FreeBSD advice for Linux users, take two

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by Gullible Jones, Apr 14, 2015.

  1. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    The most important thing is this: Read the latest FreeBSD guide. Put it on your Kindle. Read it during your free time. Read it before you go to sleep. Use it as reference manual. When in doubt, refer to it.

    I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I've found that as a Linux user I've gotten used to figuring stuff out as I go along, trawling the web for resources, etc. Linux's userspace is pretty ad-hoc and fragmented, so Googling is often more productive than RTMing.

    Don't do this with FreeBSD unless you can't find stuff in the guide. If you can't for the life of you find it on Google, then it's probably documented in the guide. FreeBSD is just different enough from Linux to confuse the heck out of an experienced Linux user; but it's also really, really well documented. If you use the documentation, you'll love this OS. If you do not use the documentation, you will be lost.
     
  2. oliverjia

    oliverjia Registered Member

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    For a non-programmer, regular desktop user, would FreeBSD bring advantages to the user over Linux?
    I have been using Ubuntu on and off for 9 years, so am just curious what would I gain by switching to BSD.
     
  3. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    Hmm, probably depends on one's skill level and hardware setup. And what one is doing with the hardware.

    Performance on old hardware is much better for FreeBSD, at least as of FreeBSD 10.1 vs. Linux 3.9.x. Driver support for new hardware is better on Linux.

    FreeBSD boots slower on SSDs and faster on spinning disks, which is basically the opposite of Linux behavior.

    A lot of proprietary software only has versions for Linux, but not BSD. I'm not yet sure how well Linux compatibility works.

    3D driver support on BSD seems to be bad across the board. 2D performance is very obviously better than Linux, though, at least on my aging Intel chipset laptops.

    Sound support on FreeBSD is as good as on Linux, if not better.

    Desktop stuff, hmm. Suspend works okay on BSD for my laptops. Mounting stuff via HAL/DBUS, on the other hand, is very dodgy; manual mounting (with devfs permissions and vfs.usermount=1) seems to be preferable. This is done on the command line, but could just as easily be done with customized desktop icons.

    Some software designed for Linux has issues building on BSD with the default makefiles. This might be because FreeBSD uses LLVM/Clang now instead of GCC. Note that GNU make is 'gmake' on BSD, not 'make'.

    Security... well, it's more obscure than Linux, otherwise it has mostly the same advantages. Memory protection for userspace may be somewhat less advanced, but the history of kernel vulnerabilities is better.

    Virtualization: FreeBSD works as a Virtualbox host, and also now has a legacy-free (hardware) hypervisor called bhyve, a la Linux's KVM.

    Out-of-the-box setup lags far behind Linux; FreeBSD is like Arch Linux in terms of setup, though much more stable. Getting a desktop system up and running (manually) takes about an hour all told. It would be easy to script this though. There is a desktop FreeBSD spin, PC-BSD, but I've had only terrible experiences with it thus far.

    All in all... If you're happy with Linux, and don't like dealing with the command shell, I'd say there's probably not much to gain. OTOH, if you're interested, you could always try it in a Virtualbox VM or such...
     
  4. oliverjia

    oliverjia Registered Member

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    Thank so much G J, for your detailed explanation. Sounds like the BSD flavor is not very noob-friendly for a regular desktop user. Guess I'll stay with Linux for now.

    Regards,
    oliverjia
     
  5. J_L

    J_L Registered Member

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    RTFM isn't really an acceptable answer for everything though. Although most were nice enough to point out where in the manual I should read, some just say that when I asked for PC-BSD support...

    I've had an OK experience with FreeBSD without too much terminal thanks to PC-BSD, but no big advantage to install it on one of my main machines.

    I could try replacing Puppy Linux Tahrpup on my ancient Asus Eee PC 4G, but would the hardware be supported and speedier in any way?
     
  6. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    @J_L

    Maybe it could be better stated as, "Prospective FreeBSD users should start reading the manual before installing the OS, even if they are already experienced with Linux."

    Re the EeePC: Not sure, but I'm going to guess not. The set of performance bottlenecks on an EeePC with a tiny SSD are going to be different from, say, the circa 2007 Pentium D laptop I'm using now.
     
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