Assuming We Want FreeBSD to Grow: Who Is It For?

Andrew L. Gould algould at
Tue Feb 15 23:33:02 PST 2005

On Wednesday 16 February 2005 12:20 am, Jon Drews wrote:
>  FreeBSD is a viable desktop. Gnumeric is in some ways a much better
> Excel than Excel. For word processors there is TextMaker and or
> StarOffice. I am well aware of Abiword and Kword, but the latter come
> with good commercial fonts. MySQL also provides MySQLCC, a gui
> frontend to MySQL. Evolution, Kmail, or Thunderbird will do fine as
> MUA's. Arguably Firefox, Epiphany or Konqueror are better than IE.
> Those items cover about 90% of desktop use.
>  In addition FreeBSD ports comes with a lot of useful software such
> as Scilab, Gperiodic, Qcad, TGIF, Mplayer, SANE ....  Your Microsoft
> Xp comes with none of that stuff.

Viable, yes; but not at all marketable as a desktop:

1. Purchasing basic, compatible hardware/peripherals (wifi cards, 
modems, printers) is difficult.  The best example for *BSD and Linux is 
printers.  Despite the fact that HP supports Linux and dominates the 
retail printer market, it leads the market in producing all-in-one 
devices that are not compatible with Linux.  Solving this problem will 
never be under the control of the FreeBSD Project (nor Linux, for that 

2. Getting Java and Flash plugins to work with browsers is a chore in 
FreeBSD.  Viewing common webpages should be automatic.  Can we even go 
a week without an email from a  current/new user having difficulty 
configuring one of these browser plugins?  Although I have the correct 
plugins "working", there are times when I have to reboot to Windows to 
successfully use tools on a vendor's website.

These are basic things that Windows or Mac OSX users don't have to think 
about.  These 2 issues alone are big enough to kill desktop 

Do I still use FreeBSD as a desktop?  You betcha!  But those of use who 
enjoy the fact that using kermit across a ssh connection allows you to 
use globbing while transfering files securely, are neither average nor 
normal -- my wife would say, "abnormal".  Heck, just getting my 
relatives to configure a Web Folder, a default feature in Windows, so 
that we could share wedding photos easily was a huge disaster!

Again, I agree that FreeBSD is a viable desktop for many; but 
advertising it as such would lead to bad experiences and a worse 

Just my 2 cents worth,

Andrew Gould

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