September 12, 2007

The BSD for Everyone

Filed under: bsd,thetao — SiKing @ 10:42 am

Up next: MidnightBSD, version 0.1.

First impressions: last stable version (as of this writing) is 0.1-RELEASE (zero-dot-one), some documentation, a FreeBSD fork, no torrents available, download mirrors, like the sound of their direction.

The installer

This being a beta release (at least that is how I interpret zero-dot-something versions), add to that the warning on their website “currently installation is too difficult for beginners”, I was going into this not expecting much. However, I was very pleasantly surprised!

The install CD boots up, auto-detects everything it needs, and comes up with sysinstall. The installer is semi-interactive: asks you a few questions, does some work, asks you some more, … It also has plenty of suggestions and reasonable defaults, including a default disk layout. From the available “distributions”, I chose X-User. To format the disks and install the system took surprisingly little time. Configuring the system was a separate step. Basically a series of questions of type “do you want to bother with this”, followed by “what do you want to do with it”. I got through enough of it to have the machine connected to the outside world.

Package management

MidnightBSD has the FreeBSD standard Ports, managed through the command line. It does mention there are over 13,300 MidnightBSD ports available.

Software support

The base installation does not come with a window manager – not counting twm. In the package selection I could not find KDE anywhere. Although I did find something about GNOME support utilities, I could not find GNOME itself. The manager that I attempted to install was the only available choice: WindowMaker. Unfortunately, I am not familiar enough with the workings to be able to get any of these configured and working automatically.

After this step, I did not bother struggling through anymore.

So far going through this BSD evaluation, I am slowly finding out that without a graphical interface and wizards guiding me along, I am actually quite incompetent. Damn you Microsoft!

Final thoughts: This version is not going on my desktop (work or home), but I will be definitely keeping an eye out for future developments.


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