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January 21, 2012

21

PC-BSD 9 Review

PC-BSD 9 is a BSD distribution that is based on the latest version of FreeBSD 9 and uses KDE¬† 4.7.3 desktop environment as it’s default desktop. It is somewhat more geared to novice and intermediate based users of BSD like how Ubuntu is for Linux users, but we won’t go into the differences between BSD and Linux in this review.

PC-BSD 9 installation is quite straight forward, there wasn’t too much tinkering to do and you can also customize what you want installed. You can easily choose GNOME as your default desktop if you don’t like KDE or go with a lighter desktop of XFCE, or even Fluxbox. For this review we’ll stick to default desktop environment in KDE.

Installation seemed a little bit lengthy on both my test machine as well as in my Virtual machine, but the responsiveness of PC-BSD was quite quick once everything was installed and ready to run. Once you’re ready to run, you can’t tell there’s a difference under the hood. pcbsd-9-2012-01-14-16-31-23

What makes PC-BSD user friendly and stand out? Its package system that was created to make things so much easier. PBI files are programs packaged specifically for PC-BSD where you can search for a program you want to install, say, Firefox for example, you just open AppCafe type in Firefox then click download and there you go. There are so many apps now in PBI format that I would be surprised to find something missing. It takes a lot of time from developers and volunteers to convert a program to PBI to make things easier for its user base so there might be a slight delay for a newly updated program to appear.

The PC-BSD Control Panel application allows you to change certain settings in PC-BSD. Here for example, if you want to install another desktop you can easily go to System Configuration and go to Desktops and choose another desktop you want to use. It will download everything it needs for you to make it functional.

As far as software goes, there’s a lot of software that comes with PC-BSD, Konqueror and KMail are your default Internet and email programs respectively. For office productivity, KOffice is the default productivity suite which contains KWord, KSpread, KPresenter. There are also quite a few games that come pre-installed with PC-BSD.

Conclusion

I’ve used PC-BSD for quite a few years back when it was just starting out and one of the main things it was executing on was user-friendliness on a BSD platform. Back then, it failed due to lack of support, but now, I am happy to report that support grew quite a bit and I’m not worried that PBI package system will be a failure.

I’ll give props to the developers for writing a 250 page user guide on how to use PC-BSD and its applications; as a well written manual is quite scarce nowadays but a free one is even rarer. For those who want to use PC-BSD as their full time operating system it would not hurt to print out some of the manual and familiarize yourself with what you can do with the programs you have at your fingertips.

I’ve enjoyed using PC-BSD for this review and did not have any qualms about it.

Homepage: PC-BSD.org

View: PC-BSD 9 Gallery

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21 Comments Post a comment
  1. jo13
    Jan 22 2012

    i wanna try this os.. but 4gb iso.. this is too big for download :(

    Reply
  2. Anon
    Jan 22 2012

    Would like to give this a try.
    Does it have support for 3D drivers Nvidia/Ati?

    Reply
  3. Nessun Dorma
    Jan 23 2012

    It might be worth bearing in mind that ACPI support isn’t quite as developed in FreeBSD as it is in Linux, and that it’s best to test out your PC’s hibernate/suspend features using the PC-BSD LiveDVD.

    Reply
  4. Brian
    Jan 24 2012

    I also use PC-BSD, but I feel your review is unbalanced. I appreciate the time and effort taken to write the review, but over looking faults does nobody any favors. PC-BSD does a wonderful job of overcoming the shortfalls of FreeBSD, but they are still there. Having WINE is a big plus, gaming is there – ie. I can install Doom3, however in order to install The DarkMod over Doom3, devil and boost libraries are both missing. That’s just one example. Installing the Ghost plasma theme crashes KDE solid. Multiple theme changes do the same. The big one is no bluetooth or bluetooth GUI. This is tech everybody uses everyday. If you have a cell, wireless printer or speakers, and a PC, you will use it. Bluetooth will be coming with 9.1, but these are things that should be mentioned.

    Reply
  5. zykoda
    Jan 28 2012

    KDE i386 dvd took well over 1 hour to install. It only sees 3GB of RAM in a 6 GB machine. So I replaced it with X86_64 and Gnome. About 1/3 ot the install time and it sees 6 GB. I have avoided overwriting the bootloader by installing on a second disk. I did not see any reference to where the bootloader would be put at installation!

    Reply
  6. Michael
    Jan 30 2012

    Install PC-BSD was very very slow. I have a very up to date PC. And installing gnome took about near an hr. I wanted to use this OS so bad. So I install Zorin OS 5. I’m looking forward to the next release of PC-BSD. Hopefully, the install will be faster. And the UI as you drag it from side to side, will be like this Zorin OS. It shakes like f lubber lol ….

    Reply
  7. Jan 31 2012

    @brian

    Don’t assume because you use a feature that “everybody uses it everyday”

    I don’t use bluetooth, it’s power-hungry and wasteful and unnecessary for many people. Wired peripherals work fine for me and many others.

    You’re never going to get a fully comprehensive review covering every aspect of a system, that’s why you should also recommend other peoples reviews for comparisons sake, in addition to constructive criticism.

    For instance, a slightly longer review of the new release can be found at http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20120130#feature

    Reply
  8. Feb 2 2012

    Isotope installation is too slow on Asus laptop

    Reply
  9. Mar 11 2012

    I try PCBSD 9 in VMware Workstation in Windows 7 64bits, dell vostro machine with 4gb RAM Intel i7 family processor.
    Not big problems to install but very slowly bworking.
    Must be a real alternative to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

    canbit.org

    Reply
  10. Jesserac
    Mar 22 2012

    PC-BSD 9 install is not slow, it’s turtle like, its sub glacial!! 3 hours in on this on an E-systems desktop with 4gig of RAM and its still only 84% done – stuck in “Installing Mythtv-024.1_1 (at 10% done) for over 45 minutes now. What in the HELL is the install program doing?? Seriously, WHAT can it be doing? I’ll give it another hour or so and then abort.
    This is absurd. Odd thing is, I installed it OK a month ago, same slowness, but it went all the way that time. The only difference, is this time I selected zfs with encryption. Hmm…

    Reply
    • Jan 4 2013

      dear jesserac.
      zfs +gpt need amd pc efi bios .
      amd 32 bit pc bsd lite normal

      Reply
  11. Patrick Crosby
    Apr 19 2012

    I first tried installing to a 16 GB flash drive, usb 2.0 Took many hours– perhaps 6 or 7. Seemed to boot reasonably fast (considering) afterward, and looked nice, so I decided to install to a hard drive instead. Didn’t time the new install, but maybe a couple hours at most (3 Ghz Pentium 4, 1 GB). Runs fine now. Looking forward to trying the version of Macsyma that comes with it. But when I download a slightly later version (for free BSD) of the Opera Browser, from Opera, I hit a brick wall. Everything downloads, but I’m not quite sure what to do after that. Application installation on all UNIX flavors has always been a bit of a mystery for me. I need to change that, at least for PC-BSD. Then I need to get my feet wet with WINE. Mainly WordPerfect is what Id like to have. It’s still the best word processor ever.

    Reply
  12. Jun 5 2012

    Good website! I really love how it is easy on my eyes and the data are well written. I am wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

    Reply
  13. T
    Jun 9 2012

    I had it installed and working nicely. Installed within 1/2 hr or so. Then accidentially used e2fsck on the UFS partition while I was checking other (Linux) partitions -oops. When trying to reinstall, I chose ZFS and it got stuck on one of the system install packages. I then tried a UFS install and it got stuck on one of the software packages. I tried one more time without selecting the HP driver package or most of the multimedia packages, and it installed very quickly, I was surprised. It is humming along nicely again.

    Reply
    • T
      Jun 9 2012

      Forgot to mention I also left out the src repository on the final very fast successful install.

      Reply
  14. Prairie Nyx
    Oct 29 2012

    You never mention, did you use the 64-bit version with your Intel CORE i7? Or is the 64-bit AMD only? (I seem to recall a specific mention like that on the PC-BSD website.)

    Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Dec 2 2012

    Hi,

    I have installed PC-BSD on my (old) Pentium 4, 1.6 Ghz machine, with 512MB RAM, and 22 GB memory.
    As my machine doesn’t have a DVD-R/RW drive, had to download and install the 700MB ISO.
    It comes with LXDE, an archiver (GUI), no browser, no multimedia player(s), no Office suite, no Games.
    Installation wasn’t slow, in fact it was quite fast!
    About 30 minutes later, PC-BSD was installed.
    It works fine.
    The only problem is. I don’t have an internet connection, so I had to download manually the programs I needed.
    And now I have Firefox, Abiword, Gnumeric, some games, lmms, audacious, vlc (though it is buggy on LXDE, don’t know why)…
    I think I’ll be using it for quite some time! ;)

    Note: PC-BSD comes with the BTX loader from FreeBSD, I found it somehow difficult to boot it with GRUB.
    So, I uninstalled my Linux distros (and GRUB), to install PC-BSD.
    Then I installed Plop Boot Manager, and everything works fine.

    Reply
  16. smchris
    Dec 12 2012

    On it right now with an old T60 ThinkPad with an SSD. I’m going to keep it for chuckles as a field trip computer for astronomy: Stellarium, KStars, Cartes de Ciel, Variables, Virtual Moon Atlas — 3.5 :( , Where is M13, RegiStax, and Cheese reads my “cheesie” NexImage cam. Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Calibre for some astro books. Back at the motel: browsers, email, and although the pbi currently seems broken there’s a port of Skype that at least works with audio so what’s not to like? It is a bit like being at an ’06 linux desktop on an ’06 laptop but since I’m sure the BSD community is way smaller than the linux community, I want to say that in a “glass is half full” praiseworthy sort of way. It _is_ a functional machine for my purposes.

    That said, my laser printer is basically a WinPrinter. Just being HP it also has linux support. It doesn’t look like hp-setup is ever going to actually install the software it downloads in PC-BSD. And, as people have said, lots of luck on hibernate/suspend.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. LXer: PC-BSD 9 Review | Coders & Admins
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