Explaining FreeBSD features

Warren Smith warren at wandrsmith.net
Wed Jun 22 16:09:13 GMT 2005

Ted Mittelstaedt said:
>>I agree that these 3 groups exist and that FreeBSD is probably not
>>appropriate for those in group #3.  However, I think there is another
>>group that is not represented here.  That would be those that are not in
>>group #3 because they DO care about understanding how things
>>work, but are
>>also not in groups #1 or #2 because, although they may be relatively
>>knowledgeable about computers when compared to group #3, they have never
>>used a non-Microsoft OS.  Lets call these people group #4.
> That group isn't targeted by FreeBSD or Linux which is why I didn't
> include it.  In fact there are several other groupings of non-Windows
> operating system consumers that you could make.
I agree that FreeBSD and Linux do not specifically target group #4. 
FreeBSD does not for the same reasons it doesn't target group #3.  I'm not
sure why Linux does not.  Perhaps it is the whole
competition-with-Microsoft mindset that drives them to target the group
that is Microsoft's bread-and-butter.

> For the sake of discussion, your group #4 is too broad.  Rather, group 4
> is divided into the knowledgeable non-UNIX users (4a) and the wannabe
> non-UNIX
> users (4b).
I agree that my group #4 was too broad.  I was hoping that someone would
want to discuss this further.

> The Windows users that Linux 'converts' are pretty much 4b users.  These
> are people who consider themselves power users, and know just enough
> to be dissatisfied with Windows.  But, they will not make the effort
> needed
> to really understand how something works.  Linux allows them to use a
> non-Windows OS without really understanding it, which is what they want.
I agree.

> The 4a users, by contrast, may be attracted to Linux initially due to the
> ease-of-entry issue your bringing up.  But they try it and find out that
> it's
> dumbed-down interface gets in the way just as much as the Windows
> dumbed-down
> interface.  That's where I think the majority of new FreeBSD converts
> come from
> - people that started with Windows, outgrew it, tried Linux for a while
> and
> got disgusted with the hand-holding, then went to FreeBSD and never
> looked back.
I think you're probably right.  This pretty much describes how I came to
FreeBSD.  I just wonder if there is some way to shorten the trip and take
Linux completely out of the loop.  Looking back, I wish I had known about
FreeBSD sooner.  It would have saved me quite a bit of frustration.  I
think FreeBSD would have been a much better platform for me to learn UNIX
on because I wouldn't have had to endure a paradigm shift in order to
continue the learning process.  However, I suppose that having used Linux
made me appreciate the fundamental quality of FreeBSD more than I may have

>>I think that projects like PCBSD are also targeting group #4 by lowering
>>the bar for entry into the "enlightened" world of BSD.  Having installed
>>PCBSD a while back, I was impressed with the easy installation.
>> Although
>>I, being a somewhat experienced FreeBSD user, would prefer more control
>>over the installation process, I feel confident in recommending PCBSD to
>>friends in group #4.  This is something I had stopped doing with FreeBSD
>>because of the hand-holding necessary just to get it installed and
>>configured enough to be even remotely usable by someone with their
> The question you have to ask is: are your Group 4b friends who end up
> liking PCBSD eventually graduating to the full FreeBSD system?  If they
> aren't, then PCBSD isn't meeting a goal of acting as a transition from
> Windows to FreeBSD.
I guess it remains to be seen as to which group those friends will fall
into.  I have only recently started recommending PCBSD.  If they turn out
to be in group 4a, then they will already be somewhat familiar with
FreeBSD and I will be happy to help them move into group #1.  If they turn
out to be in group 4b, then I have made a mistake and created another
headache for myself.

> Now maybe PCBSD is going to have an independent future in it's own right,
> if so more power to it.  But how will that help FreeBSD?
Since PCBSD really IS FreeBSD once you get it installed, if PCBSD attracts
a bunch of 4a users, it could help FreeBSD by strengthening the community
with valuable new members.  If, however, it attracts a bunch of 4b users,
it could hurt FreeBSD by weakening the community with a bunch of dead
weight.  Wether risking the latter is worth the former is something that
I'm not sure about.

> The problem isn't 'having what it takes'  Most computer users who have
> any
> sophistication 'have what it takes'  The problem is WANTING to use what
> you
> have.
I agree.  I was including the desire to use what you have as part of what
you have.

> It takes a certain kind of person to be able to look at a big mountain in
> front of him or her that is in between him or her and something he or she
> wants,
> and not be daunted by it, and to just do it.  The majority of people are
> inherently lazy, and partway up that mountain will start making
> compromises
> and end up never climbing it.  They have the ability to climb it, but
> their
> own laziness hamstrings their ability.
You make a good point here.  I suppose this is what separates the 4a and
4b groups.

> Remember Aesop's fable about the Fox and the Grapes.  Most people on the
> mountain when their own laziness gets in the way of what they want, will
> start spurning the goal.  That is why there's so much hostility in some
> of
> the Linux community against BSD.  They of course claim it's because BSD
> ignores GPL as much as possible, but secretly it's because they know they
> are too lazy to put the effort into becoming well versed in BSD, and
> FreeBSD's
> existence is a constant reminder of this.
Interesting analysis.  I have noticed some irrationality to many of the
arguments made against BSD by the Linux community.  I suppose you could
have something here.

Warren Smith
warren at wandrsmith.net

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