Desktop FreeBSD

dashevil at dashevil at
Sun Mar 7 22:39:54 PST 2004

[This isn't offtopic, I just rant a bit first, sorry :p]

I may be part of a startling minority within the *nix/BSD community when I believe that they are (even Linux) FAR from being ready for home usage by, say, Joe Sixpack, or whatever cliche home user image you have in mind. There are a few reasons for this that I think we would, the Free Software Community as a whole, have a HARD time resolving.

Joe Sixpack becomes fusterated, even angry, when he learns that HIS OS is the reason he can't use some program that he wants. He doesn't think of it the same way we do though. It's not, "Damn them for not supporting multiple platforms!". It is, in fact, "What the ****, this OS sucks.". He doesn't understand WHY his nice new OS can't run the program he wants. He just knows that if he were to make it so his computer could run the program he wants, the only thing he'd have to change was his OS. (This is different with Macs as they are percieved [by most mac zealots] as being evolutionary technology, etc, etc. To any extent, people accept the fact that their computers on a whole are different). So, he sees, say, LINUX, as being the thing that is coming between HIM and being productive. This is all about perception, but it is very important. I cringe when I hear about Linux being put on computers and sold in stores. First of all, I don't think the customers will be happy with it i
 n the long run (especially after they buy some software and realize that it won't run on their computer). Second of all, I'm not sure many people who buy these computers fully understand what Linux is, and without that understanding they are getting themselves in somewhat of a jam.

Workstations at corporations are different, but for home users I seriously think Desktop *nix is a mistake.

I've realized this, I don't know how many others have. But when a user is told he should switch, say, OSes because his OS sucks, he tends to react with anger. You aren't just insulting Windows, you are insulting the way he goes about his way of life. If you want to make anyone switch to FreeBSD, I think any such '* sucks!' comments should be avoided. You should always allow the users to make up his own mind. Linux is good for this, FreeBSD is good for this. This is what they both do good, and here is why I use and support it.

If FreeBSD is to be more appealing to Desktop users (and I mean Linux/techy Windows users, not Joe Sixpack. Know your market) we should, as opposed to modifying FreeBSD in a way that makes it more appealing to a more laid back user, seperate it into two different ISO downloads. You have the Server/Classic version, and the Desktop version.

The differences?

The Desktop version would assume more on install, have a graphical installer, and let you choose GUI that you want on start (along with xdm/kdm/gdm). Possibly even its own theme, which would MAKE a lot more of a difference then you would think at first.

I realize what a lot of you are going to say to this, and I've already thought about it a lot.

We wouldn't have to make our own GUI installer from scratch, what's wrong with RedHat's anaconda? Modify it, make it use pkg_add. Bam, we're in buisness.

A lot of work involved in making two images? Not really, the only binaries that I envision being different would be (aside from the installer) the kernel. Which REALLY should have dummynet and ipfw in by default with 'allow all' by default (Only for desktop). Other than that, you wouldn't really be adding that much overhead to the whole process.

It would be work yes, but I'm willing to BET that it'll generate FreeBSD a whole new GROUP of users. There are a lot of Linux users who are put off by the FreeBSD installer/etc. By the time the get good enough to handle that sort of thing, they are usually already settled in and they have spent so long working on a solution that 'just works' for them that they aren't interested in switching or trying BSD out.

Just my 0.02 cents, anyway.

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