PC-BSD 9.0 Isotope - Radioactive

Updated: February 29, 2012

PC-BSD dubs itself a user-friendly desktop operating system based on FreeBSD. So Linux it is not. But UNIX has always struggled being successful on the desktop, comparing to your typical Linux distribution. Perhaps it's the underlying architecture, perhaps it's the business model. But even I have to admit there's something rigid and frightening about UNIX.

The last time I tested PC-BSD was with Galileo, it proved to be adequate. Somewhat spartan, with a quirky installation, but it sure did offer a decent experience in return. Three years later, PC-BSD 9.0 is available for download and use and testing. I grabbed the Live DVD iso, burned the image and booted.

The shortest experience evar!

PC-BSD does not have a fancy bootloader. It starts with tons of text lines streaming, until about one or two minutes into the process you are asked what kind of desktop you wish to boot into. I selected KDE and waited.

Choose desktop

After several slow minutes, the desktop came up. In a most splendid resolution of only 1024x768px, on top of my T60p laptop. I wanted to screenshot this fiasco, but it turned out there's no screenshot utility. All right, command line then? Start typing screen then double-tab on the Tab key for auto-complete, no auto-complete. So I had to use the digital camera to capture this. Reminds me of my Debian 6 success.

Screen resolution

Oh, then I noticed that my network was not active, either. There was no applet for connecting to my Wireless routers. And when I did finally found a suitable utility in the system settings, it only offered to manually setup access points using WEP. At this point, Dedoimedo turned off the laptop and went off to watch some Only Fools And Horses. Failure complete. I mean the review.

No Wireless


I am well aware of the fact that I can't seem to be able to write short articles. But sometimes, the reality helps. In this particular case, even my strong desire for verbosity could not overcome the obvious failure of the test at hand.

I have no doubt that PC-BSD can do what it claims. But it sure did nothing of that sort on my T60p machine. Pretty much any Linux distro worked there flawlessly, including detecting and using the standard Intel Wireless drivers. And it's not as if Isotope is encumbered by ideology, patents or some special laws that prevent all the fun from being included there. It just refused to be fun. Once upon a time, I may have been inclined to try to debug. But in 2012, why bother. Not recommended.