I’ve been a big fan of FreeBSD. I got acquainted to it when I was reading a wiki article on Mac OS X. Then I came to know that it is based on something called FreeBSD. I started searching for it and I downloaded a release. I tried to install it on my system & was successful. But the problem was that it was a command line installation & there were no graphics after installation. That wasn’t a problem for me but the thing was that it required a fast internet connection to install a graphical environment such as GNOME or KDE. So, here I am giving another try to PC-BSD 9.0.
I downloaded the image from the internet, 64-bit to be precise. It was around 3.59 GB in size but most importantly it contained KDE, GNOME, Openbox, XBMC (which I can’t live without) and some more. I burned it to a DVD & started the installation. The first thing that you have to keep in mind is that it only installs on a primary partition. Secondly, there was an option for installing it on a ZFS filesystem but 4 GB RAM was recommended. That wasn’t a problem for me, so I selected the option. Interestingly, it did everything on its own when I assigned a primary 100 GB partition to it. All the swap, /usr etc were inside that partition. I selected KDE as a graphical desktop manager. I also selected the system source code & ports collection (more on that later).The installation started but it took very long time, about 40 minutes to install on my system (see the specifications in the my rig section).
After the long but very, very easy installation I logged in to my desktop. But before that it asked me to select the resolution of my monitor. It also auto-detected my graphics card (NVIDIA GTX 260) & installed the necessary drivers for it. Once I selected the correct resolution, it wrote the necessary configuration to the Xorg.conf file & voila, everything was butter smooth. KDE looked good. But the fonts weren’t upto my expectation but they were not bad either. I use the infinality package on Arch Linux so I expected a bit more. Here’s the screenshot of the desktop..
Installation of applications
PC-BSD has a pretty good way of installing the applications. It’s packages are in the format of .pbi which stand for PCBSD Installer. The PBI files can be double clicked and installed. That’s it. But, there’s a app store as well. It is called app-cafe. Here you can select the various applications that you want to install on your system. But some of them are pretty large in size. For eg. Mozilla Firefox 9.0 was around 80 MB & Chromium was whopping 100+. There’s another way to install the apps that is called ports. If you’ve build the packages on Gentoo Linux via portage then you’ll feel right at home. Ports collection contain hunderds of packages which you can navigate & install. They are located in /usr/ports. If you want to search for a package then issue whereis packagename. Compiling packages takes time. If you’re not comfortable with that but still want to install via ports then please issue pkg_add -r packagename in the terminal as a root user, it will install the required package. That’s it. I’m also posting a screenshot of AppCafe in action.
PCBSD feels right at home if you’re familiar to GNU/Linux. You can’t tell if you’re running PCBSD or GNU/Linux. KDE is at version 4.7.3 which is pretty much the bleeding edge. But never did I manage a single crash or freeze. Moreover, I was watching HD clips along with compilation of packages & surfing the web at the same time & the system was doing very,very well. It automatically mounted my NTFS Windows partition but to mount the existing ext4 from Arch Linux, I had to fiddle around a bit. But there are some problems too. For e.g.,
Konqueror is the default & the only browser that ships with the OS Update:- There are other browsers such as Epiphany, Midori etc for GNOME & LXDE (Thanks to Ken Moore for pointing that out). Considering the size of the DVD, they should’ve included either Firefox or Chromium. Moreover, Konqueror uses KHTML as the rendering engine instead of WebKit which I found more usable than the former. Secondly, the office suite KOffice that ships with KDE doesn’t open ODF files. That is a huge, huge drawback for me. I love LibreOffice & save my files in ODF whenever possible. But it wouldn’t open them. Shockingly, it did open .docx files.
PCBSD is very, very robust operating system built on the ultra-powerful but unknown-giant FreeBSD. I found it sufficient for my daily needs barring the office suite.
- Very, very stable.
- Uses very little resources (even when using KDE).
- Very Secure.
- Very easy installation.
- NVIDIA Drivers bulit-in.
- Poor office suite (KOffice) but you can install LibreOffce via the ports or AppCafe.
- No browser other than Konqueror in the default KDE installation. (You can install Firefox, Opera or Chromium later).
- Some sound cards not supported.
- iXsystems Announces Release of PC-BSD 9.0 Isotope Edition (prweb.com)
- How To Install PC BSD 9 Onto VirtualBox Virtual Machine (essayboard.com)
- For a Free Linux Alternative, Try FreeBSD 9.0 (pcworld.com)