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Feature: BSD

New PC-BSD 1.4 beta includes enhanced desktop eye candy

By Shirl Kennedy on July 23, 2007 (6:50:06 PM)

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The new PC-BSD 1.4 beta, released last week, offers 3-D desktop support via Beryl as well as late-model components such as KDE 3.5.7, FreeBSD 6.2, Xorg 7.2, a selection of fresh GUI tools and utilities, and a variety of optional components, as detailed in the full release notes.

PC-BSD is a desktop-oriented distribution based on FreeBSD, similar to DesktopBSD, but outside the official FreeBSD project. It strives for user-friendliness primarily via a graphical installation program and a KDE graphical interface. "PC-BSD has been designed with the 'casual" computer' user in mind," according to the project Web site.

According to the developers, "Home users will immediately feel comfortable with PC-BSD's desktop interface, with KDE 3.5 running under the hood. Software installation has also been designed to be as painless as possible; simply double-click and software will be installed."

In a "24-hour test drive" of PC-BSD 1.3 last month, an Ars Technica reviewer said, "KDE seemed to load much faster on PC-BSD than I'm used to; probably around three times faster than my Kubuntu installation on my other drive (which either says something bad about Kubuntu or something great about PC-BSD). In fact, the whole system felt very snappy."

The project's developers released a live CD alpha of PC-BSD 1.4 last month. DistroWatch called it "one of the best live desktop BSD products built to date," though noted it was "not fully automatic" in that it boots into a terminal window and you must run X -configure before starting up the KDE desktop.

Shirl Kennedy is the senior editor of the DocuTicker and ResourceShelf weblogs, as well as the "Internet Waves" columnist for Information Today. She has been writing about technology since 1992.

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