A strategic question

Romeo Theriault romeotheriault at gmail.com
Fri Jan 27 18:41:15 PST 2006

I still consider myself a "Unix" newbie after using "Unix" based  
systems for about 5 years now. I've never just solely used Unix based  
systems , but they hold the most interest for me. The fact that I  
don't know how to do everything right away and I have to work at  
these types of problems keeps me coming back for more. Not to say  
that I don't ever get frustrated by it sometimes. There have been  
times especially in the beginning of learning "Unixes" where I've  
said "Screw it!!" and went back to using Windows. But I always find  
myself coming back and each time learning more and going back less.

I still don't use Freebsd or Linux etc.... as my primary "Desktop"  
machine, because I'm not a Unix expert and still prefer a comfortable  
gui. For the time being I'm very happy using Mac OS X as my desktop  
machine, because I can use the Unix underpinnings but still have an  
exceptional gui that I don't need to fuss with to get working the way  
I like.

One thing that I read about the programming language perl was that  
where ever possible it was made easier for the expert instead of the  
newbie, the philosophy being that your only a newbie once and you'll  
appreciate the elegant simplicity (though initially difficult) of  
language later. I find this true for the "Unixes" also. Generally the  
system is built with experienced users in mind. But once your used to  
it you'll be thankful.

So take your time. Everything won't work the way you want it to over  

There are also some other BSD's that are supposedly easier to install  
and run. I believe
PCBDS is one of them.



On Jan 27, 2006, at 9:16 PM, Jozef Baum wrote:

> This posting doesn't contain a technical question about FreeBSD,  
> rather a
> strategic one.
> Some time ago, I wanted to migrate to a Unix environment, because I  
> wanted
> to have a secure, stable, convenient and efficient environment for
> developing and running programs, no longer having to buy a new PC  
> with a new
> OS and applications software every 3 years to support Bill Gates'  
> only goal
> (becoming and remaining the richest man of the USA). At the end of  
> the 20th
> century, it took us only a few years to have to upgrade from Win 95  
> to Win
> 95SE, to Win 98, to Win 98SE, and to Win ME, only to remain with a  
> poor OS.
> Now, when reinstalling my version of Windows XP, it takes me more  
> time to
> download and install the SP2 than to install Windows XP. I wonder  
> how people
> with a low-bandwidth Internet connection do to download the SP2 for  
> Windows
> XP.
> I downloaded Solaris 10 and a lot of documentation about it, then  
> installed
> Solaris 10. As opposed to Linux and free BSD implementations of UNIX,
> Solaris looks like a professionally developed operating system. It  
> seems to
> be1 a very advanced operating system. However, I soon realized  
> that, when
> one wants a yacht, it is not a good idea to acquire the Queen Mary  
> II, just
> as it costs too much time to acquire a hotel to have a cup of coffee.
> Then I downloaded what I thought being one of the best Linux  
> distributions,
> Suse Linux. I tried to install it, but the system got locked up by  
> something
> so stupid as my nVidia modem. Together with the heterogeneous  
> quality of
> Linux components, and not at all liking Linus Torvald's arrogance,  
> I decided
> to abandon Linux.
> I came to FreeBSD, with the idea that it had a more homogeneous  
> quality
> development model, downloaded the FreeBSD 6.0 boot CD and CD 1 and  
> 2, and
> installed it on my PC, following the handbook.
> I knew UNIX is a toolkit intended to IT knowledge people, so it  
> will never
> perform a breakthrough to the average desktop user. But my  
> disappointment
> with FreeBSD was great.
> In fact, to install FreeBSD, one needs already a lot of knowledge  
> about the
> system. To acquire that knowledge, one needs experience on an  
> installed
> system. But to have an installed system, one needs already a lot of
> knowledge about the system. That's the problem.
> The handbook doesn't tell you that, at the "last chance" message,  
> you have
> to take out the boot CD and to insert CD 1. But if you don't do so,  
> nothing
> gets installed.
> I configured a German ISO keyboard, but many keys don't work  
> correctly. One
> has to look with Google to find additional information about  
> configuring a
> German keyboard.
> I have a cable Internet connection and my network card was  
> recognized, but
> getting an IP-address with the DHCP service of my provider was  
> impossible.
> Again, I had to look up with Google how to allow the firewall to  
> get an
> IP-addres with my provider's DHCP.
> The locate command did not work, as the locate database seemed to be
> corrupted. I had to figure out how to rebuild this database.
> The root user had a csh, while ordinary users had a sh shell. I had to
> figure out how to provide the same shell to the root user and the  
> other
> users, as all those virtual users are all one and the same person, me.
> I tried to setup an X Window environment (nVidia Geforce video  
> adapter), but
> the horizontal and vertical refresh rates of the manufacturer  
> didn't work, I
> had to experiment to find out the one X likes. Then I could startup  
> X, only
> to not having configured at all my German keyboard.
> I tried to install emacs during installation, but it didn't succeed.
> Returning to the post-installation tasks after having installed the  
> system
> resulted in a successfull installation of emacs (working only after  
> a system
> reboot).
> I could go on for hours with this kind of troubles. But now comes the
> strategic question.
> Why is it that FreeBSD people, who seem to be perfectly able to  
> formulate
> correct algorithms for implementing UNIX concepts, and translating  
> them into
> code, don't care at all about a novice user, providing him with an
> installation program that doesn't work as it should, even without a  
> GUI?
> I know UNIX is all about solving problems, but is it really  
> interesting to
> make it apparently deliberatly so difficult for a newcomer? Is it  
> really the
> policy of those guys to make the entry level to UNIX difficult,  
> only to
> avoid a breakthrough of UNIX (FreeBSD) to the desktop users?
> I knew the installation, configuration and optimization of a Unix  
> system
> would take me a lot of time and patience. But after some weeks, the  
> only
> result, as probably for many others, is an immense frustration. I  
> cannot
> imagine that people capable of developing such a complex operating  
> system as
> Unix are unable to offer newcomers a correct and easy install  
> procedure. But
> probably, that's not their concern.
> Please, guys, if you want FreeBSD to survive and to become not only  
> a server
> OS, but also a desktop OS, realize that you are going the wrong way by
> annoying newcomers with a puzzle. I want to learn Unix, the real Unix.
> Searching a text file for a string with grep, not launching a  
> tremendous
> memory hungry application under X Window to do so. I want to learn  
> how to
> pipe Unix commands to get usefull work done.  I want to learn the  
> ed line
> editor as a starting point for using sed. But please, don't  
> frustrate me
> from the beginning by making the installation of FreeBSD so  
> difficult. Drop
> some whistles and bells on which you are working, and encounter the  
> newbie.
> Many thanks in advance for your comments.
> A frustrated FreeBSD newbie
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