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Date:      Sun, 10 Sep 2006 17:29:11 -0400
From:      Bob Walker <>
Subject:   Newbie Experience
Message-ID:  <000001c6d520$292f6700$0c01a8c0@DELL8400>

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I have always wanted to better understand Unix, and so I finally made the
decision to switch some of my office PCs over to either a Unix or Linux
system. With office suites like OpenOffice, I felt that I would be able to
transition away from Windows with minimal disruption to my business. So, I
downloaded the .iso images from FreeBSD, Suse, and Fedora. I initially
favored FreeBSD, since it seemed to have the closest lineage to "pure" Unix,
and that was important to me, but after many, many attempts to install both
the OS and Gnome desktop environment, I threw up my hands.


In brief, the installation process is just awful. After multiple attempts on
an admittedly older machine (Pentium II 266Mhz, 256KB ram, 30GB hard drive,
S3 Virge graphics card), I was able to get the FreeBSD OS installed, but
could not configure Gnome or KDE properly. The documentation is sketchy at
best. I had to learn about X11, Xorg, XFree86, and all of the gory history
of X before I could even begin to use ee and know to edit the /etc/rc.conf
file. The installation process did not recognize my graphics card or
Ethernet connection, and all I could get was a crude 600x800 display. And
DesktopBSD was even worse.


I then repartitioned my drive and sequentially installed Fedora Core 5 amd
then Suse 10.1. Both were EASY to install, Fedora in particular recognized
all of my peripherals, and I was up and running with it in about two hours.
Conversely, FreeBSD took me multiple days and has still left me bewildered.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed. I feel that FreeBSD will never
achieve broader acceptance (even with momentum building for alternative OS)
among people with modest technical proficiency and fairly simple
requirements (i.e., spreadsheets, word processing, presentations, email).
FreeBSD has an awful "out of the box" experience. It's too bad, because I
think FreeBSD is probably a better OS, but I'll never really know. Regards,

Bob Walker
Surveys & Forecasts, LLC
2323 North Street
Fairfield, CT 06824-1738
T +
F +1.203.549.0635
M +1.203.685.8860

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