How bad is the FreeBSD installer?

Just off the top of my head:

– When doing a net-based install, it hangs waiting for confirmation for some things (like if it couldn’t find a designated package on the ftp server). Which means you leave it running overnight, come back, and it’s been sitting there waiting for confirmation for 7 hours.

– When it was done, went to reboot and got “boot signature not found”. But I know I set the BSD boot partition to bootable. Booted from floppies, went back into the slice editor and found that my “active partition” change hadn’t taken. Looked at the readme and found that it said I had to commit the change. But “commit” was buried down in some other menus in the installer where I couldn’t see it. Alternatively, you can use W in the slice editor. But W isn’t shown as one of the menu choices. It’s a “secret.” Retarded.

– Went through the whole rigamarole to set up X and everything seemed to go well. It launched a dummy screen in my chosen resolution, let me tweak the horiz and vert placement, etc. Even had the mouse working. Let it go ahead and link these settings to X. But once booted into BSD, running startx fails with some utterly cryptic message I haven’t gotten around to writing down. More research required.

– Set up a regular user account and booted into it. But it wouldn’t let me su to root. Not a password issue – it says I’m not in the right group to do that. So then I couldn’t shutdown or su to root to shutdown. Had to ctrl alt del. Later, killed that account and recreated it and specifically invited the new user into “wheel”. That worked, but was that the right thing to do? No idea. Felt kludgy.

– Ran /stand/sysinstall to have another go at configuring X. When I exited sysinstall, it went out onto the net and started grabbing the whole /bin directory again. I didn’t want that and I didn’t choose that. And there’s no way to cancel out of the net download process. Once it starts, you’re stuck in it. Let it go through the process, then found that the user I had finally set up properly had been erased and root login didn’t prompt for password. WTF?!

And that’s just off the top of my head. Status: Can boot from Be’s bootman now. Can log in as a regular user. No X running. No time to work on this again for a while. Grrrr. Unixland prides itself on being user-unfriendly, that’s one thing. But bad design is another. What I don’t get is why some writers have praised the FreeBSD installer. I want to send those people BeOS install CDs.

2 Replies to “How bad is the FreeBSD installer?”

  1. While many praise freebsd, you may want to see what they are using it for… FreeBSD is an excelent server OS, but it is not even close to ready for a desktop OS for anyone but those sysadmins that are familiar with it already because they use it for their servers. If you want desktop Unix, go try the multitude of Linuxes out there, maybe Mandrake or Debian, both of which are fairly easy to use. By the way, I am not bashing FreeBSD, I love it, just I would not recommend anyone new to unix try to use it at home.

  2. I have a question. Is it normal for Freebsd to erase the root password and all the user accounts that I created the night before. I downloaded /usr/ports and then installed apache and php5. It took an entire day. Well anyway sometime during the evening I tried ftp’ing into my account and discovered that my root password and user account had mysteriously disappeared. Is this normal? Was I hacked into?

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