May 12th, 2006, 08:39,39026612,39311777,00.htm

"The Unix descendent will soon be able to match Linux feature for feature, with GNOME desktop support expected this year, according to a core developer

Linux may soon have a stronger open source competitor on the desktop, if FreeBSD's plans come to fruition.

FreeBSD developer Scott Long told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the operating system, descended from the Unix derivative BSD, is "quickly approaching" feature parity with Linux.

"Lot of work is going on to make FreeBSD more friendly on the desktop," said Long. "Within the year we expect to have, or be near, parity with Linux."

The main focus of developers is to integrate FreeBSD with the GNOME and KDE desktop environments, and to add plug-and-play hardware capabilities.

"Developers are doing work so you can plug in a USB stick and have it appear on the desktop and just work, without having to mess around with command prompts and work out arcane commands," said Long.

Joe Clarke, who leads the team of developers working on FreeBSD for the desktop, said in a recent interview that developers are primarily working on integrating FreeBSD with GNOME, but hope to be able to add KDE support in the future, due to the work that is going on to unify the desktop environments.

One of the priorities for developers is to get GNOME's hardware abstraction layer working with KDE, Clarke said in an interview with BSDTalk.

"Getting HAL, the hardware abstraction layer project, successfully working on FreeBSD would be a great win. It's not a silver bullet, it's not going to make us perfect by any means, but it'll go a long way to bringing in some much-needed cool desktop features to FreeBSD," said Clarke in the interview.

One problem that FreeBSD developers have faced is that GNOME developers tend to be focused on Linux, rather than considering other desktop operating systems.

"These days, unfortunately, everyone on the [GMOME mailing] list is talking about distro this, and distro that. And the modules that they're starting to consider don't have FreeBSD [support], don't have Solaris [support] they're very Linux-specific," Clarke said. "My opinion, and I don't have any evidence to back this up, but from the conversations I hear on the list, is that the majority of the core GNOME developers don't use anything but Linux as a primary GNOME development platform."

The FreeBSD team are not the only developers working on getting the operating system working on desktops. The DesktopBSD and PC BSD projects are also working on a version of FreeBSD for desktops.

Earlier this week, the FreeBSD team released version 6.1 of the operating system. One of the main features in FreeBSD 6.1 is improved filesystem stability, which has been made more "solid, fast and sturdy", according to Long.

"The thing we worked hardest on for this release was filesystem stability," Long said on Thursday. "We did stress tests, found some more bugs and fixed them. For users with high-load file servers, this is probably the best release yet for them."

More information on FreeBSD 6.1 can be found on the project Web site."

May 15th, 2006, 15:14
It's great to see that the developers of FreeBSD want to see more uses for the O/S, but doesn't this create "bloatware"? One of the reason's I chose FreeBSD is that it's not bloated and slow like Micro$oft O/S. In my opinion FreeBSD should remain a server related O/S. If other developers want to make FreeBSD more desktop/laptop friendly then shouldn't they let PCBSD & DesktopBSD developers handle that end?

I want to hear what do you people at think?


May 16th, 2006, 11:08
The good thing about FreeBSD (and Net/Open/etc.) is that it has a seperate base (world) install. You can build it into anything you like from there. You can have as little or as much bloat as you want. I see this as a very good thing. All the filesystem improvements and optimizations in 6.1 help a server but it still is beneficial to desktops too. I'd want to see the focus on world to be server but desktop should still be doable. Too many Linux installs want to have a full Gnome/Kde/whatever desktop installed on a server. Most distros will allow you do a custom install but there's often weird or more than needed dependencies even when you do a minimal install. I think the bloat question is more relevant to Linux because it installs the base and apps together with some possibly unnecessary dependencies.

I've been using FreeBSD on the desktop since 4.0 ( switched my main box to it with 4.6 release :biggrin: ) and I think it makes a great desktop system. DesktopBSD and PC-BSD both are good things to make it easier for more people to use. DesktopBSD says they are not a fork and that they sync back up to stable while PC-BSD seems to be doing their own thing and forking. TrustedBSD used to be it's own project and later most (all?) of its security improvements have been rolled into FreeBSD proper. Hopefully some of this happens with DesktopBSD too.

Just my 2 cents. :wink:

May 21st, 2006, 22:09
I've read that on-going debate since my first attempt at FreeBSD when 4.8 was new. I'd like to see FreeBSD pickup more desktop features as an option. I also hope it never loses it's peformance advantage as a server OS. It's just enough like Linux to keep me using it, yet better in some ways where it's different. So I'd like to HAL ported over, but not required for anything except GNOME and KDE apps.

Now, if I could just figure out why it doesn't like my current hardware....

May 21st, 2006, 23:46
:biggrin: Cool, I want more input from others! :biggrin: