Smells Like Unix Spirit

Spending a few days with Fedora Linux 23 Workstation (custom setup with the Xfce desktop and basic development tools), I again felt I need to go back to FreeBSD. Fedora is a great GNU/Linux distribution, always pushing forward with new technologies in the open-source community. I especially like how it promotes software for everyday tasks (recent article on Shotwell – a photo browsing app) and proves that GNU/Linux operating systems are completely viable in work and entertainment. The focus on developers is but an added incentive. However, for my everyday tasks I need a perfectly sane, stable platform, absolutely devoid of bells and whistles and user-friendly configurations. Hence, the return to FreeBSD.

I am very picky about operating systems, but somewhat undemanding when it comes to features. I am perfectly fine with only a single browser choice (though FreeBSD lets me use either Chrome/Chromium or Firefox), I don’t use Flash altogether and for most writing/text editing/coding, extremely simple editors like Geany or Emacs. To top it off, an old-school desktop environment, such as Xfce or Mate. All of this is naturally available on FreeBSD, nicely bundled for easy installation into packages or for compilation through the Ports system. Granted, a few things could be less troublesome to handle:

  • support for Linux filesystems, namely ext4 and xfs. ext4 can be read through a fusefs module, though xfs surprisingly only has monitoring and management tools available.
  • support for graphics; I like nVidia for its great support of Unices, but AMD even more for their involvement in open-source software development. Therefore, it pains me that the Radeon drivers are only partially working. Thankfully, for now to a sufficient extent.
  • general recognition; Sometimes I feel extremely alienated when I tell people I’m using an operating system neither them nor 100+ of their Facebook friends ever heard of. Especially, since many of the big software companies like Yahoo, Google and Sony use FreeBSD for mission-critical tasks. I guess the only way to change the situation is to educate.

Nevertheless, I feel FreeBSD is exactly what I should be using. It IS Unix and not merely Unix-like. It follows sane system management principles (device naming, directory structure, etc.), good development practices and sports extremely mature organization. Not to mention how incredibly solid it is!

Food for thought to everyone. If you are looking for a Windows alternative that is solid, virtually virus-free and mature, FreeBSD is a great choice! Be warned however, it is NOT for the faint of heart. Although fainter offshoots like PC-BSD, DesktopBSD and GhostBSD are available.

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6 thoughts on “Smells Like Unix Spirit

  1. My main OS is FreeBSD, I use it since version 5.3, mostly on Thinkpads.
    But I have in addition a computer for things I do not want on my FreeBSD-machines or that do not run on FreeBSD, it runs openSUSE.
    Some days ago I take a mistake, I buy a GDI-Printer. 😦
    Ok, all I need is now really running on FreeBSD, so I have deleted the Linux-OS and have installed Windows 7.
    So now I have some FreeBSD-computers and one with Windows 7, I think this is now the best solution for me.

    Nice blog, best regards.
    Ivo

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    • Thank you for the kind comment :). I too run Windows 7, though only at work. At home I switched to openSUSE some days ago, because it was just easier to set up and get my laptop peripherals working. As a server or desktop OS I think FreeBSD is fantastic :).

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      • That’s right, in principle openSUSE is the better solution than Windows, but some hardware-bound progs still run just only on Windows or Mac – unfortunately.
        I tested openSUSE Tumbleweed and Leap, both run very well, but Tumbleweed is a rolling release and therefore somewhat unstable.
        Take Leap that is rock solid.
        By the way, now I think that if Linux then openSUSE.

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      • I think the stable/unstable is always more of an opinion thing than anything else. I’ve been a fan of Arch Linux and Fedora for quite a while and nothing ever broke, unless it involved third-party drivers not supplied by the kernel. No one’s at fault :). However, I too am starting to appreciate openSUSE more and more. I’ll do a write-up on it, once I’m finished with GNOME3 :).

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