My Brief BSD Adventure

I was bored. My old laptop has been running Linux Mint for a while and now I want something different so I checked out BSD, PC-BSD to be more specific.

In the past, I have been flirting with BSD several times, and ended up abandon BSD for Linux. This time is no exception. Before going into the bad parts (at least for me), I would like to state that PC-BSD 8.2 is an excellent OS. The installation is smooth and trouble-free, unlike my previous encounters. The default KDE window dressing are attractive and clean looking. Overall, applications are fast.

There are a few things that I subjectively found not up to my taste; again, the keyword here is subjectively. The default shell for PC-BSD is csh, but my choice is bash, so I changed it at installation time. PC-BSD uses KDE as its primary window manager; personally, I like gnome better. The default installation includes Tcl 8.5, but it is called tclsh8.5, without any softlink to tclsh at all. I had to create that soft link myself. On most Linux systems and on the Mac, the shell is called tclsh, simply enough.

Now, comes the things that drove me nut for the two days I ran PC-BSD. First off, after installation, I ran software update. After reboot, I logged into KDE and found a screen with just a wall paper, nothing else. I tried alt-tab and saw a bunch of applications in the task list, but none of them is visible. I tried to fix it for two hours and finally gave up and ended up re-installing the OS from scratch.

I then left my laptop unplugged and went to sleep as it was late. The next day, I turned on my laptop and found that the battery was drained, so I plugged the power cord in and turned on the laptop. I thought the laptop was in hibernation; but it booted up as if it was turned off. That means I lost my works from the previous night (a couple of C++ files). I thought PC-BSD should have hibernate the system when battery went down. Furthermore, the power saving should have sleep, then hibernate the system, in order to save battery in the first place.

Worse yet, once booted up, I could no longer connected to my WIFI access point. Fast forward until the afternoon, I gave up my hope and gave up on BSD one more time. I was going to try Fedora 15 next.

Besides these annoyances, there are a few things about PC-BSD that I don’t like. On my 1.66GHz core duo laptop with a 40GB SSD, my Linux Mint 11.04 boots up in about 38 seconds. Fedora 15 does it for about 48 seconds. However PC-BSD took its sweet time to about 2 minutes and 37 seconds.

The default Linux Mint installation allows to use the right- and bottom edge of the trackpad to scroll. Fedora 15 allows to choose between using the edge or two fingers. However, PC-BSD does not allow to scroll using the trackpad. I am sure, eventually I will find out, but I wish they offer scrolling in the default installation.

These are a few things that prevent PC-BSD from becoming my primary OS. I hope that PC-BSD 9 will be much better. When it comes out, I will give it another try.

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