SPAM: Score 3.3: Re: Instead of, why not...

Eric Kjeldergaard kjelderg at
Mon Feb 14 08:41:32 PST 2005

<DavidJohnson at> wrote:
> From: Anthony Atkielski [mailto:atkielski.anthony at]
> >
> > Because FreeBSD is a server, not a desktop.
> Agree and disagree. While FreeBSD is well suited for the server, it's also
> well suited for the desktop. That doesn't mean that we should be stressing
> the desktop to those shopping for servers, instead it means that we
> shouldn't be telling those shopping for desktops to go use Linux instead.
> How many business will be running Linux on the desktop but FreeBSD on the
> server? None!
> Currently Windows rules the desktop world, even for diehard Unix shops. But
> that will not last forever. We need to start thinking about the desktop
> today. We need to stop the official discouragement of desktop FreeBSD.

I wholeheartedly agree with this.  FreeBSD simply is a better desktop
in many circumstances than Windows.  This is not all due to the
primary software developers.  There are several reasons why Free Unix
machines (or "Unix-Like" machines) are better suited to the desktop in
many instances, from a user perspective.

1)  Cost (in $$$): FreeBSD is free.  Most of its third-party software,
also free.  This is a big advantage to the many businesses that have
difficulty affording hundreds and often thousands of dollars per
machine in software.

2) Security: FreeBSD has rather a notable track record for security.
I know of no examples in which an email client or web browser has been
able to execute arbitrary code, sometimes even outside of its
permissions level.  Windows (possibly due in part to exposure) has a
deplorable track record.  Patches come out often to fix known security
holes, but sometimes weeks or months after the hole has been found and
reported publicly.

3)  Stability: FreeBSD is possibly the most stable OS currently in
existence.  For some people's desktops that does not matter.  However,
there are mission-critical desktops in existence and sometimes
crashing is not allowed.  There are also desktops where reboots aren't
an easy option and (ties back to security) things that require reboots
are often necessary in the Windows environment.

4) Flexibility (especially mutliuser): This one is probably the most
important.  When dealing with desktops, the ability to make it act
appropriately for the intended users is integral to its success or
failure as a desktop OS.  This is something which Windows sadly lacks
and something which X11-based desktops truly deliver.  There are many
examples of features that are simply lacking from Windows one user
interface.  It lacks features (available to users in general) of a
window manager (always-on-top, for instance) and the ability to change
appearance much (no window decorations or different window
decorations) which are often very convenient for desktop users.  It is
also not good for the multilingual desktop setting.  This setting for
businesses and public places is VERY important.  In order to have a
Chinese (for example) user interface in Windows, you need acquire a
Chinese release of Windows.  If you needed both Chinese and Spanish
(again, for example) you would need to dual-boot the computer.  Since
Windows does not officially support dual-booting on one partition,
this means a lot of inconvenience.

5) Ease of development:  A place where non-windows becomes
substantially more prevalent in the desktop market is the desks of
Software Engineers.  Those of us that program for a living often
choose Unix (or Unix-like) because it has a powerful terminal, good
(and free/OSS) versioning software available, good (and in gcc's case
free and OSS) compilers, excellent editors (free, OSS), excellent
documentation systems (man is free and OSS, for instance), and
wonderful debuggers (, OSS).  It also is capable of running
the same software that we are running on our Unix servers so that we
can work on applications that work with them in an environment that
simulates the server.  It is also remarkably stable during
development.  This makes debugging substantially simpler.  Windows,
however, is often not the environment on the server, has a weak
terminal, a few decent editors (often ported from Unix), a frustrating
development environment (Visual Studio),  and is often in need of
reboots when programming and debugging.

6) mutliusericity: (Yes, I know that's not a real word...)  In
general, Windows does not handle multiple simultaneous users.  This is
something that Unix was built around and thus is strong with.  The
need to do this on a desktop is somewhat rare, but when it exists is
readily and comfortably handled in Unix, while in some situations
impossible in Windows.  And even when talking of non-concurrent
multiuser situations, FreeBSD outperforms (largely due to the
third-party software writers and to the permissions system built in).
Windows has a major fault with multiple users and appropriate storage
of settings.  Many applications (including M$ apps proper) do not
separately store settings in a user-by-user basis and instead toss
them into the centralised registry as a system setting.  This is both
a security nightmare and a frustration to the various users.  This
situation simply doesn't come up in fBSD.  If a user stores a setting,
it is stored (generally) in their home directory safe from affecting
other users.

Just thought I'd give a few reasons why fBSD is the only OS that
doesn't frustrate me on the desktop.

If I write a signature, my emails will appear more personalised.

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