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Date:      Thu, 3 Mar 2011 15:32:38 -0700
From:      Chad Perrin <>
Subject:   Re: xdm-options - non-bsd user needs bsd rc.d advice
Message-ID:  <20110303223238.GA47498@guilt.hydra>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <>

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On Thu, Mar 03, 2011 at 05:01:10PM -0500, John D. Hendrickson and Sara Darn=
ell wrote:
> Hi.  I'm a BSD idiot I use [Debian] linux.


> If anyone would like to quickly comment I'd love to hear why bsd would=20
> be a better choice than ubantu (for what audience it is better).

FreeBSD is definitely a better choice for *me* than Debian, or (worse
yet) Ubuntu.  I'm temporarily stuck in a hell of my own making, of sorts,
because I installed Debian on a laptop I bought to make up for the fact
that I managed to buy a laptop for which FreeBSD does not yet have
complete graphics support (Intel HD video).  The end result is
significant annoyance.

Debian, since I used it regularly about half a decade ago, has become
increasingly complicated by attempts to guess what users want and provide
it.  This approach tends to result in making it very difficult to do
things differently if you want to.  Problems I'm encountering right now
mostly center around networking issues -- for some asinine reason, it
will connect to my WPA encrypted wireless network at home, but not to an
open wireless network at a coffee shop.  It makes no reasonable sense.

With FreeBSD, it would be a trivial exercise to make it work.  Worst-case
scenario, I could just change a couple of lines in /etc/rc.d and enter
the /etc/rc.d/netif restart command.  On Debian, I've tried about half a
dozen different approaches to getting it to connect to the coffee shop
network, including more than one GUI with a seriously suboptimal
interface, with no luck; it just keeps failing to get an IP address.  I'm
pretty sure there's some kind of automagical DWIMmery going on behind the
scenes, trying to guess what I want it to do and doing it without my
permission, and getting its guesses *wrong*.

The upshot is this: FreeBSD is better for people who like essentially
deterministic behavior out of their OSes, where the same input produces
the same output, with (little or) no chance of it blowing up in your face
or just stubbornly refusing to let you do what you want to do because
some developer somewhere set up automagical default management based on
what *he* thinks you *really* want to do.  Debian to some extent, and
Ubuntu to a far greater extent, is for people who don't want to know
anything about what the system is doing under the hood, to the extent
that if the system doesn't get it right automatically the person will
refuse to actually spend any time learning enough about the system to fix
the problem.  Things are getting positively Microsoftish.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm frustrated.  I'm beginning to wonder
whether having 4:3 resolution stretched out to a 16:9 aspect ratio
display might be a lesser evil than using Debian, when it is even more
annoying now (relative to FreeBSD) than it was five years ago.

tl;dr summary: FreeBSD is "power-user" friendly.  Linux-based systems are
getting increasingly "dumbed-down user" obsequious, to the detriment of
people who like being able to customize the system's behavior (or,
y'know, actually troubleshoot it at all).

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: ]

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