Why I'm going back to Linux


#1

I’ve spent the last 5/6 months using TrueOS as my primary OS but tomorrow, when I get broadband again, I will be switching back to Linux as my main OS. I think TrueOS is the most interesting and promising non-Linux based open source OS. I’m equally fascinated by Redox and Haiku but they are more enthusiast in nature than TrueOS is, which I think has the potential to be a very usable desktop OS with first rate ZFS support in a year or twos time.

The crunch point came three days ago when this feature request of mine was deemed a ‘won’t fix’:

My main computer is an i7, BIOS-based laptop with a single SSD. For months now I have been dual-booting TrueOS with Arch but because the TrueOS bootloader doesn’t support chainloading, I have had to boot supergrubdisk off USB to be able to boot my Arch partition. Not very convenient. The FreeBSD bootloader does have chainloading support which I have tested and I know works but the TrueOS team have decided not to replicate/modify this code because it is only required for non-UEFI machines and they are trying to phase out support for BIOS machines, or something.

I will continue to run FreeBSD on my NAS to take advantage of FreeBSDs first rate ZFS support but the advantages that ZFS offers over the linux FS alternatives on my laptop don’t outweigh the drawbacks for trying to use TrueOS as a desktop OS:

  • Booting to MATE under TrueOS on my SATA3 SSD takes 60+ seconds versus 6 seconds to boot to MATE under Arch, thats with or without ZFS root under Arch and with networkmanager running and connecting to wifi.

  • The TrueOS network manager app doesn’t support auto-connecting to USB ethernet connections

  • USB audio support in the TrueOS mixer is buggy and FreeBSD / TrueOS has no support for bluetooth audio

  • TrueOS updates are unlike what we’re used to in Linux land. It tends to update the whole OS in one hit and install it into a new boot env. This makes rollback quick and easy but it also means you have to rebuild and reinstall and packages you have installed from ports ie not from the TrueOS repos, every time you do an OS update. The ports rebuild process can be automated but its still potentially time consuming if you require numerous big packages or specific tweaks to big packages.

  • Lumina isn’t there yet for my use cases. MATE is quite outdated (1.12), unsupported and I haven’t manged to get the power management stuff working from the MATE GUI ie being able to suspend from the logout menu doesn’t work under MATE. KDE is still at v4 in FreeBSD land.

  • There would appear to be a bug in the FreeBSD USB code that causes multi-minute delays whenever I use gmtp to connect to my phones memory cards.

  • There isn’t really any proper joypad / joystick support under FreeBSD. You have to use something like anti-micro to configure joypad input via faked keypresses but that didn’t like my joypad.

  • I have to start JACK as root to use RT mode as I couldn’t get a kernel module that allows non-root users to do this to work

  • JUCE does not support FreeBSD so I have been unable to build two of my fave softsynths - helm and Noisemaker. Jules has said he would accept patches for FreeBSD if they weren’t too invasive as he can’t test it.

I have reported all the above issues to the TrueOS devs and/or the FreeBSD devs. If they make it easy for me to multiboot TrueOS, I would be willing to continue to give it room on my drive as a secondary OS but every one of those points works fine under Linux and the advantages of ZFS don’t make up for all of those inconveniences - especially when I am taking advantage of ZFS on my NAS anyway.


#2

Well, you gave it a shot and in the end proved what I’ve been trying to tell people for a long time:
The OS doesn’t matter much, it’s about the applications you need to run.
What follows are my opinions are a not personal attack, nor are they meant to convince you about anything. Just observations.

Multibooting is a configuration that not too many folks actually need: it’s mostly people that are geeks of one sort or another and are trying to see what they can do. Multibooting brings it’s own problems to the table: what got installed first, followed by what. As for integrating upstream changes, they’ll get pulled in eventually. “phase out support for BIOS machines…” I don’t know that I’ve seen/heard that in a “direction of the project” statement, but if you look at the bulk of consumer machines being sold today, a very larger percentage of them are configured as UEFI (I’m guessing because of Windows). If you follow the FreeBSD svn-src-head mailing list you’d see a lot of working going into efi bootloader code, to get more features and better support for items in the UEFI spec. BIOS booting also has issues with the sizes of todays media; FreeBSD gets around some of that by using a “protective MBR” that allows gpart partitions to be usable.

Boot times: My desktop currently has over 90 days of uptime, so to me, 60 secs vs 6 secs is lost in the noise. I boot to “init 3” and manually do startx because I’m an old dog and graphical login screens are the devil spawn.
NetManager app: statically assigned and DHCP have been fine for me, I’ve long disliked the Windows way of having a GUI for everything.

Audio: I have a radio for music, the standard FreeBSD things for sound sysctls works fine so I can listen to BSDNow.

Lumina/MATE/KDE/whatever: I don’t like “desktop environments”. Never have. I like simple window managers. I’ve been using WindowMaker for just about forever, even to the point of compiling by hand on ol Solaris machines. Lumina, while still a work in progress is one of the better ones to my mind (LXDE is another) mostly because of lighter resource uses and standard ways of doing things (XDG).

No comment on the USB issues with your phones.

Joypad/joystick support: again, another one of those things I don’t care about simply because they are unneccessary to the applications I use.

JACK: I’m guessing that mucking around with groups and perhaps setuid binary would get that to work. Even under linux starting something like audio to use realtime priority for threads takes a bit of work.

JUCE: Ok, an application that doesn’t support an OS. If that application is critical to you, then use it on a supported OS. This feels a bit like complaining that MS Office doesn’t run on OS-XYZ.

Updates. I’ve been running FreeBSD as my sole desktop at home for a long time, so I know fully well the pain of make buildworld && make buildkernel && make installkernel && mergemaster -p && reboot && make installworld && mergemaster && portupgrade -af. That said, the BSDs have always had the concept of “kernel and userland should be in sync” (that takes us through the last mergemaster). Ports (User applications) often don’t have to be updated when you update the kernel, simply because the KABI doesn’t change. Building ports by hand because the prebuilt package doesn’t have the desired options for you is always going to cause conflicts, even on Linux systems (yes, been there done that at work). Could there be better integration with prebuilt packages? Sure, but since TrueOS is FreeBSD12-CURRENT + Desktop work, the KABI is allowed to change (not locked down as in 10.3 and 11.x). Very easy to wind up with something broken and then needing to be fixed.

Again, I’m not trying to convince you, but pointing out that everyones experiences are different and mostly driven by the applications deemed critical and the systems they need to run on.


#3

It’s a shame to see you go, @danboid, but I appreciate you giving TrueOS a shot and participating with bug reports and discussion. I think it’s useful to have other use cases presented, so that we see that there isn’t a single FreeBSD user, but a good variety (one can hope at least).

I’m in the same boat as @mer that I’m lucky that my tools work on TrueOS and I can take advantage of ZFS, but that just happens to be the case now. If I was in my previous job, it wouldn’t have worked less well. I have mixed feelings about that.

On the other hand, I like how TrueOS is progressing, and I’m hoping that you can come back to test the waters and maybe stay another time.

Good luck!


#4

I’d like to help you with your multiboot issues. But I’m afraid we don’t have an install media suitable to BIOS machines anymore.

I run TrueOS on my 5 years old BIOS machine as my primary OS, and it works well for mostly everything I need at work. It multiboots with Windows 7 and Linux Mint. Luckily, some time ago, I got installed GRUB multibooting PCBSD, and after installing TrueOS with GRUB in a new boot environment, my multiboot settings keep working fine. Since then, I keep my system updated, and multiboot still works. I’m so sorry that new TrueOS installs don’t offer an option to install GRUB on BIOS machines anymore. Should I reinstall TrueOS to my machine some day, I’d be doomed. It seems that new installs of TrueOS aren’t an option to old hardware anymore.


#5

You can install TrueOS to BIOS machines but you cannot multiboot TrueOS on BIOS machines without using external tools booted off removable drives such as booting SuperGrubDisk off a USB flash drive to workaround the TrueOS bootloaders lack of chainloading.


#6

It was possible before, when TrueOS provided it’s own GRUB as bootloader. This is the one I’m using right now.


#7

I’ve just updated the bootloader ticket to note that you can actually chainload with the current UNSTABLE TrueOS bootloader but only manually from the boot prompt. I would like to see the TrueOS bootloader be updated to acknowledge chain_disk config entries in loader.conf like FreeBSDs bootloader does to access chainload partitions with the single push of a button.


#8

The only supported DE in TrueOS is Lumina.

The only officially supported DE in TrueOS is Lumina.

So it’s only interesting and promising if it’s Linux based?..

It’s on FreeBSD?.. I’m not sure what this is about, yes it’s on FreeBSD and not on TrueOS. Most new computers are using UEFI, and that’s where TrueOS wants to/ needs to be. The people that want to breathe life to really old hardware can always use FreeBSD11-Release, it works great.

It’s also unlike what I’m used to in Windows10. Not Linux, therefore the experience would be different and “unlike you are used to” in a whole different operating system.

Are you actually running FreeBSD for your NAS or are you running FreeNAS, or TrueNAS?

We’ll be sad to see you go. I’ve said it before the BSD’s are not a good fit for everyone, and if it wasn’t for you than that’s okay. Different strokes for different folks, we wish you the best, and good luck in your Linux endeavor.


#9

If the TrueOS team change their mind (following my discovery that chainload is already mostly in place and working under UNSTABLE) to add full chainload support to the bootloader ala FreeBSD then I will likely keep TrueOS installed but as it stands I find myself wanting to use Linux more and its currently too inconvenient for me to boot Linux whilst keeping TrueOS installed.

Another area I didn’t mention is virtualization. Bhyve lags some way behind KVM and FreeBSDs Xen is nowhere near as mature as Linux Xen.

There are thousands of reasons why someone with perfectly good older hardware would need to multiboot, if only just for one app under another OS. We all know wine and the linuxulator are far from perfect. If the option to do so is made too difficult then people won’t want to use chainloading . I believe it is in TrueOS’ best interests to co-operate with other OSs as best it can and not restrict users options.


#10

I’ve said it before the BSD’s are not a good fit for everyone, and if it wasn’t for you than that’s okay. Different strokes for different folks, we wish you the best, and good luck in your Linux endeavor.

They also lag in resources. Everyone wants to build for Linux, and everyone forgets about Unix. I’ve even heard people say, they don’t know what Unix or FreeBSD is, just tell them it’s Linux.

That’s probably on purpose.

I believe it’s in their best interest to act as a professional first class operating system, and not some second class citizen that only works if you have a separate operating system installed.
When I tried installing Fedora9 to dualboot with Windows XP many years ago nobody helped me there was no Grub for Windows. I was on my own, and Microsoft was far from helping me boot an alternative O.S. because their O.S. was/is the only system that should be on there.

I don’t know about thousands… But I do know that if you have old hardware your going to have to realize your limit. You can’t install Windows10 on it, and Microsoft offers no apologies for their new Operating Systems not working on old hardware.

What?.. Did you make a pull request yet?


#11

My laptop has a i7 CPU and 8GB RAM. I can upgrade it to 32GB RAM if I want. It is perfectly capable of running Windows 10 but I feel no need to upgrade it yet as it is more than sufficient for my needs. There is lots of good, non-UEFI hardware out there.

Funnily enough the first and only time I installed Windows on it was to run Skype for when I was interviewed for BSD Now. :smiley:


#12

I remember the interview. At the end you asked them to start working on an alternative to video conferencing software so we wouldn’t be dependent on Windows.


#13

Thats right. There are two I’m keen to try - ring:

and spreed

As alternatives to jitsi meet, which didn’t quite do what I needed last time I tried it.


#14

Agreed, @mer . Two examples. Summer of 2015, I switched her to PC-BSD. She is a typical user, she does web browsing, email, IM, facebook, etc. But she also has a Hauppague TV capture card in her computer. As it turns out, she hated all of the TV watching apps in FreeBSD, so she wanted to go back to Linux, where she is happy with her TVtime. (I still may rip systemd out of it, if it gives me one iota of grief…)

The second use case is my daughter. She grew up with Linux in my house. Now she is married, and a professional photographer, so she is running Windows and Mac, because Gimp and the GPL photo apps just don’t cut it for her.

So while you could be like stallman and go without on principal, most people are pragmatists. I am just lucky that FreeBSD/TrueOS fills all of my needs…Most of the time. :slight_smile:


#15

I am mostly lurking, and have never actually used TrueOS. Maybe someday. I am a “typical user”, as someone mentioned above (internet, e-mail, music, streaming video, video chat, etc…). I was close to installing it to dual boot with Windows 10 on my old laptop, but read about enough problems to deter me from actually doing it. I was going to test TrueOS, as I had previously tested Linux Mint for an alternative to Windows and Mac. I really liked Mint, and adopted it an my only OS on my new computer. That was the first time I ever built a computer from scratch. I hate Windows and all the spyware & privacy concerns, and a new Mac Pro was just too expensive. Searched for alternatives, and found Linux.

While I’m not really a computer geek or anything, I still want a fast, secure system that is very easy to use right out of the boz, and runs on the latest hardware. I became somewhat addicted to DistroWatch… and still read all the updates for potential OS’s down the road.

I’m just not convinced there is a BSD out there that any “typical user” can install and use on a brand new computer. I was hoping it was TrueOS, but based on things like the original post, it is not there yet.

I will keep watching TrueOS along with others. Hopefully someday it will “just work” like Mac, Windows, Mint, Ubuntu (installed that along side of Windows 10 instead of TrueOS). I really want to try a BSD. I was under the impression that was the goal PC BSD/TrueOS. Hope it still is, and hope it gets there. Still watching…


#16

@VulcanRidr:
Sometimes, the “free” stuff just isn’t. Photography is tough, especially when trying to colormatch all the different pieces. (take a look at darktable sometime, it works pretty good for someone who dabbles and it runs fairly well on TrueOs, but doesn’t come with the smell of stop bath and fixer)

@jageorge72: that’s a good open mind attitude. If you can afford to, I’d pick up a separate disk and use that to evaluate different OS (TrueOS and different flavors of Linux) instead of worrying about multiboot. It’s easier, you never have to worry about losing a working system. Compared to even a few years ago, storage prices have come down a lot (at least in the US).


#17

Wow! You must be an old guy like me…Haven’t been in a darkroom since college.

And in my wife’s case, she has been running TVtime for lo these many years (about 10), and she likes the app and she’s used to it. Never underestimate the Spousal Approval Factor…:smiley:


#18

Strictly black and white, Ilford film/paper, Agfa Rodinal. Very depressing to see the cost of medium format gear nowdays.

I never underestimate the Spousal Approval Factor (it’s the reason why her PC is Windows, because her landscape design programs run on it). A key phrase to remember “Yes dear, whatever you say dear”.


#19

I’m not sure I understand why this in particular is an issue for someone dualbooting with Linux. Linux works just fine with Grub 2, which is also capable of booting the TrueOS bootloader. This has been the case for a long time. Really the only two cases where I could see this being an issue would be someone dualbooting on a pre-EFI mac, or someone dualbooting with pre-EFI Windows. UEFI hardware shouldn’t have this problem at all since TrueOS includes rEFInd on EFI setups (which is capable of loading any EFI application). I can’t speak for pre-EFI macs (since I don’t own any macs), but pre-EFI Windows machines can use Grub4DOS. If you don’t want to use TrueOS, it’s your choice, I just don’t understand why this particular point is an issue.


#20

lol

im glad im not married

jt kidding…im gonna age alone with me cat while playing about with trueOS/Freebsd/dragonfly…:slight_smile: