My boy loves Ubuntu because we can't get graphics going after two days!

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PacketMan

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#1
My nine-year-old boy took my Ubuntu 14.04 ISO disk, stuck it in a box, clicked next a few times, and was up and running about 30 minutes later, surfing the net using Firefox, and with music playing via a pre-packaged DLNA player (pulling music from one of my non-GUI enabled FreeBSD machines).

He said: "Daddy let's try PC-BSD and FreeBSD with GUI." Two days and lots of reading later, I am nowhere closer to getting a basic GUI going, let alone getting a good rich full-featured GUI going. When xorg tries to run my monitor goes into powersave mode, and all I can do is power cycle and try again.

This is the year 2014, not 1994. We should not be fooling around with building GUIs, and reading endless (sometime contradictory) threads about how to work around the various issues.

I'm probably going to get flamed but if you want to grow the fans/users base of FreeBSD, then a GUI has got to be brain-dead simple. Yes, give the people the power to hack it, smack it, and whack it, that will spawn innovation. But to lose days of trying to get a video card working is not the right direction. Especially in this day and age with 'retail hand-held appliances' like iPods, iPads, and endless cellphone models, FreeBSD has an amazing opportunity in front of it. In the "Internet of Everything" (Cisco talk) FreeBSD has an incredibly large future never possible before.

A nine-year-old boy, who enjoys computers and enjoys 'making changes' is already asking me: "Daddy when can we put Ubuntu back?" Us FreeBSD fans/users need to get our nine-year-olds on board so that when they grow up with the next amazing idea, FreeBSD will be their first choice of OS to whack and smack. :)

Thanks for listening.
 

Oko

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#2
That is very unfortunate. This is a picture...

... of my older daughter working on vanilla FreeBSD 6.1 when she was only three months old. She didn't like it either so she switched to OpenBSD a few days later. Right now she is seven and has only a few kernel patches accepted by Theo and other developers.
 

Anass

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#3
Hi,

I agree with you, FreeBSD is a great OS, but it's still missing a great GUI as well, by GUI I mean a good/stable window system and desktop environment).

The problems you are encountering is not because of FreeBSD itself, but because of the X11 stack, which is hard to configure and user-unfriendly. It's true that Ubuntu could get this working out of the box (If not all the time...), it's because they are focused only on tweaking/adapting X11 and other external packages together. But the FreeBSD team maintains a whole operating system that you can find in a single source tree, from the kernel tol the userland utilities. At the end, we get a great OS which is FreeBSD, having great documentation and a helpful community.

The solution I can offer to you at the moment is to use PC-BSD, which is FreeBSD plus a graphical user interface that works out of the box just like Ubuntu does, that could be used for day to day GUI work without GUI setup hassle.

But anyway, when you find yourself so deep into FreeBSD, you will anyways find yourself going back to vanilla FreeBSD ;) The same as I did.

I hope you'll find a solution for your problem.
 

BSDBernd

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#4
PacketMan: Solution: install Ubuntu and dual boot it with FreeBSD and try to get things working better and better concerning the FreeBSD system until finally your son maybe boots FreeBSD more often than Ubuntu.

Edit: I added a 'maybe'. Nobody is of course forced to use a particular OS. If you can get your work done and even have fun with a particular OS, then use that OS.
 
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PacketMan

PacketMan

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#5
Hi Anass,

First of all, I have spent a day with PC-BSD and get the same problem. I cannot get past trying to get X11 to work. As far as I am concerned FreeBSD and PC-BSD are the same today: getting a GUI to work is a royal pain in the rear.

Yes FreeBSD is an awesome OS, perhaps one of the best in the world, and perhaps my wording was not the best. But the point I am trying to make is right now a lot of people who are attracted to working with the nuts and bolts of an OS are attracted to Ubuntu and other Linuxes because they can at least get it up and working pretty darn good with a GUI. Then they can go into the guts to make it do what they want it to do. If you lose critical mass then you lose development resources, and if not fixed, FreeBSD can die off just like other great things in this world have. We need to get past this GUI issue so that millions of kids (especially teenagers more so than nine-year-olds) can start using FreeBSD with a GUI and lots of other stuff with no effort, let them love it to build up critical mass. With that critical mass you will get demand for more innovation, and a subset of those users will step up to the plate to build the next great releases of the OS. A bunch of guys in their 40s are saying the same thing to me: "Why are you fooling around with an OS with crappy GUI support when you can have a Linux up and running with no effort?" I continue to defend my choice of using FreeBSD first.

I did not, and do not, mean no disrespect to the developers. I know of lots of 'platforms' that have FreeBSD under the hood in some shape or form, and the stuff frankly is pretty much rock solid reliable.

See what I mean?
 

Anass

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#6
HI Anass,

First of all, I have spent a day with PC-BSD and get the same problem. I cannot get past trying to get X11 to work. As far as I am concerned FreeBSD, and PC-BSD are the same today.....getting a GUI to work is royal pain in the rear.

Yes FreeBSD is an awesome OS, perhaps one of the best in the world, and perhaps my wording was not the best. But the point I am trying to make is right now a lot of people who are attracted to working with the nuts and bolts of an OS are attracted to Ubuntu and other Linuxes because they can at least get it up and working pretty darn good with a GUI. Then they can into the guts to make it do what they want it to do. If you lose critical mass then you lose development resources, and if not fixed, FreeBSD can die off just like other great things in this world have. We need to get past this GUI issue so that millions of kids (especially teenagers more so than 9 year olds) can start FreeBSD with GUI and lots of other stuff with no effort, let them love it to build up critical mass. With that critical mass you will get demand for more innovation, and a subset of those users will step up to the plate to build the next great releases of the OS. A bunch of guys in their 40s are saying the same thing to me: why you fooling around with an OS with crappy GUI support when you can have a Linux up and running with no effort. I continue to defend my choice of using FreeBSD first.

I did not, and do not, mean no disrespect to the developers. I know of lots of 'platforms' that have FreeBSD under the hood in some way shape or form, and the stuff, frankly is pretty much rock solid reliable.

See what I mean?
I definitely agree with you.
 

getopt

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#7
The problems you are encountering is not because of FreeBSD itself, but because of the X11 stack, which is hard to configure and user-unfriendly.
Some like to look at a GUI and do not care what’s under the hood. A nine-year-old kid does not care about IT security. But if that is a topic there is no difference if you get bitten in Redmond or Cupertino or by X.Org. It is a matter of trust and I have no reason to trust in X.Org source code. About one year ago a review of the Xserver code started. What has been found were hundreds of bugs; some of them were older than the kids we were talking about.

That's true that Ubuntu could get this working out of the box (If not all the time...) it’s because they are focused only on tweaking/adapting X11 and other external packages together.

But the FreeBSD team …
It’s okay when Ubuntu dedicate people try to do this, but I hope this does not happen here with FreeBSD. If there were a pixel oriented console that had not that much security related issues I’d give it a try. Until then I prefer to stay with an insecure console.
 

scottro

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#8
Ubuntu has a different focus. I think (and I'm seeing this more, now that RHEL7 is out, with systemd and other Fedora-isms, because more sysadmins are noticing it now), that many feel that many Linux systems are focusing too much on the single user or family user desktop and laptop, and, with each iteration, making it harder for the sysadmin.

So, yeah it would be nice if FreeBSD had an easier to use desktop, if we didn't need some form of Linux emulation to get some programs, and so on. However, if it's a choice between keeping it a server OS and having to work harder than I would wish to get a good desktop, I'd rather it stayed the way it is.

This doesn't mean I completely disagree -- I think, at least when I'm in one sort of mood, that were it to gain a larger share of users, it would be easier to get vendor support, and so on.

I have found that, speaking JUST FOR MYSELF, I actually found it quite easy to get FreeBSD working with a GUI with Intel (especially since 10.1-RC3), and NVidia desktops. I did, on the other hand, and somewhat ironically, have a lot of problem getting PCBSD to work properly.

Ubuntu is aimed at a non-technical audience. Personally, having used both in production, I feel that FreeBSD performs better but I have no benchmarks.

For what it's worth, I know a few folks that I consider real *nix gurus who, after they married and had kids, stopped using FreeBSD, or Slackware, or Gentoo and switched to Ubuntu.

It would be nice if PC-BSD (or GhostBSD, or anything similar) got to the point of being Ubuntu-ish. I do feel there would be value in that, and (just my personal opinion) I think that Ubuntu's original ease of use, especially when it first came out, and Mr. Shuttleworth's salesmanship, did contribute quite a bit to many vendors of both hardware and software starting to think about Linux. (And probably, in some cases, making it easier to get something working on any of the BSDs.)

The downside is when it starts forgetting the old adage that Unix doesn't stop you from doing stupid things because it would also stop you from doing clever things, and the GUIs, wizards and so on, start getting in the way.

Wishy-washily yours,
 
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PacketMan

PacketMan

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#10
Hey scottro, some good points there. I do want to say though, that I am not trying to say that I want FreeBSD to be Ubuntu-ish. I just want to see FreeBSD have awesome GUIs that work out of the gate. And I don't want that just for my benefit. I think that it is best for the survival (over many many years) of the OS, if it did have great easy-to-turn-on GUIs, so that it can it can grow its user/fan base. Imagine another million users (mostly teens and 20s) loving their FreeBSD, and over time becoming the next generation of hardcore developers to take the OS into 2050 and beyond.

And remember, just because FreeBSD could have great easy-to-turn-on GUI's, doesn't mean sysadmins have to use it. There is no reason that FreeBSD can't be awesome in many 'segments' of the 'market'.

All that just said, I'm not a OS/programmer/developer guy...I'm a hardcore internetworking (routers/switches/Ethernet/MPLS/IPv4/IPv6/etc.) guy. I make a living building networks that grow to hundreds of routers. So, it's not fair for me to complain and do nothing. Hopefully someone will be faster than me, but I will keep trying, and if I solve my dilemma I will post my results. If someday I can contribute some serious effort to this OS I will. :)
 

Anass

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#11
I just want to see FreeBSD have awesome GUIs that work out of the gate
I believe we need a great desktop for FreeBSD anyways that fits both professionals and normal users. At the same time this desktop should not affect the stability of the core FreeBSD OS, like adding fancy UI features at the price of introducing security issues or endlessly changing the location of configuration files on each minor release with the pretext of fixing some X or Y GUI feature (a lot of Linux distributions are doing this, including Ubuntu). Well, I believe that a whole great functional desktop can be programmed without touching a bit in the core FreeBSD OS.

About one year ago a review of the Xserver code started. What has been found were hundreds of bugs some of them were older than the kids we were talking about.
I think the reason why the FreeBSD team doesn't adapt the OS for X.Org, is simply because X.Org should adapt itself to fit into the high quality world of FreeBSD. X.Org is very old and has many issues, and allocating resources in the FreeBSD team for software like this will hurt the road map of the project. But I'm sure that when a great graphics stack is developed somewhere, the FreeBSD team will be passionate to make it part of the OS and allocate time and resources to make it work out of the box. Then we will have the desktop that our children and family can use.

For the time being, no desktop in the open source world is fully usable, out of the box, for everyday use, both for professional and home usage. It simply doesn't exist.
 
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Oko

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#12
PacketMan,

I think it would have been far more helpful if you have posted your video card specification after PC-BSD failed to boot first time than struggling for two days and coming up with above post. I have been using UNIX much like you for twenty years. Here are a few facts about FreeBSD on the desktop:
  1. PC-BSD does indeed work for most people out of box even easier than Ubuntu.
  2. PC-BSD is not by any stretch of the imagination Ubuntu of FreeBSD. It is more like GNOME on Red Hat 6.6 trying to be a corporate desktop.
  3. PC-BSD shines if you need ZFS, life preserver and jails. Otherwise it probably sucks. Kids really don't need ZFS or life preserver. They need Flash.
  4. PC0BSD needs lots of serious resources which most home users don't have.
  5. FreeBSD on the desktop is not for the faint of heart. Unlike for example OpenBSD most FreeBSD developers (this is just an observation from conferences) don't eat their own soup and use OS X as their desktop. Why would I then use FreeBSD on the desktop?
  6. In my own experience X.Org on FreeBSD has always felt very flaky and fragile comparing to Xenoxara on OpenBSD.
  7. I do not endorse using FreeBSD or OpenBSD on the desktop to anybody, nine-year-old kids in particular unless there is somebody who really knows how those things work and can set them up. That being said my kids use OpenBSD desktops, including for their school work.
  8. Most people use a GUI and some applications, not the OS. Please approach any average OS X user and ask them if they can locate the shell, let alone if they can use it.
 
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scottro

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#13
Y'know, I keep hearing Oko's point 5 about FreeBSD developers, that most of them use Mac for their desktop. Can anyone tell me where that statement originated? Oko mentions that for them, it's their impression from conferences, but I've heard it frequently , that's why I wonder how true it is. The only person I know with an @freebsd.org address, at least while I worked with them, used FreeBSD as their desktop.

Regardless, for me it works relatively well as a desktop.

I think that my ideal would be for FreeBSD to stay as it is, but that there be some PCBSD-ish variant that didn't have the faults Oko's post mentioned. Shucks, I've referenced that post several times, I might as well click the like button for it, even if I don't completely agree with all of it. :)
 
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PacketMan

PacketMan

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#14
Thanks Oko.

I could have given up after the first try but I find a good way to learn is to try and try again. And the point I was trying to make was not about my nine-year-old not being able to use FreeBSD. My point is the day of trying to get a driver to work with a certain video card is so 1995 3.5" floppy-ish. This is 2015 almost. FreeBSD might be awesome at the moment because it is strong in the old ways of the world, but when it dies because no one stepped up to to the plate because everyone was over at the Linux parties, because they don't have to spend days trying to get the things most take for granted now working, well that kind of defeats the purpose doesn't it? FreeBSD can't continue to be awesome if support for it dies.

Point #5 - A sales guy tries to sell me an amazing product. When I ask him how he or his company uses it, he responds they/he doesn't use it, he uses a different product. How do you think that will change me (the buyer) and my thinking?

Anyway I think I have said the same thing over and over. I've made my point. Great products die all the time, due to a certain line of thinking.
 

Anass

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#15
Thanks Oko.

I could have given up after the first try but I find a good way to learn is to try and try again. And the point I was trying to make was not about my 9 year old not being able to use FreeBSD. My point is the day of trying to get a driver to work with a certain video card is so 1995 3.5" floppy ish. This is 2015 almost. FreeBSD might be awesome at the moment because it is strong in the old ways of the world, but when it dies because no one stepped up to to the plate because everyone was over at the Linux parties, because they don't have to spend days trying to get working the things most take for granted now....well that kind of defeats the purpose doesn't it. FreeBSD can't continue to be awesome if support for it dies.

Point #5 - A salesguy tries to sell me an amazing product. When I ask him how he or his company uses it, he responds they/he doesn't use it, he uses a different product. How do you think that will change me (the buyer) and my thinking?

Anyway I think I have said the same thing over and over. I've made my point. Great products die all the time, due to a certain line of thinking.
I guess it would be a good idea if you can describe the issue you are encountering, alongside with some error logs, that way we can identify the issue and perhaps we can offer a solution. I'm sure there are quite a lot of people who can help with this.
 

wblock@

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#16
Y'know, I keep hearing Oko's point 5 about FreeBSD developers, that most of them use Mac for their desktop. Can anyone tell me where that statement originated?
Oko mentions that for them, it's their impression from conferences, but I've heard it frequently , that's why I wonder how true it is.
The only person I know with an @freebsd.org address, at least while I worked with them, used FreeBSD as their desktop.
It's a tiresome bit of advocacy that gets a little more tiresome each time it is repeated. It is no more helpful to point out that at BSDCan there were at least as many people using FreeBSD natively as there were using any other BSD variant combined.
 
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PacketMan

PacketMan

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#17
I guess it would be a good idea if you can describe the issue you are encountering, alongside with some error logs, that way we can identify the issue and perhaps we can offer a solution. I'm sure there is quite a lot of people who can help on this.
Yep. I will pick at it some more first. If there's still no joy say by the next weekend or two, then I will post in what I think is the appropriate topic. Thanks.
 

Oko

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#18
Point #5 - A salesguy tries to sell me an amazing product. When I ask him how he or his company uses it, he responds they/he doesn't use it, he uses a different product. How do you think that will change me (the buyer) and my thinking?
The truth of the matter is that PC-BSD people actually use PC-BSD and knowing what Jordan Hubbard did with Apple I am sure he wants you to have the same experience with PC-BSD. However I am sure he will be the first one to point out that they are really trying to sell you a workstation OS (think of Sun Blade from 2002 running Solaris 10) rather than Ubuntu.
Great products die all the time, due to a certain line of thinking.
If this game was all about technology I would be typing this post from a $45,000 Alpha workstation (big-endian RISC processor) with some kind of hybrid OS (a VMS + UNIX child). I have a grant to pay for it :) but my kids would not know what a computer is until they get to a college.
 

Oko

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#19
It's a tiresome bit of advocacy that gets a little more tiresome each time it is repeated. It is no more helpful to point out that at BSDCan there were at least as many people using FreeBSD natively as there were using any other BSD variant combined.
So let us put it to rest :) This is a group of FreeBSD hackers in action. I think the number of Macs is pretty obvious.



Now an OpenBSD Hackaton. The number of ThinkPads should be pretty obvious.



Now I have never said that this was a scientific study :)

I would also dispute you on your second claim. If you just look at the raw numbers that might be the case, but I dare you to compare the quality and number of posts at questions@freebsd and misc@openbsd and tell me what you think. Yes I do know that this is a FreeBSD forum and I am going to shut up.

P.S. My salary is in part paid for managing both OpenBSD and FreeBSD machines. Unfortunately I have to deal with Red Hat as well. Be my guest and tell me which one you think I would like to drop.
 

Anass

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#20
So lets us put it to rest :) This is group of FreeBSD hackers in action. I think the number of Mac's is pretty obvious.
---
Now OpenBSD hackaton. The number of ThinkPads should be pretty obvious.
...
Now I have never said that this was a scientific study :)

I would also dispute you on your second claim. If you just look the row numbers that might be the case but I dare you to compare the quality and number of posts at questions@freebsd and misc@openbsd and tell me what you think.
Yes I do know that this is FreeBSD forum and I am going to shut up.

P.S. My salary in part is paid for managing both OpenBSD and FreeBSD machines. Unfortunately I have to deal with Red Hat as well. Be my guest and tell me which one do you think I would like to drop.
I do agree with the FreeBSD team using Macs, it's a great choice because it makes them more productive, and they can have a comfortable desktop environment (OS X) which is itself partly based on FreeBSD. By having a comfortable desktop environment, and running FreeBSD in a virtual machine, they provide to us: a high quality OS, commercial-quality documentation and an appealing easy-to-use website that can attract more users and developers.

That said, why should the FreeBSD team make themselves suffer using PCs with X11 and a minimal window manager? Using X11 for daily development doesn't mean they are going to offer an Ubuntu-ish desktop, or that it will make them change the project's road map and start developing a GUI which is out of scope of the FreeBSD project.

How many open source teams are using X11 worldwide? I'm sure there are many. How many great desktop X11 GUIs do we have? None. As I said earlier, a great open source *nix desktop that matches the quality of OS X or Windows simply doesn't exist at the moment.

When I work with an X11 desktop for more than half a day it makes me feel very tired of it and non-productive. Why not use a Mac OS X and SSH into my FreeBSD box and get the work done? Or use a VM, install the tools and get all graphics/mouse/audio working.

I will be glad to participate in the development of a desktop environment for FreeBSD. But I cannot use X11 on my development machine to do that.

EDIT: I should mention that the FreeBSD project supports the desktop more than OpenBSD does, the proof is that they have a dedicated team just to work on a KDE version for FreeBSD: https://freebsd.kde.org. There are also more graphics drivers for FreeBSD than OpenBSD. And many more, just to name a few.
 

Oko

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#21
I should mention that the FreeBSD project supports the desktop more than OpenBSD does, the proof is that they have a dedicated team just to work on a KDE version for FreeBSD https://freebsd.kde.org.
I am sure you heard of M:Tier.. They provide Fortune 500 companies with OpenBSD desktops. It is a niche product just like PC-BSD. Two of their developers who work full time on OpenBSD also happen to be on the GNOME team.
There is also more graphics drives for FreeBSD than OpenBSD.
I hope you are not bragging here about that NVidia binary blob crap. If NVidia is so friendly to FreeBSD why don't they release the CUDA GPU for FreeBSD and actually allow people to use FreeBSD for scientific computing?

Anyhow we have to put this to rest. I enjoyed talking to you guys but it is my bed time. I feel bad for PacketMan's son. I hope he actually posts some video hardware specifications here so that we can help him with that PC-BSD installation. It would be a shame that his son doesn't learn a little bit of hardcore UNIX from his dad.[/user]
 
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jrm@

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#24
I don't begrudge anyone for running whatever OS they (or their employer) choose(es), especially if they are contributing code. On the other hand, I was surprised by the number of FreeBSD developers running Macs (with OS X) at BSDCan. It just makes sense that when a large chunk of our developer/user base is seemingly not interested in FreeBSD on the desktop, we will play catchup to OpenBSD and in some ways DragonFlyBSD. That's not to say I'm not grateful for the good working going on. I'm running a FreeBSD laptop with great X.Org support including suspend and resume.

That said, why the FreeBSD team should make themselves suffer using PCs with X11 and a minimal window manager ?
Some developers are more productive using a simple window manager than a desktop environment.

P.S. I'm aware that the current@ thread I linked to starts off as a joke.
 

BSDBernd

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#25
So lets us put it to rest :) This is group of FreeBSD hackers in action. I think the number of Mac's is pretty obvious.
I would be quite surprised to be at a BSD conference and not see any Macbook, not only because Mac OS X is a brilliant, stable BSD-based OS that in my opinion beats Windows easily (at least when you do not want to play a lot of games), but also because in my opinion the Macbook series is one of the greatest series of laptops ever produced. Even his majesty King Linus himself says so: http://www.cultofmac.com/162823/linux-creator-linus-torvalds-i-love-my-macbook-air/. I have a Macbook Air Mid 2011 and must say that this is the greatest laptop I ever had, together with Mac OS X this blows you away, there are in my opinion worlds between a Thinkpad and a Macbook Air. I by the way had FreeBSD 11.0 running on my Mac for testing purposes. The bad thing is that there is no Broadcom driver for this at the moment (using virtual machines, it seems that one can get around this). But in that picture, if I see this right, I see only older Mac hardware, so it could very well be that many of those people run FreeBSD on it, e.g. there is the bwn driver for the Apple Airport Extreme WiFi card.
 
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