Thursday, November 03, 2005

The stress of high regard

It occurred to me, after a post at LQ I made on the BSD forum, that I might be seen by my remarks about FreeBSD thus far to be in some way anti-BSD. I haven, after all, not had much good to say about it: My own install attempt was so bad that I erased it from my hard drive, while all I've had to say about my gf's install is how rubbish the supporting documentation is.

So lest it be said that I'm an anti-BSD Linux zealot, I feel I should point out: It should say something about the high regard I hold BSD in that, even with my low opinion of the documentation and the rubbish experience I had installing it myself, I still pointed my gf to it as a solution to all her problems with both Windows and Linux; and continue to encourage her to persevere with it when she runs into problems.

Sysinstall, I've found to be a really helpful piece of software. Unlike many such projects I've encountered, it genuinely does make it easy to set up the things that it says it will set up. It truly does Just Work, and whoever coded it should feel immensely proud of it.

Ports, although not the easiest thing in the world to work out the use of (cvsup, portupgrade, pkgdb - just how many commands does it take to manage one system??), works really well - it's not every package manager that can go from a minimal text-only install to a working KDE with the issuing of a single command. Admittedly, sound still doesn't work, but in fairness, we haven't even tried to get it set up. Everything else is completely functional. That's an impressive feat.

The daemon mascot. . . is quite cute. And certainly better than the new, red-banana-toting logo ;o)

I hold FreeBSD in high regard. It's a great collection of software.

That's why I come across so negative when it's let down by something so simple & fundamental as the supporting documentation. It lets the whole project down. Documentation isn't an after-thought: It's an overwhelmingly important part of the whole project. It's how newcomers find out how to use the whole project.

So finding an install guide that says "Do A, do B, do C, only don't actually do C because we changed that a while ago and you do C later now, after you've done D and E" really does disappoint. And finding a trouble-shooting entry that tells you "Put X lines in Y file", only to find you actually need different lines in a different file. . .

C'mon, guys, it's too good an OS to be let down by something so trivial!


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