BSD Desktop Week

Last week on Twitter I was promoting BSD on the desktop.

I got a small flurry of “likes” and “retweets” regarding a number of posts, and one (I think) real person even posted to #BSDdesktopWeek!

Nobody that I know of took my up on the offer of switching their everyday desktop to BSD for the week, but then I did only start promoting it the Friday before it started…

But why did I want to promote BSD on the desktop?  Firstly, pretty much all the arguments we had a few years ago about why Linux was good for the desktop are pretty much true for BSD.  Secondly, since I started using FreeBSD on a laptop at home I have realised just how well engineered the system is, how logical everything feels, and how great the community is.

With discovering the second point above, I have begun to switch my Linux servers to FreeBSD.  With the power of Jails and ZFS, I not have one virtual machine running three different services (persistent IRC client, GitLab server, and ownCloud server) all segregated from each other and the whole thing is using less than 20GB of storage.  Management is very easy and super configurable.

Since I came to FreeBSD as a server via the desktop, it is somewhat my hope that casual (techie) desktop users who use a BSD everyday on the desktop might choose a BSD for any future server requirements.  Techie users would also bring with them a wealth of knowledge from other systems to improve the BSD in untold ways, and just playing the number game; more users would encourage software to become more portable and BSD friendly.

How was my week using BSD on the desktop?  I must confess I missed OS X, and it didn’t help that I ran FreeBSD in VirtualBox on my Mac.  I missed single click, Magic Mouse support, keyboard shortcuts (e.g. for generating a hyphen instead of a dash, or printing typographic quotation marks), and certain applications that only run on OS X (mainly Tweetbot and Reeder). Although some applications, like 1Password, would run well in Wine others did not (like Dropbox)—1Password uses Dropbox to sync files, so bummer! But for general desktopy stuff, it worked really nicely.  I happily did email, wrote most of this blog post, watched YouTube, did some perl script editing, some research, etc.  It just worked as a functional desktop.

In the middle of the week, I found a really beautiful email client that is still in development called N1.  I downloaded the source and attempted to compile, but no luck.  Having opened a ticket, the developers are making an attempt to make sure this works on FreeBSD as well as the other supported systems—which I think is awesome of them!

Next year I think I’ll start promoting earlier, and perhaps try to draw in some support from other BSD users.

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