My Counter Review of TrueOS
I’ve been using PC-BSD and TrueOS as my daily driver for a while now. I’ve used FreeBSD for various things and have a couple of arm boards I’m testing 12-Current on.
The truth is software is HARD. What the guys at ix are trying to do is unprecedented as far as I know. They are trying to produce a rolling release FreeBSD variant from the HEAD revision at the same time as produce their own UI. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but the has been a couple of companies that have lost their shirts attempting something like this.
FreeBSD is broken, get used to it.
FreeBSD RELEASE revisions are hard enough to work with sometimes. External applications are always in a fluctuating state of broken in FreeBSD. It’s not hard to find a port thats out of date. That’s what I love about FreeBSD. Personally, I dug in and got MonoDevelop to work on 10.3. The port has since been fixed and updated, but that’s because there was some of us that showed interest and kept working at it.
From what I can tell of the complaints from newcomers, it’s that they can’t get it to install on newer computers. I feel that pain. I sympathise. However I stuck with TrueOS and FreeBSD on and off over the years and it’s paid off (Look at me ma! I’m playing with kernel code!).
What am I saying: FreeBSD is a great platform to drill in and learn about your favourite applications. If you want to learn about open source Unix (oops, can I say that?) Give TrueOS a try. The TrueOS team have created a reasonably stable platform that works on most systems. They provide a complete computer operating system in two variants: Desktop and Server (no desktop) edition. TrueOS is a rolling release edition, meaning you get all the updates to drivers and utilities long before their back ported to RELEASE editions of FreeBSD. That means in the future they’ll be able to run on current hardware sooner. And as an added bonus, you get to help test and improve your favourite operating system!
Lumina is a fantastic desktop. I fight with it whenever time (read kids) permits. I’ve been using it off and on since beta days. I can’t believe how mature it’s become. The fact that someone would even bother to compare Lumina to Mint is a testament to the hard work of the TrueOS team, regardless of their opinion.
Sometimes though it frustrates me. I have KDE installed and keep threatening my computer that I’ll switch desktops if it doesn’t play nice. That’s the nice thing about TrueOS, I can switch the desktops by simply downloading the package from app cafe. But threatening my computer happens less so now because I’ve been using Lumina regularly. The hot keys are different from what I’m expecting (omg ctrl+arrow!), I find the user experience things less than fluid. But then every now and then I find a little tidbit. “Oh, look, I can tab and type through Insight File manager without having to reach for my mouse”! “Oh,wait ctrl+pgup ctrol+pgdown is tab in ALL my windows. That means I don’t have to contort my left hand to cycle using ctrl+tab.”
And then I remembered something. Crap, I had to go through all of that with KDE. I had to fight through that with Windows 8. I know this story: It’s called learning something new and it sucks.
What am I saying: Lumina is a perfectly usable desktop with a definite work flow if you can find it. I have trouble finding things sometimes (Network manager is in Utility but Firewall is in Control Panel?), and I still hit ctrl+right arrow (argh!). I ask openly if there is documentation around the user experience (i.e. all the hotkeys) as I’ve been to lazy to go find it. However, it doesn’t crash, and does a good job of not being intrusive (I’m looking at you KDE). All the basic functionality of an OS desktop is there. Including an update manager…
Updates and Rolling Release And Conclusion
Did I mention that software is hard? I’ve experienced a couple of difficulties with software updates over the past couple of months. I’ve been able to work through them with the guys on this forum, but I’ve got the bullet wounds that it took to get there. It’s frustrating when things like updates don’t work, especially for people not familiar with FreeBSD and TrueOS. However there’s only ONE way to get the release system to be better: use it. The more people using it the more problems that can be found and fixed.
Likewise, the head revision is an absolute gong show from what I can tell. In arm right now pkg is broken on the IMX6 image and I keep getting a lock order reversal that kills ports! Neither the TrueOS nor the FreeBSD teams have ever had to keep head stable before. In my opinion it’s going to take a while before it gets better. But it gets better faster if we all keep working at it. Without TrueOS, how are we ever going to get there? I’d love a committer opinion on that.
What am I saying: TrueOS is a fantastic new rolling release variant of FreeBSD. If you want to play Netflix and have a nice easy free desktop to use, I say go grab a Mint image. If your interested in working with the most current FreeBSD software,help evolve a brand new UI and want to be involved in making an open source OS better, TrueOS is a great choice.