• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

New PC Advice

markbsd

Active Member

Thanks: 7
Messages: 180

#1
I'm looking to purchase a new notebook. I don't know if I should buy a MacBook or not. It will be used for university mostly. So, word processing, browsing, research, etc. If not the Mac, I would then dual boot FreeBSD and Windows 8. With that in mind, would you advise against the Mac? If so, what notebook would you recommend?
 

kpa

Beastie's Twin

Thanks: 1,673
Messages: 6,084

#2
Macbook is a safe choice in many respects assuming you will be using OS X on it. Things just work out of the box most of the time. The downside is the higher price compared to an equivalent windows notebook.

I would advise not trying to use FreeBSD primarily on a MacBook since you're still quite new to FreeBSD, Macs are not quite standard PCs despite the claims and there are many pitfalls that you don't encounter on standard PC hardware. Install VirtualBox instead with a FreeBSD guest and you get best of the both worlds.
 

markbsd

Active Member

Thanks: 7
Messages: 180

#3
I wouldn't install FreeBSD on the Mac. If I get the Mac, I will keep it stock, as, to my knowledge, OS X is already really good. I would only install FreeBSD if I get a PC instead. I'd then run Win8 with FreeBSD.
 

fernandel

Well-Known Member

Thanks: 68
Messages: 455

#4
markbsd said:
I wouldn't install FreeBSD on the Mac. If I get the Mac, I will keep it stock, as, to my knowledge, OS X is already really good. I would only install FreeBSD if I get a PC instead. I'd then run Win8 with FreeBSD.
I did install FreeBSD on iMac 11,1 (dual boot) and I like it. FreeBSD works good, graphics is good, sound works too... I wish that FreeBSD 9.2 works on my Mac but it doesn't work without KMS.
 

tzoi516

Well-Known Member

Thanks: 12
Messages: 368

#5
I like the design of Macs because they don't look like they're stuck in the 80's - they don't look or run clunky, have dongles hanging off of them which could break a port, or have a battery hanging out the ass end. I personally would spend a little extra to have a better designed system. After all, it's 2013 and people aren't making Barbies into models with bras on their heads anymore. :)

That being said ... FreeBSD runs great on them when all the drivers are present. My rule of thumb is 6 years: if the Mac is 6 years old then 8 times out of 10 it should work. For a regular PC my rule of thumb is 3 years. I would like to note that proficiency is key: rule of thumb is for the novice; YMMV if you're a long time FreeBSD user with programming skills.
 

markbsd

Active Member

Thanks: 7
Messages: 180

#6
I just couldn't justify putting a "dated" OS on a brand new Mac; it would be sacrilegious, almost. It's hard enough getting everything running smoothly on a 5-10 year old notebook, let alone a brand new Mac. And, given the durability and stellar operating prowess of OS X, completely unnecessary. If FreeBSD was available as a fully functional out of the box OS with the option of a GUI DKE as part of the installation image, and a GUI port/package manager with smooth app management and base system updating capabilities (not to mention a GUI WiFi and firewall manager), it might have been tempting.

@tzoi516, Mac's are aesthetically pleasing.

Should I get the MacBook Pro or Air?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

wblock@

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Developer

Thanks: 3,558
Messages: 13,856

#7
The Mac keyboard layout differences, proprietary hardware, and price is enough for me to avoid them. To me, notebooks are almost disposable.

Lately, I've seen reasonable notebooks from Acer and Toshiba. The Toshiba actually admits on the bottom that it was built by Acer. Gateway is also Acer.

HP was burned to the ground by Carly, and have had a string of terrible machines since then. That said, I've seen some recent ones that managed to outlive their warranty period. Both HP and Lenovo use a BIOS whitelist to limit which wireless cards can be used in their machines. This is claimed to be for regulatory reasons, yet the other manufacturers don't do it.

I have not had a recent Dell notebook, but would consider them also.

The problem with many new notebooks is discovering whether they will have trouble with FreeBSD. The Intel i3/i5/i7 are now on the fourth generation and could have trouble with graphics drivers. There's also ACPI, which might be fine or might make it unusable, and can only be discovered by testing. Then there is UEFI and Secure Boot. The last system I tried no longer booted the installed Windows 8 with Secure Boot disabled. So you may be forced to run FreeBSD in a VM, or reinstall Windows 8 with Secure Boot off.

Which leads up to a VM: VirtualBox is free, and should run fine on any notebook, insulating FreeBSD from the actual hardware and host operating system.
 

tzoi516

Well-Known Member

Thanks: 12
Messages: 368

#8
I have been trying to get FreeBSD running on a new Acer, which is nice, but there's a lot of driver issues from Wi-Fi to getting KMS working with the i5. I look at Dells as being the Mac for the PC but hit with an ugly stick and over-priced (I do think Apple should charge less for their hardware). That being said I saw a couple new laptops in Best Buy recently that actually look like they were made by Apple, but they weren't the crappy Adamo line - which I think has been discontinued.
 

markbsd

Active Member

Thanks: 7
Messages: 180

#9
So, if I were to elect PC, would it be fair to say the order of the top 5 is:

  1. Dell
  2. Acer
  3. Toshiba
  4. Asus
  5. HP
 

tzoi516

Well-Known Member

Thanks: 12
Messages: 368

#10
markbsd said:
So, if I were to elect PC, would it be fair to say the order of the top 5 is:

  1. Dell
  2. Acer
  3. Toshiba
  4. Asus
  5. HP
I deal with laptops, so this is my opinion towards laptops:

I'd put Acer and Asus equally at the top, remove HP (because why make a laptop if the battery dies/doesn't work most of the time?), then Toshiba, and Dell (if they had to be on the list. With a little research you can find better quality laptops than Toshiba and Dell. Vaio, like Macs, have their fanbois. Like Dell, I think they're ugly and overpriced. If it were me:

Acer/Asus > Samsung > Toshiba > Dell

As far as FreeBSD on newer models, YMMV.
 

markbsd

Active Member

Thanks: 7
Messages: 180

#11
Thanks, @tzoi516, that's really helpful. I think I'll go Mac, but, just in case, I now know Acer or Asus would be my best choice for PC. Do you know much about MacBooks? I am undecided on the Pro or Air -- Pro seems to have better hardware, but the Air is nice and streamlined with the SSD.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

tzoi516

Well-Known Member

Thanks: 12
Messages: 368

#12
markbsd said:
Thanks, tzoi, that's really helpful. I think I'll go Mac, but, just in case, I now know Acer or Asus would be my best choice for PC. Do you know much about MacBooks? I am undecided on the Pro or Air -- Pro seems to have better hardware, but the Air is nice and streamlined with the SSD.
Personal preference, to be honest. I like the MacAir because it's light and streamlined (why need a CD/DVD write today?). However, for me, I don't like SSDs due to their 100,000 writes/sector limitation - after 100,000 writes the sectors tend to get corrupted. I like the MacBook Pros because of the power compared to the Air. Personally and professionally I do a lot of things from recording music/video, research & test hardware/software, create images/re-image new laptops constantly, just to name a few. So I know I will eat up that Air within a year. So if you're more of a writer and a Pandora/YouTube listener/watcher then the Air might be perfect. Like I mentioned earlier though, FreeBSD might not catch all of the drivers. So you'd probably have to use it as a VM (I prefer Parallels over VMware and VirtualBox on a Mac for virtual machines).
 

beatgammit

Member

Thanks: 13
Messages: 78

#13
I'm surprised Lenovo didn't make your list! They're fantastic, and they generally have great Linux/FreeBSD support. The ThinkPad series feels much more polished/professional than other brands (Apple included), and IdeaPads aren't bad either. For apples-to-apples comparisons with Apple:

- Macbook Air -> ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Touch models have touch screens as well)
- Macbook Pro -> ThinkPad T430(s) (T430s is a bit lighter than the T430, and also a bit more expensive)

I'm typing this from a Lenovo ThinkPad T430, and everything "Just Worked" out of the box. I didn't test wifi on FreeBSD before replacing the card with a wireless N card, but my Intel Ultimate-N card is working great on FreeBSD.

I can't give an unbiased Apple computer review because I haven't used one for more than a few minutes at a time, but every time I do, I absolutely hate it. For all the hype about "hardware", I can't get past the flat feel of the keyboard. Lenovo (IMHO) does a much better job with keyboards. Also, I've heard horror stories about getting BootCamp working with Linux/FreeBSD (my coworker gave up and replaced his Mac Mini with an Asus tower because it wouldn't reliably boot into Linux).

Good luck with whichever way you decide to go!
 

tzoi516

Well-Known Member

Thanks: 12
Messages: 368

#14
Keyboards, like UI and everything else, is personal preference in my opinion. I personally like the Mac-style keyboards without the number pad.

Lenovo, before IBM sold them off, were great at that time. I give Lenovo credit since then for trying new things at various times, but the last laptop that I tested about a year ago felt cheap and clunky - and I'm really tired of those eraser-tip pointing devices. That being said, when I saw the nice Dells I also saw a nice Lenovo that looked like it was about as thin as the MacBook Air, and about half the price. It felt pretty solid and had the touch screen. The only thing I didn't like was it felt gimmicky - you can bend the keyboard back and flip it around to watch movies, which I don't do, and I think you could also remove the keyboard (why not just buy a tablet?).
 

kpedersen

Aspiring Daemon

Thanks: 219
Messages: 994

#15
If you want something that definitely works, go for a Thinkpad X61. You can pick one up for less than £100 and with a Core 2 Duo, 2 GB of RAM and an Intel graphics card, they are extremely usable.

A high percentage of *BSD (and Linux) developers tend to use them making them almost as compatible to *BSD as Mac Books are to OSX.

The newer Thinkpads are starting to be usable with the new KMS stuff in 10-RELEASE. Personally I am holding out for an X1 Carbon as soon as I get the goahead that it is working (http://www.lenovo.com/images/gallery/main/lenovo-laptop-thinkpad-x1-carbon-touch-Side-15.jpg). This machine looks far superior to anything Apple is offering.
 

beatgammit

Member

Thanks: 13
Messages: 78

#16
tzoi516 said:
Keyboards, like UI and everything else, is personal preference in my opinion. I personally like the Mac-style keyboards without the number pad.
To each his own. At least Apple's keyboards are better than most of the other laptop vendors. Nearly every laptop I've used that tried to do the chicklet style keyboard has failed and it ends up feeling like cheap plastic. Lenovo's new chicklet style keys are, IMHO, better than Apple's (better weight to the keys, better grooving, etc), but like you said, this is very subjective.

tzoi516 said:
Lenovo, before IBM sold them off, were great at that time. I give Lenovo credit since then for trying new things at various times, but the last laptop that I tested about a year ago felt cheap and clunky - and I'm really tired of those eraser-tip pointing devices.
I love the TrackPoint, and it was actually one of my main reasons for buying Lenovo; it's much easier to shift from typing to mouse control, and I use it almost exclusively over the trackpad (which also is pretty good). Some like trackpads better (e.g. my coworkers with Macbook Airs), but I don't, and I hate the "whole trackpad is a button" feel that so many vendors are moving towards.

ThinkPads aren't pretty, they're professional. They're packed with features (keyboard light, overhead light by webcam, locking mechanism for screen) that make a lot of sense in conferences and other business-y things. I also feel like I could drop it and still expect it to work. The "clunkyness" you describing is ruggedness, and I think it's a feature (after all, how would you feel if you dropped your Macbook?). Sure, my laptop is very boxy and my wife described it as boring, but I'll probably have it for 5+ years running as well as it does today.
 

wblock@

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Developer

Thanks: 3,558
Messages: 13,856

#17
tzoi516 said:
However, for me, I don't like SSDs due to their 100,000 writes/sector limitation - after 100,000 writes the sectors tend to get corrupted.
Hmm. I have not had any problems with SSDs, and find it difficult waiting for machines with standard hard drives. SSDs are particularly helpful on notebooks, no physical heads to crash, much lower power draw when idle, and helpful with speeding up the whole machine.

These have been Plextor, Samsung, Kingston, Intel, and Toshiba SSDs. They have all been reliable, and have been more reliable than hard drives bought in the same time period. So I guess I'm saying that I think the write limit is overemphasized.

Also: Apple disables TRIM unless you use one of their drives. I don't know what their justification is for that.
 

tzoi516

Well-Known Member

Thanks: 12
Messages: 368

#18
wblock@ said:
Hmm. I have not had any problems with SSDs, and find it difficult waiting for machines with standard hard drives. SSDs are particularly helpful on notebooks, no physical heads to crash, much lower power draw when idle, and helpful with speeding up the whole machine.

These have been Plextor, Samsung, Kingston, Intel, and Toshiba SSDs. They have all been reliable, and have been more reliable than hard drives bought in the same time period. So I guess I'm saying that I think the write limit is overemphasized.

Also: Apple disables TRIM unless you use one of their drives. I don't know what their justification is for that.
I go through hard drives like candy. So for me SSDs are off the table - I've had a couple corrupting (Travelstar I think it was). Seagates have always been reliable past the warranty. However, Western Digitals always seem to crap out right after the warranty. I don't RAID laptops because they usually always have 1 HDD in them, but I can see people who just primarily store data will RAID them in a NAS without issue. I test a lot of software out, so I reimage, install, etc, daily.
 

markbsd

Active Member

Thanks: 7
Messages: 180

#19
Thanks, guys! Those Thinkpads look great, especially considering the price. It will be hard justifying an Apple purchase now, considering I can get greater hardware for half the price! And I can throw FreeBSD straight on it, so I can dual boot with Win8 on an i5/7 with 8GB RAM for $800! Sweet :D

I think I'm getting a Thinkpad! They better not be crap. I'll know who to blame :p
 

markbsd

Active Member

Thanks: 7
Messages: 180

#20
The Mac's just look so much better than the Thinkpads though. The latter really aren't pretty at all. Still, with the money I save I can buy a Mac Mini and finally get to setting up a network. On that note, anyone got a basic blueprint for a newb to set[ ]up a home server? I already have a wireless router and several PCs. But I want to buy another PC to set[ ]up as a firewall and proxy, and another one to be a server. Does that seem right? So, basically it'll go:

internet ---> modem/router ---> firewall/proxy ---> server ---> clients

So all computers will connect to the internet through the firewall/proxy running Squid and Privoxy.

Forgive me for the elementary questions. But I need to know what I need to buy before commencing this project. I was thinking the Mac Mini could be the server (can I install FreeBSD on them?), and I could buy a cheap tower to be the firewall/proxy. I already have everything else, I think. Maybe I should just pay someone to do this for me. But then I wouldn't learn anything, and I'd miss out on all the fun!
 

kpa

Beastie's Twin

Thanks: 1,673
Messages: 6,084

#21
You may want something like this instead:


Code:
internet ---> modem in bridge mode ---> (public IP address)firewall/router/proxy-+--->server
                                                                                 |
                                                                                 |
                                                                                 v
                                                                              clients
Firewall on the internet facing router is easier to configure because you don't have to worry about the effects of double-NAT. If the modem was in NAT mode you'd have a double-NAT that is always quite cumbersome to manage.

Your server should be just another machine on the local LAN with just one network interface used. If you want to put the server into a DMZ add one more interface to the firewall/router for the DMZ network.
 

markbsd

Active Member

Thanks: 7
Messages: 180

#22
Thanks, @kpa :)

I was reading about DMZs, but I don't think I'm skilled enough to secure it out there on his own with no backup. And, I'm not sure how it would benefit me. I like your diagram though. It makes more sense than mine. I really don't know what I'm doing, but I want to give it a go!

So, my modem is a modem and router built in one piece of hardware. I will have to buy a new router, yes? So, I need a router, a desktop server, and a firewall. What pieces of hardware and router do you recommend? I appreciate your help too, by the way!

Also, I don't even know what a NAT is, let alone a double NAT! And, I assume bridge mode is the modem just "passing" its connectivity to the router to manage? Do you recommend setting up the server in a DMZ?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kpa

Beastie's Twin

Thanks: 1,673
Messages: 6,084

#23
Often the modem/router combinations allow them to be configured in bridge mode where the ethernet ports on the modem get bridged with the WAN network, look at the manual of your modem/router.

NAT stands for "Network address translation". It's a technicue of "hiding" private IP addresses (like 192.168.1.100) on a LAN network behind a NAT point with a public IP address so that all traffic originating from the LAN will appear as coming from that single public IP address when seen from the outside. The term "NAT" is often used for "port forwarding" as well that is similar technicue but in the opposite direction, from internet to a local machine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_address_translation


DMZ isn't very useful unless you're exposing services of your server to the internet, for example your own web server. I would start without one and add it later if a need arises.
 

markbsd

Active Member

Thanks: 7
Messages: 180

#24
I no longer have the manual to the modem/router! But, I will buy a new modem and a new router anyway. This one came from my ISP, so it may not be very good. Best to buy a new one I think. Should I use ethernet connections for the critical components (modem, router, firewall and server) and just use WiFi for the clients?
 

kpa

Beastie's Twin

Thanks: 1,673
Messages: 6,084

#25
markbsd said:
I no longer have the manual to the modem/router! But, I will buy a new modem and a new router anyway. This one came from my ISP, so it may not be very good. Best to buy a new one I think. Should I use ethernet connections for the critical components (modem, router, firewall and server) and just use WiFi for the clients?
Personally I don't trust WiFi enough to use it for anything else but my laptop, everything else on my system (that is exactly like I described above in post #21 btw) is using wired ethernet.