Popular Free *BSDs in Full Development

Three well-known BSD clones are in their latest developmental cycles and have recently released test versions. FreeBSD is closing in on version 7.4 with a RC2, GhostBSD just released their 2.0 Beta 2, and PC-BSD 8.2 has seen its second release candidate as well.

FreeBSD 7.4-RC2

FreeBSD 7.4, scheduled for final release on January 24, just saw its second release candidate on January 23 about two weeks behind schedule. The RC2 announcement acknowledges the delay and confirms that final will also be delayed. In addition, a third release candidate is expected around January 30. Issues with KDE and GNOME meta-packages and other bugs were cited as the reason for delays. Development of version 8.2 is running about a week behind schedule as well.

FreeBSD 7.4 will feature KDE 3.5.10 and GNOME 2.32.1. Other popular software includes Pidgin 2.7.7, GIMP 2.6.11, MySQL 5.1.54, Firefox 3.6.13, GCC 4.3.4, Xfce 4.6.2, and Xorg X Server 1.7.5. Download mirrors are listed here.

FreeBSD sits at about number 15 in Distrowatch's Page Hit Ranking.

GhostBSD 2.0 Beta 2

GhostBSD is a live CD aimed at improving the FreeBSD users' GNOME desktop experience. Version 1.0 was released in March 2010, 1.5 in July, and 2.0 is now in development. GhostBSD 2.0 Beta 2 was released January 21.

GhostBSD is based on FreeBSD and this release brings improved speed and performance, updated look and feel, and lots of bug fixes including one ugly graphic issue. Some software on GhostBSD includes Gnome 2.32, Rhythmbox 0.12.8, Pidgin 2.7.9, Firefox 3.6.13, Thunderbird 3.0.11, and Xorg X Server 1.7.5. Download links are available here.

GhostBSD sits at about number 54 in Distrowatch's Page Hit Ranking.

PC-BSD 8.2 RC2

PC-BSD is one of the most popular free BSD clones, and is certainly believed to be the most friendly. It aims to be an extremely easy-to-use desktop system and rivals any Linux distribution in that area. Its developers released the second release candidate for upcoming 8.2 on January 20, the last testing release before final.

PC-BSD 2.0 RC2 ships with KDE 4.5.4, Xorg X Server 1.75, and NVIDIA 260.19.29. Other popular software like Firefox 3.6.13, Pidgin 2.7.7, and OpenOffice.org 3.2.1 are made available at install. Downloads are available here.

PC-BSD sits at about number 25 in Distrowatch's Page Hit Ranking.


Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.


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GhostBSD 2.0 Beta 2

Anonymous's picture

I can't understand this story.
automatic door operator

GhostBSD 2.0

Johninlex's picture

I would like to announce that we have released GhostBSD 2.0. You can install it. It is Free, and it is based off of Freebsd 8.2. Please drop by distrowatch and download it, try it out and stop by the irc channel on freenode network at #GhostBSD.

Not a Clone

G. Clifford Williams's picture

Variants: yes
Derivatives: yes
Distributions: uhmm.. sure
Clones: No. Not in any way.

Not to start picking nits but those are not BSD clones.

Thanks for share our project

Prof.Yeow's picture

Thanks for share our project GhostBSD ;-)

UNIX/Linux Arguments

Jake4Pizza's picture

...all have one thing in common...a bunch of nerds keeping the two Open Sources in constant disorganization and frayed at the edges...get a clue people. Ya graduated K2 long ago. Grow up!

Poor title

Susan Linton's picture

Perhaps the title didn't convey the article I presenting. I was attempting to speak of the development releases last week (or so). That was the in "full development" part - meaning they are in their developmental cycles.

They are popular choices. FreeBSD and PC-BSD are probably the most popular. That's the "popular" part.

They are BSD clones but are freely available, that's the "Free *BSD" part, where the asterisks stands in for PC-, Free, and Ghost. I commonly use that technique, much like *buntu to mean Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Ubuntu.

Sorry you were expecting a full review of every BSD in existence.

Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.

I think you still missed the

Anonymous's picture

I think you still missed the mark... FreeBSD current version is 8.1. The current development release candidate is 8.2 RC2 (announced the same time as 7.4 RC2). The PC-BSD development release candidate is 8.2 RC2 and is based on FreeBSD 8.2 RC2.

FreeBSD 7.4 RC2 is a release candidate for the old legacy version. Currently at version 7.3.

It was the "full development"

Laurence's picture

It was the "full development" part that threw me as the OSs I mentioned are in their development cycle as well - they just hadn't officially made a press-release in the last 7 days like FBSD, Ghost and PC-BSD.

But as you said, I had misunderstood the point of this article so I'm sorry if I've offended you about it :)

Someone was kind enough to

Webmistress's picture

Someone was kind enough to report some trolling in this comment thread, and I think it might be useful to share my response:

Thanks for pointing it out, but while I do remove spam, I do not
censor comments.

While childish in his or her choice of language, I think said "troll"
makes some good points. I think the other commenters are completely
missing the point that this post is purely a news piece conveying some
info on a few new releases. It's not intended to be a comprehensive
article on BSD variants.

That said, please stop calling each other names like "dick." It's rude.

Katherine Druckman is webmistress at LinuxJournal.com. You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit

Trolling and Titles

John Jeffers's picture


You are right to keep it Civil.

I saw you in Austin last April so know where you are coming from. But you, Susan and I all know not quite thinking through a title may cause some problems. Susan apologized and I want her to keep going so sometimes put money in her tip jar at Tuxmachines and don't bug her about late night spelling. But you know if you kept the link but changed the title to "Brief...." or something I don't think anyone would think badly.


Anonymous's picture

He started it...!


Anonymous's picture

I think that they need to be disciplined!

Well now...

Anonymous's picture

Thank you Ms. Linton for your article.

"Laurence"... You didn't stand a chance!

I think that I like stomping the hell out of those people who come to these sites and think that they are better than everyone else.

I'd like to thank user "Anonymous" for whipping-your-Ass "Laurence".


It's sad when you have to

Laurence's picture

It's sad when you have to resort to aliases (albeit both anonymous) to back yourself up.


Anonymous's picture

Not me!

article substance

W. Anderson's picture

As stated by first commenter, the article was very thin on substance, and being titled *BSD should have covered or at least mentioned the other great BSD variants that are growing in popularity.

Linux Journal seems to be in desperate need for any copy.


Anonymous's picture

Perhaps Linux Journal needs readers who aren't so anal! I think that the author was trying to discuss "Popular Free *BSD's in Full Development"; not ALL BSD derivatives!

problems with English language

W. Anderson's picture

Since the article was titled *BSD, then the content should not "center" on FreeBSD or any one particular derivative. Otherwise change the article title.

Dragonfly BSD "IS in FULL Development", yet was not even mentioned by author.

To support my contention about the "full development" of Dragonfly, I refer her/him author and the commenter defending the paucity of relevant content to site: http://aboutbsd.net - in which they will find several articles/blogs about the very active and ongoing "full development" of Dragonfly BSD - as one example of the article's serious omission of substance.

W. Anderson

The examples I listed are

Laurence's picture

The examples I listed are popular. OpenBSD, for example, even ranks higher (on distrowatch.com) than one of examples the author detailed in his article (not that the rankings on that site are a reliable benchmark for anything).

In fact, the only reason I could find that the author picked those three over any other was that those free all had recent news on distrowatch.com in the last 7 days. If that's genuinely the reason for their inclusion, then it shows a real lack of investigation into *BSD - which is a real pity.

As I said before, I love FreeBSD. But reviewing 3 variants of FreeBSD when writing an article about BSD is a little like only discussing Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu when chatting about Linux distros - which I'm sure plenty of you guys would be quick to complain about.

So trust me when I say I'm not being anal. I'm just expressing the point that there's a whole world of BSD outside of FreeBSD.

"OpenBSD, for example, even

Anonymous's picture

"OpenBSD, for example, even ranks higher" by-1 (against GhostBSD)...anal

The BSD's listed in the article seem to have streamlined installers with very nice installer interfaces. "OpenBSD" does not!

The BSD's listed in the article have a larger dev / user base. Perfect for an OS that caters to newer users and the more experienced one's.

The author seems to be limiting her article to those distro's that have a more "desktop" role. OpenBSD appears to be geared towards server, security, gateway, mail etc...http://www.openbsd.org/users.html

Hence the term "anal" and now "dork" as well!

I think that you are considering too much your superiority and forgetting that maybe that some "novice" might come across this article or even this publication.

Do we really need to argue like kids or are you going to grow up

Laurence's picture

If the aim was primarily to list desktop-ready distro's for the beginner then FreeBSD (which by default is more of a server-orientated OS) wouldn't have been included and in it's place we'd have seen VirtualBSD and DesktopBSD.

Furthermore, calling me names because you can't back up your arguments with anything intelligent just exposes you as the child you are. At every point in this discussion I've expanded on the aforementioned article with additional points for those who are genuinely interested. You, however, have added nothing of benefit aside reminding us just how retarded OS flamewars are.

If you have anything mature to add then I'd be interested to hear your insight. Unfortunately though, I suspect your experience on this subject is little more than zero. Yet rather than saying nothing at all, you'd soon accuse those who do wish to contribute as having a "superiority complex". In short, people like yourself are parasites that eat away at interesting discussions leaving them to die horribly.

Now back on topic (and for those who are interested in experimenting with BSD and haven't already turned off this thread):

/FreeBSD ports for the desktop/

* http://www.virtualbsd.info/ - an VMWare desktop-ready image with it's aims set squarely on "everything just working out of the box". The point of this is you load the image and never have to edit another config file.

* http://www.desktopbsd.net/ - another PC-BSD-like repackage of FreeBSD running KDE.

/FreeBSD ports for the home server/

* http://www.dragonflybsd.org - this OS sports a unique file system named HAMMER which contains many optimisations for all round performance, particularly on SSDs

* http://freenas.org/FreeNAS - Purpose built for home servers / network attached storage, it makes an excellent (and hugely popular outside of the Unix scene) replacement for Windows Home Server and Linux. Plus being a FreeBSD derivative, it supports ZFS storage pools and the great many benefits that come with this 128bit file system.


Anonymous's picture


If it can't be seen by your responses that you are thinking to much, well...

I reiterate my initial opinion that you are anal. Perhaps you should concentrate your responses to that of adding to an article rather than being a critic; "shows a real lack of investigation into *BSD - which is a real pity".

"expressing the point that there's a whole world of BSD outside of FreeBSD." Anal retentive...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anal_retentive.

"you'd soon accuse those who do wish to contribute as having a "superiority complex". In short, people like yourself are parasites that eat away at interesting discussions leaving them to die horribly." You might want to have someone read to you your responses and tell you how they are so positive.


"Those who can't, troll"

Laurence's picture

I've stupidly given you the benefit of the doubt up until now, but now it's clear that you're just some spotty teen with too much spare time and nothing to do with it.

So enjoy trolling someone else, I'm not biting any more.


Anonymous's picture

"spotty teen" - That's disgusting.

My kid thinks that you are a "stupid-head"!

I think that you are just a dick!


Anonymous's picture

Perhaps Linux Journal needs readers who aren't so anal! I think that the author was trying to discuss "Popular Free *BSD's in Full Development"; not ALL BSD derivatives!


Laurence's picture

This article is very thin on the ground considering the wealth of BSD-based OSs out there.

What's worse is that 2 of the 3 operating systems listed were essentially just distributions of FreeBSD, while the other actually being FreeBSD.

Why leave out OpenBSD, NetBSD and DragonFlyBSD? To name but 3 off the top of my head.

Or if you're going to focus on distributions of FreeBSD then, then why not include:
* VirtualBSD - which aims to be so user friendly, that everything "just works" out of the box,
* or FreeNAS - which is a complete network attached storage software solution.
* or DesktopBSD - which has the same aims as PC-BSD but receives less press coverage.

I love FreeBSD (in truth, it's my favourite OS) but there is so much good stuff out there that it seems a pity to focus on just one OS.

Here you go...(just to share a few)

JShuford's picture

1. DesktopBSD
DesktopBSD is an operating system based on FreeBSD and the FreeSBIE live CD. Its main goal is to provide a desktop operating system that is easy to use, but still has all the functionality and power of BSD. In the long term, DesktopBSD wants to build an operating system that meets most requirements desktop users have, like installing software, configuring power management or sharing an internet connection.

2. DragonFly BSD
DragonFly is an operating system and environment designed to be the logical continuation of the FreeBSD-4.x OS series. These operating systems belong in the same class as Linux in that they are based on UNIX ideals and APIs. DragonFly is a fork in the path, so to speak, giving the BSD base an opportunity to grow in an entirely new direction from the one taken in the FreeBSD-5 series.

3. FreeBSD
FreeBSD is a UN*X-like operating system for the i386, IA-64, PC-98, Alpha/AXP, and UltraSPARC platforms based on U.C. Berkeley's "4.4BSD-Lite" release, with some "4.4BSD-Lite2" enhancements. It is also based indirectly on William Jolitz's port of U.C. Berkeley's "Net/2" to the i386, known as "386BSD", though very little of the 386BSD code remains. FreeBSD is used by companies, Internet Service Providers, researchers, computer professionals, students and home users all over the world in their work, education and recreation.

4. Frenzy
Frenzy is a portable system administrator toolkit, a live CD based on FreeBSD. It generally contains software for hardware tests, file system check, security check and network setup and analysis.

5. FuguIta
FuguIta is an OpenBSD live CD featuring portable workplace, low hardware requirements, additional software, and partial support for Japanese. This live CD is intended to be as close as possible to the default OpenBSD when installed on a hard disk.

6. GhostBSD
GhostBSD it is a user-friendly, GNOME-based FreeBSD distribution in the form of a live CD (not installable to hard disk yet). Besides developing the live CD, the project's other goal is to improve the GNOME desktop experience on a FreeBSD system.

GNOBSD is an OpenBSD-based live DVD which boots into a GNOME desktop and which includes a graphical system installer (written in Ruby) for transferring the system to a hard disk or a USB storage device. The system includes some popular desktop applications, such as Mozilla Firefox and MPlayer.

8. Jibbed
Jibbed is a (non-installable) live CD based on NetBSD. It is built from the latest NetBSD sources from the HEAD branch. The third-party applications provided on the CD are the latest versions, including experimental packages from wip-pkgsrc.

9. m0n0wall
m0n0wall is a project aimed at creating a complete, embedded firewall software package that, when used together with an embedded PC, provides all the important features of commercial firewall boxes (including ease of use) at a fraction of the price (free software). m0n0wall is based on a bare-bones version of FreeBSD, along with a web server (thttpd), PHP and a few other utilities. The entire system configuration is stored in one single XML text file to keep things transparent. m0n0wall is probably the first UNIX system that has its boot-time configuration done with PHP, rather than the usual shell scripts, and that has the entire system configuration stored in XML format.

10. MidnightBSD
MidnightBSD is a FreeBSD derived operating system. A critical goal of the project is to create an easy-to-use desktop environment with graphical ports management, and system configuration using GNUstep. The vast majority of the operating system will maintain a BSD license. MidnightBSD was forked from FreeBSD 6.1 beta.

11. MirOS BSD
MirOS is an operating system based on OpenBSD and synchronised with the ongoing development of its parent. The most important differences between OpenBSD and MirOS include a completely rewritten bootloader and boot manager, a slim base system without NIS, Kerberos, BIND and i18n, binary security updates for stable releases, and current versions of the GNU developer toolchain.

12. NetBSD
NetBSD is a free, secure, and highly portable UNIX-like Open Source operating system available for many platforms, from 64-bit AlphaServers and desktop systems to handheld and embedded devices. Its clean design and advanced features make it excellent in both production and research environments, and it is user-supported with complete source. Many applications are easily available through The NetBSD Packages Collection.

13. OpenBSD
The OpenBSD project produces a FREE, multi-platform 4.4BSD-based UNIX-like operating system. Our efforts emphasize portability, standardization, correctness, proactive security and integrated cryptography. OpenBSD supports binary emulation of most programs from SVR4 (Solaris), FreeBSD, Linux, BSD/OS, SunOS and HP-UX. OpenBSD is freely available from our FTP sites, and also available in an inexpensive 3-CD set.

14. PC-BSD
PC-BSD has as its goals to be an easy-to-install-and-use desktop operating system, based on FreeBSD. To accomplish this, it currently has a graphical installation, which will enable even UNIX novices to easily install and get it running. It will also come with KDE pre-built, so that the desktop can be used immediately. Currently in development is a graphical software installation program, which will make installing pre-built software as easy as other popular operating systems.

15. pfSense
pfSense is a m0n0wall-derived operating system. It uses Packet Filter, FreeBSD 6.x (or DragonFly BSD when ALTQ and CARP is finished), ALTQ for excellent packet queuing, and an integrated package management system for extending the environment with new features.

...I'm not just a "troll", but also a subscriber!


Chdslv's picture

May I ask why is that the BSD programs are so large? The same program in Linux is quite smaller...Take care!

If you're on about the size

Laurence's picture

If you're on about the size of the executable binary blobs (ELF files), then Linux is a little misleading as it handles linking slightly differently.

I can't remember the in's and out's of how ELF files differ from Linux to BSD (and it's getting late so not about to start looking it up), but I believe BSD satisfies some dependencies within the binary blob where as Linux does not but expects all dependencies to be included with the package.

Of course, most BSD applications would likely still need shared libraries (much like Linux does). But IIRC BSD does some additional tricks for portability.

I really can't remember the details as it was several years ago when I last needed to go this low level on FreeBSD. So hopefully someone more experienced can explain this better (and correct me where I'm wrong).

I am not sure

JShuford's picture

What "programs" are you referring to? The actual OS downloads or any of the various "applications" that can be used by the OS?

With many of the possible downloads you can download just the OS by itself (witch is usually a "smaller" option) or you can download a more comprehensive OS image that will include many often-used applications that their respective user-base has requested. By downloading some of the distributions you can also avoid having to download many of the application's you may later want because they are included.

Sometimes people download the more comprehensive OS images because they might be installing the OS on a machine that is not or will not be connected to the Internet.

Hope that helps?

...I'm not just a "troll", but also a subscriber!


Chdslv's picture

I have PC-BSD in one of my machines. It is a lovely distro, but any programs to be downloaded will be larger than the equivalent in a Linux distro, for example, Google Chrome is about 80MB or so, while in Linux, it is quite less. (this is for an example, I cannot remember how large Google Chrome was, Ok ,but it was large) PC-BSD was nearly 4GB to download and had less than, say Kubuntu...Take care!

There's a quite few in there

Laurence's picture

There's a quite few in there I hadn't heard of.

Thank you for taking the time to post :)

I love FreeBSD, but i still

Anonymous's picture

I love FreeBSD, but i still use linux for day to day browsing. I think once technologies like adobe flash become "dead" FreeBSD will be my first choice for everything.


JShuford's picture

PC-BSD=Me :)

...I'm not just a "troll", but also a subscriber!