OpenBSD: The proverbial thrill of victory ... and the agony of defeat
This article originally posted on Click
So giddy was I that the OpenBSD CD agreed to boot on my converted Maxspeed Maxterm thin client (with a VIA C3 Samuel processor that wouldn't allow the install of FreeBSD, NetBSD, DesktopBSD or PC-BSD) that I immediately launched into an install today.
I did OK. I even got my network configuration right. The option to dual-boot (with Windows, anyway) is covered, but I wiped out my CentOS 3.9 drive just to make things easier. On something so foreign, I didn't want any more complication than necessary.
Once the installation got under way, I realized why DesktopBSD and PC-BSD exist. Even FreeBSD offers more than OpenBSD in its raw install. I selected every package offered on the CD, and I ended up with:
The base system
That's it. No window manager -- not even Fluxbox. No apps to speak of. I had xterm and xclock -- the docs said that the text-based Lynx browser was part of the base install, so I opened up an xterm window, typed lynx at the prompt ... and got lynx. I entered a Web address, and the site came up in all its text-only glory.
So next I figured that I would get the ports tree. It's lucky I know what a ports tree is from my experience in DesktopBSD, during which adding ports didn't really work ... but I learned enough, at least.
So I've got a base system and rudimentary X -- and if I want a traditional desktop install, I'm gonna have to build it piece by piece from PORTS?
I followed the instructions for awhile. I got the ports tree from the FTP site. I even installed fluxbox. Not that it would run afterward. Let's see ... I had a window manager, albeit one I couldn't load; now it was only a couple hundred pkg_add commands before I had something I could work with. ...
You need a good book with specific instructions on building a desktop system opened right in front of you. If such a thing exists. ("The OpenBSD 4.1 Crash Course," from O'Reilly has a chapter on desktop use ... but I'm not holding my breath.)
If you're a completely formed Unix geek, want to go beyond the traditional Linux distribution, know exactly what you want, package by package (or port by port), have wrung all you can out of Slackware, Gentoo, Debian and Red Hat, are an absolute fanatic about security and want a locked-down server, OpenBSD might be for you.
And if you're that sort of person, you don't need me to tell you ... anything. You know way more than I do -- by orders of magnitude. I'm not worthy, just as OpenBSD is not worthy of functioning on the desktop for all but the most ardent, skilled users who like to start from scratch and build exactly what they want from the command line.
The question that remains: Why would you want to?
Honestly, getting Debian and Slackware up and running is about 100 times easier than this. Even Gentoo, with its step-by-step process for building a system from the ground up, seems more doable. And when it does load, FreeBSD was quite a bit easier to deal with. Of course, PC-BSD and DesktopBSD have way better installers, but my luck didn't hold after the systems were up and running.
Thus far, on my Gateway laptop (which, unlike the VIA box, will boot and install all BSDs), I've had PC-BSD load up pretty well, even though many of the easy-to-install PBI apps were either out of date or didn't work all that well. I've seen my DesktopBSD system die when the ports I installed didn't work, and the promise of FreeBSD was unfulfilled when I didn't allocate enough disk space (surely the installer could've told me this BEFORE I was 4/5ths of the way through the install). None (except PC-BSD 1.3, not 1.4) managed my Gateway's fan.
I really don't want to be in the position of slamming BSD, but to mention it in the same league as Linux -- it's just not ready. All the talk of adults being in charge, a less-chaotic development system and any other supposed stability fades quickly in the face of actual BSD use. The BSDs may be good in the server room (I say may because I'm not a sysadmin), but Linux -- in its hundreds of distributions catering to every kind of user -- has the kind of momentum on the desktop that BSD is nowhere near tapping for itself.
|Subject||Topic Starter||Replies||Views||Last Post|
|Please insert clue to continue.||majorproblem||15||1,035||Nov 13, 2007 4:17 PM|
|IMHO, OpenBSD isn't that hard||hkwint||5||937||Nov 13, 2007 2:15 PM|
You cannot post until you login.