PC-BSD… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … or waiting… … … … … …to do… … …s… …tuf…f…………….

At the behest of KURKOSDR over at TMREPOSITORY, I sat on my ass for over an hour and downloaded PC-BSD (the Freetarded OS that isn’t supposed to be Freetarded). Seriously, it took well over an hour on a 30M connection. Ah well, just a slow server ya know. It has happened before so no sweat.

After waiting for Menhotep to arise downloading PC-BSD, I fired up VB and went to work installing the OS. I do have to give some credit to the guys behind this piece of software:It strikes a pretty fair balance between the super-easy stuff like Ubuntu, and the Judas fuck a goat install already overly complicated pile of crud Debian. PC-BSD offers the chance to install numerous accounts with individual passwords which would come in handy for computers used more than one person, the ability to choose if the install is from a network resource, the interweebs, or media such as a CD or DVD. Unlike Debian, (or at least the pain in the ass I installed) PC-BSD sports a nice looking interface for setup with tooltips that explain a bit more about what some settings will do and offers advice for beginners and old pros alike. Along the way, you also get to pick which bits of software you would like installed. It already has some picked out as default, but you can change those. Options such as window manager are available with GNOME, KDE, XFCE, and a couple of others being supported by the makers, while 4 or 5 others can be installed but any problems are your own to fix. You can also choose other software and tools to install or not, which is actually not a bad idea. Setting up the install was a rather nice experience; the actual install however, should be classified as torture along with waterboarding was not pleasant.

8% into the install, things hung… and no amount of waiting was going to make it get any further. Thinking maybe something got screwed up along the way, I deleted every thing and went and sat on my ass some more re-downloaded a slightly different version of PC-BSD. After the wait, I went back to be strapped to the waterboard installing PC-BSD. This time, I made it to 11% before the inevitable hang. “DA, it appears that PC-BSD doesn’t like you”, I thought to myself. But, just because I wanted to see what would happen again, I went back to the site and watched as the OS was sent Bit by Bit and picked another version to try downloading (mind you, I chose different mirrors each time and things were ALWAYS slow). Set the install and… 13%… I left it to sit for 2 hours.. and not a bit of progress at all. Oh it was indexing the hard drive, and using the CPU but actually doing nothing.

In my last trip to the site, I had noticed they had VirtualBox VDI’s already prepared so I downloaded one, expecting the slow crawl toward a full download, but this time things went by at a nice clip. Unzipping the file, I set it up in VB and fired that baby UP!

the desktop was nice and clean, but the fonts were a little blurry. After setting DPI and such, things looked better… except for little artifacts left behind after closing windows and such. A bit more poking around and I discoverd that by default, PC-BSD was using OpenGL (which is what I usually set these things to use as X usually sucks). I closed the settings and immediately discoverd one–ONE!–pixel in the middle of the screen that was pure white. Ignoring it, I started opening programs and such, and discovered that compositing was well.. arthritic at best (with that one pixel still glaring at me). I went back and changed the settings to X-render and. discovered for once in the history of computing, it was the better choice.

PC-BSD installed three browsers during setup: Konqueror, Epiphany, and Midori. Firing one up, I discovered that going anywhere was slow… as… hell. Ah well… give the other two a try. Nope… still slow AND found out that a couple of sites that used a two column layout didn’t display properly AT ALL. the columns were stacked instead of side-by-side. At this point I gave up on PC-BSD and shut it down. I may try it again later, but for the moment… no. 10 hours to get a working install and then the rendering probs… Even Dreckian Debian would be a preferable choice as far as I can tell.

About DigitalAtheist
Out to find out how much Linux-loving hype is just hype and how much is true. Hype seems to be winning.

7 Responses to PC-BSD… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … or waiting… … … … … …to do… … …s… …tuf…f…………….

  1. kurkosdr says:

    Many thanks for the review. PC-BSD was actually sold at a store chain (don’t remember which) during a certain period of time, so nobody can tell how many victims exactly it has claimed.

    Any ideas why it was so slow? Was it X or the FreeBSD kernel? It would be funny if the mighty FreeBSD kernel (ThePowarToServe(tm)) can’t handle two open windows without being ass slow.

    Anyway, real Unix hasn’t said it’s last words yet, we still have Solaris. If you can find where to download it from and what hardware it supports (from what i hear, even figuring out the options to virtualize it can be hard). Or should i get the Libre fork (OpenIndiana). Anyway, you have suffered enough, my friend… enough with Unix. At least Limux fails in funny ways (if you are not relying on it to do stuff, of course)

  2. I’m not sure why the slowness. as for X, things seemed to actually be a tick faster than OpenGL was wich was a big shock. The programs started decntly well… slower than some other systems but no biggie. The problems though was that surfing was dog slow, pages were just wrong.

    I have a feeling that this is the kinda OS where the hardware choices are limited, and if you don’t meet things exactly as it needs, it balks. The worst part was the install. After that mess, I just couldn’t deal with the other stuff like smudgy fonts, slow surfing, or the constant nagging about this service or that wasn’t working right and was being shut down for the 5th time in 3 minutes. heh… this was actually more buggy than most anything i’ve tried so far.

  3. doctorloser says:

    I suspect that Free BSD doesn’t like being installed over a VM, and that the browsers haven’t been touched since before the various core rendering things came out. Is there a Firefox available? (I really don’t want to know.)

    The last time I tried FreeBSD, I was at least impressed by the ports system. You know, that package managing thing that the Loons boast about? Ports blow all of them away.

    I’m not sure I’d give it another try (and I’d certainly want to source compatible hardware first), but given the fact that they work on 0.0001% of the Loon budget (no Red Hat, no IBM, no nothing), it’s at least a creditable effort.

    Nice to see that single white pixel in the middle of the screen thing is still there, though. Probably a long-deal X window nagging you to bury it under a very heavy tombstone with a stake through its heart.

    • “I suspect that Free BSD doesn’t like being installed over a VM”

      I honestly believe that that is part of it, but I also believe they don’t have the hardware compatibility that some others do. I believe that is why they actually offer preconfigured VM’s for VirtualBox and VMWare… too many people have problems with it.

      although with the super-verbose loading, and the super-verbose unloading stuff, I wonder if they aren’t trying to have it fill too many roles at one time.

      • kurkosdr says:

        “I suspect that Free BSD doesn’t like being installed over a VM”

        Are you sure your VT-x/AMD-V is enabled? Some moronic OEMs have it disabled by default and must be enabled from the BIOS setup. You probably didn’t need me to tell you, just making sure…

  4. Thomas B says:

    OpenSolarisLinux!

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