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I do like BSD OSEs, but I think the most interesting thing about the release of PC-BSD is that the download page incudes a VMware image.

That’s smart, and I wish more distro’s would do this.

I downloaded the iso image (one cd only for this unless you need multi-language support) and installed it into a Parallels VM

The install was quick – less than half an hour total. Moments later I logged in to a KDE 3.5 desktop. Based on previous experience with Parallels, I’d guess this would be 15 minutes on real hardware – maybe less.

Linux users won’t feel terribly out of place here: BSD is of course different, but there is so much in common at the application level that it could take you a few minutes to realize this isn’t Linux. A good clue came when I opened a terminal window and saw a “%” prompt. Ayup, BSD tends to use csh, and that’s the default here.

Fortunately you can rid yourself of that nonsense very quickly: there’s a big “Download Software” icon on your desktop; click on that and it will take you to a website where you can download various PBI files. These are self-contained installation files: in other words, they have everything they need to install the software on your system – no searching for dependencies that some developer assumed you’d have. Just download the pbi, double click on it, and you are done. I downloaded and installed Bash immediately.

There are disadvantages to pbi files. You’ll end up with multiple library versions, which gets messy if there is a security upgrade. You also have to be very trusting of the source of the pbi: you get nothing in the way of authentication or even MD5 verification. PC-BSD therefore also offers the more tradition BSD “ports” method of getting software. To initialize that, go to Kmenu ->Computer -> PC-BSD Settings -> System. Click on the Tasks tab, and choose Fetch Ports. After that’s done, you have the traditional ports software install available to you.

This is a nicely done BSD. Give it a try.

*Originally published at APLawrence.com

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A.P. Lawrence provides SCO Unix and Linux consulting services http://www.pcunix.com

PC-BSD
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