Linux vs. BSD, What's the Difference?
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Running Windows Applications
One of the available PBIs is a two week evaluation of the commercial Win4BSD Pro program. This software allows you to run Windows from your PC-BSD desktop--meaning you don't have to give up your Windows applications, or dual-boot to access them, or worry about viruses and spyware while in Windows.
After installing the PBI, start the program from either the desktop icon or PBI Programs menu. You'll need your installation CD of either Windows 2000 or XP. The initial screen allows you to limit the amount of disk space (4 GB by default) and RAM (128 MB by default) available to Windows. When ready, insert your Windows installation CD and click the Install button to start the Windows installation program.
Once the install is complete, a new desktop icon will be created that indicates the name of the operating system--mine was called "Win4BSD Pro - winpro." Double-click that icon and that operating system will boot up in a window. Once booted, you can interact with Windows as usual: install software, run programs, access the Internet, etc. When you're finished, use the start menu to shutdown Windows--Win4BSD will automatically close the window when the shutdown is finished. If you use Windows software, you'll find this method rather addictive as you can continue to use the PC-BSD operating system simultaneously. I also find Windows is very snappy--it does not run slow, even within the default 4 GB, 128 MB of RAM environment.
If you like this program, it is available for purchase from the Win4BSD Store for $49.99.
Ubuntu users will find that most of the tasks they are used to performing through a GUI configuration tool are also available on PC-BSD. Many of these tools will be found in the Settings menu that provides submenus for Appearance & Themes, Desktop, Internet & Network, KDE Components, Peripherals, Regional & Accessibility, Security & Privacy, Software & Updates, Sound & Multimedia, and System Administration.
PC-BSD offers many built-in utilities which don't come with a default install of Ubuntu. For example, the pf firewall is enabled by default and can be configured through Settings -> Internet & Network -> Firewall. This menu allows you to start, stop, or restart the firewall as well as restore the default configuration. Use the Exceptions tab to allow or block a specified protocol. Figure 2 shows an example to allow incoming traffic to an IRC server.
Figure 2: Adding a Firewall rule
Beryl is also installed by default and configuration is automatic; simply click on System -> Beryl Manager. Note that not all video cards support Beryl--check out the Beryl FAQ to see if yours is supported. While the FAQ doesn't mention NVidia cards, beryl runs fine on these cards under PC-BSD. If you're running an NVidia card, install the NVidia PBI before starting beryl.
PC-BSD provides easy-to-use tools for keeping both the operating system and installed software up-to-date.
To see if any security patches are available for the operating system, go to Settings -> Software & Updates -> Online Update Manager. Once you input the administrative password you'll see the menu shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Online Update Manager
Here you can schedule updates or click Check Now. You'll either receive a message that your system is up-to-date or information about what needs to be updated. If the system needs to be updated, the update wizard will guide you through the update process.
If you install software using PBIs, you can check for new versions of software from the Settings -> Software & Updates -> PBI Update Manager menu. If any software requires a new update, simply click Get Update to install the latest version of the highlighted application.
PC-BSD has a vibrant user community and several avenues for support. Most of what you need to get started using PC-BSD can be found in the Quick Guide and the KDE Documentation web site.
Commercial support is available from iXystems, with details available on pcbsd.org.
PC-BSD provides a fun, easy-to-use desktop operating system with the added benefits of stability and security. Better yet, the price tag is free! If you haven't taken PC-BSD for a test drive, what are you waiting for?
Dru Lavigne is a network and systems administrator, IT instructor, author and international speaker. She has over a decade of experience administering and teaching Netware, Microsoft, Cisco, Checkpoint, SCO, Solaris, Linux, and BSD systems. A prolific author, she pens the popular FreeBSD Basics column for O'Reilly and is author of BSD Hacks and The Best of FreeBSD Basics.
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