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PC-BSD: The Most Beginner Friendly OS 154

soniyea writes "OSWeekly.com reviews PC-BSD and considers it the most beginner friendly OS in the market. 'From PC-BSD's roadmap to their default installation, I honestly feel good about where these guys are headed with their take on FreeBSD. This operating system has it all: support both from the professional level as well as that of the community, the ability to install Linux software, thanks to the binary compatibility layer, and of course — speed. Understand for most people, the speed factor is more or less a matter of opinion. But I have found that in some areas, it felt faster at the core level. Maybe I just had too much coffee that day? Either way, I totally recommend PC-BSD for anyone wanting to take a step into the wild side. FreeBSD, it's not just for geeks anymore.'"
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PC-BSD: The Most Beginner Friendly OS

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  • PC-BSOD? (Score:5, Funny)

    by nodnarb1978 ( 725530 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:27AM (#15887465) Homepage
    I *know* BSD is quite stable, I've used it in production environments in the past.

    But...am I the only one that sees "BSD" and reads "BSOD"....every time??

    Always nice to see serious efforts to bring *nix to the desktop, though. :)
  • 6502 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:31AM (#15887473)
    The most beginner friendly assembly language.
    • Re:6502 (Score:2, Funny)

      by spike1 ( 675478 )
      6502?

      Rubbish. OK. Most computer users with 6502 based systems were FORCED to resort to assembler because their basic was so abominable (commode 64/vic20). But even the CPU's instruction set wasn't that "easy" or "good" for beginners.

      What with all that zero page nonsense. Limited 8 bit registers. Etc.

      Z80 and MC68000 were by far the nicer cpus.
      • Re:6502 (Score:5, Informative)

        by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2&earthshod,co,uk> on Friday August 11, 2006 @05:21AM (#15887861)
        The 6502's "zero page" instructions were a timesaver. Most instructions had a "shorthand" form which accessed a byte in the address space $0000-$00FF, using only one byte for the operand address, so saving a clock cycle and a byte of RAM. You could use zero page memory as an extended register set. If you were very clever, you could pull stunts with mapping different 256-byte chunks of memory into that space. Or you could use those addresses for faster-than-usual I/O {like the Atari 2600}. {The 6502 did not have separate I/O and memory buses.}

        The BBC microcomputer used the 6502 {actually the 65C102 in its later incarnations} and that had an absolutely amazing BASIC. Even ran faster than some rival computers' machine code {thanks mostly to the use of hardware rather than software to generate the bitmapped display, which required up to 20KB of the 32KB for the framebuffer}.

        The 6502, and the way the BBC used it, was also the inspiration for the ARM processor. SWIs were based on the BBC's MOS {kind of a BIOS on steroids; a full abstraction layer}. Basically, in order to access the BBC's hardware, you would set up a parameter block in memory; load its address into the X and Y registers and an instruction code into the accumulator; and call a fixed address in ROM {which pointed to an indirect jump instruction deriving its address from RAM, allowing user code to intercept MOS calls if necessary. You could have hours of fun with this}. If you only needed to pass two bytes and an instruction code then you could use the X and Y registers and call a different address. {I know, nowadays we pass parameters on the stack. This was the 1980s. Also, the 6502's hardware stack can only ever be 256 bytes big due to the S register -- the stack pointer -- being only 8 bits wide.} The whole display subsystem {including text, graphics, user-defined characters, display windows and colour/palette selection} was controlled by non-printable characters {and the graphics display was organised as 1280x1024, even though in real life it was only 160/320/640x256}. There was, of course, a MOS call to print a character. Every other piece of hardware -- the sound system, the keyboard, the printer, the serial port, the A-to-D converter, the cassette and disc file systems -- could be accessed through MOS calls. You didn't have to touch the hardware directly at all; in fact, as long as you didn't, the same programs {in BASIC or machine code} would work without modification on a plain Model B, a B with a 6502 second processor, a Master Series or a RISC-based machine with 6502 emulation. BBC BASIC was merely a layer on top of the MOS. For instance, the Beeb's sound chip had a programmable envelope generator controlled by 14 parameters. There was a MOS call which took a block of 14 parameters and loaded these into the sound chip's registers. The ENVELOPE statement in BASIC took 14 parameters, and merely made the MOS call for you.
        • Look up how the original IBM PC BIOS works/worked. Of course, the machine was in a somewhat different league, but the complete hooking of calls and the basic design of exposing all needed functionality through those calls were there. The biggest problem was, of course, that everyone discovered the simple fact that direct access to segment B000 or B800 was so much faster than a generic BIOS call with the operation "print string/print char" could ever be.
        • Re:6502 (Score:3, Interesting)

          Thanks for posting. I taught myself 6502 machine code when I was 12 years old. My computer came with a photocopied sheet with the instruction set documented on it, one instruction per line.

          The instruction set design made sense, and my first program was 16 bytes long. I can't imagine doing that with a Z80.

          • The instruction set design made sense, and my first program was 16 bytes long. I can't imagine doing that with a Z80.

            On the Spectrum, it was pretty easy to write a variant tape loader using parts of the ROM. I'm pretty sure a basic headerless loader was about 17 bytes.

            Certainly, I remember my GCSE project was a 27 byte printer interface driver that fit into the designated space with 4 bytes to spare (I was hacking a pre-existing commercial word processor package for which no source code was available).

            • Re:6502 (Score:2, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward
              Actually, it's only 14 bytes to load a screen as a headeless block: 221,33,0,64,17,0,27,62,255,55,205,86,5,201

              ld ix,16384
              ld de,6912
              ld a,255
              scf
              call 1366
              ret

              (written entirely from memory, and posted anonymously to avoid revealing my sad bastard identity)
        • Re:6502 (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Spit ( 23158 )
          The 6502's "zero page" instructions were a timesaver.

          That's a feature that designer Chuck Peddle lifted from the 6809 (which he also worked on). The 6809 allows you to relocate this page as well as the stack.
        • The 16-bit descendant of ...

          The best part for me was mapping the zero-page onto the framebuffer (it was in bank 1), and then using the stack as my blitter.

          Compile sprites into asm code, and then push push push #immediate all day baby!
    • Hey, I couldn't agree more ;-) [hence the sig]
    • Well, it was good enough for The Terminator.
    • 6502? ick ick ick.

      680x0 all the way man! 68k rules!

  • by insulanus_hailstorm ( 804238 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:42AM (#15887499)
    From the article:
    This is the single most flawless installation method for software that I have seen for software since, well, Windows to be completely honest.
    Fine praise. Fine praise, indeed.
  • Beginner friendly? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:45AM (#15887513)
    In terms of what? Exposure to a unix-like system? The only thing they mention that would seem to be remotely beginner friendly is the installation of new software. Some screen shots would help in clarifying this.

    Nowadays, does it really matter what type of unix-like system is being run for home use? Once a desktop management environment (KDE, GNOME, etc.) is installed there's really no difference to the casual user. Hell, with that pretty KDE interface, I can't tell the difference between Linux, BSD, Darwin, Solaris, etc until I open a terminal and type "uname -a"
    • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:28AM (#15887605) Journal
      Reading the article before spouting off isn't so much to ask of you, is it? I mean, this wasn't some highly technical, 20-page review.

      He explained his position, in no uncertain terms:

      I see this as becoming a spectacular alternative to Windows for any Windows user. Why? Because the software management is so familiar for any semi-experienced Windows user.


      • I see this as becoming a spectacular alternative to Windows for any Windows user. Why? Because the software management is so familiar for any semi-experienced Windows user.

        You forgot to include his disclaimer: IF PC-BSD came pre-installed...THEN it becomes an alternative to Windows.

        That's a mighty big IF right there. But there is little evidence that the semi-experienced Windows user has any interest in migration whatever.

        • You forgot to include his disclaimer: IF PC-BSD came pre-installed...THEN it becomes an alternative to Windows.

          True, but that was only because the installer currently isn't bug-free. When that's improved, the "if" will be gone.

          But there is little evidence that the semi-experienced Windows user has any interest in migration whatever.

          That's an entirely seperate subject, but I've seen enough incredibly frustrated Windows users to be sure there's a big market.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps BSD's time has finally come? With Lunix Torvald's increasingly tyrannical stance regarding GPLv3, maybe it's time for a switch to a BSD. Real freedom, stability, and no binary blobs sounds pretty damn good.
    • With Lunix Torvald's increasingly tyrannical stance regarding GPLv3, maybe it's time for a switch to a BSD.That's a strange thing to say. If you want GPL v3, and want your work protected against some forms of commercial use, then you certainly don't want BSD, which allows all types of commercial use.
      • by byolinux ( 535260 ) * on Friday August 11, 2006 @05:18AM (#15887851) Journal
        The GPL has nothing to do with preventing commercial usage. The GPL has everything to do with preventing proprietary usage. Big difference.
        • The GPL has nothing to do with preventing commercial usage. The GPL has everything to do with preventing proprietary usage. Big difference.

          No, it's a small difference.

          Most people recognize that companies very often need to be able to stop/restrict/limit the distribution of their changes, or will be effectively unable to use the software in the first place.

          Even RMS (the most opinionated guy I've ever talked with) will usually acknowledge that is an issue, and suggest less restrictive licenses in some cases.

          • Most people recognize that companies very often need to be able to stop/restrict/limit the distribution of their changes, or will be effectively unable to use the software in the first place.

            No. Very few companies actually need to do this. Often managers will claim to "need" to do this, when in reality they're simply being more restrictive because it's slightly cheaper and sometimes less risky to do so than to pay people to do a proper release. These managers will prefer BSD-licensed software to GPL-li

    • Or maybe, having been involved in open source for the past 15 years, he knows what he's talking about a _little bit_ more than you.
  • The article is of very poor quality. It doesn't even provide a link to the PC-BSD website [pcbsd.org].
  • Hardware Support (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:13AM (#15887570) Homepage
    How well does it support hardware? Will my scanner work out of the box like Ubuntu? A "friendly" OS will just work with all your hardware without having to recompile the kernel. As others have said its not the worlds best article
    • I use Ubuntu at home, and love it. But, the installer/live CD doesn't fully boot on the DELL machines at work. By your definition, this would disqualify Ubuntu as a 'friendly' OS. Also, my old 5.25" floppy drive doesn't work on Windows anymore. This is caused by the relevant BIOS calls being absent (FreeDOS doesn't read my floppy disks either, but under Linux I can read those old floppies just fine). So much for Windows as a 'friendly' OS.

      My point is, don't blame the software for lacking hardware support. N
    • I had Ubuntu on my laptop (T60), and NOTHING worked out of the box. Well, audio worked, but that was it. No video beyond vesa, no wifi, no suspend, no bluetooth. I didn't don't a scanner though, so I can't comment on that. Maybe scanners do work out of the box on Ubuntu.

      I figured if I had to do everything by hand, I might as well do everything by hand on an operating system I'm familiar with. So I installed FreeBSD.

      I'm not ragging on Ubuntu. I'm ragging on the damned manufacturers and their Windows only cra
    • Re:Hardware Support (Score:3, Interesting)

      by evilviper ( 135110 )

      How well does it support hardware?

      You can expect FreeBSD to support 99% of the hardware that works under Linux. And actually, it will generally be more stable under FreeBSD than under Linux.

      A "friendly" OS will just work with all your hardware without having to recompile the kernel.

      The BSDs practically never even SUGGEST recompiling the kernel, even though it's quicker and easier than in Linux land. Everything is always compiled-in, and very much unlike Linux, the system is fully Plug-and-Play. Everythin

  • by Budenny ( 888916 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:29AM (#15887609)
    Yes, true. But if you look at PC BSD, its interesting, and the enthusiasm expressed is probably valid. There seem to be three distributions that are roughly comparable in terms of the end user experience, PCLinux, PCBSD and DesktopBSD. Its not a Windows look and feel experience, but it is Windows-like in the sense of shipping with a controlled set of applications. Not like say Mandriva, where the naive user will often stare in disbelief and wonder why they have abiword, KOffice and Open Office, not to mention half a dozen text editors.

    If you're looking for a stable non-MS distribution for people who are basically looking for Office, photo management, Internet, one of these is probably the simplest fastest and most user friendly way to get there.
  • BSD may be very easy but Fedora, SUSE, Ubuntu, and Mandrake are all just as easy. Ive installed all of them and its pretty much insert the CD tell it what hard drive to parition ask, answer if you want to customize the installation(what packages you want) and finally setup users. I havnt installed PC-BSD but Im pretty sure its the same.
    • "Hi I'm going to claim it's the same thing about a guess about a product I've never used."

      Man, won't you be embarrassed when you try it? Oh right, you won't bother to check. Nevermind.
  • Benefits of BSD? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyako.gmail@com> on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:38AM (#15887776) Homepage Journal
    I don't intend this to be a troll, I'm honestly curious. I've been using Linux since around 1998, and I've always found that it works well for me. I have a friend who swears by FreeBSD, but his zelotry makes it hard to get a strait answer about what's so great about BSD (hmm, now I know how all of my Windows using friends feel when I talk...).
    So to all of you who might use this, or some other flavor of BSD as a desktop, what advantages does it offer over Linux? What are the disadvantages (other than the momentum that Linux has as a desktop OS compared to BSD)?
    • Re:Benefits of BSD? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @06:00AM (#15887947) Journal
      It's difficult to really explain. I used Linux for a few years, but bits of it always bugged me. I never found a Linux system that really felt like all the bits were designed to work together (in an abstract, hand waving, way). I tried using FreeBSD out of curiosity and was very impressed by the system as a whole. The thing that really persuaded me at the time was something quite small; the sound driver did mixing in software if the hardware didn't support it. This meant I could have KDE apps, GNOME apps, and apps that wrote to /dev/dsp all making noises without breaking each other, something that had bugged me about Linux for a while. I believe ALSA has this ability now.

      One thing you will notice is that the BSD documentation is a lot better. When I am working on a Linux box, I usually have an SSH session open to a BSD box for checking man pages. OpenBSD tends to be the best in this regard; any code commit must include a documentation update if it changes anything user-visible, and any discrepancy between the code and the documentation is regarded as a bug in the code.

      Overall, I think I prefer OpenBSD these days, but it doesn't support DRI yet so I'd recommend FreeBSD for the desktop (or SMP systems, since OpenBSD's SMP support is about where FreeBSD was with the 4.x series).

      Basically, you should try it and see if you like it. Give it a while; I've seen Linux users give up on *BSD because 'it doesn't work right' meaning 'it isn't exactly the same as Linux.'

      • You know, the sound mixing thing definitely would have had a chance at getting me to give BSD a try if I had known about that a while ago when that was a bigger problem for me than it is now. I can see how a more unified system would appeal to most people. It was never something that particularly bugged me, since I guess I'm still in the mindset of seeing a collection of utilities as opposed to a unified system (maybe that's just because I come from Linux, and I might change my mind if I used something el
        • Re:Benefits of BSD? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Epsillon ( 608775 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:39AM (#15888248) Journal
          Yes, there is. http://ezine.daemonnews.org/200302/fbsdscratch.htm l [daemonnews.org]

          First and foremost, read the handbook. This cannot be overstated. http://www1.uk.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/boo ks/handbook/ [freebsd.org]

          Bear in mind that, for a Linux user, FreeBSD will appear to behave most like Gentoo, particularly when building applications from ports. The actual inheritance was the other way around, but that hardly matters to this discussion.

          The kernel config file is flat text, with the various options described in detail in the ${SRC}/sys/conf/NOTES and ${SRC}/sys/${ARCH}/NOTES files. Once you get used to it, nothing ever comes close to the ease of compiling new kernels IMHO. Just watch what depends on what, especially the COMPAT_??? options. Also, try not to use "custom" compiler flags like -ffast-math and -funroll-loops as you can end up with hard to diagnose problems when building from source.

          Oh, and for anyone reading this thread who is saying "I only have one dsp device that gets locked and nothing else can use it," there is a sysctl knob which needs setting: hw.snd.pcm?.vchans which I usually set to 4 in /etc/sysctl.conf.

          There's a lot of help to be had on the Usenet group comp.unix.bsd.freebsd.misc, too.

          My last word on the subject is this: If you have an amd64 machine, for now I would use the i386 port (CPUTYPE=athlon64 in /etc/make.conf which will compile everything with -march=athlon-mp), especially if you use Firefox or you may end up rather frustrated. OpenOffice now works perfectly on amd64, as does JDK15 (albeit without the browser plugin) but native Firefox still has "issues" (startup hangs on a machine with an NFS mounted /home, hard locks, crashes to name but a few problems I have encountered) and plugins are rather flaky. I tend to use the 32bit Linux version on amd64, but the native i386 version has the most plugins available for it (win32codecs, Flash - you need a patch to make Flash7 work with the linuxpluginwrapper and native Firefox, see the message displayed when you install the port - et al). Also, there are no proprietary nVidia drivers for amd64 yet, which is not true for i386. This is being addressed in -CURRENT as nVidia have intimated that a key function they require is not present in the amd64 port and the devs are working on it, so the situation is set to change in the near future.

          By the way, ports count at present is ~15500. That's 15.5 thousand services, applications, libraries and utilities available for the cost of typing "make install clean".
        • Re:Benefits of BSD? (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
          You know, the sound mixing thing definitely would have had a chance at getting me to give BSD a try if I had known about that a while ago when that was a bigger problem for me than it is now.

          Indeed. I wouldn't expect it to be such a draw now, but it is just a concrete example of the attention to detail of the BSD teams.

          I can see how a more unified system would appeal to most people. It was never something that particularly bugged me, since I guess I'm still in the mindset of seeing a collection of util

      • See, I've always had all kinds of annoying little problems with BSD, as seen in OS X. The sound thing you mention is neat, except that sound frequently stops working in Firefox until you open Garage Band and close it, which, for no apparent reason, fixes the problem.

        Commandline utilities generally work, but they're a lot pickier than Linux ones. For instance, I'll often type 'rm foo', and then remember that foo is a directory, and tack a '-rf' onto the end of it -- except that this rm insists on having it
    • >what's so great about BSD

      You don't have to deal with the linux fans ;-)
    • Re:Benefits of BSD? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Neil ( 7455 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:10AM (#15888121) Homepage

      So to all of you who might use this, or some other flavor of BSD as a desktop, what advantages does it offer over Linux?

      • Unity and coherence of the system: A "Linux" distribution is an integration of many different packages from different groups of developers (the Linux kernel itself, glibc, numerous GNU utilities, and potentially thousands of end user applications - web browsers, mail programs, editors, office suites, etc). The creators of distributions generally do a fine job of this integration but occasionally the fact that it doesn't all fit together perfectly is exposed (particularly if things aren't working properly and one is trying to fault-find, or perhaps upgrade or change particular bits of the system). The FreeBSD developers aren't (primarily) integrators. Most of the bits of the core system have no "upstream", the developers are working directly on a single project source tree for a complete, minimalist Unix-like system. This system a kernel, libc and the various other system libraries, all the command-line utilites you expect from a POSIX system, documentation (a man page for each program and system call), etc. If, for example, you run a /bin/sh script which contains a find command then the entire software stack up and down (sh, find, libc, kernel) comes from a single set of developers with a unified plan and architecture.
      • Size of the default install: the core system is relatively small, uncluttered, yet highly functional. The PC-BSD review mentions Linux distributions where the default install contains enormous amounts of sofware (several different office suits and numerous text editors). Conversely "minimal" installs in the Linux distribution world often really are minimal - lacking lots of basic stuff that I'd expect from a Unix system (vi, C compiler, man pages, etc). The FreeBSD default install is in many ways like a "complete install" of a late 80s commercial Unix distribution such as SunOS or Ultrix - the basic Unix toolset (vi, sh, csh, ls, awk, sed, grep, find, mail, man, make, cc, ...) is all there, but without much in the way of optional 3rd party free software. The whole thing, including sources and documentation fits in 500-ish Mbytes. The sysadmin can use the Ports mechanism to easily add any of about 15000 free software packages later, customizing the system applications to taste.
      • Advantages of source based distribution: I have always found it strange that Linux culture is strongly free software / open source based, but other than Gentoo users, the vast majority of Linux people never actually use source code: 99% systems seem to be installed entirely from binary RPMs or DEBs or whatever provided by the distribution makers. I use a FreeBSD CD set to do an initial install, then I track the STABLE source branch in the project source repository. Every couple of weeks I resync /usr/src and rebuild the entire core system from source code to make sure that I'm up to date with security fixes, bug fixes, new drivers, etc. I know that the contents of /usr/src match the kernel, the libraries, the daemons and the POSIX utilities that I'm currently running, compiled with the options that I wanted. If I come across something that appears to be buggy behaviour I can load up the relevent part of the source tree in Emacs, run the binary under gdb and actually try to figure out what is going on. If some bit of behaviour niggles me I can try changing the sources and building a custom version (and easily diff the source tree and attempt to contribute back changes to the project if I think my hack is of some interest to others). Such an approach is not for everyone, but any means, but if you do have the hacker mind-set then it can be tremendously empowering.
      • Familiarity: my first serious Unix experience was using commercial Unixes derived from 4BSD (SunOS 4, etc). I've admined and us
    • I have tried PC-BSD and I think it's the Ubuntu of BSD distributions, i.e. a boon to the home user. It's easy to install and the PBI packaging system for applications is tidy and is documented so the community can participate in creating PBIs. In my opinion, PBIs are an advantage over Linux.

      But I like Gnome more than KDE. (Yes, I know that Linus T. despises me now.) PC-BSD is a KDE-based distribution.

      There's enough buggy software in the world to waste your whole life. :o) So I give you this advice: virtual
      • What suffering was there for FreeBSD 5.x unless you were an early adoptor in the pre-5.3 days. Pre-5.3 days were alpha/beta days, so suffering was expected and self-inflicted.

        After 5.4 on, and 6.0 on are quite dandy.
        • What suffering was there for FreeBSD 5.x unless you were an early adoptor


          Amigo, I was using 5.2 Release, 5.3 Release, and 5.4 Release. Is that what you call "early adoption"?

          • So what suffering? Answer the question. As said, 5.2.x && 5.3 was early adoption.
            • So what suffering? Answer the question.

              Suffering because of "early adoption", apparently... but that's my own fault in your esteemed opinion. It was my first experience with FreeBSD and I didn't know that 5.x release versions were bad news. Here's a quotation from elsewhere in this thread:

              "The amount of development and change that went on between 4.X and 5.X is now widely accepted to have been a bad idea."

              I'm willing to believe that 6.x is much better. But I'm also not going to be rebuilding my server anyti

    • The point of PCBSD is probably not that it is BSD as opposed to Linux. For the average user who is in the market for this sort of OS, whether he uses PCLinux or PCBSD is probably going to make little difference to him. KDE is going to work pretty much the same on both. The interesting thing is more whether PCBSD is suitable for a fairly new user, and it is, very much so. Wouldn't waste much time debating about whether it is better or worse than PCLinux. The differences from a user point of view, such a
    • They can make "new car smell", why not "new electronics smell"? I'd buy it.

      When your electronics smell, it's usually not a good thing.

    • Re:Benefits of BSD? (Score:3, Informative)

      by johansalk ( 818687 )
      The best answer I found on this topic; it compares Debian, the best of Linux, to FreeBSD http://tinyurl.com/s74ws [tinyurl.com]
  • by s0l3d4d ( 932623 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:52AM (#15887799) Homepage
    ... when you plug in your scanner, printer, digital camera, mobile phone, PDA, dvcam .. and it just works. When you don't need to even figure what program would possibly deal with such devices to start with.
    Maybe they should do a test... 20 beginners with no computer experience or familiarity, that would use this operating system, and e.g. Mac OS X, plain installed FreeBSD and XP, and see what they think is really the easiest to use. The beginners would be way better to tell this than someone who makes their living writing computer related articles.
    • when you plug in your

      If you've watched a beginner with no computer experience, you will quickly find that requirng them to plug things into it is a challenge in itself.

      It is possible for somebody knowledgeable to setup a BSD, and presumably Linux, based computer to kick off various programs when a USB device is attached and stop the program when the device is detached (usbd.conf). Watching for the lid opening on a scanner would require something special.
    • I would be very curious to see the results of this. My guesses:

      Left entirely on their own, probably OS X beats Kubuntu by a hair.

      With people coaching them, obviously it depends on the quality of the coaches, but I suspect it would be between Ubuntu, Gentoo, and OS X. Gentoo has by far the best community to help you, OS X is definitely the easiest to start with, but Ubuntu will probably be both easy to set up and easy to maintain -- OS X becomes a maintenance nightmare without a package manager.

      If these pe
    • Sure... I'll take your challenge...

      Mac OS X - doesn't install at all (no Apple hardware).
      XP - installs, no sound, network, or CD access.
      FreeBSD - actually installs and does something.

      Don't need the other 19 people, I guess. And, why IS installing taken to be a Rosetta Stone, anyway?

      Ratboy
  • by X43B ( 577258 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @05:13AM (#15887844) Journal
    "the ability to install Linux software, thanks to the binary compatibility layer" I tried FreeBSD once. I actually really liked it but it had one show stopper for me that led me back to FC. I was amazed that theLinux compatibilty layer was able to install Matlab, a closed source program. It worked, however, not all features worked. In my Matlab scripts I tend to make lots calls to the command line of the OS. This did not work and thus many of my scripts were rendered broken. Another strange quirk is the "exit" command did not work. I t was rather amusing that I could run all types of complicated operations and plotting routintes but it would return an error when trying to quit the program. I had to kill it from a shell.
  • PCBSD is good (Score:3, Informative)

    by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @05:59AM (#15887944)
    i tried it, PCBSD makes a decent KDE desktop, i noticed KDE's kooka was broken - i am guessing it was broken because sane was not installed, i did a little google search and noticed FBSD considers sane/xsane a vulnerability because the temp files it creates while running can be exployted, and when i tried to compile sane-backends it complained about no USB , so i get libusb and compiled it and still sane-backends complained about nousb, i did not bother with libgphoto2 since sane was not wanting to work, other than this minor annoyence PCBSD is a decent KDE desktop, it just needs to shed some of the FreeBSD strict access control (server security?) to make better headway in the desktop/workstation arena. as a faithful Linux user i am glad to see PCBSD as an alternative, and i see MidnightBSD is a BSD desktop too...

    BSD = i am not dead :)
  • Next Gen OS (Score:4, Funny)

    by jeriqo ( 530691 ) <jeriqo@unissonUUU.org minus threevowels> on Friday August 11, 2006 @06:07AM (#15887963)
    Just seen a screenshot, is this a competitor for Windows 95?
  • Beginner friendly? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:33AM (#15888217)
    Unfortunately 'beginner friendly' normally also means 'hostile to non-beginners'. I don't this has to be the case always, but that is one of the BIG problems with Windows and GNOME: they try to be 'beginner friendly' or just 'user friendly' and end up being dumbed down (or even infantile like the 'Fisher-Price Interface' in XP).

    What I would like to see - though perhaps it is too much to hope for - is an interface where you could 'change gears', so to speak, from 'beginner' to 'experienced' to 'advanced' to 'bloody-know-it-all'; the beginner mode should have wizards, few options, easy, catoon-style documentation and bright, but calming colours, whereas the most advanced level would have none of the dumbing-down and would have complete, technical documentation of absolutely all features, options and parameters - no wizards, just vi and text-based parameter files.

    Yes, I know, Linux is not too far from this by now, but technical documentation is still severely lacking in some areas, most notoriously when it comes to the GNOME desktop. In fact, it is so bad that I think the GNOME developers should freeze their development until they have produced proper, technical documentation of their SW.
    • an interface where you could 'change gears', so to speak, from 'beginner' to 'experienced' to 'advanced' to 'bloody-know-it-all'

      It exists, but it's not as useful as you'd think. Try the Xine UI, go to preferences, they have settings from "Beginner" to "Master of the Known Universe". And I'm not making it up -- I mean, you actually hit a dropdown, and there is a "Master of the Known Universe" setting.

      But once you figure out how to know what you know -- once you figure out how to know which settings you'r

      • Something I've suggested several times, but since IANAProgrammer, cannot implement myself:

        A linux configuration tool that shows *both* the nice friendly GUI with checkboxes, radio buttons, etc., AND the raw config file that the GUI is actually editing, updated in realtime -- so you can SEE what the checkbox just altered in the config file, and have a chance to learn about the various settings on the fly.

        And let the user pick if they want to see one, the other, or both configuration methods.

        This system is ho
        • Sounds cool, but fairly useless.

          If you're going to be editing the raw config file at all, every config file I've seen supports comments of some sort, so you should be able to figure it out on your own. What you'd want to be seeing is the actual effect (which isn't always visible), not just some checkboxes.

          There are some tools, though, which do this the full-on Mac way, where the GUI tools usually affect everything in realtime, and the config changes are saved without asking you -- all you get is a revert b
          • The problem is, the beginner usually doesn't have a clue where to FIND the config files, so a config GUI that knows how to find them and how to read them would be a lifesaver.

            As to comments in config files, they're too often written in programmerspeak, which is frequently backwards of how everyone else thinks, because of the nature of sourcecode-style yes/no statements. And very often they use terms that mean something to an experienced user, but nothing at all to a novice. Tho this does give me the idea th
            • All they really need is to understand what a comment is, and to have that link to the config file. A good example of that right now is the OpenVPN GUI for my Mac. It gives me a simple menu to connect/disconnect, and it shows me whether the VPN is disabled, trying to connect, or connected. In the connect/disconnect menu, there's an option for "edit config file", which opens the config file in TextEdit. The config file is extremely well documented.

              I don't see why showing a checkbox that says "You said 'ye
              • "A better place to focus on would be how easy it is to understand what a particular option does, whether it's a checkbox or a line in a config file."

                That's exactly the point I'm trying to make. If the GUI shows you the possible options, and *simultaneously* you can see what each option actually *does* to the config file itself, then you can "learn by doing" the syntax without trying to puzzle it out in the abstract (by RTFM'ing, which rarely works for newbies -- they simply don't have anything to relate the
                • The syntax is really not that hard. Maybe I just don't get most newbies, but it seems pretty intuitive to me to see

                  # Hi, I'm explaining the following
                  # option, and I'm in a different color.
                  # I don't look like code at all.
                  foo="bar"

                  That's pretty much it. And a good sample config file -- often used as a config file -- shows you all the possible options, and simultaneously explains what they do to the program itself. You can learn by doing and reading through the config file, although it helps a lot to unders
                  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
                    You and I could read thru a config file and make sense of comments... but this isn't intended for "tough software", rather for newbies using any of the linux desktops, and just starting to dabble beneath the surface. As things now stand, you're either a n00b or an expert, and there's no good way to let n00bs learn-by-doing, the only method that really works.

                    I support and train enough new users (and I don't mean kids who are eager to dig thru the guts) to have become quite aware of this. They can RTFM all da
                    • I learned by doing -- by reading manpages. But you don't have to RTFM -- reading comments is much different than TFM, because comments are right there next to the option.

                      And dabbling below the surface of a Linux desktop, just about anything that would be graphical at all is already handled. What's left boils down to whether it really makes a meaningful difference for people to have a GUI versus a config file, for a program which has no GUI. So, for instance, you're saying we need a GUI for fstab?

                      Actually
    • I would love to see a desktop environment with helpful and everpresent cartoon-style documentation for beginners. Something that not only told you what widgets do, but gave you general advice about settings that might work well. There are plenty of people who could learn to use whatever wacky interface you throw at them, given good docs, but don't have the inclination to hunt down documentation and try to make sense of it. My ideal "n00b" environment would be a simple tiled window manager with a complete an
  • Please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:52AM (#15888304) Homepage
    stop [next] posting [next] articles [next] which [next] are [next] nothing [next] but [next] ad [next] impression [next] generators [next].

    The dude put like 3 sentences per "page" and doesn't let you skip far into the article [hint, the dropdown says "...continue" so you can't just jump ahead to the conclusions and what not]. I stopped reading it after the 2nd page.

    If [next] this [next] is [next] the [next] future [next] of [next] journalism [next] then [next] I [next] fear [next] for [next] our [next] future.

    Tom
    • Re:Please (Score:3, Informative)

      Try the repaginator [mozilla.org] extension for Firefox
    • stop [next] posting [next] articles [next] which [next] are [next] nothing [next] but [next] ad [next] impression [next] generators [next].

      I agree with you in general (Tom's Hardware is the worst), but this one really wasn't very bad. About a screen and a half full of text per page (a LOT more than 3 sentences) and only split over 4 pages.

      The 10+ page hardware review sites are the real nightmare.
  • Caffeine (Score:3, Funny)

    by Badfysh ( 761833 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:57AM (#15888330)
    >But I have found that in some areas, it felt faster at the core level. Maybe I just had too much coffee that day?

    Wouldn't it feel slower? Like Fry running around that museum?
  • by neo ( 4625 ) on Friday August 11, 2006 @10:40AM (#15889430)
    to the website. It looks like they have a windows like enviroment, but the real advantage is that they created an installer that doesn't rely on dependencies. Each application installs with all dependencies self contained, and with an installer that looks like a regular window/mac installer.

    So it might be worth an install just to check out the system. Looks clean, they tout that it's fast, but I want to look for it myself. Will install this weekend on my Laptop and see if it really detects hardware like they say.

    Skip the article, go to the website.

    http://www.pcbsd.org/ [pcbsd.org]
  • Where's the link to download a torrent of the CD? I downloaded the iso from their servers but I would rather download by torrent.

You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish. You can tune a filesystem, but you can't tuna fish. -- from the tunefs(8) man page

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