On the DVD

On the DVD

Article from Issue 244/2021

FreeBSD 12.2 and GhostBSD

So you think you know open source? Just the fact that you are reading this page means that what you probably know is Linux. This month, the DVD provides a glimpse into another corner of open source – the world of BSD. Like Linux, BSD varieties are free operating systems that are Unix descendants. However, they are released under the permissive BSD licenses rather than the copyleft licenses that dominate Linux. You will also find many other differences, despite the similar underlying structures.

FreeBSD 12.2 (64-bit)

First released in 1992, FreeBSD is the most popular version of BSD, especially for servers. Those coming from Linux will find many details different, such as the device naming system, as well as many commands and applications. More importantly, FreeBSD has never passed through a popularity phase like the one that drove Linux to develop mature desktop environments – although some mature BSD environments are available today. Instead, FreeBSD more resembles Linux in its hobbyist days. For instance, FreeBSD's install is a text-based series of questions with no hardware auto-detection. Furthermore, no desktop environment is installed, although users can add one later.

FreeBSD's assumption is that users have the knowledge or interest to work with FreeBSD until their systems are configured to their liking. Installation is unlikely to produce a working desktop system in 15 minutes. Instead, users should be ready to refer repeatedly to the FreeBSD documentation (https://www.freebsd.org/docs.html) and to fetch desired applications from websites. The reward for this effort will be greater knowledge of Unix-like systems – as well as the satisfaction that comes with doing it yourself.

GhostBSD (64-bit)

An off-shoot of TrueOS, GhostBSD is a prominent attempt to make FreeBSD more accessible to new users. GhostBSD's installer is graphical, like modern Linux installers, offering more choices for users and installing the MATE desktop with a minimum of effort. The default install also includes many familiar applications like LibreOffice, Firefox, and GTK technologies such as Rhythmbox and Shotwell.

More importantly, GhostBSD supports users with an installation forum (https://forums.ghostbsd.org/viewforum.php?f=59) and its still-in-development installation guide (https://wiki.ghostbsd.org/index.php/Installation_Guide). The project's web page also includes portions of the directory tree for those who wish to study it.

GhostBSD is suitable for those who want to explore FreeBSD, but want to spend less time on installation. Most of what you learn from exploring GhostBSD specifically should apply to FreeBSD in general.

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