Ive been using fbsd heavily since 2.2.8, and I 
still get into furious fights with XFree everytime I try to get a 
decent gui started for the first time.
What if a totally novice user wants to install a program? Im sure you 
all yell "ports!", and yes, ports is the best thing since sliced 
bread, but if you have no idea what it is or even what it does, it 
doesnt really help you. In windows, the user downloads the program or 
inserts a cd, double clicks on the shiny icon it creates on his/hers 
desktop and follows the onscreen instructions. Sure, it can fail and 
some users cant even do that without messing things up, but it sure 
takes a hell of a lot less knowledge then ports.
Lets setup the network. Even an idiot would eventually find the 
"Network Neighbourhood" icon in windows and after some twiddling Im 
sure he/she would, accidently maybe but still, start one of the 
hundreds of wizards that tries to help you setup things. With a bit of 
luck, the wizard will even do its job and the network will be setup.
In fbsd, you have to know that the right commands to do this is 
ifconfig and route (unless youre on dialup, then we have to deal with 
ppp, which doesnt exactly make it easier). You have to know that you 
can get help on each command by prepending it with 'man'. You have to 
know that to get out of a man page you press ^C. You have to know that 
to make the settings you do permanent you edit a file called 
/etc/rc.conf. To be able to do this you have to know how to edit a 
file. All of this is depending on that you actually got trough the 
install and got the box up and running in the first place.

FreeBSD makes a great desktop *if you know how to use it*!!
I could surely get by with a freebsd only desktop, but then again I 
have 6+ years of 8+ hours a day usage behind me. A user starting from 
scratch surely would hit a brickwall of questions, and anyone getting 
XFree running perfectly after the first run of xfconfig should recieve 
some kind of award.

I love fbsd, and I frequently call it the best *os* ever written. It 
will take a long time before I call it the best *desktop*...hopefully, 
I will never have to do that.


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