So I installed BSD for the first (successful) time yesterday.
My setup at home, as of a few weeks ago, was as follows.
- Wireless router with four Ethernet ports.
- My laptop, running Ubuntu, which generally connects via wireless.
- Tina’s second-hand desktop, also running Ubuntu, with a PCI wireless card (because at the time it seemed cooler than running a long Ethernet cable).
- A server that stayed on most of the time, connected to one of the Ethernet ports, running some mutant Xubuntu-like monstrosity that had been upgraded half a dozen times. SSH and BitTorrent from the outside world were directed here. The machine itself was a Pentium 3 or something, chosen because it could get away with just a heat sink over the CPU so it was pretty quiet and (I think, although I never actually measured it) low-power.
- My gaming rig, now essentially obsolete, but still with the best video card in the house. Dual-boot Windows XP and Kubuntu, connected via Ethernet.
- A couple of random boxes that I used for now-defunct projects and haven’t bothered to get off my desk yet.
Tina’s desktop (3) had had a slightly flaky hard drive for a while. A few weeks ago it finally gave up and refused to boot, although it was still mostly readable. I have a few spare drives lying around and could probably have just swapped it out, but on an impulse I bought an ex-lease box from an online auction instead. Pretty cheap too – $235 including delivery for a Pentium 4 3.0 GHz, 2 gig RAM, DVD writer. Yeah, there’s a risk with buying stuff ex-lease, but at a price like that I’m not arguing.
Anyway, it turned out to be a good decision ’cause the server (4) died about a week later. Actually it may have already died, I hadn’t been using it much, and it had been temperamental for a while, but it was a couple of weeks ago that I finally realised it wasn’t booting at all. It’s had some other hardware issues too, so although I like the fact that it’s so quiet, I don’t really trust it to keep working with a new HDD.
So I got a new hard drive ($125 for a 500GB IDE drive?! That’s like 25c a gig), stuck it in Tina’s former desktop, and installed FreeBSD 7.0 (which came out last week) on it. I spent most of Sunday coming to terms with the little differences between BSD and Linux, and getting a few things up and running.
Thoughts so far? It feels more responsive than Ubuntu, although I’m probably going to switch to a lighter-weight window manager than Gnome; maybe Enlightenment, if I can get my head around it. I’m trying to SSH to it at the moment from work, and the connection keeps dropping, although that could just be my ISP going through one of its IP-address-shuffling frenzies. Will have to keep an eye on that. The central configuration of nearly everything in rc.conf seems really elegant, although I’m sure there are quirks that reveal themselves over time. I’ve installed a couple of things with ports, and it seems quite powerful. The whole system feels much more like a coherent whole than Linux.
So is there a world of pain waiting for me just around the corner?1 comment