BSD Question's.

Bob Johnson fbsdlists at
Thu Jan 12 07:20:20 PST 2006

On 12/24/05, Danial Thom <danial_thom at> wrote:

> Why not just tell the truth, which is that
> Windows XP is the best that you can do for the
> desktop, and that there is no perfect solution
> that works perfectly in every scenario? FreeBSD
> and Linux *should* focus on server functions,
> because that is where MS is weak and that is
> where its needed. There will likely never be a
> solid reason to use BSD or linux as a desktop
> other than religion; while there are many
> compelling reasons to use BSD and/or linux
> servers.

I've been using FreeBSD on my desktop since 1997 because I found it to
be superior to either Windows or Linux.  In 1997 it was easier to
install than either (well, configuring X was still a trick back then,
but the basic OS install was easier).  Now they are all pretty much
the same, any of them can give you problems on a specific system.  
The important thing for a desktop system is the user interface (the
GUI), and in FreeBSD (and many versions of Linux), you have many
choices in that regard.  I use KDE, in part because it is easy to use
if you are used to Windows.  Others prefer Gnome, apparently because
it is as much unlike Windows as its designers can manage.  And there
are literally dozens of others, but most of them are probably not good
choices for beginners (because they often require a lot of
customization to take advantage of their individual features).

At the present time I cringe every time I have to use Windows.  My
wife has an XP system at home that she uses for her job, so we are
sort if stuck with it.  All users must share the same default email
program, so I'm stuck with Outlook.  All users must share the same
screen resolution, so I'm stuck with the low resolution that my wife
prefers.  The video drivers (I've tried both ATI and nVidia cards) are
constantly locking up the system -- anyone who tries to tell me
Windows XP is "stable" gets a big laugh from me.  In dozens of little
ways, the Windows user interface is junk.  Yes, by sheer brute force
they manage to keep it usable for most people, but when you've used
alternatives, it's flaws are far more visible.

KDE running on FreeBSD, on the other hand, lets each user pick their
own preferences for basically everything.  Certainly it has its own
flaws, and yes, you could run KDE on Linux instead of FreeBSD and
avoid a few quirks the combination exhibits, and perhaps a
non-computer type should do so, but every time I read local Linux
support list I marvel at how much trouble the Linux people have doing
things that seem easy in FreeBSD, so I'm happy where I am.  And this
list provides excellent support for those who need help.

The big disadvantage of FreeBSD (and Linux)?  Fewer hardware drivers. 
For example, I have a film scanner that I haven't figured out how to
use in FreeBSD, so to use it I have to use Windows (with the
aforementioned low screen resolution!).  If you have specific hardware
you need to use, be sure it is supported by the operating system you

One caution: Linux isn't an operating system.  It is a family of
operating systems.  Some of them are oriented toward professional
users, others are oriented toward ease of use by computer beginners,
etc.  If you decide to go with Linux, selecting the right one will be

> When you try to be everything to everyone and you
> don't have the resources of a MS, then you end up
> with mediocre results. Decide what you want to
> be, and be the best at it. That should be the
> mantra of any product development team,
> regardless of the genre.

And Microsoft has proven that even with their resources, you still get
mediocre results.

For the most part, a good server operating system is also a good
desktop operating system if you add a good user interface, so you can
add KDE (or any of several other choices) to FreeBSD and get a good
desktop system.  On the other hand, a system designed to be a desktop
operating system is unlikely to perform well as a server, hence
Microsoft's lack of impressiveness in that regard.

- Bob

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