Tag Archives: Compiz Fusion

An OS for the Rest of Us: PC-BSD

Sick of Windows and Linux? Mac OS too pricey? Looking for something different? PC-BSD to the rescue!

What is PC-BSD?

Before we get into the review, here are some highlights from the PC-BSD site discussing PC-BSD and its requirements. For a comprehensive look at what’s in this release, see the changelog and the release notes on the PC-BSD site.

Highlights of this release:

* Moving the FreeBSD base version to 6-STABLE
* Xorg 7.2
* KDE 3.5.7
* Compiz-Fusion 0.5.2
* Support for Flash7 in native BSD browsers. (Konq, Opera, Firefox)
* Official NVIDIA drivers to simplify activating Hardware acceleration.

Minimum system requirements:

* Pentium II or higher
* 256MB Ram
* 4GB of free Hard Drive space (Either partition, or entire disk)
* Network card
* Sound card

Now I know that some of you are probably very skeptical about the idea of using BSD as your desktop operating system. Maybe you’ve never heard of it. Maybe you have heard of it but have heard that it’s not very user-friendly or that the software is hard to install or manage. Put aside whatever preconceptions you have about PC-BSD because you’re in for a real treat—if you’re in the market for a new operating system.

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Why I’ve moved from Vista to Ubuntu 7.10

“Have we reached the beginning of the tipping point? I think we may just have.” Since the late 90s I’ve dabbled with Linux, but there have always been compelling reasons to return to, or stick with, Windows. No more, for two reasons: Vista, and Ubuntu 7.10 (ala Gutsy Gibbon).

“Through all this time I have looked forward to each new version of Windows either because I expected it to be more stable, add better hardware support, or correct problems in some other way.”

And now onto Ubuntu.

I’ve been through dozens of Linux distros over the years and while I have wanted to like them, I’ve always found myself a little disappointed in some respect or other. No more.

Ubuntu has the slickest installation I have yet found in any OS.

Ubuntu makes it supremely easy to install extra software packages.

Ubuntu has a wonderfully useful and responsive 3D desktop, in the shape of Compiz Fusion. Ubuntu is fast, and is like a fresh breeze blowing through after my weeks of gazing at Vista, waiting for something to happen.

Ubuntu generally works just fine on my Santa Rosa laptop. I had to spend some time figuring out how to get Compiz Fusion working, but even that is relatively easy.

The other reason that Ubuntu does it for me is that over the past 12 months I’ve found myself increasingly using non-Microsoft products. Google Docs is usually open in a browser Window, OpenOffice.org has been on my home and work machines for some time now, and while I still use Outlook, I find Evolution quite useable. Even for those applications I use that are not available on Linux – such as Mindjet’s mind-mapping software – I find there are often quite suitable alternatives with some degree of file compatibility.

Of course this is just my experience, and this is just Ubuntu. Yet I have had a look at SuSE 10.3 which seems to be equally able, and this is not to even mention Apple’s Leopard OS which is due later this week and which can be relied upon to deliver a ‘wow’ factor that people have simply failed to see in Vista.

Have we reached the beginning of the tipping point? I think we may just have.

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The Ubuntu coming out party! But where is the marketing and advertising effort from Dell and others?

The final release of Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) will be released shortly and Dell has indicated that it will be pre-installed on some of their Notebooks and Desktop PCs. It will include GNOME 2.20 and the default installation of NTFS-3G, which provides read/write access to Windows (NTFS) partitions. Also included is Compiz Fusion, the 3-D window manager and desktop effects package. Improved plug and play printer support and a host of other features. However the story of success does not rest in the fact that Dell is offering its support to Ubuntu. The big question is the marketing and advertising of Ubuntu Linux. As far as I am concerned Ubuntu is still the best Linux distro available, for the commoners. However, why is there so little advertising of Linux? Is there a reason why Dell is not fully backing Linux? Ubuntu has a chance on becoming a big player for Linux enthusiasts and possibly people who want a PC, but for online and basic home PC usage. But, the progress will continue to be a slow one, as long as no particular hardware vendors helps in marketing the product, in the same way Microsoft Windows is pushed. I sense that Dell does not want to fully upset the Microsoft behemoth. Dell is now offering XP as a downgrade (of upgrade – depending on how you see it), for users that do not want Vista. Vista has experienced extremely bad press, along with a host of problems. The question is since Microsoft is not coming out with a new OS anytime soon; why not help push the Ubuntu Linux cause? Is there more at play than we know? Dell may simply be riding the Linux wave for free, while not helping (spending too much) to promote Ubuntu, at the expense of XP. Also, Linux is still not mainstream in the public eye. At a recent event the subject of Microsoft Vista was brought up. These are not “technically inclined” individuals; however they ALL had nothing good to say about Vista. Many said that they would buy a Mac. Some said “a Mac is hard to use” (did not get that one). However at the price, they could probably purchase 2-4 basic low-end PCs, with Microsoft XP. Only a few knew about Linux, however they said that “it was for nerds and programmers”. Well at least they knew something about it! A little education brought them up to speed, however more work needs to be done. While HP, Acer and others are contemplating Linux ventures, Dell has an opportunity, with its marketing knowhow, to boost the general profile of Linux. I hope Dell jumps on the opportunity, which should help to change the technical landscape for years to come.


Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario