DesktopBSD – day 30 – the verdict

Jan Stedehouder has finished his series on “Desktop BSD – 30 days”. Read the verdict here.

On November 1st I started with this series about DesktopBSD and we are now six weeks later. Six weeks in which I played, wrestled and worked with DesktopBSD almost every day. If there was only one conclusion I was allowed to draw it would be this: after a while I kind of forgot I was working with a FreeBSD-based operating system. Yes, there have been quirks. Yes, there were problems with my hardware but I seem to be one of the few to have those problems, which indicates it can’t be blamed on DesktopBSD. Yes, it took some more time to install new software. But the overall conclusion has to be that I could do everything I needed to do on a day to day basis.

Conclusions

This series was started with defining the key requirements for any open source desktop that wants to be a serious contender on the market for end-users, both at home and in organizations. I will repeat them here:

1. the open source desktop needs to a recognizable and easily understandable graphical work environment;
2. the open source desktop should have a complete set of graphical tools for systems- and software management that can be used intuitively;
3. the open source desktop should support multimedia activities and peripheral devices without too much hassle, even if this can only be achieved by a pragmatic approach towards non-free software components;
4. the users of the open source desktop should have access to business-grade professional support if that is desired;
5. maintaining and developing the open source desktop should not be dependent on a single person or a relatively small group of developers and maintainers;
6. migration to the open source desktop will require re-training of end users and some level of real time support during the process. This means that good and accessible documentation should be at hand as well as easy access to end user support;
7. the open source desktop should have a solid track record for quality, stability and solid progress over the last few years.

DesktopBSD easily meets requirements 1, 2, 3 and 7. I know that work has commenced on providing a DesktopBSD handbook that no doubt complements the excellent FreeBSD handbook. When looking at the feedback provided on-screen, the team is really making an effort to provide the user with the information he/she needs at the time of actually using a specific function.

Both the team and the community are quite small. Support for novice users leans heavily on a small group of very active people. At this stage this isn’t such a bad thing, but it will get complicated if and when a new group of novice users without prior experience in BSD starts to use DesktopBSD.

Though -at the time of writing- DesktopBSD is still working towards it’s final version of 1.6, I can only conclude that this is a stable and mature operating system that really lowers the threshold to get started with FreeBSD on the desktop. I am still in doubt whether DesktopBSD has progressed far enough to be accessible for end-users with Windows-only experience right now. Linux users should have little or no problems getting off with DesktopBSD and do whatever they used to do with their Linux desktop. I can only encourage them to do so, as it would expand the user base of DesktopBSD and provide the team with more feedback and assistance to make the final leap. The strong focus on stability for the operating system, the development and maturity of the current set of DesktopBSD tools and the clear and concise on-screen information are solid building blocks for a future DesktopBSD release that will be easy to use for people with Windows-only experience.

The post can be read in its entirity here.

FreeNAS 0686c (BETA3) released

Volker Theile has announced the third and final beta release of FreeNAS 0.686, a FreeBSD-based operating system which provides free Network-Attached Storage (NAS) services.

This will hopefully the last beta to become stable.

Majors changes

  • Add file system check support during boot process.
  • Add attribute ‘Store DOS attributes’ to Samba/CIFS WebGUI. It will be enabled by default. Thanks to pascal666.
  • Modify idmap syntax in smb.conf. Thanks to Zythan.
  • Upgrade Adaptec AACRAID driver to v5.2.0 Build 15317.
  • Upgrade WOL patch to version from 25.11.2007.
  • Add AFP share support. Thanks to Gerard Hickey.
  • Upgrade netbsd-iscsi (iscsi-target) to 20071130.
  • Upgrade PHPMailer to 2.0.0.
  • Modify rsync client/local WebGUI to define individual source/destination paths.
  • Modify rsync server WebGUI and rc-script. Now it is possible to manage rsync shares.
  • Modify rc scripts. Mount points and GEli providers will be detached correctly during shutdown process.

Minors changes

  • Add command ‘/usr/bin/nice’.
  • Send hostname only on DHCP request.
  • Update translation files.
  • Add misc patches to Samba 3.0.26a.
  • Modify iscsi-target WebGUI.
  • Add ‘ro’ (read only) flag for iscsi targets.
  • Add ‘compression’ checkbox to enable/disable it for SSH.
  • Add ushare mime patch to fix avi playback on X360. Also add video support for avc and hdmov and audio support for 3gp and flac.

And some bugfixes.

The lasted BETA can be downloaded from SourceForge.

DesktopBSD vs PC-BSD

Jan Stedehouder has almost finished his DesktopBSD – the first 30 days series and the following are his observations with regards to how PC-BSD and DesktopBSD compare:

Today may be a good day to at least do a formal comparison between DesktopBSD and PC-BSD. I guess it can’t be avoided. Two FreeBSD-based open source desktops with similar goals, but finding different solutions.

The similarities between PC-BSD and DesktopBSD are there of course. Both use a graphical installer to assist the new user with getting FreeBSD on his/her system and both have chosen for the KDE desktop. DesktopBSD allows to boot into a live environment before actually dedicating it to your harddrive, while PC-BSD ships with Compiz Fusion.

The default software collections are different as well. DesktopBSD has chosen for Firefox, Thunderbird and Pidgin. A choice that makes sense as these applications are well-known and used on Windows and Linux. PC-BSD seems to stick more to KDE-based programs like Konquerer, Kontact and Konversation. However, these are minor differences.

DesktopBSD sets itself apart through the DesktopBSD tools and particularly the Package Manager. This graphical frontend for the packages and ports collection provides an easy tool for installing, upgrading and managing the software on your system. Working with Package Manager shouldn’t be a problem for Linux users that have experience with similar tools (Synaptic, Adept, Portage).

For PC-BSD the PBI’s are unique. The work on the PBI Build Server is progressing and that will result in a far larger collection of packages. This should contribute to a wider adoption of PC-BSD among people who used to work under Windows, since the PBI system emulates their “double-click-and-install” experience the most.

There is no need to try to figure out which one is better. I just marvel at both developments and I can see they both provide an answer to the needs of different groups of users. I can imagine a future where the DesktopBSD tools are enhanced to allow installing and managing PBI’s for FreeBSD-based systems, even if only for PC-BSD systems.

LinuxReality Podcast: M0n0wall and pfSense

LinuxReality.com (a site with Linux related podcasts – similar to the BSD focused bsdtalk.blogspot.com) has posted a podcast (episode 84) that focuses on Linux and (network) security. In this episode Paul Asadoorian and Larry Pesce of the Pauldotcom Security Weekly Podcast are interviewed.

Amongst the many things discussed, M0n0wall and pfSense are also mentioned.

Download the podcast: MP3 or OGG

Frenzy 1.1 (BETA3) released

Frenzy logoSergei Mozhaisky has announced the third beta release of Frenzy 1.1, a portable toolkit for system and network administrators based on FreeBSD 6.2. More info on Frenzy here.

These are most important changes since the 1.0-release:

  • Base system is FreeBSD 6.2-STABLE, Xorg updated to 7.3.
  • System totally moved to unionfs file system organization, you can edit almost all files after boot.
  • Added Frenzy Extension Module support, utility for FEM creation is avaiable on FTP server.
  • Added ability to boot from ISO-file on HDD
  • Boot options with disabled ATAPI DMA or ATA DMA
  • Loader option “mode” (select console resolution)
  • Loader option “sound” (sound card auto-detection)
  • Added options for work with serial console
  • gcc removed from base system, it will be available as FEM module.
  • More than 100 applications added (among them ntfs-3g) and 18 applications removed.

You can download the ISO here.

If you come across any bugs or problems or you want feedback, just drop a message on the Frenzy Forum.

DesktopBSD added to Vietnam BSD/Linux Mirror

The Saigon Linux Group (SLG) added DesktopBSD to the Vietnam BSD/Linux Mirror.

The Vietnam BSD/Linux Mirror is the only public mirror available in Vietnam to promote open source technology within Vietnam managed by the Saigon Linux Group with the bandwidth and IP address donated by GHP Far East Co., Ltd.

The SLG hopes to continue it’s support of both BSD and Linux by offering more distributions and software on it’s servers in the new year.

Source: saigonlinux.com (05/12/2007)

iXsystems announces distribution agreement with Micro Center

After the distribution agreement with Fry’s Electronics, iXsystems has announced (10/12/2007) an agreement with Micro Center:

“iXsystems announced today a distribution agreement with Micro Center, a leading edge provider of computer products, whereby all Micro Center stores nationwide will carry PC-BSD Version 1.4, Da Vinci Edition. The agreement marks the first time that the PC-BSD operating system is made available for purchase at Micro Center.

PC-BSD is a fully functional desktop operating system based on FreeBSD 6.2-STABLE. FreeBSD is one of the most pervasive UNIX-like operating systems in the world. It is widely recognized as the most stable and secure server operating system available today.

PC-BSD will be stocked in 21 Micro Center store locations, which can be found all throughout the United States

PC-BSD will be stocked in 21 Micro Center store locations, which can be found all throughout the United States

said Theresa Garner, General Manager of FreeBSD Mall.

As a result, this historic agreement will ensure that PC-BSD, the open source desktop operating system running FreeBSD under the hood, becomes available to a mainstream market at a nationwide level.

The increasing availability of PC-BSD, especially through this agreement with Micro Center, will enable first-time users to successfully experience the superiority of this operating system firsthand,

said Kris Moore, Director of PC-BSD Software Development.

Unlike most other open source operating systems, PC-BSD’s programs are self-contained and do not have shared dependencies. As a result the installation of one program does not necessarily mean the possible disruption of another. The end result is a trouble-free user experience for both technical and non-technical users.

PC-BSD is expected to become available in all Micro Center stores nationwide by Wednesday, December 19. Micro Center has stores in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.”

Source: PR Web (10/12/2007)