Installing FreeBSD for Desktops

Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude toward one another, have varied from age to age, but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim — for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives — is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal.

–George Orwell’s 1984

 

 

They say history repeats itself. In the desktop OS world too, one can see 3 classes – The High (FreeBSD) , THE Middle (Linux) and The Low (M$ Windoze).  I finally switched my Laptop OS from Fedora to FreeBSD a couple of weeks back. And I feel really happy about this switch. It has been a great decision and I guess I have  “Fallen in Love again”.

This article is not an advocacy article. I think all operating systems are nice and there is a segment for each OS. I respect Mr. Bill Gates and lot and I think he is a wonderful businessman who is one of the core reasons why we are able to use operating systems like Linux and FreeBSD without studying in some big US or Finnish University. Because of Bill Gates we can all afford and use computers.

Our main servers in Poornam have been FreeBSD for many years. But the desktop OS has always been a Linux flavor. FreeBSD has been the most stable, secure and reliable OS I have seen in my life till date and I often used to think of shifting to FreeBSD for the desktop as well, but everybody said “it is not user-friendly”. So I thought before we make the change in the entire organization, I’ll try it out myself and convince myself. Coming from the Linux World, switching to FreeBSD was not very tough.

FreeBSD Installation

The installation process is simple and intuitive. The installation CD is bootable. It boots directly into the cursor’s based setup program called sysintall.

The FreeBSD handbook is a wonderful document and gives all the details on how to carry out the installation. I’ll just give the details of  what I did.

The easiest method is to select the Standard Installation option.

I already had a Linux partition which I was planning to remove and I had Linux swap of 1G and a 10G Windows XP partition (I do not know why I have it. The only use I have had of a windows drives till date is for listening to streaming music from raaga.com. But yet I have it there. )
All I had to do was remove the Linux and Linux swap parition and replace it with a FreeBSD and FreeBSD swap partition.

Do remember to Toggle SoftUpdates. This improves the performance in terms of speed of the filesystem.

The next stage is to select the distribution set for installation. As it was for  my laptop and I had enough and more space I selected the option “All”

The installation then gives the opportunity to install the ports (more on it later) collection for which again I said “Yes”.
And Finally one has to select the media from where to install, the various option being CD, ftp server, dos partition , nfs drive and so on. I selected the CD option.

FreeBSD Post Installation

The network is configured first. Select the ethernet device from the list available devices.

Then the installation program asks if we would like to try  IPv6 configuration for the interface and if we want it to search for DHCP servers. We can even setup the IP manually as show below.

Most of the remaining post installation options can be safely ignored for now.They are not very important when it comes to a desktop installation. The program sysinstall can be called anytime after the installation from any shell. Setting up the time zone and the root password are the only other setup options that are requited at this stage.

The time zone selector first shows the various continents (regions). Select your region, then country and the zone in which you are located.

And finally enter the new root password and the first stage of installation is over. Now remove the CD and reboot the computer and our Fresh new FreeBSD is up and running :-D

Things can’t get any easier than this. In terms of ease of installation FreeBSD is at par with any Linux or Windows OS.

 

 

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