Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

DesktopBSD Day 6 – the live desktop

Once upon a time there was no such thing as a live desktop. But that time is already way behind us and more and more Linux distributions come with a live boot option. DesktopBSD gives you the option either to go to the install menu or first go to the live desktop. Today I took a closer look at that option.

Booting the live desktop

I tested the live desktop on my main system (AMD XP 2400+, 1 Gb RAM, 2 hard drives, nVidia n6200 graphics card). The cd isn’t fast. It takes some time to load all the modules. After that it wants to configure X automatically. The graphics card is detected flawlessly. It couldn’t detect the type of monitor, but that is understandable since it is tucked behind a KVM switch. After a minute or two DesktopBSD suggests a 1280 x 1024 resolution. Perfect and better than some other live disks that have crossed my desk and were stuck at 1024 x 768, 800 x 600 or 640 x 480.

Get to work

The first screen that greats you explains that this live desktop is primarily for demonstration purposes, which means not everything will be available. Well, it does look the same like the installed desktop, though with lesser icons on the desktop (just “Trash” and “Install now”). The default desktop looks very slick and is very responsive in this live mode. The applications launch very fast. This makes it all the more lamentable that DesktopBSD doesn’t ship with an Office suite, otherwise the live cd would be close to perfect for on the road use.

I tried to mount my external harddrives. The smaller 60 Gb drive could be mounted without any problem, but DesktopBSD couldn’t handle the LaCie 250 Gb drive (FAT32 formatted). After that I checked whether it could mount the two internal hard drives with their various partitions. The answer was no. Mount Control only detected the first hard drive (primary master) and recognized the two main partitions (root and /home) as ext2 instead of ext3. I could mount /home, only to experience a crash after that. The second hard drive (primary slave) was not detected.


There isn’t much else to say about the live desktop. It works, it is extremely responsive once loaded, but due to a lack of productivity applications of limited use. It’s great for browsing the web. And yes, it’s nice showcase for a *BSD-based desktop. I am curious how the live dvd will turn out once it is released.


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