hutch was moaning about learning FreeBSD a while back.  The ins and outs and learning curve can be daunting unless you have the time, need and energy to immerse yourself into it all.  For those of you who want a desktop similar to Windows or Linux, I found two free, ready-to-go packages.  One is PC-BSD and the other is DesktopBSD.  Both have a Windows or Linux feel to them that is easy to navigate but is still a full blown FreeBSD/Unix OS.  You can run them both with all the tools and software available for FreeBSD.

I installed PC-BSD two nights ago and quickly became comfortable to the point that, while surfing with Firefox, forgot I wasn't on my Windows box.  The download is around 600Mb and must be burned as a cd .iso but the installation went quicker than a Win install and I only had to enter my name and password and one reboot. 

There is a second .iso for downloading software packages, such as openoffice, abiword, and such but you can install them off the net.  The desktop is KDE with all the software that comes with that including three editors, email, Konqueror browser and too much to list here.

PC-BSD is different from Desktop BSD in that it has software packages as .pbi files.  These can be downloaded and easily installed and you know they will work.  DesktopBSD, however, installs software from ports which usually works fine but occasionally there may be a tweak needed.  Of course, this makes DesktopBSD more customizable but nothing stops you from using ports with PC-BSD either.

One thing this may allow you to do is test software before installing on your main machine.  Downloading and installing large ports can be frustrating when you find you either don't like the software or it doesn't run well on your machine.

So if you want to learn FreeBSD/Unix, but fear the command line and want the comfort of a windows environment available, one of these packages might be worth looking into.  I have not tried DesktopBSD yet but have heard equally glowing reports about it.  PC-BSD runs very fast, faster than Windows, on my 550Mhz PIII with 256Mb memory.  In my book, that's a winner!
Posted on 2007-01-29 16:50:24 by drhowarddrfine
Reading hutches *u*x ordeals is fun - I can't believe he has so much trouble. Either do vmware/virtualpc/whatever or have a spare box next to you, and the FreeBSD handbook (or whatever for your platform of choice) on your main box.

If you follow the instructions and don't have ?ber-flakey hardware, it's really a no-brainer getting it to work. Same for ~5 years ago (or longer?) when I first tried out FreeBSD, and things have come a long way since that.

It's true that you have to much around with config files if you want to set up stuff decently, and while the documentation isn't always particularly good, it's come a long way the recent years. Trick is not to depend too much on man, even with aprospos, google tends to bring up more helpful articles. is probably worth checking out.
Posted on 2007-01-29 17:06:33 by f0dder