Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

PC-BSD Day 6: Getting the job done

With the basics of the pkg_add system in my grasp it was time to get some work done. I have a presentation later this week and I use mindmaps to set up the structure. Sad to say there still is no serious replacement for MindManager (which also doesn’t allow itself to run under Wine), so I settled for Freemind. Freemind requires Java to run and -as expected- pkg_add took care of that. Almost. It couldn’t resolve the diable requirement, which left me without a complete Java install. The needed Java package was available from the PBI website.

Besides mindmaps I also use flowcharts. Microsoft Visio is a very strong package for Windows, but Dia and Kivio are more than enough for most of my flowcharting needs. Kivio is part of KOffice and that was installed already. One problem: Kivio would start up and then die without any crash report. I checked it again via the KOffice workspace. It would load all components, but not Kivio. Weird.

Throughout the day I found I had to install various applications to get my work done. The good thing is that all of those applications are available. For free. šŸ˜‰ . However, during the day I found myself looking for the menu entries of installed applications, not finding some of them and then adding them to the menu manually. Other applications were not easy to find in the menu. Why would BibleTime be located in the Office section and GnomeSword -which provides the same functionality- in the Utilities section. For most newly installed applications that ended up in the menu automatically there were no icons. This doesn’t change the way they work. but it does leave an impression of being incomplete, unfinished and unpolished. And then there were the odd applications that just didn’t work after being installed properly, like the Last.FM client. I know, you can listen to Last.FM via Amarok, but that doesn’t change the fact that the client did not run.

One of my music favorites was available as well: Streamtuner. It’s a great interface to various music streams and with a simple double-click XMMS will deliver the music to you. You just have to install XMMS, but that is easy and fast enough.

The simple Apache-MySQL-PHP solution for PC-BSD
I am using PC-BSD as a desktop system, but we shouldn’t forget that *BSD is a server system to begin with. It should be simple enough to set it up as a webserver with database functionality for interactive websites. Simple enough when you know Apache and how to set it up. I don’t and I don’t need an outward looking webserver. I just need a test bench to try out Joomla 1.5 and the various components and themes. My main website runs Joomla 1.1.x and I really want to test the migration to Joomla 1.5 before ruining it.
The PBI website has the PAMP package, the PC-BSD version of LAMP. Installing and setting it up was very fast and very simple. It is the first of such packages that integrates so nicely in the menu structure. Later this month I will write about my experiences with PAMP

Looking back
I could do my work without too many hassles today. It was expected that I needed to install new software for various tasks and with my previous experience under Linux I did not consider it a major hurdle for the applications not to appear in the menu. When one of the installations failed it was a simple step to go to the PBI website and find what I needed.
But if I look back on the day from the viewpoint of a more novice user, a less tech savvy user, the user that used to be working under Windows and now migrates to PC-BSD I can not be content. I really can’t agree with the following statement by Matt Hartley

I don’t think there is really any question about it, PC-BSD may actually make more sense for casual Windows users than Ubuntu Linux. And because of its very loose BSD licensing, you should not find yourself getting caught up in GPL crunch.

When it comes to installing new software the Add/Remove… function under Ubuntu provides an easy to use and intuitive frontend. New software appears in the menu structure automatically and it simply works. Under PC-BSD I had to revert to minor tweaks or installing via a different method to finish the tasks. Minor issues for me, but major issues for the target audience of PC-BSD.
Aside from this I could finish all I intended to do today. Which is a good thing.

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