PC-BSD vs DesktopBSD; similarities & differences


Similar to my m0n0wall vs pfSense; similarities & differences post, I thought I’d also post a “PC-BSD vs DesktopBSD; similarities & differences” overview since I get so much trafic from people trying to find out what the similarities and differences are.

A common misconception about DesktopBSD is that it is intended as a rival to PC-BSD as a BSD-based desktop distribution. Neither the DesktopBSD nor the PC-BSD project intend to rival each other; the two projects are completely independent with distinctive features and goals. PC-BSD has introduced a new package management (PBI) that lets you easily install packages, whereas DesktopBSD has developed a graphical utility that makes installing standard FreeBSD packages and ports easy. Let’s have a look at the similarities and the differences.

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PC-BSD PBI Creator 4.0 released

Version 4.0 of the PBI installation program has been released, which includes several new features:

  • New wizard screen during installation, allows user to select a custom installation directory.
  • Installer now displays disk space required for program, and available space on drive.
  • Internal integrity checker confirms that program data hasn’t been corrupted in transit
  • Installer now displays the application specific icon in toolbar during install.

PBI Developers can download version 4.0 from PBIDir. In addition, PBIs being built on the PC-BSD auto-build server will have this update applied automatically. Questions or comments about this latest release may be directed towards the PBI Developers list.

FreeBSD in 2007 – a review

2007 is over. It was a very successful year for open source software and another 12 interesting months have passed for FreeBSD. In this post I want to look back at 2007 and see how FreeBSD faired, what happened in “FreeBSD land” and how FreeBSD based operating systems have developed. This post will be a sort of summary of the messages I posted during 2007.

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We’ll be looking at:

Start of this blog

Around April last year I was toying with the idea of starting a FreeBSD related news blog with the view to raise more awareness of FreeBSD and show it’s a perfect alternative to Linux. My first post was on 17 May 2007 and since then visitor numbers have rapidly gone up and feedback from visitors indicates that there’s definitely interest in such a blog. With the continuing growth of my WordPress.com hosted blog, I wanted to get some more flexibility and the ability to install plugins and scripts. Hence my move to Bluehost/FreeBSDOS (BTW, if you’re looking for cheap and reliable webhosting, I can really recommend them).

FreeBSD in 2007

FreeBSD LogoUnfortunately 2007 didn’t see the final release of FreeBSD 7.0; just 4 beta’s and a RC1. Well, maybe not “unfortunately”, because a top-quality product is better than a rushed-out flaky one that needs to be fixed and patched soon after its release. FreeBSD 7.0 incorporates some new and exciting technologies which will put this version a-par with, if not ahead of, Linux. Exciting stuff.

The FreeBSD Foundation have issued their quarterly newsletters (Q2, Q3, Q4), keeping the world up-to-date with the latest developments and news. The Foundation received a lot of coverage online and in the blogosphere with their Absolute FreeBSD book auction and their fund raising drive. The 2007 fundraising goal was $250.000, but a total of $403,511 was achieved. Well done.

There are already a couple of Linux related magazines for sale in stores, but BSD magazines aren’t available currently. “An interesting opportunity“, Software Media LLC/LP Magazine must have thought. They will issue first issue at the beginning of Q2 2008 and will contain an article by Dru Lavigne and Jan Stedehouder (Jan used and reviewed both PC-BSD and DesktopBSD for a month in his PC-BSB: the first 30 days and DesktopBSD: the first 30 days series).

Conference-wise, the ‘normal’ BSD conferences (BSDCan, EuroBSD, MeetBSD) were held, with a new one in Turkey (BSDConTR).
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New Year’s message from PC-BSD

PC-BSD’s New Year’s message offers a few peeks into what is planned for 2008:

  • PC-BSD 1.5 based on FreeBSD 6.3 and KDE 3.5.8
  • 64-bit native version planned
  • Update to the PBI Creator and PBIdir.com
  • PBI Auto-Building system up-and-running

On behalf of the PC-BSD Core Team, Kris Moore writes:

I wanted to post a brief message to our users and developers, thanking them for their support over the last year, and offering a few peeks into what we are planning for ’08.

First of all we are eagerly awaiting the release of KDE 4 and FreeBSD 7, and will start on a new version of PC-BSD based on these sometime in the months after their release. Also, we plan on a 1.5 release based on FreeBSD 6.3 and KDE 3.5.8, which will be the last release in the 1.x series. We also plan on releasing a 64 bit native version of PC-BSD starting with version 1.5. This version will also have its own set of 64 bit PBIs to ensure that users can run their applications natively, as they should be.

Also in the next few weeks an update to the PBI creator will be released, which will offer a few new features, such as being able to choose a different install location for their applications. We are also busy working on an update to PBIDir, which will make it easier to monitor and install the latest PBIs. This along with our new PBI Auto-Building system will help ensure that PBIs are up to date, and often available in 24-48 hours after the related port has been updated in the ports tree.

We are looking forward to another year of leaps forward in PC-BSD usability and power, and hope everybody enjoys the improvements!

PC-BSD added to Vietnam BSD/Linux Mirror

The Saigon Linux Group (SLG) added PC-BSD to the Vietnam BSD/Linux Mirror in it’s continuing effort to promote and support open source technology in Vietnam.

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

Source: Saigon Linux (18/12/2007)

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.