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As a long term Linux user (since 1998), and having had exposure to other Unix variants such as Solaris, HP/UX etc., I must say I have never had the chance to work with any *BSD, until now that is. Recently I have got more and more curious about BSDs, may be because of their claim to be more close to UNIX than Linux. Or may be because of their claim to be much stable than Linux. Not to mention the tons and tons of web servers being hosted on some form of BSD. Not to forget the excellent security reputation enjoyed by ‘OpenBSD’, ‘NetBSD’ etc. And lastly and most importantly (at least for me), the sheer amount of code ‘borrowed’ by other projects ( Windows, Linux, Mac ) from the BSD code-base, e.g. TCP/IP stack, OpenSSH etc.
So although I feel I am a bit late to the BSD party, I think it matters just to show up, rather than be completely ignorant about BSD. I have always been aware of things going on in the BSD land, but never taken a deeper interest, and I think it’s time to change.
The first hurdle was to decide which BSD to try out first. There are tons of BSD variants out there, starting from FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD at the top and various derivatives, such as PC-BSD, DragonFlyBSD, DesktopBSD etc.
PC-BSD is supposed to be the most newbie friendly, and what’s more it provides a pre-built VirtualBox/VMWare disk image, so no installation required. And that’s what I tried first. I downloaded the VirtulBox image and had it running within no time in VirtualBox (Windows 7 x64 host). But even with virtualbox guest additions pre-installed, it felt sluggish, and I don’t have a slow hardware. I can run Ubuntu 12.4 very smoothly on the same box. Also the pre-built image has all of KDE/GNOME/xfce4 installed, and the menus were very very overwhelming
PC-BSD was nice, it was not quite up to my taste, so I decided to start at the source, FreeBSD. Going forward I’ll show you how to install FreeBSD 9.x.