Easiest desktop BSD distro

Jerry McAllister jerrymc at msu.edu
Tue Mar 29 21:01:44 UTC 2011

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 02:45:27PM -0500, Jason Hsu wrote:

> I want to learn BSD.  I find that the best way to familiarize myself with a distro is to adopt it as my main distro (for web browsing, email, word processing, etc.).  
> But the challenge of BSD have so far proven too much for me.  It would take too long to configure FreeBSD to my liking.  I couldn't figure out what to enter in GRUB to multi-boot Linux and BSD.  I tried PC-BSD, GhostBSD, and DragonflyBSD in VirtualBox.  I've found PC-BSD agonizingly slow to install and operate, and KDE didn't even boot up when I logged in.  GhostBSD has too many things that don't work, such as the keyboard on my laptop and my Internet connection on my desktop.  DragonflyBSD didn't boot up in Virtualbox.
> I recommend Linux Mint as a first Linux distro.  It's user-friendly, well-established, widely used, includes codecs/drivers that Ubuntu doesn't, and has a Windows-like user interface.  For those with older computers, I recommend Puppy Linux or antiX Linux as a first distro.  I'm looking for the analogous choice in the BSD world.
> So what do you recommend as my first desktop BSD distro?  What desktop BSD distro is so easy to use that even Paris Hilton or Jessica "Chicken of the Sea" Simpson can handle it?
> Please keep in mind that I have a slow Internet connection, and these BSD distros are ENORMOUS.  It took some 12-14 hours to download PC-BSD.

FreeBSD is just one OS.   There are some other BSD's such as PC-BSD, 
but it is not like Lunix with many different candy coatings over the 
same chewy carmel center.  In BSD, each is its own OS, although there 
are definite similarities.

If you really mean to learn BSD, then download the latest FreeBSD RELEASE
(which is 8.2 at the moment) installation ISO, burn it,  install it, 
configure it and use it.   Everything goes on it easily from /usr/ports/...  
Just follow the handbook.   In FreeBSD, the handbook is your friend 
followed by the man pages and Google.  They are very good compared to
what you find elsewhere on other systems.

If you are not willing to do that, then really you are not that
interested in learning it, so why bother.

As for the Grub issue, I have dual booted FreeBSD alongside of 
various MS stuff many times with no problem and no need of Grub.
I just make sure the MS is installed first and then use the FreeBSD MBR.
It is quite plain and not pretty, but works just fine.   I haven't
tried W-7 yet.

But, although I have installed numerous Linux machines, mostly CentOS,
and they use Grub, I have never dual booted a Linux and never had to
configure Grub to deal with that.   I think, a long time and many 
versions ago, the FreeBSD MBR could boot the more well known Linuxen 
in a dual boot situation, but who knows how more weird it has gotten
since then.

I am quite certain that Grub will boot FreeBSD, because FreeBSD still
uses the most standard, most common old fashioned DOS boot protocol
to get started -- and just getting the first block read in and executing
is all you need of the MBR which is what Grub is as well as FreeBSD MBR.

So, just whack on FreeBSD and learn it.   Once you know it pretty well
you can play around with dual booting Lunix if you still want to or
maybe you will discover the cleaner and more straightforward BSD
system more to your liking and just stick with it.  Who knows.
It should only take a few days.


> -- 
> Jason Hsu <jhsu802701 at jasonhsu.com>
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