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Old 20th July 2010
BSDfan666 BSDfan666 is offline
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Originally Posted by realitykid View Post
However, I haven't got the resources available to me right now to try BSD for myself. And I'm not about to install BSD in place of my Linux installation. Not now that I'm comfortable.
If personally uninterested, you might not have an easy time making a comprehensive comparison.. learning enough about a new operating system always requires using it for yourself and gaining a first hand experience about all the ins and outs.. like day-to-day operation.

Originally Posted by realitykid View Post
1) How friendly is BSD? I've heard some stories of it actually getting more and more friendly, specifically with the PC-BSD install process.
Friendliness is such a hard to define term, people tend to be different in a wide variety of ways.. perhaps some people want a computer to be more like a consumer appliance, others want customization, some operating systems are more suitable for that than others, but in the Unix community a vast amount of environments are possible.

From my understanding, PC-BSD is essentially introducing the "distribution" concept from the Linux community and building a desktop environment suitable for perhaps casual computer user around FreeBSD operating system (..kernel/userland) and offering extensibility using a software distribution system similar to Mac OS X "dmg" files.

The installer for all of the BSD's have typically shared a common attribute, offering a similar experience whether you're on a system with a keyboard/monitor or installing headless over a serial connection, internally there isn't much difference between a local simulated terminal (kbd/monitor) or a real DEC VT220.

Things might be changing, not everyone is familiar with text-based installers, but, done properly they can be quite "friendly" and even offer a level of control not offered by a graphical installer.. a Unix operating system is typically separate from any graphical stack you may or may not run atop of it (X+GTK/Qt).

Originally Posted by realitykid View Post
2) Does BSD interact well with most hardware? As in detecting it, having working drivers for it out of the box (or user installable drivers). I'm talking about stuff like video and audio specifically. But even wireless, which leads me to my next question.
As said, all of the BSD's have been developed separately.. they have varying levels of hardware support, but surprisingly a lot more than you might expect, in most cases the problem is related to lack of developer time and resources (..chipset documentation).

There is typically no installable drivers, most are already bundled, but in the case of NetBSD and FreeBSD.. some drivers are not part of the default kernel image/binary and need to be selectively loaded (..kernel modules).

With OpenBSD, all supported drivers are part of the default kernel (GENERIC/MP) and hardware is detected at each and every boot.. and new hardware/drivers are written with each new release.

I'll touch on some issues with graphics, proprietary drivers for ATI/AMD do not exist on any of the BSD's, but quite fortunately you do not need them, this vendor has provided documentation to write open source drivers, and 3D acceleration should work, some slack should be given for later cards, as this takes time, nVidia does provide a proprietary driver for FreeBSD only, 2 open source drivers also exist ( reverse engineered, the other now unmaintained by nVidia, 2D-only, and lacking support for new cards), this new open source driver still hasn't really made it's way into the BSD world.. not yet.

Originally Posted by realitykid View Post
3) Does BSD do well with wireless connections? I'm not talking specifically PCI wireless cards, but also USB adapters (such as mine).
There is no defined standard for such cards, individual drivers must be written for each new chipset and card family released by a vendor.. this takes time, vendors do not typically release drivers for BSD, so work is typically done by developers based on previous effort (..perhaps reverse engineering Linux drivers) or by obtaining documentation.

You'll have to approach this on a card by card basis, you can find a vendor/product number for your specific device and then determine if support exists in the specific *BSD flavour you're using.

Originally Posted by realitykid View Post
4) Last, but certainly not least, does BSD usually have good community support? Now this is a big one for me. I wouldn't touch Linux with a ten foot pole, let alone use it, if the Linux based operating system that I want to use doesn't have a good community.
There are always levels of reduced activity, but, you may be glad to know that each BSD has been around for a long time.. and it's modern-day derivatives still maintain vibrant and close-nit communities, user forums, and official mailing lists.

I recommend reading more at the official websites, you can find more information, for at least NetBSD and OpenBSD, a large portion of development and user-related activity is on mailing lists.. but forums like daemonforums exist, there are even Usenet lists still active after several decades of operation.

I hope that helps.
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