On Tue, Sep 26, 2006 at 02:28:47PM -0400, Edward and Nancy Powers wrote:
> I am new to UNIX, and would like to download FreeBSD to familiarize
> myself with UNIX commands and the UNIX environment. I would like
> something fairly easy to install and maintain. I do not want to
> replace Windows, but would like to switch between Windows and FreeBSD.
> Is it possible to do this with FreeBSD?
Yes it is.
It will take some learning.
The environment and complete mindset is very different from MS.
Really, it is more server oriented where MS is more application oriented.
In other words FreeBSD provides a platform for you to build what you
want on it, but doesn't say much about the applications. That is up to you.
On the other hand, MS gives you a bunch of applications and doesn't
let you very near the platform.
So, MS makes a lot of decisions and assumptions for you and you have
little choice about them. FreeBSD UNIX makes almost no assumptions
and forces you to make all your own decisions - some of which you will
not be accustomed to seeing.
But, with all that difference in point of view, with FreeBSD you can
build a very good and servicable desktop system that is reliable and
relatively secure as well as have a top level server system if you plan
to provide any computing services such as Email or web service, etc.
The first thing to do is to try and wade through the FreeBSD handbook
that is available online from the FreeBSD web site. There are a
number of links to it on that site. Don't worry if you do not
understand it all from the start/first reading. Just absorb what you
can and learn where you can go back to to find various pieces of information.
Then, do a little more serious work on the parts that are a step by step
set of things to do to install and configure FreeBSD.
Then, download a copy of the latest full release ISO (presently 6.1)
and install it and start experimenting. At this time you will become
intimately familiar with the handbook and the man pages and probably
some of the online publications at sites such as onlamp.com
Play with it for a while - week/month whatever your patience will
endure - and then rethink things out a bit and do another install.
By that time, the next release may be out, so download it and make
a CD for the install. Most of the things you will change are
how you divide up the disk for various things and which extra things
from ports you really want to install. For example, some of the games
read pretty good, but really aren't worth trying to play or you may
want to skip some of the really extreme security stuff or might
want to add more security. You might want to change your X-windows
manager and/or desktop utility choices. I don't even bother to
install KDE or Gnome any more because I really don't want that much
desktop junk. I like simpler Afterstep better. It gives me good
working windows and supports my browser, XPDf, etc and I really hate
having stuff tied in to the browser that I want to run separately,
such as Email.
Anyway, you will be better able to make these kinds of choices after
you have played with it for a while.
Installation at first looks difficult and confusing. It is not so
bad once you have been through it. Most of all those choices are
not really relavant and you learn to look past what you do not need.
Following a good step by step procedure such as the handbook or
in FreeBSD Unleashed or The Complete FreeBSD books is the way to
get through it the first couple of times. Just don't get caught up
in the authors whime and prejudices. They all have favorites and
axes to grind that may not be the favored choice for you. You will
catch on to which things as you experiment and learn.
> Ed Powers
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