To a lot of computer users, especially MS Windows users, FreeBSD is still covered by a cloud of “geekyness”. If people have heard of FreeBSD at all, they often think it’s a server operating system (which is not wrong) and that it comes with server software only (which is not correct).
Admitted, FreeBSD’s hardware support is not as good as Window’s or Linux’, but there’s no shortage of software for this operating system. It’s not only mail server, ftp server, network monitoring software etc that’s available for FreeBSD, but also video editing software, programs for creating PDFs, utilities to convert wav files to mp3’s etc etc. There’s an absolute wealth of programs, tools and utilities available; currently 17,968 so called FreeBSD ports (programs).
With this post I just want to point to a few sources that may help you can find software if you’re interested in using FreeBSD (incl. PC-BSD and DesktopBSD).
Those of you who are new to the “world” of open source software, have a look at the following two websites for an overview of open source equivalents for Windows software: linuxalt.com and linuxrsp.ru. Most, if not all, of the packages listed on these websites are also available for FreeBSD (as ports).
The actual FreeBSD ports directory can be found on freebsd.org or freshports.org (with search facility). To view the ports categories listed by groups have a look at this page on freebsd.org, this one on freshports.org or this one on freebsdsoftware.org. BSDapps.org lists a lot of commercial software packages, but the website doesn’t seem to be quite up to date.
You will gather from these links, that there are so many programs available that it can even be overwhelming. Hardware incompatibility may hold you back from adobting FreeBSD on the desktop, but the objection “there’s so little software for FreeBSD that I can use” is not valid ;-)
If you’re interested in using FreeBSD on your PC, you can either use a pre-configured desktop version (PC-BSD or DesktopBSD) or build it yourself from scratch.