[nycbug-talk] current FreeBSD Advocacy thread

G. Rosamond george
Fri Mar 5 22:34:48 EST 2004

There's been an interesting (but often very tangental) discussion on
FreeBSD's Advocacy list about a 'want list' that aims to expand the
usability and audience of FreeBSD.  It's obviously not just a FreeBSD
discussion, but more generally applicable.

It's understood that the BSD family is not aiming to replace Win32 on
the desktop; that's never been any of the projects' goals.  You want BSD
on the desktop?  Try OS X.

One of the early comments was regarding installers.  Certainly, it's an
often referred to issue for many outside of the BSD world, but it seems
rather silly to have a problem with NetBSD or FreeBSD's installers.  And
I think it's clear that the OpenBSD project isn't interested in catering
to those even unfamiliar with disk partitions.  ;-)

However, this seems a bit strange to me.  I've watched the changes in
the FreeBSD installer for years now, and while it's not a graphical user
interface, it's as clear as day and very straight-forward.  Not to
mention the improved clarity if one actually makes an attempt to browse
the FreeBSD Handbook.  Although I'm clearly biased about it, it's *got*
to be easier than RedHat Linux's installer, at least if you *know* what
you want to build with the install.

Until a few months ago, I literally hadn't installed RedHat since 1998.
When I tried it out again, I found it a bit overwhelming.  I wanted to
setup a box, not grind coffee, churn butter and take out the laundry.
There was too much in the install to the point that I wasn't sure if I
was going to have a box on the reboot or a housekeeper.

It seems clear to me that an installer doesn't have to be a gui to be
easy to use.

Other issues included the availability of desktop applications.  Maybe
the querying party doesn't know that the BSD's often run Linux apps
quite well, but it seems to me the real point they are trying to make
with both comments is that none of the BSD's provide a simple, fully
constructed workstation or desktop without the tinkering and knowledge
of the various packages.



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