[PC-BSD Support] Recent PC-BSD experience

Charles P. Schaum verbo.solo at sbcglobal.net
Wed Dec 10 21:13:56 PST 2008


Just wanted to provide some feedback on a recent trial of PCBSD.
Unfortunately AT&T has blacklisted pcbsd.org and so I cannot put
something in the otherwise helpful fora.

First, as one running FreeBSD on a headless, keyboardless server that
sits in a corner and JUST WORKS GREAT, I have a positive disposition
toward the BSD's. In 2003-04, after being royally shafted by a
Windows-based company, I started looking at Linux, having used System V
and VMS, among many others, in college in the late 80s. After trying all
the major Linux distros I found that the BSD's have some great
advantages. They are a breeze to set up, although now the sysvinit stuff
is now also deprecated on the Linux side. The BSD's are more stable with
hardware when the drivers work, and performance is usually better. I've
tried all the BSD's at some point. So far, PCBSD 7.0.1 is the premiere
BSD desktop system and KUDOS to you.

Setup was easy. But I actually did a FreeBSD setup first to get a
multi-disk partition scheme. That way I need not spend extra quality
time with fdisk, disklabel, newfs, and such. Since the "advanced"
feature is in so many Linux installers, I missed that. I then installed
PCBSD over the extant BSD partitions and did the whole bit with
effectively "cpduping" home to its own partition and remounting,
activating a load-balanced swap on two drives, etc. The install went
great. PCBSD sets up Nvidia and others much better than most Linux
distros, the recent Ubuntu 8.10 regressions being a royal pain. I can
get most things to work.

I must RTFM regarding pf so I can get it to permit local stuff. Then I
could see my FreeBSD print/file server without disabling the firewall
(LAN on a Linksys four-port router). That's not, however, a PCBSD issue,
but an operator issue. And it's even harder to get OpenSUSE to do
anything in that regard.

But then there's my HP Officejet Pro L7555. I recompiled the kernel with
a new kernconf that left the umass module out to get ugen to engage it.
I included cups in the operator group. HPLIP and CUPS saw the unit but I
could get nothing to handshake. Bummer! Then I also wonder if I can get
umass to recognize the unit after ugen has, because it also does photo
memory cards as media. Since I use and need that for business reasons,
this was a show stopper. Searching brought up older and newer versions
of PCBSD, which was a little confusing. Perhaps a default version filter
would be in order, with the ability to choose other versions.

I am just waiting until PCBSD has some of the kinks ironed out. I would
be glad of a revisit. If I can get decent xine-based multimedia, flash,
acrobat, printing, wine, and a TeX suite running on a given OS, I am

Currently, after being disappointed by OpenSUSE (again), I am running
Ubuntu 8.04 with a heavily-kludged install of TeXLive 2008 and AUCTeX
11.85 via checkinstall because anything Debian means yesterday's
software working real well. If I see better HPLIP support, as in, I plug
it in and Ubuntu knows what to do, or if I see a path via kernconf
fiddling and/or a tutorial that gets me what I need inside of 24 hours,
I am so there when it come to PCBSD. Then I can just set up some patch
diffs that allow me to drop in TeXLive and have the proper build/run
depends to get me Emacs (using it for 21 years now) and AUCTeX without
worrying that I broke a packaging system because I dared diverge from
groupthink. I like TeXLive and tlmgr for keeping current. That's why
ports is just so cool. Or even better, a TeX suite PBI (drooling like
Homer Simpson) that would marry a default thin TeXLive install to the
PBI infrastructure (for which tlinatall/tlmgr would be well suited in a
build script). One could then use tlmgr to snag the full megillah off
the DVD or via the net, then update the CTAN packages. TeX users would
just melt "like buttah" at the idea that TeXLive is free of distro
groupthink, yet functional via a standard path.

I'm not on the list, and who knows who AT&T Yahoo has blacklisted these
days. Reply if you like, but at least throw it in the hopper for
consideration. Thanks for a solid product, and I am looking forward to
being all-BSD on the desktop, 'cept for legacy Windows stuff that Wine
may eventually run.


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