Monday, January 09, 2006

FreeBSD is really cool

When I talk about Linux - its just three flavours - Gentoo, Redhat (RHEL or Fedora) or Debian. And sometime I think about Ubuntu too. But there is jungle out there. Linux is really something to play around and work on - day in and day out. And there is no dispute about nice things in Linux.

But as I said there is jungle out there - and I like something in this distro and do not like something in that distro. More over - I was getting really really confused and irritated with the kind of foot print (3 disks, 2 gb or some other crap) these distros comes with. Some of them favour sendmail, some of them favour postfix. Some one will tell you how cool it is to work with Gnome and there is something called KDE too.

More over - for each of the linux flavours, these guys have done something crappy, about changing the file location, even renaming the files and what not.

So I thought - why don't I write my specifications, talk to ten people and see what I want? So I talked to few of my friends, and put my requirements. I got few suggestions, Here is what I feel is the best

  1. Corporate Internal Firewall + Router -> Fedora Core + Iptables + ip2
  2. Corporate External Fireall + Router -> OpenBSD + PF
  3. Corporate External VPN, Site to Site -> OpenBSD + PF + ISAKMPD
  4. Network Monitoring Tools -> Any Linux + MRTG + nMap
  5. IDS - NetBSD(because it can run on very old hardware too) + Snort
  6. Personal Computing Novice user -> Ubuntu + KDE or Gnome
  7. Personal Computer more fun -> FreeBSD

And thats the exact reason I chose FreeBSD, Now I would like to tell you why do I like in this OS?

  • Simple package add and delete
  • Simple ports system
  • Well structured layout
  • Well documented apps and functions
  • Ease of use!

/usr/ports rocks, any things you want just locate the port and start using it. Or just do pkg_add !

That was praise! this is not the only unique feature I liked about FreeBSD. but there is tons of information available, in user readable form! So after must hesitation, I booted my system with FreeBSD, the install is simple but too confusing (as it appears first time) but later on if you read things twice, you are all set to go.

So, after setting it up there are only few things which I faced!

I wanted eclipse (ide), firefox with anti aliasing and eye-candy wm.

For eclipse - I had to download JDKs from Sun's site and put that in /usr/ports/distfiles and everything was cool.

Then for FireFox - to get anti aliasing work you need to do something like this

  • update to gtk+ 2.0 or just rung update and it will update all apps
  • type about:config in firefox
  • filter on font keyword
  • then enable antialiasing, choose Bitstream Vera font instead of helvetica and times new roman. Choose Bitstream Vera Mono instead of Courier
  • And use version instead of 6

Thats all! and you have firefox running with AntiAliasing

Next task was to run Notes 6.5 in FreeBSD with Wine Ver 0.9.5 (In Linux you can use Cross Over Office) but things were too simple over here - I toook 30 minutes to figure out things but rest is as easy as I can be...

  • compile wine "cd /usr/ports/emulators/wine" and then "make install clean"
  • start wine without any parameters, it will do lots of things and will end up showing usage information
  • copy installed notes (you can not install notes in wine) dir and put it inside ~/.wine/drive_c/program files or where ever
  • copy MFC42ENU.DLL mfc42.dll msvcrt.dll netapi.dll
    mfc40.dll mfc42u.dll msvcrt20.dll netapi32.dll
    mfc40u.dll msvcp60.dll msvcrt40.dll usp10.dll from windows\system32 to ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/system
  • start "winecfg"
  • Choose OS Version - Windows XP
  • goto over rides and over ride all the above dlls and change the order to
  • type wine "c:\Program Files\Notes\nlnotes.exe" and your program starts if not then goto .wine/drive_c/program files/notes and then type "wine nlnotes.exe" and it should just work without any problems! it worked for me :-)

Once I got my apps running under WM, the time was to choose eye-candy - for my desktop, and the winner is ENLIGHTENMENT DR17 - you can build it in /usr/ports/x11-wm/enlightenment-devel port.

I compiled and installed enlightenment with Gulivert's Milky theme.

Now the only problem I had was, everything was looking cool, except eclipse and gaim. Both were GTK+ apps and i knew that there has to be some way to apply themes to them outside gnome. Because I was not running gnome and was trying to get same look and feel across apps in enlightenment.

So I used gtk-theme-switch to do required task. And now everything looks nice.

Now I have my FreeBSD desktop with option to remove and add program with pkg_add/pkg_delete or make install/make deinstall. And i do not have to bother about how to compile and clean this whole mess, instead of getting into Linux and trying to figure out dependencies and many more hell!

And as far as comfort is concerned. Really! Enlightenment is nice WM, and takes less memory than GNOME or KDE.

last thing - I use QEMU instead of VMWare to get my Virtual Machines working.

thanks OpenSource!

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