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Date:      Mon, 11 Sep 2006 00:32:11 -0400
From:      Kevin Brunelle <kruptos@mlinux.org>
To:        freebsd-questions@freebsd.org
Cc:        Bob Walker <rww@safllc.com>
Subject:   Re: Newbie Experience
Message-ID:  <200609110032.11994.kruptos@mlinux.org>
In-Reply-To: <000001c6d520$292f6700$0c01a8c0@DELL8400>
References:  <000001c6d520$292f6700$0c01a8c0@DELL8400>

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> 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.

The Handbook is excellent at walking through much of the setup.  Although, in 
cases similar to yours I always recommend starting with the article designed 
for people new to both FreeBSD and Unix.

http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/new-users/index.html

This gets you started on all the basics you'll need to know to get everything 
else under control and is short enough that you don't feel compelled to jump 
around and possibly miss stuff.  It doesn't cover X setup but gets you 
comfortable working in the command line which is what you're going to need to 
be proficient at until you have X configured.  X is usually fairly easy to 
setup but you need to know how to move around.

> 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,

FreeBSD has an excellent out of the box experience, for the majority of people 
who use it.  The best out of the box experience (for most BSD users) is a 
base system which is configured to be used well enough to set it up for 
whatever use you intend for it.  Even moving to it completely new, it's not 
bad if you take the time to learn it.  Moving to a different OS isn't 
something you should take lightly.  There's a reason people are encouraged to 
read all the documentation they can before starting.

With that said, the installation does require administrative ability.  But 
since it's your machine, you will eventually need that.  Huge learning curve 
right at the front but it's very gentle after that.  My step-mother (who 
can't manage to understand why programs people send her don't run -- yes 
they're windows viruses -- and only knows her web-browser because it's the 
globe icon) manages to use FreeBSD without issue.  She absolutely loves it 
and does everything you listed as simple requirements and more.  But I set it 
up for her because she wasn't up for the learning curve.  If you're of 
modest-technical ability and have a desire to learn the OS, it's not very 
difficult to overcome that curve.  But the curve does exist.

Anyway, when you're stuck, posting specific questions about your problems here 
(or trying google) is usually a lot more productive than giving up and 
sending an email about how it doesn't work to the help list.

-Kevin



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