Debian Wheeze expirience or why FreeBSD looks more interesting compared to Debian

I’ve been using Debian Squeeze (6.x) at home for a while and in general it was quite good not counting a few bugs with kernel, flash, sound and kde. Recently I saw that development in Wheezy (7.x) has frozen and I decided to upgrade …

Here is the result of my upgrade:

Well, I was reading that amount of bugs in Wheezy is quite high for frozen release, but was not expecting it would fail for me that miserably. Anyway, I had a chance to either go into the problem deeper or try out something new.

As recently at work I started a project under OSX I felt somehow interested in BSD internals (Apple Mac OS X is based on *BSD). So, I decided to go for FreeBSD 9.0 amd64 :). At first I felt scared of poor packaging system or lack of packages that I’ve used for a while under GNU/Linux, but eventually it turned out to be better than I’ve expected.

If you are coming from Debian to FreeBSD, you just have to substitute “sudo apt-get install something” with “sudo pkg_add -r something“. That is basically it. For example, I’ve installed KDE 4 in FreeBSD just by typing pkg_add -r kde4 . Well, you have to install a few dependencies (xorg) and do a few shamanic dances near the fire to make KDE auto-start but in general it looks very solid with a less amount of bugs that I’ve experienced on Debian.

Since I am a KDE/Gnome user, most of the stuff under FreeBSD on KDE/Gnome looks exactly the same as on any other environment running in Debian or Ubuntu, etc. I.e.:

– you want torrent? sudo pkg_add -r ktorrent

– you want vlc? sudo pkg_add -r vlc

– you want Google Chrome? sudo pkg_add -r chromium

– etc

I did not found (for the moment) any package which I used in Debian and which does not exist in FreeBSD. The only thing I don’t like is a poor flash support. You can install a few things from here and it will work for well-known sites like youtube.com but once you will go to some news website with custom flash player, it does not work properly.

OTOH, FreeBSD feels more solid in terms of kernel stability, packaging and the overall development process seems to go faster than in Debian so I will definitely may forget about flash glitches and just benefit from stability :)

In the end, here is my FreeBSD experience … Compare it with the first screenshot at the beginning of the post :)

4 Comments

  1. Hi!
    You really need to try lubuntu (Ubuntu packaged with LXDE) or try ArchLinux. KDE/Gnome in Arch is very very fast and it’s based on the latest kernel just like Gentoo (but you don’t need to compile anything yourself). I can’t switch to Arch because I’m sooo used to Ubuntu/Debian distros.

    Also you can try running XEN environment on your Debian Squeeze, it’d allow you running different OS / Linux / FreeBSD / Anything on 1 single machine (better use some server so you can have them running 24/7).

    I’m running lubuntu in virtual machine with just 512mb memory and it’s very smooth.

    FreeBSD is just gay…

    It really lacks a lot of packages and even basic coreutils have very limited functionality.

    Also it’s not good for modern desktop hardware, lots of drivers are missing or have limited functionality.
    I don’t get why are you swithing to it?

  2. Hello anon,

    Well, I am running latest vanilla kernel (3.5.2) on my Debian, and it’s more stable that the one shipped with “Debian stable” – 2.6.35. I never liked rpm packaging systems, so Arch does not impress me :). Also, it was quite hard core to install (although I agree that FreeBSD is more or less at the same level of complexity).

    Regarding hardware support of FreeBSD – it worked like a charm for me. Of course, this is purely subjective :). I did not move to it completely, just keep it installed on second hard drive alongside with Debian and Windows.

  3. Arch is based on FreeBSD init scripts btw and it’s not based on RPM it has specific packaging system.

    2.6.32+29 is the latest stable kernel – I never experienced any bugs on the server with this kernel.

    There are backports as well like:

    linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64

    so you can use 3.2 kernel on the debian squeeze, did you try Ubuntu?

    • Ah, yes, I was wrong about Arch. Need to play with it as IIRC, I’ve never touched it.

      Speaking about Ubuntu. Conceptually, I don’t like it mainly because there is ‘a company behind it’. I’d better go with community driven projects like Debian, Mageia, FreeBSD, etc. Although the first distro I tried was actually Ubuntu :) and I admired how solid it was compare to Debian.

      The thing about Debian is … it is great, but requires polishing, and once polished it is a rock solid. This understanding comes with time.

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