View Full Version : PC-BSD vs Desktop-BSD
April 8th, 2009, 16:25
I am new to BSD OS, but wanted to give it a try. I have heard of the two variations and think they might be a good starting place for me. Any comments about that? Also, does anybody know what the differences are? I have been to the respective websites, but am unable to tell much of a difference.
April 8th, 2009, 17:57
Starting with either PC-BSD or DesktopBSD is fine. As far as I can tell, there isn't much of a difference between the two. With either, you can have a GUI-based desktop in a few minutes with no hacking required. They both take away some of the learning curve that newbies to FreeBSD experience.
However, taking away the learning curve also takes away the "learning."
April 8th, 2009, 18:03
I believe the basic difference is that PC-BSD has pre-compiled packages called PBIs that you double click and they install. Kind of like Microsoft MSIs.
DesktopBSD has a graphical installer and some scripts for improving some of the Desktop stuff like usb mounting. But otherwise DesktopBSD does everything like FreeBSD.
April 8th, 2009, 18:19
PC-BSD has pre-compiled packages called PBIs
Along that train of thought, does anyone know if you can use ports and packages with DesktopBSD/PC-BSD? I would hate to see people new to BSD locked in to using PBIs.
April 8th, 2009, 18:25
You can use ports and packages with PC-BSD, but I think it discourged as you could make a mess.
DesktopBSD doesn't have any other system other than ports and packages. DesktopBSD is basically and GUI installer that installs a KDE desktop, otherwise it straight FreeBSD.
April 8th, 2009, 18:38
Why not to FreeBSD before trying any of them?
April 8th, 2009, 18:50
PC-BSD feels a bit like a FreeBSD "distro", while DesktopBSD is just a GUI installer plus tools for FreeBSD. Also, PC-BSD seems to have more active development.
I think the biggest outward difference from a casual perspective, is that PC-BSD packages software differently. Although ports are available, PC-BSD pushes PBI package. These are self contained packages containing all dependencies. It gets away from traditional package management, and is closer to Mac OSX in feel. You simply download a Firefox PBI, for example, double click on it to install, and you're done. Whether that's a good system or not is a matter of personal preference.
April 8th, 2009, 20:58
The other thing I would like to do is put this onto a USB stick to test. I have an 8 gig stick, so should be large enough to do the testing. Would that preclude any of these? Sounds almost like I would do well to just use FreeBSD instead of the others.
April 8th, 2009, 23:59
I've been using PCBSD for years and love it. The latest version (7.1 RC1) is amazing with KDE 4.2.1. I have a very old Gateway (~8 yrs) that was an absolute pig with XP, a lot better on FBSD 6.3/KDE 3.5.8, but is considerably faster and in general more stable with the latest PCBSD. I highly recommend it.
I routinely mix applications installed from PBI and ports/packages with no problems. You simply have to be aware of the differences and keep things separate. You wouldn't just willy nilly do portupgrade -arR for example. The PBIs just install a package into a different, self contained directory along with all the libraries and such required for the PBI apps you've installed, so that they're independent of other packages on the system. However, I'm don't think the base KDE stuff is handled this way, so you have to be aware of what you're upgrading and such. Also the kernel is slightly customized.
But basically to replicate all that PCBSD gives you, with a preconfigured firewall and other niceties, would take the better part of a few solid days to install by hand which is after all the reason for PCBSD. If you've ever tried to configure X, and KDE, and all, you know what a bear it can be. Just something simple like getting the keyboard to default to numlock on at boot is a pain.
Nothing says you have to use the PBI system, but it's a real convenience for things like Firefox or OpenOffice (literally takes only 30 seconds). Installing a PBI is about as dumbass simple as it gets - no fuss, no muss, as is updating them. There are some apps either not yet available as PBIs, or not suitable, in which case you simply install by ports/packages. You can have your cake and eat it too!
I tried Desktop BSD, but it's a very small project run basically by one guy in Germany and there's very little activity, not to mention they are way behind in the curve using the latest FBSD and KDE. I had a problem with DTBSD and posted a question on their forum and got no response at all. The PCBSD community is very active and I've never had any problem getting a question answered in short order.
PCBSD is owned by IX Systems which has the intent of distributing it much like Ubuntu, so they funnel some money into the project. I don't care much for Ubuntu, or Linux, though I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here.
April 9th, 2009, 17:25
Thanks Dejamuse. That was helpful. In fact, I installed the PDBSD onto my 16gig flash drive and it worked just fine. Now I have to start playing. BTW, I tried to register on the desktopBSD forum, but they must have a problem with the site, as it never sent the validation email, so I could not register. Seems like after a few days someone would notice. More evidence that there is not much happening there.
April 9th, 2009, 21:36
The other thing I would like to do is put this onto a USB stick to test. I have an 8 gig stick, so should be large enough to do the testing. Would that preclude any of these?
Installing to a USB stick works quite nicely. So long as your BIOS supports booting from Mass Storage Devices, then the install is no different from a harddrive install. Just use da0 as the install drive.
My home fileserver/workstation uses a 2 GB USB stick for the / and /usr filesystems. The rest (/usr/src, /usr/obj, /usr/ports, /usr/local, /var, /home, and so forth) are ZFS filesystems.
One of our mega-storage servers at work uses 2x 2 GB USB sticks (RAID1 using gmirror) for / and /usr. Another one uses 2x CompactFlash in IDE adapters (RAID1 using gmirror) for / and /usr. All the rest is ZFS.
If you can boot off it, and the kernel detects it as an ATA, ATAPI, or SCSI device (USB 'looks like' SCSI), then you can install to it. :)
Sounds almost like I would do well to just use FreeBSD instead of the others.
Depends on what you want to do with the system, how much you want to learn about the system, and whether you want a working system w/GUI before you delve into the deeper workings of the OS.
If you want to start with a bare-bones CLI system, and work your way up to a GUI setup, learning everything about the OS as you go, then start with plain FreeBSD.
If you want a normal FreeBSD setup, that starts with a working GUI, where you can still learn all the "FreeBSD ways", then go with DesktopBSD. The only different between DesktopBSD and FreeBSD is what gets installed with the OS. Everything is still managed using the normal FreeBSD tools, installed via the ports tree, etc.
If you want an easy-to-use GUI-based setup that uses FreeBSD under-the-hood, but don't want to mess with the ports tree, or rc.conf or the other guts of the system, then go with PC-BSD. Software install is quick-n-simple, management is quick-n-simple, but a lot of things are done in "non-standard/non-FreeBSD" ways. But it's still FreeBSD under the hood, so you can get your hands dirty at the CLI if you want. And it makes a good gateway-drug ... er ... introduction to FreeBSD. ;)
April 10th, 2009, 14:26
I'm wondering what the experience is with USB flash drives, keeping in mind that flash memory eventually wears out. I have thumbdrive I've used for years and is now starting to lose it. I used to run Firefox at work with it. Of course the quality and therefore longevity of these devices varies. Not sure how they stack up VS disk drives for long term reliability. It's one thing if you just use the flash drive to store the OS but use a disk drive for swapping and temp internet file storage and the like, but using it for everything might wear it out faster. Flash life is proportional to the number of writes performed, I believe.
Not to mention some of these drives are slow as hell.
Anyone know of officially published statistics on makes, models, brands?
April 12th, 2009, 20:08
I should add that the latest version of PCBSD,7.1, has a new system for isolating PBIs from the ports tree. You can now use the runports command to build your own ports tree independent of PCBSD's. That eliminated the chance of screwing something up in PCBSD, like accidentally upgrading KDE or something. Now you can portupgrade -arR with abandon!
April 12th, 2009, 21:37
SLC-based flash drives have a write/delete lifetime of over 100,000 cycles per cell. These are the "enterprise"-grade flash drives, tend to be a lot faster, and tend to be more expensive.
MLC-based flash drives have a write/delete lifetime of over 10,000 cycles per cell. These are your "consumer"-grade flash drives, tend to be slightly slower, and are extremely inexpensive.
There are several articles on the web that describe the average lifetimes of flash drives. Basically, if you re-write every single bit in a flash drive, multiple times per day, it will still take about 3-5 years to wear out an MLC-based flash drive, and 30-ish years to wear out an SLC-based flash drive. Do a search for "slc vs mlc flash" for lots of info on the subjet.
So long as you aren't writing out multiples of the total storage multiple times per day, you don't really have to worry about them (ie don't write/rewrite 32 GB of data onto a 2 GB stick everyday).
April 13th, 2009, 20:22
As former member of the DesktopBSD team I'm somewhat biased, so I would tend to DesktopBSD just to get the 'real stuff' as phoenix said. But at the moment it would be more adequate imho to use PCBSD, it has got the newest stuff in terms of KDE 4.x, FreeBSD 7.x etc. and it uses afaik OSS from 4front technologies.
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