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PC-BSD 9.0 Release 117

PuceBaboon writes "It's worth noting that, in addition to the main FreeBSD release covered here recently, PC-BSD has also released their 'Isotope' edition, based on FreeBSD 9.0. Why would you be interested? Well, PC-BSD, while not the first, is certainly the most current version of FreeBSD aimed squarely at the desktop user. Pre-configured for the desktop and using a graphical installer, the 9.0 release includes KDE, GNOME, XFCE and LXDE desktop environments, an update manager, WiFi 'quick connect,' BootCamp support and auto-configuration for most common hardware. Live-CD, VirtualBox and VMware release images for 32- and 64-bit architectures also make it easier than ever for users to test the release before committing to a full install. Check out the torrents (scroll down), main download page and the PC-BSD 9.0 manual pages."
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PC-BSD 9.0 Release

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  • any fans can tell me why I'd want to run this instead of a Linux flavor?
    • by bleedingsamurai ( 2539410 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @12:22AM (#38703398)
      I wouldn't classify myself as solely a BSD fan, if it is Unix I'm fairly happy. But the short answer is BSD was/is Unix hackers porting Unix to the PC platform while GNU/Linux tends to be PC hackers porting Unix to the PC platform. There isn't as much hardware support in BSD but with BSD you tend to have much more rock solid code. Another attractive thing is that the entire source is developed and maintained in one branch by one community. (in some ways this is also a bad thing) Unless you get into the nitty gritty of implementation and design structure, you won't really feel a huge difference though.
      • When will the year of the BSD desktop be?

      • Given what you've said about who is doing the porting, I wonder if there is a difference in the extent to which Unix ways of doing things are preserved. As a hard-core Unix person who prefers the command-line for most things, I am sometimes frustrated by the extent to which GNU/Linux has come to cater to people coming from MS Windows in doing more and more with the GUI and and moving away from the Unix way of doing things. Probably the worst thing is the way programs with a GUI do not pay attention to the w
        • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @08:10AM (#38704882) Journal
          One big thing you will notice is that the BSD teams are a bit less deprecation-happy than Linux developers. Over in Linux land, components seem to have two states: unfinished and deprecated. BSDs tend not to replace things that work, tend to favour incremental improvements over complete rewrites, and care a lot about interface stability. Most of the administrative stuff I learned when I first used FreeBSD a decade ago is still valid now - the implementations have changed a lot, but the tools still appear to act the same way. They also put a lot of effort into maintaining binary compatibility for the core system.
        • by adolf ( 21054 )

          I wonder the same thing.

          I found myself with a Windows desktop a few years back, after more than a decade or so of Linux and an enjoyable stint with OS/2 before that.

          I've always (well, ever since I was a kid) kept a *nix box around, whether as my primary machine or just for file-serving and all of the (big and small) things that it does well, but haven't plugged a monitor into my current Linux box in a coon's age: Last time I tried Ubuntu, I got really sick of its irrevocable click-to-focus (which is just n

          • Am currently installing PC-BSD 9 on ZFS. The installer has been slick, so far, with simple and reasonable choices to select from, and with Knoppix-like magic in hardware detection. It is taking forever, but then I seem to recall every BSD install I've ever done taking forever as well...and the box itself isn't particularly fast by today's measures (Athlon XP 1800, 1.5g RAM). (I strongly suspect it will get faster with a bit of ZFS tweaking and maybe a lighter kernel.)

            A good rule to follow with ZFS is 2GB RAM for every 1TB in the pool. More information here []

      • by wagnerrp ( 1305589 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @05:01AM (#38704372)
        You've got the original BSD4.3, which spawned FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Darwin, and more recently DragonFly BSD. Then you've got various offshoots like NanoBSD, FreeNAS, pfSense, DesktopBSD, GhostBSD, and a number of other stalled projects. I like BSD. I've got it running on my firewall and home server. I just don't see where this singular community you speak of is.
        • Yeah, the same way one can fork Linux, one can fork any of the above BSDs, and run w/ it. If you don't like how something is, you can change it, just like you can w/ Linux. Just b'cos you don't get to influence the direction of FreeBSD, or OpenBSD or any of the others doesn't mean you can't do it yourself.

          Back to the GP's question, people on Ubuntu who've been turned off by recent messing around w/ the desktop environment - particularly Gnome 3 & Unity, and who don't like how Kubuntu does it either,

        • by laffer1 ( 701823 )

          I guess I need to get out the marketing more.

      • What's the support like? How many years will this be updated without having to wipe and reinstall? One thing that drives me mad about Linux is you are supposed to wipe and reinstall every 6 damned months or plan your life around LTS releases which as a retailer is right out. Despite all the "Linux is ready for the desktop" BS the support situation is quite bad. Corporations may throw out their desktops every 3 years so they are always under hardware support but home users? Keep a system for an average of 6-

        • The documentation is fantastic. I almost never have to ask for help on a forum because of it. The community is smaller, but I have never had a forum post go unanswered.
          Not to nitpick, but that release cycle sounds like Ubuntu specifically not GNU/Linux as a whole. Now if you don't mind getting a little nerdy there are lots of other GNU/Linux distros out there, with much nicer release cycles. You might feel more at home with Debian.

          I couldn't answer about doing a GUI only upgrade, I know there are GUI packag

          • What I need is a machine that can walk out of my shop with a free OS and will STILL be running in 7 years WITH updates. Can BSD do that? The average lifetime for a PC in this area is 7 years so THAT is what I'm looking for, the "great XP dieoff" is already under way and the offlease office machines are starting to pile up. If I could buy Win 7 Starter OEM I wouldn't even be asking but I can't find a source that will sell me that at less than 10,000 units so that's right out, and Win 7 HP costs more than the
            • by DannyO152 ( 544940 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @02:48PM (#38706968)

              My FreeBSD box has to be seven or more years old. It's gone from one of the 5's through 9.0 without a reinstall. I don't use it 24/7 (but I have). Its primary purpose is to be my cvs code repository. To tech-date the system, subversion was just emerging, hence, cvs. Probably should go git.

              I did use a FreeBSD system for a desktop, but this was for a year and a half around 2001. I got an iBook in September 2001, but I had already left the Windows fold for my home computing, so the desktop went FreeBSD. I do prefer OS X because of the gui integration. For a small business where I was the de facto IT guy, I used FreeBSD/squid for a web proxy and solved some huge problems with an ancient Windows SMB server at zero cost: I had used an off lease machine that was constitutionally unsuited for the business's CAD work.

              Documentation for BSDs is great. I was considering a wipe and reinstall, as the path of least resistance, as I went from 8.2 to 9 yesterday, but I ate my veggies, built character, and went and looked up the step I had forgotten from the last time a version upgrade occurred. An up to date manual for FreeBSD is available at It also is downloadable as part of the system sources and the local version is kept in sync via cvsup/make. At the site, you might find the release engineering, errata, and security update histories illuminating.

              PC-BSD has some interesting ideas and I do run it virtually. It has had application sandboxing for a while, which is something I see the popular, consumer oses implementing. The project is also working on the package dependency issue and I like the way they are thinking. So, while PC-BSD is relatively new, the project keeps its kernel and userland synchronized tightly with FreeBSD. They got good folks there and I expect that its stability should be good, though not as good as FreeBSD, because of the concerns with third-party windowing parties.

              Now, as I look at your summary of your problem, I'm not sure that it quite makes sense as a general question for guidance. The computers that are off-lease have to be 2 or 3 years old. You don't need seven more years from them. If you could, you'd have put Windows 7 on them. Well, PC-BSD is no more a substitute for Windows than Windows is a substitute for PC-BSD. (Yes, that's right, if one has set up a productive Unix-like environment, then Windows is a degraded experience, with quite a few "You can't get there from here." issues.) I hope this isn't a case when someone sets up a problem in order to have others offer suggestions that are swatted down, because the constraints are such that it has moved out of the power spot of the technology being discussed. Besides, the applications are far more important than the underlying os in terms of box longevity. If the cost of wiping and reinstalling saves thousands of dollars in licensing fees, well?

              Any way, to summarize, you need seven more years of Windows or Windows-substitue usage from your computers and Windows 7 is too expensive, there's only to be one more wipe and reinstall, Linux doesn't help you out, and the BSDs, with their windowing systems being orthogonal to the kernel development, though very stable, may not support the applications and processor that you want to keep using. Then, I wish you good luck, because I don't think any one else other than you is trying to solve your precise problem.

              • I'll probably end up having to dump them on the shop down the street that will just put "Win 7 Pirate Edition" and enjoy the extra profits. And yes Virginia I've seen machines MUCH older keep being used, in fact I was nice enough to Frankenstein an off lease office box together for the apt buildings handyman who has always been good about picking up machines that were gonna be tossed by the local college or the office building he also supports. Know how old his PC was that the "new" 2.9Ghz P4 with HT was re

        • What's the support like? How many years will this be updated without having to wipe and reinstall?

          I just upgraded a pair of FreeBSD boxes from 6.0 and 6.2 to 9.0, it was a multistep process that required several manual steps (documented steps mind you) to complete. The upgrade process completed exactly as described in the upgrade instructions though it wasn't just a 'upgrade now' button :)

          I used portmaster to rebuild all my ports and everything appears to work perfectly. It is only a couple days old and hasn't had any real load on it since the upgrade though so I won't know for sure until the workday

        • You can order a DVD from FreeBSD Mall [] and not have to download anything - just see how it works. Since they are currently offering both 8.2 and 9.0, you can get both in DVD form and do an experiment of whether it's smooth to update from the former to the latter w/o re-installing. I'm not sure whether DannyO above used CLI or other utilities while doing those upgrades, so it would be interesting to know whether it can be done, particularly since the experience may vary b/w PC-BSD and FreeBSD. At least for

      • It's a shame that BSD doesn't support as much hw as Linux does considering the fact that the source code to do so is openly available in the Linux kernel. The problem here is the GPL. Using BSD code in GPL'ed software is a non-issue but the inverse is a problem. IMHO this is head up the ass political infighting (thank you RMS).

  • It's time to check out BSD for general purposes again, instead of just for security-essential purposes. Yay!
    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Its "been time" for a while now. I have been running FreeBSD as a desktop for many years.

      Now i do admit my hardware is not bleeding edge, and wifi has always been a PITA for laptops.. but its always been usable for more than just the backroom, just not a lot have noticed..

      • FreeBSD is okay on laptops, the current issue if video cards. nVidia still releases blob drivers for FreeBSD, but the latest Intel and AMD drivers rely on things like GEM/TTM/KMS that are Linux-specific. There is currently a FreeBSD Foundation-funded project underway to provide all of the kernel support that the Intel drivers need, but the AMD drivers are going to take a bit longer...
        • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

          In my case, never had a video problem. It was always wifi. Once they started to support broadcomm using windows drivers it was better, but still a pita to setup and use out in the field.

  • by certain death ( 947081 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @12:04AM (#38703318)
    Like someone up there ^ said, it is fairly uninteresting. I wouldn't go as far as saying "who cares" though. I used version 8.x and it was pretty decent and stable, it didn't have support for Intel video cards, maybe that is fixed.
    • I'm not sure it's really any less interesting than the Linux kernel going into a new version or OSX or Windows or whatever.

      They've had support for Intel video cards forever, it's a shame though that Intel video cards have sucked since forever. I assume you mean for whatever particular Intel GPU you're using. I think the last decent Intel video card I had had a whopping 2mb of video RAM.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I run an experimental pre-9.0 release on my laptop that supports my Intel card. I'm hoping to see a patchset soon against 9.0 though.

  • Replace FreeBSD with Debian, and PC-BSD with Ubuntu. Lets hope the PC-BSD people don't get on some wacked out tablet interface failtrain.

    • Replace FreeBSD with Debian,

      *cough* [].

      Replace Ubuntu.


    • As per BSD Magazine, PC-BSD offers GNOME, KDE, LXDE, and XFCE, which are fully supported in PC-BSD, meaning all utilities have been integrated into the desktop environment itself. The other five available desktop managers are Awesome, Enlightenment, IceWM, ScrotWM and WindowMaker. While these are not fully supported within the desktop environment, all the PC-BSD utilities are still available, though one may need to run commands via the Command Line in order to get them running.

      I don't agree that it's the

      • "ScrotWM"? I'm going to say that that's right up there with "GSpot Codec Information Appliance" and ask what on Earth these people are thinking when they name these things. Personally, I feel no need to have my software have associations with sexual intercourse and/or genitalia.

        • I have no idea why they chose to offer this DE, instead of, say, a preliminary edition of Etoille.
  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @12:30AM (#38703446)
    The special packages it uses are jailed versions, which means I can't use some of the things I want to use from regular freebsd repository. that jailing is a feature pc-bsd has to protect the system from getting clobbered by the user.... maybe most desktop users wouldn't care about those "server" type softwares though.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've finally had enough of Apple's vendor lock-in, I think I'll be on this for good.

    • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:50AM (#38704628)

      If you're thinking about using a non-Apple PC, and the UI matters to you, there is an OS called PearOS [] (albeit Ubuntu based, not BSD) where you can enjoy an almost identical user experience of a Mac but on a PC. It's a reverse of running Windows on Macs. It uses Gnome 3.2, but has finetuned it to look like OS-X, instead of the usual Gnome 3.2 interface that one has. Unfortunately, that interface hasn't been brought to PC-BSD - if Gnome 3.2 doesn't work on BSD (which many would consider a plus), then this kind of port cannot be carried out there, at least via this path. Which is a tad disappointing - hope that someone puts that PearOS interface on a BSD.

      If however, you specifically want BSD and not Linux, then PC-BSD would be the way to go. Of course, all the DEs are very different from the Mac, although for people who ever used NEXT, WindowMaker would be familiar terretory.

      • Mac OS X / NextStep are more than just a Dock and graphical appearance:

        NeXT niceties:

        - Command= in any app to get a definition in rocks
        - having all of your man pages, the sysadmin refs, and the works of Will Shakespeare and anything else you wish to add in Digital Librarian ensures one can look up what one needs at will.
        - Being able to improve the functionality of _any_ app by installing a Service or an app which provides a Service provides a synergy one doesn't get in Mac OS X where it's hit-or

  • ...SimplyMEPIS (v11) is overall better (albeit the KDE version is older) for joe-average user, due to better hardware support under Linux amongst other things. Stability of Debian with a polished KDE setup; what can PC-BSD offer that it can't? (...and before anyone screams 'fanboi', i'm not from the Mepis community, I run ArchLinux myself, but i've found Mepis to be great for my novice-user family members and friends)
    • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @02:03AM (#38703828)
      Some advantages of PC-BSD over GNU/Linux

      a. a lot of new devices are supported in 3.x kernels, Debian will get there someday
      b. zfs (and even regular bsd ufs is more robust than Linux's ext3 and 4
      c. choice of desktop manager, not just KDE
      d. better documentation
      e. developers work on a distribution rather than just a kernel with ad-hoc add-ons

      (if my employer didn't require me to do certain task, I would run BSD desktop as main machine)
      • heh, meant to say over Debian based distros without newer kernels
      • by ThorGod ( 456163 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @02:38AM (#38703914) Journal

        Yeah, I'm glad you pointed all of those out.

        In my experience, the pc-bsd installer is miles above the freebsd installer. (This is pre-bsdinstaller.) You can install root onto a zfs tank easily with the pc-bsd installer, and you can't as easily under the last freebsd installer I last used.

        In any event, I appreciate PC-BSD. It's not a distribution in the mildly awkward Linux sense. It's more of a logical extension of FreeBSD than a drastic redesign. For a unix workstation, it's probably a good choice.

      • by Demonoid-Penguin ( 1669014 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @03:13AM (#38704026) Homepage

        Debian will get there someday

        Are you from the past? []

        • Any idea whether the Debian guys are doing a kFreeBSD based on FreeBSD 9? Their version will be different in that all the Debian userland programs will come there. If so, this would be a good product, if implemented successfully.
        • no, I'm from the present. you know that is based on FreeBSD 8.1 so won't have latest drivers either. Same statement only vaguer if talking about new device support, "Debian kFreeBSD will get their someday, maybe, if the project doesn't totally flop". that Debian frankenstein is not production stable, just a trial balloon. We're talking about Debian GNU/LInux compared to FreeBSD here
          • no, I'm from the present. you know that is based on FreeBSD 8.1

            No - you really are from the past. []

            that Debian frankenstein is not production stable, just a trial balloon.

            Wrong again. And you don't get to determine what's "production stable" as you clearly don't have a clue what you're talking about.

            We're talking about Debian GNU/LInux compared to FreeBSD here

            You're talking pure bullshit. Do you even use BSD? (not that anything you say has a shred of credibility).

            • And you don't get to determine what's "production stable" as you clearly don't have a clue what you're talking about.

              Just for reference, neither do you.

              Most *BSD fanboy's don't consider Linux production stable, we tend to have higher standards.

              • Most *BSD fanboy's don't consider Linux production stable, we tend to have higher standards.

                Fanbois, unicorns, Santa Claus... different authority dogs, same leg action.

                No one said your beloved distro is inferior. You can go back to polishing your fetishes now.

      • by Amiralul ( 1164423 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @04:26AM (#38704274) Homepage

        c. choice of desktop manager, not just KDE

        Wait, what?

        • was replying to guy mentioning his favorite KDE based distro
          • was replying to guy mentioning his favorite KDE based distro

            But you put it in a list of advantages PC-BSD has over a Linux-based operating system, and it's not one.

            • was replying to guy mentioning his favorite KDE based distro

              But you put it in a list of advantages PC-BSD has over a Linux-based operating system, and it's not one.

              Yes. "Some advantages of PC-BSD over GNU/Linux ... c. choice of desktop manager, not just KDE" is bogus. Mentioning "his favorite KDE based distro", i.e. "Some advantages of PC-BSD over SimplyMEPIS ... c. choice of desktop manager, not just KDE" might have made more sense.

      • a. Mepis, although not running a 3.x kernel, does run a 2.6.36 kernel (as opposed to Debian 6.0's 2.6.32 kernel), so that's something at least.
        b. I guess, but for normal desktop use is there really much to gain? These are 'desktop' distros/respins we're talking about here. I run ext4 on my main workstation and am happy.
        c. Mepis also has this, it has everything Debian Stable has, possibly more recent versions of other DE's/WM's in their repo... but both PC-BSD and SimplyMEPIS focus on KDE and do a lot of wor
        • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @08:24AM (#38704932) Journal

          I guess, but for normal desktop use is there really much to gain? These are 'desktop' distros/respins we're talking about here. I run ext4 on my main workstation and am happy.

          ZFS is one of those things that you don't really appreciate until you've used it. Creating ZFS filesystems is about as hard as creating new directories, so with ZFS you generally create a lot of filesystems - they're dynamically sized, so the typical downside of this is not there.

          Turning on compression or deduplication, or maybe encryption, for a particular filesystem is a single command. If you've got some really important data then you can tell it to store multiple copies on a single disk, so block-level errors are recoverable, not just detectable, even without RAID.

          The most useful feature, however, is snapshots. It's trivial to set up a cron job that snapshots a filesystem every day, hour, or whatever. Ever deleted a file by mistake, or had a program error corrupt a document? With automatic snapshots, you can simply mount the old version of the filesystem and restore it. I think GNOME has a GUI for this (Time Slider or something) letting you just move a slider to go back to an earlier state of a filesystem.

          It's also great for testing. Not sure if something is safe to run? Clone the filesystem, try it, and then destroy the clone and do it on the live fs. Or, if nothing else will be modifying the filesystem, just snapshot, run it, and roll back if it doesn't work.

          On FreeBSD, ZFS integrates nicely with jails (on Solaris, s/jails/zones) so you can run untrusted programs in a jail by just cloning a jail that's set up for test systems and then throwing it away at the end.

          Snapshots and clones in ZFS are cheap to create. It stores everything using reference counting and copy-on-write semantics, so all you need to do to create a clone is increment a reference count for a filesystem root. Modifications to either the clone or the original will create new copies of the files (they will anyway, because ZFS supports transactional I/O, so the FS is always in a consistent state).

      • by devent ( 1627873 )
        a) If you are not running Debian stable, but Sid or Experimental b) citation needed c) ehh what? d) who cares e) I rather have it that the kernel hackers are hacking together a good kernel and let the distribution put together everything else. That way, the kernel hackers have lot more resources to do their stuff and the distributor can do their stuff.
  • This looks like a seriously interesting release. My only gripe with PC-BSD before now was the PBI system whereby you would end up with a large number of redundant packages and libraries as everything was duplicated. Now it's probably got to the point where I can start recommending this over Linux Mint (although I do still need to test it for hardware support).
  • If PC-BSD is so good, why do I always see FreeBSD committers at technical conferences carrying Macbooks more than any other notebook?

  • so is it gonna be any better at hardware detection?

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford