Would this idea grow the FreeBSD userbase?

jb_fvwm2

Daemon

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Have two types of usb install images for amd64: one-disk-systems [non default ZFS ], if
as I understand it now, the default is for ZFS [ more expensive setups] ... [ have not used the
install usb images recently so this post may be spurious... ]
 

Brian546

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The goal should never be to simply attract users. Otherwise it ends up becoming like every other project; a clone of Ubuntu. What the goal should always be, however, is to release the best performing, highly stable SERVER based OS, with outstanding documentation. That alone will in turn attract the right people.
 

srobert

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The goal should never be to simply attract users. Otherwise it ends up becoming like every other project; a clone of Ubuntu. What the goal should always be, however, is to release the best performing, highly stable SERVER based OS, with outstanding documentation. That alone will in turn attract the right people.
The goal of releasing "the best performing, highly stable SERVER based OS, with outstanding documentation" depends upon having competent developers and contributors.
Dependencies:
competent developers and contributors --> large pool of potential developers and contributors --> general interest in the project --> desktop and laptop users
With its focus on development of a complete OS, including both kernel and OS utilities, its copyfree license, I don't see that attracting users will lead to FreeBSD becoming an Ubuntu clone, except perhaps in good ways, such as keeping pace on hardware support.
 

kpedersen

Son of Beastie

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I don't see that attracting users will lead to FreeBSD becoming an Ubuntu clone, except perhaps in good ways, such as keeping pace on hardware support.
There are two sides of the coin. Yes, more users in general will hopefully bring with them some decent developers capable of i.e improving the OS.

However many users aren't always benefitting of a project and can sometimes spread the existing developers too thin requesting "ease of use" features rather than being technical and learning things themselves. i.e leading to slightly entitled opinions such as "why should I learn? I am simply a user not a developer".

It is what gave rise to the leader of OpenBSD in one interview outright saying that he didn't really want users which is probably logical but quite funny to hear in practice.

From what I can see, the most popular operating systems with the most amount of users are Windows and Android which are absolutely impossibly terrible pieces of malware. So really, this is some proof that attracting users is not a good goal for an OS project.

Edit: You also have another risk. Some developers don't simply want to improve the OS by writing drivers (or are not skilled enough to). Instead they want to do pointless crap like adding systemd and generally changing the project sideways rather than upwards. In many ways zero developers is better than those kinds of developers. At least having zero developers won't break things.
 

covacat

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the ultimate level an OS installer can reach
1641926971466.png

 

ralphbsz

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An installer that's more capable and more user-friendly would broaden the base.

How long does it take to install an OS? Anywhere between 10 minutes and a weekend (the latter if you include setting up lots of things, and doing customization). Let's say that the automated part of the (the installer run) is on average an hour (I might be wrong by a factor of two, but that's not important).

How long does one use an OS? If it is good, for years. During those years, you have to learn to be good at using and/or administering it. I would bet that I have spend hundreds of hours administering my *BSD server systems, and thousands of hours using them (meaning: logged in, and doing stuff that requires reasonable knowledge of the OS and its applications, not just a web browser, which I don't have on my *BSD systems anyway).

Putting effort into optimizing the first hour seems very foolish to me. Instead the FreeBSD community should invest effort into making the OS more useful and usable.

Yes, I know there are lots of people who do "distro hopping", and install a different OS flavor every few hours. Good for them. I don't think attracting them into the user base has any positive effect, only a negative one: more dumb questions from newbies, in particular newbies with an attitude, and the expectation that things work like Linux.
 

shkhln

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I remember the most scary thing about FreeBSD and various Linux installer(s) for me as a newbie back in the day was always partition layout, specifically the part where one is supposed to select the root filesystem size and so on. The usual advice here is "it depends on what packages you want to install", which is incredibly unhelpful to new users, who have no reference point here at all. The lack of the graphical installer UI, on the other hand, I didn't even notice. (Maybe because I'm somewhat familiar with typical DOS TUI interfaces, e. g. Norton Commander or Turbo Pascal? That must be it.)

Anyway, FreeBSD is not getting a graphical installer, because it lacks a graphical interface (in the base system) in the first place. It wouldn't be self-contained.
 

shkhln

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Oh, and your obligatory reminder: while it's obviously possible to use Unix (which FreeBSD arguably is) without hardcore CS skills, at least some C programming knowledge is the minimum bar for being comfortable with it. It never was intended to be usable by just anyone.
 

bsduck

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I have to agree on this: graphical or not doesn't make a big difference. I used graphical installers that were more confusing and not any more convenient than bsdinstall. Which doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement in it.

at least some C programming knowledge is the minimum bar for being comfortable with it
What? No. I have no clue of C, and I'm perfectly comfortable with what I do. So are lots of users.
 

shkhln

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What? No. I have no clue of C, and I'm perfectly comfortable with what I do. So are lots of users.
You never had to fix compilation errors? Use tracing tools? Read the source code to check whether a particular piece of code is present in a certain branch? Diagnose a program crash? I don't mean you need to be a professional programmer, what I mean is that you need just enough code literacy to do the basic tracing/debugging/read-the-docs stuff. You'll have to eventually learn this even if you don't intend to, there is no other way.
 

bsduck

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You'll have to eventually learn this even if you don't intend to, there is no other way.
Maybe, we'll see. I've been using FreeBSD-powered machines almost daily for a few years and never felt that need as of now :)
 

chungy

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Totally disagree on the C programming sentiment. To be a regular user of the major Unix OSes (FreeBSD and Linux, at least), you really don't need any programming skills, just a little bit of common sense for reading the manuals.
 

grahamperrin

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FreeBSD supports applications for desktop, server, appliance, and embedded environments.

… I've said it multiple times and I even have it in my signature. FreeBSD is a professional operating system for professionals. … Being popular among the highly proficient is good, and it also brings in enthusiasts who add value and contribute, but it also drags in the amateurs who only want to play their games. …

So what if someone plays a game in a desktop environment?

So what if someone is an amateur?

How fortunate, for the lowly, that snobbishness and exclusivity are not the norm. To anyone who doesn't like the inclusivity and positivity of my new signature, which includes links to the FreeBSD site: tough titty :) and for our further amusement – under the heading of Advocacy – this is amongst the stated reasons for choosing FreeBSD:

– wow! Will this pleasure never end?​
 

shkhln

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Totally disagree on the C programming sentiment. To be a regular user of the major Unix OSes (FreeBSD and Linux, at least), you really don't need any programming skills, just a little bit of common sense for reading the manuals.
Well, that kind of assumes there is documentation other than syscall/libc man pages and source code comments (and McKusick's book). More often than not, there isn't any. Virtual memory, discussed in a recent thread, is a good example of something that not really approachable without some programming knowledge (high level picture should be easy enough to explain, but details definitely aren't). Yet you need to be aware of it to correctly interpret SIZE/RES columns in the top output.
 

ralphbsz

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... at least some C programming knowledge is the minimum bar for being comfortable with it.


To be a regular user of the major Unix OSes (FreeBSD and Linux, at least), you really don't need any programming skills, just a little bit of common sense for reading the manuals.

I think the truth is somewhere in between. No, you don't need to have heavy programming skills to use it. But you need a little bit. For example, just to be able to reason what happens if you do "rm" and the first file in the directory is called "-R", you need to think a little bit about how computers do thing, about steps taken by a program, about what an list (of arguments) is, and so on. No, no you don't need to be able to do binary arithmetic and be able to recite the differences between a pointer, array and reference in C++. And if you want to use tools like sort, join, awk, sed, you need some programming skills ... an awk script is actually a program, in a language that somewhat resembles C.

On the other hand, you don't need to do coding to use it. As an example: Professionally, I'm a software engineer, which includes kernel work and file systems. For the last ~15 years, I've used various *BSD flavors as the main server in my house. I do a lot of tinkering, tuning and configuration in it. Yet I have not compiled a custom kernel on FreeBSD ever (on OpenBSD I used to do it), and I have never looked at the kernel source code in any detail. No, I don't need to read the C code (or code in any other language) to successfully use FreeBSD.

"FreeBSD is a professional operating system for professionals and computer enthusiasts" as someone once said.

And here I have to agree with grahamperrin: You can also be an amateur. But the important thing about FreeBSD is this: It is a system that will delight both computing professionals and enthusiastic amateurs. When using Linux/HP-UX/AIX/Solaris, I frequently have to prevent myself from gagging, because I look at how clumsily things are done. They are a mix of random hack by a drunk college student, an uninterested engineer just putting in his hours and delivering the MinimumViableProduct, or an egotist and nutcase designing software. That is mixed with things that are really well done (like ZFS, which originally came from Solaris, or ext2/3/4). When using FreeBSD and in particular OpenBSD, I sometimes feel that it would be lovely if more work could be invested in them, but I always have the feeling of using a well-crafted tool that was put together with care by smart people with a common purpose.
 

drhowarddrfine

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ralphbsz I used to say "serious amateur" but some took exception to that word so I changed it to "enthusiast". Some took exception to that, too, so, in my sig, I dropped it altogether.

grahamperrin My whole point is that so many people on some forums like reddit, whose only reason to own a computer is to play games, think FreeBSD is just like Linux or Windows, then complain when it isn't. I'd bet that's 90% of them over there while I'd bet near 100% of the people here either don't play games on FreeBSD or it's not their sole reason for using it. I'd also bet that near 100% use it for their interest in computing, networking and operating systems alone.

I would far prefer a computer engineer switch to FreeBSD who wants to use it for work and contribution than a Linux gamer who only wants to play Minecraft.
 
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