On taking FreeBSD seriously

freebsd_logo-100x100Pongoewin found himself frustrated with Windows 7 at work and decided to take FreeBSD for a spin:

I found myself frustrated with Windows 7 at work. It’s a fairly decent system, and a craptonne better than Vista in both performance and resource usage on the old desktop I have (a Pentium 4/2.66 with a gig of RAM). But it was still slow, and I had heard that FreeBSD was fast approaching the ‘usable’ state for a desktop role. So, I decided to take it for a spin.

Firstly, your experience may vary wildly from mine; I spent the entire weekend compiling everything (including the kernel and all of KDE) to my own liking (and optimisation). And disclaimer: this is on a new ATA-133 drive that actually beats older SATA drives on sustained speed (the very definition of ‘win’).

He goes on comparing Windows – FreeBSD with regards to the following topics:

  • Installation
  • Productivity
  • Office Stuff
  • Email
  • Media
  • IM
  • Other stuff

He concludes by saying:

It’s not really different from Windows, but it’s free and you have more options.

Windows has buggy apps. OS X has buggy apps. FreeBSD has buggy apps. It’s all really a matter of preference. Windows is more tweaked for the beginning computer user, and as such has a lot of safeguards built-in. This is a Good Thing(TM) for new users, but it gets dreadful and annoying to people like me. OS X has its strong points, but it can be wildly random. And randomness is one thing all IT people hate — because it’s nigh-on-impossible to pin down exactly where the problem lies. FreeBSD…what can I say. It’s grown so much from the days of 5.x when I started to run it on servers. And overall, though it may not be as user-friendly as Ubuntu, it certainly packs a mean punch, and anyone who isn’t afraid to learn, is able to devote a bit of time to read the FreeBSD Handbook and other interesting manuals, and get their hands a bit “dirty” with computer knowledge should seriously consider using it as a desktop — especially Linux users looking for more. I’d liken running FreeBSD on a computer to performing maintenance on your car; most people don’t want to do it, but the ones who do save time, money, and have the feeling of a job well done.

Well, that’s Pongoewin’s verdict. What are your experiences with FreeBSD on the desktop, or with PC-BSD, that’s especially geared for desktop use?

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