There’s a new project out there that is combining the Free BSD kernel along with all the tools and utilities that you’ve come to know when using regular Ubuntu. Combining Linux with BSD is not a new thing, but this project is compelling regardless.
When you install this operating system you’ll get access to all of the awesome BSD features (ZFS, ports tree, etc.), and all the awesome Ubuntu features, too (PPAs, package availability, and its overall ubiquity).
Is this a winning combination? In this article we’ll go over UbuntuBSD and make the case for it. Along with that, we’ll do a quick overview on UbuntuBSD’s features, the installation process and more.
What makes UbuntuBSD special?
Perhaps the most compelling thing about UbuntuBSD is the mission statement. “The ease and familiarity of Ubuntu with the rock-solid stability and performance of the FreeBSD kernel.” This statement is very much true.
When you’re using UbuntuBSD you get the tools that Canonical puts into regular Ubuntu. This means when using this distro you’ll be able to install software from the Ubuntu repositories like any other Ubuntu spin. Along with that you’ll get all the best Ubuntu-related programs and core utilities, support for PPAs, and regular Debian package files.
It’s not just Ubuntu, though. Since this distro is the combination of Ubuntu and BSD, you’ll also get killer BSD features: the BSD port system, native support for ZFS (BSD’s insanely popular file system), FreeBSD jail support, etc. If it’s a worthwhile BSD feature, chances are UbuntuBSD has it.
If you chose to forgo the server options on Ubuntu BSD and instead chose to turn it into a desktop operating system (by selecting the Xubuntu desktop during the install), everything is really solid. When you’re using it you’ll have a hard time noticing that you’re not running a Linux kernel.
Everything looks just about the same, and outside of what’s under the hood there are no interesting features to report. It’s safe to say this project could have real potential in combining the ubiquity of Ubuntu with the sheer power of BSD.
To install Ubuntu BSD you’ll first need to download the ISO file and make a USB image. If you’re running Linux already, follow this guide here. If you’re on Windows, go here to find out how to make a live disk. Once the live disk has been created, just configure your BIOS to boot from USB.
The installation process is very hands-off and pretty much does everything for you. This is because of UbuntuBSD’s impressive installation user interface. All that’s required is to select a few options with the keyboard: selecting preferences, packages, etc.
Believe it or not, using the actual OS isn’t the most compelling part of this distribution. Where it really gets interesting is the installation process. Why? Well, unlike most Linux OS’s, it’s not a live disk. Instead, Ubuntu BSD is more of a “choose your own adventure”.
During the process you’ll be able to choose from installing a basic Ubuntu server, an OpenSSH server, a DNS server, LAMP server, Mail server, PostgreSQL database, Print server, Samba file server, Tomcat Java server, a Xubuntu desktop, and a Xubuntu minimal desktop, or you can execute manual package selection.
Note: all of the above can be selected at once, not just one package at a time.
UbuntuBSD as of now is an awesome idea but one that shouldn’t be taken with too much excietment, as it’s buggy and unstable, and a lot of features are iffy currently. Non-power users should be weary of checking this one out just yet.
The only glaring negative about this project that comes to mind is this: by forgoing the Linux kernel, you’re missing out on some key features. They’re little things, sure, but they are important nonetheless. For example: GPU drivers or certain programs might refuse to work because they aren’t compatible with the BSD kernel.
However, when UbuntuBSD comes out of beta and becomes a more mature and stable project, it has a real opportunity to be a viable choice not only for the server but for the desktop, too. Why? It’s clear that there are some advantages to using BSD. You have the ports system, robust security as well as ZFS and many other things. Couple that with the well-known reasons people use Ubuntu Linux (package selection, community, corporate support and more), and you have a potentially winning combination.
Would you use Ubuntu BSD on your server or desktop? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below!
Image Credit: Ubuntu BSD sourceforge
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