Jenny’s Daily Drivers: FreeBSD 13.2

Last month I started a series in which I try out different operating systems with the aim of using them for my everyday work, and my pick was Slackware 15, the latest version of the first Linux distro I tried back in the mid 1990s. I’ll be back with more Linux-based operating systems in due course, but the whole point of this series is to roam as far and wide as possible and try every reasonable OS I can. Thus today I’m making the obvious first sideways step and trying a BSD-based operating system. These are uncharted waters for me and there was a substantial choice to be made as to which one, so after reading around the subject I settled on FreeBSD as it seemed the most accessible.

First, A Bit Of Context

A PC with the FreeBSD boot screen
Success! My first sight of a working FreeBSD installation.

Most readers will be aware that the BSD operating systems trace their heritage in a direct line back to the original AT&T UNIX, while GNU/Linux is a pretty good UNIX clone originating with Linus Torvalds in the early 1990s and Richard Stallman’s GNU project from the 1980s onwards. This means that for Linux users there’s a difference in language to get used to.

Where Linux is a kernel around which distributions are built with different implementations of the userland components, the various BSD operating systems are different operating systems in their own right. Thus we talk about for example Slackware and Debian as different Linux distributions, but by contrast NetBSD and FreeBSD are different operating systems even if they have a shared history. There are BSD distributions such as GhostBSD which use FreeBSD as its core, but it’s a far less common word in this context. So I snagged the FreeBSD 13.2 USB stick file from the torrent, and wrote it to a USB Flash drive. Out with the Hackaday test PC, and on with the show. Continue reading “Jenny’s Daily Drivers: FreeBSD 13.2”

Jenny’s Daily Drivers: Slackware 15

As a recent emigre from the Ubuntu Linux distribution to Manjaro, I’ve had the chance to survey the field as I chose a new distro, and I realised that there’s a whole world of operating systems out there that we all know about, but which few of us really know. Hence this is the start of what I hope will be a long-running series, in which I try different operating systems in my everyday life as a Hackaday writer, to find out about them and then to see whether they can deliver on the promise of giving me a stable platform on which to earn a living.

For that they need an internet connection and a web browser up-to-date enough to author Hackaday stories, as well as a decent graphics package. In addition to using the OS every day though, I’ll also be taking a look at what makes it different from all the others, what its direction and history is, and how user-friendly it is as an experience. Historical systems such as CP/M are probably out of the question as are extremely esoteric ones such as the famous TempleOS, but this still leaves plenty of choice for an operating system tourist. Join me then, as I try all the operating systems.

A Distro From The 1990s, Today

A desktop mini tower PC with monitor showing the Slackware boot screen
The Hackaday test PC gets its first outing.

When deciding where to start on this road, there was an obvious choice. Slackware was the first Linux-based distribution I tried back in 1995, I’m not sure which version it was , but it came to me via a magazine coverdisk. It was by no means the first OS that captured my attention as I’d been an Amiga user for quite a few years at that point, but at the moment I can’t start with AmigaOS as I don’t have nay up-to-date Amiga-compatible hardware.

July 2023 also marks the 30th anniversary for the distro making it the oldest one still in active development, so this seems the perfect month to start this series with the descendant of my first Linux distro. Slackware 15 comes as a 3.8 GB ISO file download for 64-bit computers, and my target for the distro was an old desktop PC with an AMD processor and a big-enough spinning rust hard disk which had been a high-end gaming system a little over ten years ago. Not the powerhouse it once was, but it cost me nothing and it’s adequate for my needs. Installed on a USB Flash drive the Slackware installer booted, and I was ready to go. Continue reading “Jenny’s Daily Drivers: Slackware 15”