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Unix OS installs

"FreeBSD is pretty difficult to set up."

Interesting, Joel, that you say that.  I run FreeBSD on three of my systems, and compared to both Red Hat and Debian Linux, I have found it consistently to be the easiest to set up.  (OTOH, OpenBSD is a different kettle of fish entirely.)

What problems did you run into?

Does anyone else care to relate their *BSD vs. Linux experiences?

David Jones
Monday, December 22, 2003

I've found FreeBSD to be easy to install, yet also easy to screw up after it's installed.

And I can't get Knoppix to install for the life of me.  Can't find the file system on the CD.  Tried two machines, both desktop Dells.  Also tried different versions & everything. 

oh well.

nathan
Monday, December 22, 2003

It depends on who's doing the setting up. Joel mentions that Mandrake would be difficult to setup if you didn't know what "root" means. If that's the case, FreeBSD is probably going to be very difficult (face it, the partition editor and package selector aren't very intuitive).

But if you DO know what you're doing, it's a breeze. I can have a usable FreeBSD system up and running in 15 minutes.

Nate Silva
Monday, December 22, 2003

Partition editing was particularly irksome. The good distros just handle it automatically and you never think about it again. The not-so-good distros require that you do it yourself, and you're expected to know what size partitions to create, and what kind of filesystems to create on them (the correct answer is not even on the first page of the giant multiple-choice questionnaire).

Joel Spolsky
Monday, December 22, 2003

Joel.
        When you get time why don't you list all your peeves about each distro you've set up. If nothing else, it might persuade the distro vendors to get their act together.

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 22, 2003

I think Stephen has a great idea there ...

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Monday, December 22, 2003

"When you get time why don't you list all your peeves about each distro you've set up. If nothing else, it might persuade the distro vendors to get their act together."

I second the motion, but do you really think any of them will listen?

Mike
Monday, December 22, 2003

Not just for the distros, but for FreeBSD too. :-)

(Distro is a Linux term. The whole idea of distros doesn't fit FreeBSD's philosophy of one OS with a single filestructure and a single set of known utilities.)

Nate Silva
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Some of the Vendors might not listen to Joel's Complaints.  But I will,  I think half the problem is that the legitimate complaints about Linux get lost on this board amongst all the cries of "You commie bastards are ruining my business", and "Open source developers are stupid,  I hate you".

Some well worded and thought out complaints (without the insults) would go a long way to getting some real changes made.

Fedora Core Contributor
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

To be fair, if you use the custom part for a FreeBSD install then it does hold your hand quite a bit, you'd be hard pressed to screw up the install, package management is great and /stand/sysinstall can be used for configuration if you're not sure what you're doing postinstall.

As regards the install of OpenBSD, sure it appears to be a bit harder, try READING what is on the screen before ranomly just hitting enter all the time and you might find that it's quite nice to deal with.

fw
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Fdisk does have an option to create the disk slices to use up the whole of the disk (option 'A') and disklabel also has the option to partition the disk in the recommended manor. Granted, this is perhaps not obvious and should be more prominent.

Did Joel happen to have the FreeBSD HandBook to hand when installing, it covers all this is gory detail. Although, the ease of installation is perhaps directly related to whether or not one requires auxiliary documentation to the prompts provided when installing...

Eponymous Biro
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

The problem with comparing different Linux distros is that it seems to be a very personal thing. Nothing you could really compare on a subjective level. It all depends on the person's background, his expectations and the PC hardware that is used. I had the opposite experience, being unable to install RedHat because the installer kept crashing and hanging and acting up. I never got to finish that installation. Could be a hardware related problem. On the other hand I found the installation of SuSE absolutely painless and quick to complete. But then again, I do know what "root" means.

I still find it a bit strange, though, to say that a SuSE installation sucks when you don't get the CDs. Uhm, that is what the CDs are there for. That is like saying the installation of Windows is hard to accomplish when you got yourself some pirated update version on Windows and it won't install because you have no prior version of Windows on your disk.
With SuSE you even can do a very comfortable installation over the network in your LAN. I don't know if that is possible with RedHat or Mandrake by now.

Florian
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Must second that.

I've found it far easier to install Slackware, burnt off a downloaded ISO, to RH 9.0 purchased as a boxed set. And much easier to use as well, may I add

Indian Developer in India
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Joel didn't say Suse sucked without the CD's. He said they made the download difficult unless you bought the distro. Mandrake on the other hand installs the free version with no problem.

Pirated versions of Windows incidentally install with the same ease/difficulty as non-pirated versions.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I think that installation of FreeBSD should not very differ from RH. I created dual boot some years ago by installing RedHat on my personal computer with Win NT. Later I completely removed NT and reinstalled RedHat 7.3, and then upgraded from 7.3 to 8 and to 9 version. Note, that I'm not a system administrator.

Joel is right - Linux administration, and partition editing in particular, is a bit more complex task then corresponded tasks in Windows. Remember users like Windows because it automatically handles many things. Linux, like Unix, has many advanced configuration options. I suggest to read Linux Admin documentation on the CD and books or give a system administrator to do the job. You not will be disappointed.

Evgeny Gesin /Javadesk.com/
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

nathan, you do know that you're supposed to boot from the Knoppix CD, and run knx-hdinstall from there?

If you just inserted the CD in the drive and tried to look at it, I suppose you couldn't see a filesystem because Knoppix uses a non-standard compressed filesystem, in order to get so much software on the CD. I believe the uncompressed size of a Knoppix CD is almost 2 gigabytes.

Roel Schroeven
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Actually he said that SuSE is difficult and slow to install when you don't pay them for the disks. Which is technically not correct. You can legally copy the disks from a friend (maybe not in the USA) and install them with the same ease without paying a cent to SuSE. So I assumed that is not what he meant but that it is difficult to get SuSE if you don't want to buy or copy the CDs because they don't offer downloadable ISOs.

The "pirated" was meant to illustrate the comparison. If you buy an update version of Windows without having a prior installation, you're just an idiot. But if you don't want to spend money on Windows and thus copy a CD at work or from a friend with an update version of Windows then you can hardly expect that it will install with the same ease on your Windowsless PC as a full version.

Florian
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

> nathan, you do know that you're supposed to boot from the Knoppix CD, and run knx-hdinstall from there?

> If you just inserted the CD in the drive and tried to look at it, I suppose you couldn't see a filesystem because Knoppix uses a non-standard compressed filesystem, in order to get so much software on the CD. I believe the uncompressed size of a Knoppix CD is almost 2 gigabytes.

I insert the CD, then reboot the computer.  Knoppix starts loading then encounters an error saying, "Cannot find the filesystem, dumping you to a [very] limited shell".  So then I'm stuck at a shell prompt with 3 or 4 commands, including mount.  All the help I've been able to find says that this happens because Knoppix only searches the IDE & SCSI buses, and if you're on a laptop using a USB CD drive you'll get this problem.  The thing is, I'm on a normal Dell with the CD drive in the usual spot. 

Same thing happened when I attempted to install KnopMyth, which is a version of Knoppix tailored for MythTV.

I can't get anyone to answer my calls for help on the Knoppix forums, and I'm not the only one to have this problem.

nathan
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Your comparison to Windows is plain confusing. If you have an update CD of Windows it won't install at all unless you either have a previous version installed or can insert the previous CD, independent of whether you paid for it legally or not. (You could update from Win 3.1 to Win 95 by simply putting a blank 3.1 directory on the HD but they got wise to that by win 98).

They used to give Suse away with PC Plus Magazine, but for the last three years or so it has been giving away Mandrake; whether that is because of PC Plus's decision or Suse's I don't know.

There are plenty of sites that will sell you the distros for less than the price of the magazine anyway.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

One thing that has only just ocurred to me. It's possible that the Suse distro that you pay for has partitioning or other software that is closed source and can't be copied. That might explain Joel's difficulty.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Back when I was younger I had a lot of time to go through the howtos and O'Reilly dead trees to get a really well rounded understanding of things. So an install rarely stomped me. But now days with distros reaching into the stratospheres in terms of number of packages and configuration possibilities, it's a bit daunting. Not really any different from Windows if you had to make a Windows box do something useful, secure, and sensible in a production environment. You just gotta spend the time doing the reading.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Can you or will you not understand what I mean? The "paid for legally" part is just for illustration. That is not the main point. Imagine a blank PC and you wanting to install an OS. There is a recommended way, a way how the vendor of the OS expects you to do it. This usually includes spending money at some point, for Windows and SuSE. And it is pretty easy. And there is a second way which usually does not include spending money. This way will also work, for both Windows and SuSE. But it can be tedious.
It was well possible to install onto a blank PC from a Windows update version without owning a previous version. But it included some manual copying and editing of files. And it was not as easy to accomplish for someone without any PC knowledge as the "normal" way. Surprise, surprise.

Florian
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I understand perfectly what you mean; it does justn't make any sense.

You can install Windows in varying ways (directly off the CD, using a boot floppy, copying the files to the HD, using a network share and others), all recommended by the manufacturer.

Which you choose depends on the circumstances, none is easier than the other, and the money spent is independent of which way you choose.

I can pay for Mandrake and get documentation and support, or I can use the ISO's that came free with my copy of PC Plus. Either way it's the same and just as easy. Same goes for Red Hat as far as I can see.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

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