[talk] Project Trident vs. GhostBSD

Charles Sprickman spork at bway.net
Mon Sep 23 03:17:12 EDT 2019

I’m going to top-post here, apologies.

So basically, the input I got here was from George, with “try OpenBSD” which is helpful because I had no idea OpenBSD now has a binary upgrade option. This is important to me - I do not want to compile anything other than some oddball small stuff that can’t be found in the package repo. I just wanted to try an open source desktop option and I’m really not ready to wade into the unending options that Linux has.

So on the George/Open BSD front, I will be trying it, more on that later.

Brian’s input was similar. The idea of touching an X config file again does fill me with dread - I lost my taste for conquering that stuff long ago and honestly thought by this point in time we’d be beyond X, but nope. I’ll also take a stab at a vanilla FreeBSD install, going to attempt to make that pkg-only.

Some things I found out:

- I don’t have a Core2Duo, turns out I already took that to recycling. What I have is my last hackintosh which is an i3 with a discrete (but cheap) NVidia card.

- What started this is a pile of questionable drives a client dumped on me that all needed to be hit with DBAN, checked with smartmontools, then sorted into bad, good but useless, or good and usable, and I needed a generic “real” PC to boot DBAN and that when I started digging for old hardware

- The above process left me with two working 600GB 10K “VelociRaptor” drives that are not SSD fast, but pretty fast - dual booting for testing is just booting one drive or another so I don’t have to think about fancy bootloaders or breaking my “good” install

- This mainboard sucks for booting USB flash drives and seems very picky about bootable USB media, including being able to totally lock the PC up (power cycle required) with both the GhostBSD and Project Trident images, and this is a problem I didn’t solve (directly…)

- I do still have a stack of blank DVDs (but no blank CDs apparently), and that boot method is reliable (except for the one bad burn that left the dang DVD drive looping on a block it couldn’t read on the Trident DVD for about 4 hours, leading to a very toasty DVD drive)

- My stock of optical media drives is really low, where did they all go?

- Any bootable media problems are extremely time-consuming and I wish we’d standardized on some kind of netboot scheme for this stuff, I lost hours and it was not a learning experience

Anyhow, my verdict for now is that Project Trident is pretty good, and GhostBSD is a close second. My criteria was basically “do I get all the modern cool stuff like ZFS?” and “Do I get a fairly lightweight desktop environment that requires zero configuration?”. I did not touch a config file with either, but Trident won in that it picked the right combo to get me accelerated graphics. GhostBSD got me full resolution, but video playback was a slideshow. I also kind of like that out of the box Trident gives you either a really minimal option (I think xfce?) or their own “Lumina” desktop environment which seems pretty svelte. GhostBSD has Mate, which is apparently an older version of Gnome and I’m not a fan. There’s another option, but it was not obvious to me how to switch (Tridnet gives you the option at login).

Trident allowed me to add Firefox and Chromium with no issues, video playback “just worked”, as did sound. The GUI pkg manager is fine for exploring and if you dip into the command line and do “pkg install somepkg” it’s all the same. There are some minimal GUI tools for firewall and service config. OpenRC is used, not really a fan (I mean, I’m running freebsd and I have to google how to enable sshd at startup?). Oh, also not sure if this is a FreeBSD 12 thing or a TrueOS thing or a Trident thing, but swap gets encrypted out of the box which was unexpected.

Anyhow that’s my jumbled story of getting a BSD desktop for my garage workshop going. I’m staying with Trident for now, but I’ve made it easy for myself to look at other options by having a spare drive mounted in the case.

Oh, also my PSU was dead, scavenged this hilarity from an old P4-era 1U supermicro box that somehow escaped e-waste recycling:


(I now have a proper PSU in there, but I also have 3 SATA cables and a power cable leaking out one of the card slots so I don’t have to open the case when I need to pop a few drives in for some oddball task)

I’ll also note I didn’t loathe PC-BSD - the whole “this package includes what you want to run plus all the dependencies” was both crazy and practical. :)

Thanks all,


> On Sep 9, 2019, at 9:30 PM, George Rosamond <george at ceetonetechnology.com> wrote:
> Charles Sprickman:
>> Hi all,
>> The closest I’ve come to desktop *nix that’s not OS-X for the last decade is occasionally peeking at a random Linux distro in vmware fusion…
>> I’ve got enough spare junk around to put together a Core2Duo desktop (8GB RAM, Nvidia 7500-series video) with a decent monitor in my workshop area. I have so little desire to learn Linux systemd stuff at this point, so I thought I’d check in to see what happened to PC-BSD (it’s dead, it seems).
>> My very brief Googling suggests that “Project Trident” and “GhostBSD” are the two FreeBSD-based desktop options out there.
>> Any feelings on either? I want simple, all binary packages (do NOT want to build Chrome or the latest CLANG on a Core2Duo), and that’s about it. Both seem to offer non-KDE, non-Gnome desktops so they both win there. I think easy and up to date package management that does not require futzing with dependencies too much is way up there too.
>> I’ll throw this in too, since I spend a fair amount of time in vmware, which open source option for virtualization of windows is preferred these days? I’ll probably wedge a Win 7 VM on there because I’ll at some point need some weird piece of windows-only hobbyist software…
>> Any advice appreciated!
> Hey Spork...
> I don't follow the *BSD desktop stuff and didn't give the time to PC-BSD
> that it probably deserved, but I feel like the old era of bad binary
> packages in far in the past overall.
> PC-BSD is now TrueOS https://www.trueos.org/...
> With OpenBSD it's all so simple, and I think it's the same with FreeBSD
> at least. The old days of needing to use ports on FreeBSD to get what
> you want seem to be far over.
> Binary packages have always been the preferred method for OpenBSD users,
> and they always just seem to work.  And as of recently, there are now
> binary packages for OpenBSD -stable for at least amd64 and i386:
> https://ftp4.usa.openbsd.org/pub/OpenBSD/6.5/packages/
> Tools like sysupgrade and syspatch also eliminate another need for
> keeping the source local and using patch(1).
> And not using some repackaged BSD distro means sticking with strong
> project support.
> I know it's not necessarily "parent-friendly", but dealing with dangling
> files is simple enough.
> You can dump your core packages with "pkg_info -m", delete all the
> packages, then just readd the package from the output of `-m`.
> I really can't imagine things being any easier than today with binary
> packages.
> The one thing I do wish for which is a wip in my ports tree is a
> stripped down xfce. Custom packages are nice, but aren't really in the
> vein of what you're talking about either. And the default package
> configs address what I think you're seeking...
> When it comes to vmware, etc, I have no thoughts or comments!
> Not sure if this even approaches your query, but thought I'd give you my
> $0.02.
> g
> _______________________________________________
> talk mailing list
> talk at lists.nycbug.org
> http://lists.nycbug.org:8080/mailman/listinfo/talk

More information about the talk mailing list