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FreeBSD first overview versus using Linux

nanotek

Active Member

Thanks: 1
Messages: 212

#51
The thread seems to have digressed (devolved) into an obsessive focus on GUI installers, which really has nothing to do with the functionality of the OS. That said, I agree with the suggestions of an optional GUI installer or simply an improved text installer but, whether implemented or not, has no bearing on the usability of the operating system once installed (or at all) [*]. I would likely use a GUI installer 25% as often as the text version because most of my FreeBSD installs are on servers; the GUI version would only be used on home/desktop PCs. Nevertheless, installation might constitute about 0.0000001% of the time spent using FreeBSD for most users, I presume, and is not a very difficult procedure anyway.

A GUI does not translate to "dumb" or "simple" either. Similarly, it doesn't need to limit potential or detract from TUI or CLI based usability; in most cases it is simply a matter of convenience, which is not unusual these days and need not translate to laziness or inability. Further, and this has already been stated but worth reiterating, persons who lack experience and technical proficiency in computers are not necessarily "dumb" and may well possess many more points of intelligence than your typical "power user".

[*] Some of the suggestions and comments I like:
  • More comprehensive installation notes/information during install procedure.
  • GUI partitioning functionality: this can certainly make the partitioning process easier without losing capability at all.
  • In some cases, vision impairment may benefit from GUI versus TUI.
  • Accommodating less technically aware users does not "dumb down the system" or exemplify the whole userbase.
  • The lightweight base system is appealing; developing a GUI installer that is separate from the base system is a good idea.
  • The presumption that an inability to install an OS that relies on text-based installers should disable you from installing any OS is unfounded; there are millions of people who use computers for any number of reasons who probably couldn't even install an OS that uses a GUI installer.
  • The use of a mouse does not imply inability; however, for some users a mouse may improve accessibility.
  • A GUI might decrease install time and increase capabilities for less technically skilled users. I would consider this a positive; accommodating more users translates to more exposure and may increase funding. The inverse, however, is not true: a GUI installer will not increase install time or decrease capabilities for more technically skilled users.
  • Drop-down menus, radio buttons, pre-fabricated installations (encrypted, /var /tmp /home / etc. partitions) would all be very nice and not limit the user's or the operating system's ability at all.

When it's all said and done, choosing to use an OS on the basis of its installer, I would think, is not prudent and I don't choose to use FreeBSD because it uses a text-based installer and by extension create the perception that the OS and its userbase are more advanced. Similarly, I wouldn't choose to use another OS because it does possess GUI installer capabilities (if an installer is even a capability of the OS) and by extension make the OS and its userbase less advanced. Broadly speaking, a GUI can utilize all the power of the CLI while making it simpler, quicker and more accessible but would require a lot of coding time that would be better spent elsewhere, I would think.

tl;dr: convenient != dumb
 

OJ

Daemon

Thanks: 253
Messages: 1,038

#52
Very nice post and summery @nanotek! I would take exception to one entry on your list though:
In some cases, vision impairment may benefit from GUI versus TUI.
In my own experience it is the other way around. GUIs are difficult to read because they don't follow typographical nor linguistic conventions, and thus put a big load on the mental and visual processing required by the user. However, there are no doubt a wide variety of mental and visual processing styles and abilities, so you could also be right in some cases.
 
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nanotek

Active Member

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Messages: 212

#53
I think you're right, @OJ: "there are no doubt a wide variety of mental and visual processing styles and abilities", which might make some benefit from a GUI and others, as your experience proves, from a TUI. That is another reason why I like the suggestion to have an optional GUI installer and not replace the current convention. Candidly, the GUI installer option places at the bottom of my FreeBSD Improvements list (which is already very short) and, for me, its absence doesn't detract from the OS at all anyway.
 
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zspider

Aspiring Daemon

Thanks: 111
Messages: 582

#54
I prefer the text installer, also to administer most aspects of the system you need to use the command line as no desktop environment/GUI tools can fully replace that, so you may as well make friends with the console.
 

throAU

Aspiring Daemon

Thanks: 142
Messages: 910

#56
nanotek said:
  • More comprehensive installation notes/information during install procedure.
  • A GUI might decrease install time and increase capabilities for less technically skilled users. I would consider this a positive; accommodating more users translates to more exposure and may increase funding. The inverse, however, is not true: a GUI installer will not increase install time or decrease capabilities for more technically skilled users.
Caveat: so long as it is OPTIONAL. If you're installing over say, a serial console (and this is something that is done occasionally), a GUI is not going to work.

When it's all said and done, choosing to use an OS on the basis of its installer, I would think, is not prudent and I don't choose to use FreeBSD because it uses a text-based installer and by extension create the perception that the OS and its userbase are more advanced. Similarly, I wouldn't choose to use another OS because it does possess GUI installer capabilities (if an installer is even a capability of the OS) and by extension make the OS and its userbase less advanced. Broadly speaking, a GUI can utilize all the power of the CLI while making it simpler, quicker and more accessible but would require a lot of coding time that would be better spent elsewhere, I would think.

tl;dr: convenient != dumb
Agreed. And the coding time thing is a major point I'd like to re-iterate - even if you inherit the code for a graphical installer FOR FREE (zero labour required) you've doubled the amount of testing and maintenance that needs to be done every time anything with the install process changes.
 

dominique

New Member


Messages: 6

#57
Personally, I don't care if the installer is a GUI or a console. Thatŝ for the theory. In practice the only good GUI installer I know on Linux (I didn't try them all) is Yast from Suse: When something goes wrong, it shift to the text mode, which give you the chance to fix the issue. On the other hand, Yast can be very slow in graphical mode when it refresh its screen.

I was really impressed by the FreeBSD installation process. It make FreeBSD even easier to install than Debian.

Also, I find FreeBSD well documented and relatively easy to use and configure, that even for a newbie.

The minus for me is that it is more complicated to install third party software from their sources than on Gentoo, that because of some huge internal differences between Linux and FreeBSD. As I don't know the C/C++, I am stuck in such cases. I don't blame FreeBSD for that, it's just I am balancing between my actual need of software in areas like audio and electronics, and my sadness about the actual Linux trend to bloat more and more the system with unstable and ever changing stuffs like systemd, and non needed breakmysystem.tm moves like *kit, the kde3 to kde4 move, or wayland and its impossible to finish compatibility layer that is coming at the corner (X and all its extensions are just too complex in order to hope for a complete, or even decent, compatibility layer.).
 

OJ

Daemon

Thanks: 253
Messages: 1,038

#58
Sounds like you and I are on the same page. I came to FreeBSD because Linux is changing in a direction that I was hoping to avoid long before it started happening.
dominique said:
I was really impressed by the FreeBSD installation process. It make FreeBSD even easier to install than Debian.
Also, I find FreeBSD well documented and relatively easy to use and configure, that even for a newbie.
Yes, FreeBSD is a nice easy install, and so is Debian. As for documentation, that is one of the two major reasons I felt confident to move to this OS. That, and the professional support provided so freely on this forum.
 

user00

Member


Messages: 62

#59
Another ex-Linux guy here. And a Linux/Windows sysadmin since 1995!

FreeBSD text mode installation is IMO totally adequate to the task. FreeBSD install is not difficult or complicated - no way!
Linux setup with all its graphical bells and whistles (Fedora, Ubuntu) is sounding more complicated to me, to be honest. FreeBSD is a breath of fresh air compared to it.

So keep up good work, folks, IMO graphical install should be one of the lower priorities. What will win the desktop user will be multimedia drivers, better Windows interoperability, more transparent support for hot-plug devices (USB, eSATA etc) and broader array of ports.
 

Hewitson

New Member


Messages: 11

#60
user00 said:
FreeBSD text mode installation is IMO totally adequate to the task. FreeBSD install is not difficult or complicated - no way!
Linux setup with all its graphical bells and whistles (Fedora, Ubuntu) is sounding more complicated to me, to be honest. FreeBSD is a breath of fresh air compared to it.
Absolutely. There is no place for a graphical installer in FreeBSD and I would be disappointed if one was ever included.
 

kpa

Beastie's Twin

Thanks: 1,680
Messages: 6,084

#61
Hewitson said:
user00 said:
FreeBSD text mode installation is IMO totally adequate to the task. FreeBSD install is not difficult or complicated - no way!
Linux setup with all its graphical bells and whistles (Fedora, Ubuntu) is sounding more complicated to me, to be honest. FreeBSD is a breath of fresh air compared to it.
Absolutely. There is no place for a graphical installer in FreeBSD and I would be disappointed if one was ever included.
I wouldn't be disappointed if one was available. However, if the graphical installer was the only one available and you could no longer install FreeBSD the way I usually I do, which is to ignore the installer completely and do the install by just extracting the distribution tarballs onto the destination filesystem, I would definitely start to look elsewhere...
 

tzoi516

Well-Known Member

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Messages: 368

#62
kpa said:
... if the graphical installer was the only one available ...
I don't think I've come across an operating system that didn't allow a user to drop to a command line.
 

kpa

Beastie's Twin

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#63
What I do remember from Debian is that installing it manually without the curses based installation program using just shell commands is a very involved process because the whole system is packaged and bootstrapping the package database has to be done just right. On FreeBSD you just extract tarballs and be done with it.
 

Crivens

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator

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Messages: 1,460

#64
tzoi516 said:
I don't think I've come across an operating system that didn't allow a user to drop to a command line.
MacOS in the old days before OsX. No command line, no shell.
 

srobert

Active Member

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Messages: 137

#65
I think the text-based, bsdinstall, is just fine. I can see advantages of a GUI installer, but it should only be an alternative front end to the text-based installer, rather than a replacement. Ideally, in a GUI front end to any program, I like to see a text output explaining what equivalent text commands are being executed. At least two GUI installers are already available, in that PC-BSD's installer can install plain FreeBSD, and installing GhostBSD is essentially installing FreeBSD with some sensible (but easily changed) defaults for the desktop.
 

zspider

Aspiring Daemon

Thanks: 111
Messages: 582

#66
kpa said:
Hewitson said:
user00 said:
FreeBSD text mode installation is IMO totally adequate to the task. FreeBSD install is not difficult or complicated - no way!
Linux setup with all its graphical bells and whistles (Fedora, Ubuntu) is sounding more complicated to me, to be honest. FreeBSD is a breath of fresh air compared to it.
Absolutely. There is no place for a graphical installer in FreeBSD and I would be disappointed if one was ever included.
I wouldn't be disappointed if one was available. However, if the graphical installer was the only one available and you could no longer install FreeBSD the way I usually I do, which is to ignore the installer completely and do the install by just extracting the distribution tarballs onto the destination filesystem, I would definitely start to look elsewhere...
I've started doing that too, there's a certain satisfaction from working from the live DVD shell. I would also be forced to seek a suitable alternative if I lost that capability.
 
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