> 
> I am just looking at Free BSD as a Windows alternative.  I have a home
> workgroup that I am out growing and wanting to do more with, but don't want
> to give MS any more Hundreds of hard earned dollars.
> 
> My first question is where can I find a site that will list all approved or
> thoroughly checked out hardware to build a "box" (motherboards, and the
> like).  I don't have the time, or patience to get into major software
> conflicts or bugs. I want to follow a A to B to C box build and software
> setup. Is there someone (or more) to guide me through the process? Is there
> a website with complete and accurate information on it? Is there a "BSD for
> idiots" instruction book that's current? Is there a BSD project team working
> with manufactures and touting their successes?  Help!

FreeBSD is a good choice.

For information on hardware that runs FreeBSD, go to the FreeBSD web site
and look under release information or latest releases.   You will find a
short (currently 2) list of currently supported releases.  Under each
you will find a link to hardware notes.  Choose this and then choose the
type of system - probably i386 - and you will see a list of hardware
known to work on that version.  

As far as 'approved' goes, since this is a volunteer created and supported
system and the copyrights allow people to do pretty much what they want
with it, there is no formal approval process.   The support process consists
of trying what hardware that is available out and if it runs, then it
is considered supported.  There is a suit of things that is run on the 
hardware that is available to the developers to make sure it runs OK.  Of 
course, the volunteer developers and the very large user community actually 
use it as their own systems as well, so together they give it a broad and 
rigorous workout.

As far as step by step installation, the handbook is your friend.  
It does take things pretty much step by step.   But, it is not as
straightforward as click on install and come back in two hours.
One of the best advantages of FreeBSD (after functionality, reliability, 
and security) is that you really can make it how you want it.  But
that comes with the requirement that you have to make a number of
decisions about how to configure things.   Some of those are how to
divide the disk (and even if you want to have both FreeBSD and some 
other OS - yes, including possibly MSxxx - on the same machine), which
services you wish to run, such as web server, compilers, interpreters,
data base utilities, Email, proxies, etc, what sort of "desktop" 
environment you want and how tightly or loosly to secure the system,
even which games you want on the system.

Because those choices are completely open to you, installation requires
some hands on work and that requires some pre-installation study and 
thought and preparation.   Actually, after you have used FreeBSD a while
and have a reasonable handle on your own needs and preferences, these
choices become rather routine and you can run right through an installation.
But the first couple of times will take some thought, work and patience
as well as learning about a new type of environment and set of commands.

The handbook, along with the man pages and some online publications such as
Onlamp.com and others are very good in leading you through these things.   

There are several published books available they tend to follow the handbook 
as far as the technical information goes and add some more general background.
They also tend to add the authors own preferences and prejudices as to what 
choices to make.  That is very good background and frame of reference 
information, and is worth the price of the books, but you should keep in
mind that it is generally not the final word as far as what you want your 
machine to be.

The most controversial choices (those that get the most heated support
for personal choices) seem often to be: how to divide the disk, which
desktop to use and which Email MTA to use.   People seem to be willing
to fight to the death over their choices, but the truth is that each
of the choices works well for some and not for others.  I have posted my 
disk layouts with my reasons several times.  I would suggest you start
with Sendmail since it is the default and only change if and when you
find you need something else.  My desktop is simple.  I just use AfterStep
because I don't like or need all the extra junk that comes with some of 
the fancier ones.  I also think mostly starting with defaults and/or the
simpler ways and only moving on when you discover the need is the most
useful path to system management enlightenment.

So, good luck and welcome to FreeBSD,

////jerry

> 
> Thank You
> 
> Tom
> 
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