FreeBSD on the Desktop: How much are we giving up?

I’ve been running FreeBSD for awhile now. Looking back at my posts, it appears that I hammed up my Slackware installation right around the turn of the new year so near abouts three-and-a-half months.

FreeBSD on the desktop, if you’ve experienced it, is a learning experience. So much that at times I feel like I’m being punished for not knowing everything about my system.

To clarify on my desktop history you should know that a few months ago I switched to xmonad for my window management from Fluxbox. I went from an already minimal window-manager to an an even more minimal window-manager.

I don’t want my desktop to do everything for me all the time. On the other side of the coin, I don’t want to have to do everything for it.

I was reminded of this disconnect when I fired up Fedora 16 on a machine at home (it was running FreeBSD but I was sick of compiling packages from ports. Yes, I know I can get packages in binary but I can’t understand how to keep my binary packages and ports in sync for cherry picking every other source.) Everything just worked together.

After installing emacs and copying my global .emacs.d/ things are just working. After a `yum install xmonad` I am able to login under xmonad. I see they’ve even included a .xmonad/ in my home.

The Fedora developers must have a picture in mind of how the system should be and it appears that all packages have been designed with this picture in mind.

I don’t know what this means for FreeBSD. The craftsmanship of the FreeBSD project never ceases to amaze me. I love just setting my variables in rc.conf. However, it seems to me that more work needs to be done to integrate binary and source versions.

Some ports build against the kernel source. Why is my /usr/src not updated by freebsd-update? (Update: yes, it can update /usr/src.)

If FreeBSD could solve the Package vs Ports dilemma, and if packagers provided more apparent defaults for settings then FreeBSD would be a very strong desktop. I’m sorry that everything I plug in isn’t automagically configured, but doing that is complex and what is convenient for me may be inconvenient for the masses.

In the coming days, I do see myself spending some time contemplating the differences in experiences. FreeBSD truly is the unknown giant.

There is a difference between performing a calculation and solving a problem. I’ve been considering the equation of a circle, . Except, you see, that’s not the entire thing. There’s a bit that we’ve dropped because it’s  zeroes (and therefore doesn’t affect our equation): . This equation contains the full information–everything that is necessary to draw and position […]