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Interview With the PC-BSD Team 130

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the user-friendly-depends-so-much-on-the-user dept.
GeekyBodhi writes "FOSSEngineer.com has an interview with a couple of guys from the PC-BSD development team after the distro recently released their first stable version 1.0. PC-BSD is built on top of FreeBSD and aims to dumb down installation and daily usage, enabling a non-technical user to run it as his primary desktop. The guys talk about their pre-release journey, features unique to PC-BSD and why a minimal installation system is a good thing."
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Interview With the PC-BSD Team

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  • Because... (Score:4, Funny)

    by muddyblooz (955382) on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:39PM (#15289722) Journal
    "We ain't TOUCHING sysinstall..."
    • I realize that the PC-BSD folks are trying to make the install simple for people who aren't computer enthusiasts, but for our crowd BSD is remarkably simple and quick to install. I build out BSD installs pretty frequently and it takes less than 5 minutes to create a working base install that will allow me to ssh into it.
      • Yeah, I even got my kid sister to install it once to prove a point to a naysayer. BUT (hehe) go read the source for sysinstall and you'll see what I was snikkering about :-)
  • Default Wallpaper (Score:2, Informative)

    by tardigrades (841826)
    Not to be self promoting or anything but http://www.kde-look.org/content/show.php?content=2 7301 [kde-look.org] .
  • Too bad for the gnome users like myself.

    I did read the interview and a copy of the freebsd6.0's ports are including so I guess I can install gnome from there when I have a week of time available to compile it. :-)

    The automounting feature is cool and I had to write scripts to mount such devices with FBSD 4.12 which was a pain.
    • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Monday May 08, 2006 @10:17PM (#15289919) Homepage Journal
      If I may be so bold, if you know enough to know the difference between KDE and gnome, you aren't the target user. What matters is that it works, not whether it caters to a particular set of preferences. Even giving a neophyte choices can build up to rejection if there are too many choices that seem redundant or unimportant to them and their needs.
      • >too many choices that seem redundant or unimportant to them and their needs.

        Redundant, unimportant, or SCARY specially when making the wrong choice might lead to a broken system and a support geek being patronizing because *everyone* knows that option was incompatible with that kernel version if you're running an AMD and an early rev of the wireless card firmware from right after the vendor switched chipsets.

        Choices should be possible to make given the information available. Too many installations are l
    • If you're savvy to feel choosy between GNOME or Kde, you'll have no problem installing your choice on FreeBSD. It's very easy.
  • Dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Monday May 08, 2006 @10:14PM (#15289904) Homepage Journal
    ...and aims to dumb down installation and daily usage...

    Why the hell would I want that? I would like a simplified interface that is easier to use, but no fscking way do I want something that's dumbed down!

    p.s. Of course, PC-BSD is not dumbed down. It hasn't been stupidified. The submitter should have read the article and realized that it's 100% hardcore FreeBSD. Unfortunately, the poor choice of adjective will lead many to think that this is just the BSD version of Linspire. Sigh.
    • Re:Dumb (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MidnightBrewer (97195)
      I agree. Some people seem to think that if you don't lose a pint of blood while setting up your computer, you're not using a *real* operating system.

      If something as powerful as BSD can be made usable by more people, I think that would be better called "streamlining" or "making it more elegant." I find that Fedora or OSX are both good examples of OSes that allow you to just start the computer and get stuff done if that's all you need, and let you get down-and-dirty for the more demanding power user.

      A good
    • I've always wondered why someone like Sony doesn't go the Apple way i.e. take their superior hardware and release a BSD based operating system that's optimized for the hardware (perfect drivers, software update etc.). Apart from being pre-installed, optimized and with simple interface, they could also keep the drivers to themselves if they choose to, unlike with GNU/Linux. For home users this could have very real benefits of ease of use and security.
  • PC-BSD is built on top of FreeBSD and aims to dumb down installation and daily usage, enabling a non-technical user to run it as his primary desktop


    Good. Now change the name so that a non-technical user will know what the heck it is.

    Nothing more daunting than a string of acronyms that the average uesr doesn't know, nor need to know. Heck.... the BSD acronym is maily irrelevant nowindays anyway....
    • Re:name (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aussersterne (212916)
      You mean start making up nonsense words that only have meaning if there's a giant marketing department behind them, like "Pentium" or "Zeta" or "Ubuntu?"

      Okay, how about we rename it from PC-BSD to any of the following:

      - Bonedai 1.0
      - Genufal 1.0
      - Marada 1.0
      - Notege 1.0
      - Imboldos 1.0
      - Drimium 1.0
      - Turbalus 1.0

      At least you can explain that PC-BSD actually is representational in nature: Personal Computer Berkeley Software Distribution.

      Better than "Zzemdaxa" or "Mmulema" or "Panaxap" or [insert another nonsense
      • Both 'zeta' and 'ubuntu' were meaningful before any marketing team got behind them.
        • Hardly deeply meaningful to the average user in the context of general purpose computing. They're new computing vocabulary words whose meanings in this context have been constructed entirely by product design and marketing.

          We could rename it from PC-BSD to "Straw Hat OS" or "Purple Badger OS" or "Zeitgeist OS" and it would be the same. It doesn't say any more about the software's function to the average user than "PC-BSD."
    • Oh, please. The BSD name has been attached to the free software since before GNU was a glimmer in RMS's eye. Heck, it was free software since before "free software" meant anything. There was Berkeley Unix and if you wanted it, you could get it, along with CSRG source code and all the redistribution rights you could handle. By comparison with the longevity "BSD," "Linux" is just a trendy buzzword.
      • if you wanted it, you could get it, along with CSRG source code and all the redistribution rights you could handle.

        As long as it was to redistributed only to other AT&T licensees. This is similar to how Ford in the 20s supported all the color you could handle; assuming the only color you could handle was black.
  • dpkg blues (Score:4, Interesting)

    by adolfojp (730818) on Monday May 08, 2006 @10:43PM (#15290085)
    I love PC-BSD's self contained software installer above all. It brings the simplicity and elegance of Windows and Mac software installation to the nix world.

    Package managers like Synaptic don't make too much sense to me. They are great as long as every computer that you manage has a broadband connection. There are many people in the world, especially in developing nations, that can not afford that luxury. I'd much rather keep copies of software on CDs to distribute instead of having to connect every computer to a fat pipe whenever I want to install a software package. Yes, I understand that you can configure removable media as a source, but the process in not intuitive and you have to make sure that every dependency is available on the CD to begin with.

    If PC-BSD were to release a GNOME centric version of its software I would switch all of my machines in a heartbeat.
    • I noticed this as well. The ports from the FBSD 6.0 branch are included if you have a fast machine and time to compile gnome from scratch.

      I feel the whole notion of creating seperate distro's like the whole ubuntu/kubuntu thing are just stupid and silly. Most distro's have many cd's with thousands of apps.

      A good os should let the user decide what he or she wants. I have heard a podcast from www.freebsd.org from one of the developers mentioning the problems with gnome becoming too Linux centric. Especially w
    • Re:dpkg blues (Score:5, Informative)

      by mpeg4codec (581587) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @12:20AM (#15290655) Homepage
      On Debian-based systems, you can have multiple apt sources. That means that you can have several CDs [or DVDs] of software that is typically installed and fail over to net install when you want something that's not on optical media.

      As for a GNOME-based distro like this, download an Ubuntu CD/DVD set. It will automatically set it up to access all your discs and you can choose [or choose not] to set up access to net repositories.

      Truly the best of both worlds.
    • Yeah I also have that problem with Ubuntu Linux. Something I haven't figured out about Ubuntu is how to do 2 things that Windows can do. (Gasp!) When on a fast connection, I'd like to be able to download Ubuntu updates in a form that can be burned to a CD so I can do offline updates. Would make it faster for updating several Ubuntu installations that are on slow connections. The other thing is "slipstreaming" the updates into an Ubuntu installation CD so I can do a fresh install of Ubuntu that doesn't
  • by goMac2500 (741295) on Monday May 08, 2006 @11:52PM (#15290493)
    I don't think most NIX users get it. I like dumbed down installs and self configuring stuff. That said, I'm a programmer. I like dumbed down installs because I don't like wasting my time configuring everything. At the same time, I don't like installing distros which require me to track down additional software. Why not release a distro which includes a bunch of software and gui configuration tools? I mean, command line utilities are great, but I don't really want to learn them unless it's necessary. I want something that I don't have to learn, or spend much time setting up. I'm sure I might get flamed from the "you should learn how all your software you use works" crowd, but honestly, I don't want to compile, I don't want download libraries, I just want to freakin software to work. I don't want to have to spend time reading man pages, I want to hit buttons. If I decide I want to use the CLI to find tune settings, that's great, but that's not priority to getting some piece of software usable first. Dumbed down shouldn't be minimal learning curve with minimal software. Dumbed down should be minimal learning curve with more software. So far Fedora comes closest to this for me. A lot of common tasks can be done in not very much time with the gui configuration tools.
    • You mean you never had the joy of actually getting Red Hat 5 to boot and configure X from the command line without blowing your montior up?
    • > I'm a programmer.
      > (...) but honestly, I don't want to compile,
      I sense some trouble there...
      charon
      • Lol, I suppose it is somewhat ironic, but I don't really want to waste time compiling stuff. I just want a binary package on my system, and I just want it working. When I release software, I don't release code as the primary distribution. I'm assuming my users want to try my software, not spend time compiling it.
    • I hear where you're coming from; I think that all software should have a "hands-free" install option with sane defaults.

      However, I really like the command line environment as well. I'm not sure, but it seems to me that I'm more productive when I'm using the command line; it seems I get stuff done faster. I have put some significant time into learning how to do stuff in the command line, but perhaps that investment pays off in increased productivity.

      Considering how steep the command line learning curve is
  • I wonder how this compared to Desktop BSD?
  • I had an opportunity to try this new release out today. Ok, I am running it in a vmware emulation so if it goes dramatically wrong I can delete the hard file and start again, quite easily.

    I guess my main concern is that if the app isn't a PBI then you have to track thru the freebsd ports and it appears that to compile/make/install Open Office 2.0 requires 9GB which is taking the piss.

    I'll wait for the PBI builds to reappear -- they are offline at present.

    Tell me why all the angst? If a windows user switches
    • There are a lot of FreeBSD pre-compiled binary packages that be installed from the command line with the pkg_add command.
    • Just install the package. You don't have to compile. Unless you want or don't want something in which case you choose the appropriate flags from the Makefiles.
      This gives FreeBSD users the same ease of installing tha Debian has plus fine-tuned control.
      You know, pkg_add (like apt-get install, ok?)
  • What about Java? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The big thing for me is Java. I would have switched to OpenBSD as my desktop long ago if there were work-ready Java environment. In case you didn't know, desktop Java is back, and server-side Java (Tomcat) is stronger than ever. I would like to have my NetBeans, etc. Desktop Java should be the ideal Open Source platform, because it will let the same binary run on desktop MS Windows computers and desktop Linux computers. That's an ideal way to get a larger base of software for Linux and to get people re
    • Re:What about Java? (Score:2, Informative)

      by antik2001 (535940)
      The FreeBSD Foundation has a license with Sun Microsystems to distribute FreeBSD binaries for the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and Java Development Kit (JDK). These implementations have been made possible through the hard work of the FreeBSD Java team as well as through donations to the FreeBSD Foundation that supported hardware, developer costs, and legal fees. http://www.freebsdfoundation.org/downloads/java.sh tml [freebsdfoundation.org]
  • by kestasjk (933987) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @01:32AM (#15290968) Homepage
    <insert the "I use and like BSD, but" preamble here>

    Who is PC-BSD for? Who specifically wants to use BSD, and not Linux, yet isn't comfortable installing BSD?

    If you want a desktop unix there are plenty of Linux distros out there, which have support for more proprietary drivers and software than BSD, and have larger teams and communities behind them.
    If you want to use BSD because you prefer BSD to System V then you'll be perfectly happy using the not-quite-so-friendly installers of the regular BSDs.

    What would have been better is if they had created a friendlier installer for FreeBSD, and a better GUI for the ports system, and tried to get that into FreeBSD, rather than creating a whole new brand of BSD.
    • Your comment seems sort of jealous. Let me change your perspective. This is what Freedom is really about: the freedom to choose. A long time FreeBSD user myself (eight years now), I love the FreeBSD userland. Leaving room for some degree of experience bias--every linux distribution I've tried has felt messy. I also dislike LILO and GRUB. I prefer the rc system to init runlevels. But these are all personal opinions. The point, though, is that someone with much less experience might also like these sam
    • I'm a FreeBSD developer, and I'd guess the PC-BSD guys have taken a very good route. Working with this kind of thing inside FreeBSD is fairly difficult, due to the inertia of the FreeBSD project. That inertia is both a good and a bad thing - it allows the project to function fairly smoothly in a lot of other ways. It's not good for doing desktop improvements, unfortunately - too many people to consult with.

      Playing that on the sideline and possibly adopting it into FreeBSD later (if both teams feel comf

    • I doubt there's a "typical" user, but I like it. I was a SCO OSR sysadmin for years before my organization moved on. So I like Unix and at one point thought I'd be happy with multiple terminal sessions for the rest of my life. However, work has taken me to Windows and it's OK. I've continued to dabble with various Linux distros and I always have a machine at home that I enjoy installing new stuff on. When things are slow at work, I'll take some hardware out of spares and do stuff like set up an OpenBSD
  • The point of a Joe Average operating system is not, "how can we dumb down the system," but rather, "what is it that an every day user expects from his/her system?" I'm sure if we can get a bunch of people together and some spare time on computers, we could gather a lot of information.
  • why is it ok to fork (your fav software) over any trivial issue you don't like, but it is NOT ok to fork to make a system dumb and stupid enough for people like me ?
    I don't want choice.
    I don't want options
    I don't high performance, much less cutting edge
    all i want is stick the CD in the drive, hit load, and come back, and I have a working install with an os, and an office suite and internet and antivirus.
    why is it not ok to fork to provide that ?

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