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djberg96 (2603)

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Journal of djberg96 (2603)

Tuesday June 29, 2004
03:24 AM

Thoughts on FreeBSD

[ #19567 ]
Last year I installed FreeBSD 4.9 on my laptop as part of a dual-boot setup (with Windows XP Home on the other half). Here are some thoughts, keeping in mind that I haven't played with it too heavily:

The Good

  • Fast - I've run various I/O benchmarks of my own on Solaris, FreeBSD, Linux, HP-UX and Windows. FreeBSD always seems to get the best performance, and the filesystem just *feels* fast in general.
  • Secure - more so than Windows and even Linux (based on Security Focus and user comments in general)

The Bad

  • Installation - Ugh. If a FreeBSD expert hadn't been sitting *right next to me* the whole time, I never would have gotten this thing installed.
  • Unable to write to NTFS - Yep, it's read only. Pain in the arse.
  • Despite RTFM, I can't get my (definitely supported) wireless card to work.

The Strange

  • Ports - Feels like a weird halfway point between building from source and, say, Solaris packages. There do appear to be packages, too, and I've used those when I can. Maybe I just need to get used to it.
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  • I'm surprised you found the installation so bad. It's not graphical or anything, but frankly, I found it to be very simple and straightforward (you want a bad installer try NetBSD!). Did you do a standard install or jump to expert? Not that I'm a freebsd guru or anything, but standard installs have always worked well for me.

    Keep playing with the ports system. I was a skeptic at first, and they are a strong reason that I stay with FreeBSD now. They make life SO easy for me.

    Good luck! :)
    • Did you do a standard install or jump to expert?

      To tell you the truth, I don't remember. All I remember is a lot of manual tweaking, and the FreeBSD expert going "hmmm..." a lot. It took a long time to get it going (a couple hours iirc).

    • What sucks about the NetBSD installer?
      I've run into the occasional bug, but they were usually
      just polish issues.
  • Maybe it's just the way my brain works, but I like the ports system much more than Debian's apt and friends (never could find an intuitive way to navigate) or Redhat's rats-nest of RPMs. I'm especially fond of having pkg-descr and pkg-plist as text files sitting on my file system.

    There are drawbacks, of course. Every few months there's a new case of "you must upgrade these ports in exactly the right order, or everything goes boom." Gnome, mostly. And I was less fond of ports a few CPU generations back.