Welcome to LinuxQuestions.org, a friendly and active Linux Community.
You are currently viewing LQ as a guest. By joining our community you will have the ability to post topics, receive our newsletter, use the advanced search, subscribe to threads and access many other special features. Registration is quick, simple and absolutely free. Join our community today!
Note that registered members see fewer ads, and ContentLink is completely disabled once you log in.
This is an excellent and very stable release of the 6.x branch of FreeBSD. It's clean and consistent.
Granted, I would NOT recommend using this version at this time. You should go with at least 6.3. Not only would it be hard to find a copy of this release but if you installed it with X11, you would be faced with either upgrading to X.org manually -- I did this and it's not fun -- or doing a clean install of 6.3+ anyway.
I have used NetBSD for several years, almost always in areas where I need high reliability. Although, I have used it for workstations as well. The installation of the original system is very straight forward and simple if you know what you are doing. But at the same time, it is also very powerful if you want or need to do things outside the standard procedure.
The biggest pro in my book has to be portability. This is probably an under-appreciated ability for most users. But having systems that are consistent across hardware platforms can be a life-saver.
My network was being routed by an old SPARCstation 10. A little machine with 2x40Mhz chips (yes that's forty and not a typo). It has a decent amount of RAM and all but it's certainly an old machine. It routed the network traffic and offered services (named, dhcpd, firewall) without a problem and had cycles to spare even under the heaviest loads so replacing it wasn't a priority.
I was able to forget about this machine until one of the power-supply fans started to fail. I didn't want this machine to die (the power-supply provides cooling across the entire machine) so I needed to replace it until I could look into replacing the fan.
Because of the consistent OS across hardware platforms, I was able to do a fresh install on a spare i386 machine, copy over the configuration files (changing device names in one file) and fire up a replacement. The total downtime for the provided services was under a minute and the install/configuration of the replacement machine took less than 20 minutes. Yes, that's from booting the machine with the install disk until it was providing all the services of its predecessor.
The ability to do something like that may not seem important until you need it. And with NetBSD, I am not limited to a hardware solution. If I found a better or cheaper hardware replacement I would not have to redo my entire setup as long as NetBSD ran on it. And that's likely considering how many systems it supports.
My own personal opinion is that this is a great release for a great operating system. But I have been known to be biased at times. I think the best review came from my step-mother.
Long ago I converted her computer to FreeBSD for various reasons. One of which was that she wanted to try it out -- even though she is computer illiterate. I am able to maintain and upgrade it from my house and without her even knowing about it. Which is fantastic and one reason that command line system administration is the way to go if possible.
Anyway, a month ago her hard drive failed. My father quickly swapped it for a new drive and threw "another" OS on it. This was the middle of the week so my father told her not to bother me until the weekend. But within 24 hours she was on the phone begging me to put FreeBSD back on her computer.
She had just gotten so used to it "just working" that the change was too much for her. And, as horrible as it is for a user to be unable to adapt, that speaks loads for the stability and consistent nature of the OS. It has been upgraded through several revisions (even major versions) and she was still able to get used to a consistent environment.
Note: she did get it back (and all her files too) and is happy as a clam now. The only problem I have is that she's become a vocal advocate for it and is trying to convert her friends and I'm not interested in supporting them through the initial learning curve.
I used this product on my old laptop since January. It made a fine system although it was minimal. I never bothered to build KDE or other massive programs. I did have openoffice for typing things for school.
One thing I list as positive is the build system because of how wonderful it is. I loved being able to build the entire release from another system (and with one command). One reason this was important to me was that the laptop was underpowered and the chip for sound in my Thinkpad needed a non-standard hack to work well. I could apply the patch and then build my own release CD with ease. So upgrading to 3.0 from the earlier system was painless and I didn't have to lose sound during the process.
Again, I can't help but mention how painless upgrading NetBSD can be. Once you have an installation in place, keeping it up to date it very easy. That's especially true if you're comfortable building from source but even if you're not, you just need to wait for the next formal release and use the install CD and it will upgrade everything without affecting your setup.
One negative is that you should be very comfortable with the command line. The system has an admin tool called "sushi" which is menu based (command line still) but I find it to be more of a hinderance than a help. In almost every case you will find it easier to do something from the command line.
Also, you will likely need to use pkgsrc to get what many people consider 'essential' utilities. NetBSD does not come with bash (or tcsh) or vim. It does come with other shells and nvi -- so you won't be completely in the dark but if you depend on certain functionality you may need to install the programs you are used to.
Still, for all the work at the command line you benefit a lot. My router could fit comfortably on a 2 gig disk (and make it look empty). It is stable to the point where you almost forget it is there. And it makes good use of system resources -- getting out of the way and making them available to what you are actually working on.
I am trying to remember when exactly I installed this product but can't seem to remember exactly when that was. I installed it as an upgrade to NetBSD 1.6.2, which had been serving as the backbone of my network before. I mention that it is forgettable in the positive aspects because it really is a positive point. Since I have installed NetBSD on my router (dhcp server, name server, NAT, firewall, etc), it has been almost a chore to remember the computer exists. It has been weeks, if not months, before I remember that it is sitting there. The last time I paid attention to it was after a long power-outage when I needed to walk over to it and power it back up. I don't even know if rock solid goes far enough in describing the stability and service this operating system provides.
The system is very clean with a minimal amount of programs installed at boot and almost nothing running in the base install. Which leads to some of the points which could bother many users. It does not set up much of anything for you. The installation is text based and bare-bones.
Once the system is installed you have to configure everything you want. You also need to install any programs you desire to use (they have a package system to make this fairly simple). But there is no selection in the install which leaves you with a perfect desktop system on the first boot. Of course, that is mainly because it is not the objective of the project to make the perfect desktop.
If you desire one, you could set up a very nice desktop with NetBSD but it will be a little more work than some of the Linux Distributions out there.
Personally, I think NetBSD is an ideal system... especially for what I am using it for. The upgrade was perfect (it left all my old configuration intact so the system came back up running like it was before ... just upgraded)... and I have nothing more to really add. I'm very pleased with NetBSD 2.0.
I upgraded about two weeks after this product came out. I wanted to make sure it was going to be stable enough for me. I use my desktop as my only computer and having this fail was not an option. 5.2.1 had given me some issues with the Nvidia driver and kernel panics so I was a little hesistent.
There was nothing to be concerned about. I haven't had any issues at all with it and am very pleased. The only times I have needed to reboot was after installing some security patches to the kernel.
Which brings me to the benefits of FreeBSD. Extremely easy upgrading from source. Patches are a breeze when you track the source repository. And the package system is awesome. The majority of my programs are up to date almost all the time.
The system is very reliable and easy to learn. I have heard some people have issues with performance on their computers. Oddly all of these people have been using hardware far beyond the capabilities of my current system and I haven't noticed the same thing. I just mention that as a heads up.
Now... I'm about the shutdown this computer for the 6th time since I installed this version. Not because there is any software need to... but this keyboard is dying... (proof that the computer gets a lot of use and doesn't just sit here) and I am going to replace it.
OpenBSD aims to be a very secure operating system. It audits all its code and even the code that it doesn't directly manage. This is an excellent OS for creating a firewall or router. It is also very usable as a desktop machine -- although I don't use it as such.
Like NetBSD this also has a text install. This install is not very friendly but seems to work a lot more reliably than the NetBSD version. Once the install is done you will want to do some configuration of the machine to get it like you want.
This is very well documented and offers a lot of features. Version 3.5 introduced CARP... which is a redundancy protocol that allows two computers to share an ip address, load, etc. If one machine goes down the other one takes over with no indication to the end users. This feature is very cool... although I doubt many home users will find a need for it (OpenBSD doesn't really market itself for home users or the desktop -- although it is great for those as well).
This is a very full featured and well built product. If I hadn't found FreeBSD first this would probably be my main OS.
I like NetBSD a lot. But it is not fun to install.
The first problem I have always had is dealing with drives. In the past it always... and I mean ALWAYS... got the geometry wrong. In the recent releases I have not had that problem but that doesn't mean the disks just work. fdisk is fun to run... I really doubt a person completely new to the BSD family would have any idea how to use it. Of course, if you select "use the whole disk" you can avoid that. Then again, the one time you can't avoid it (dual booting) also happens to be the time when you really can't afford to mess up your partition table.
After you get your main slice (bsd talk for partition to the rest of the world) you get to edit your partitions with disklabel. Partitions here are inside the slice... any BSD faq will explain this. It is wise to accept the defaults. Why? Because I have NEVER gotten the NetBSD disklabel program to not barf out an error when I edited my own partition table. You CAN ignore this error if you are sure of what you are doing... but it is scary.
Once you get everything installed, this is a very stable and good operating system. You will want to install bash and some other shells as the default ones are not very user friendly. Add some user accounts, download some packages, and you are set. Most configuration will be done after you install during your first boot -- read "man afterboot" to see what it recommends.
This -- for all my complaints -- is a very clean and well designed operating system. I use it as a router, dhcp server, name server, firewall, etc. Mainly because it offers kernel PPPoE which is nice. It also happens to be extremely portable and the code is clean and well commented.
This is probably the hardest BSD to install and setup but it is worth the effort.
I downloaded this iso after seeing a comment on it. I had little success with the live cd that comes with FreeBSD in the past (in all fairness that was two Major releases ago) and wondered if things had changed.
EDIT: This CD does not come with FreeBSD and is not part of the distribution of that operating system. It is a seperate project. I still have not tried the current live cd for FreeBSD.
The cd boots and runs through the process very smoothly. Although, the last two steps of the booting process are dedicated to selecting your keyboard layout and language. This is understandable -- there is no easy way to guess this from the hardware -- but not desirable in my opinion. The next snafu was that I had static ip addresses in the house. I had to follow several instructions to kill dhclient and then manually setup the network. This was not unfamiliar to me but also fell short of no-configuration.
Later, I turned my DHCP server back on and this network setup breezed right on through. Except for the keyboard, this CD almost does meet the no configuration goal on a network with DHCP. I started X and was suprized to see a colorful screen with many applications to choose from. This distro used xfce -- which just happens to be my window manager of choice -- so I was very at home.
Sound was setup and in no time at all I was streaming some Grateful Dead into xmms and surfing the web. Everything worked wonderfully.
Some other minor issues. Apparently the iso had all the menus in Italian... I might have downloaded the wrong image but that was the only one on the main site. The menus aren't something I even looked at until many hours of playing around. I never got my usb printer (Lexmark) to work with cups. First, the online configuration tool doesn't like blank passwords... and even after I fixed that the program still rejected my input. After much trying I discovered that I didn't even have the correct .ppd file and gave up. It wasn't important just trying out the limits of the disk.
Overall I was very pleasantly suprized. I have found a new tool to show the power of *nix to all my friends who don't want to try it for fear of breaking windows. But this is more than something you use just to show the possibilities... it was very usable in and of itself. If you can't install *nix on a computer but you want to use it... this is a good option. I hope that those few issues are fixed in a future release.
I would also like to note: Users of FreeBSD can create a custom release and avoid all the pitfalls I mentioned -- it's in the ports tree. Although rolling-your-own is beyond the scope of this review nor would it be available to those who would benefit most from this distro.
I am a FreeBSD user... but in the long long ago... the before-time... I ran Slackware.
I had a spare computer and it seemed to be crying out for something different. And, to be honest, I missed Slackware. I downloaded the isos for 9.1 and installed them. It went just like I remembered it. And it is hard to dislike such a streamlined install. Even though it expect you to know what needs to be done.
It is now running. Personally, I like that it defaults to INIT3 and not 5 (GUI). That is what I prefer. But it isn't hard to change that (inittab) if you want the graphical startup.
This distro probably isn't for someone moving right from windows to the Linux world without assistence. But it is still very nice and I would recommend it to anyone.