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So I've been a linux user since June 2008. My first distro was Ubuntu.

I've tried OpenSuSE, Fedora, Mandriva, Linux Mint, Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux and Arch Linux, and I was thinking about giving BSD a try.

Which BSD variant should I choose?

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Do you have a particular criteria to help choose? Otherwise this seems entirely subjective – Michael Mrozek Sep 15 '10 at 5:19
I want it to be easy for a linux user to maintain,I also want to know the differences between linux and BSD – Mahmoud Hossam Sep 15 '10 at 6:23
If you don't already know the differences and have a particular use case in mind, you're likely to be disappointed. The differences between a modern user-oriented Linux distribution and a modern user-oriented BSD distribution are very minor at the desktop level. – Adrian Petrescu Sep 15 '10 at 6:50
I should have said earlier that it might help to know which Linux Distro you liked the best. – xenoterracide Sep 15 '10 at 21:27
I'm currently using mandriva,but I enjoyed Arch Linux the most,though it was tedious to maintain something like that on a daily basis,it just wasn't practical – Mahmoud Hossam Sep 15 '10 at 21:59
up vote 11 down vote accepted

If you are coming from Linux, you might give PCBSD a try.

It is FreeBSD but with a focus on desktop polish and ease-of-use. FreeBSD has historically been a server OS.

The PCBSD installer can also install FreeBSD. Many people find it easier to install FreeBSD using the PCBSD installer.

Linux and BSD are pretty similar in that they share the bulk of the software that would run on either one of them. To a casual desktop user, the BSD desktop will not seem that different.

Big differences are (in my opinion of course):

  • Userland (Linux uses GNU while BSD uses BSD)

  • Integration (Linux is a collection of different efforts, BSD is much more unified at the core)

  • Packaging (Linux typically manages installed software in binary packages - BSD typically manages a "ports" tree that you use to build software from sources)

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I've already downloaded FreeBSD,I'll try to experiment with it on virtualbox first,and the differences you mentioned are exactly the things I want to try,specially the ports collection – Mahmoud Hossam Sep 15 '10 at 17:17
I will note I had forgotten about PCBSD – xenoterracide Sep 15 '10 at 21:26
One should note that PCBSD is the odd one out when it comes to packaging, since it focusses on binary packages with full dependencies for ease of installation, as opposed to the ports trees in typical BSD's. (Although, since PCBSD is built on top of FreeBSD, their ports are reachable.) – Legolas Feb 13 '12 at 9:25

Personally, I find OpenBSD a great BSD to start with. It's simple, installs a minimum level of packages by default, and has excellent documentation. Man pages are a good thing. The installer is fast and incredibly easy to use (no, it's not a gui). And once you have the base system up and running, the online FAQ has answers to pretty much any question you could imagine, and it's not a wiki, the FAQ is written and maintained by the developers, and is up to date. Installing packages is just as easy as on other modern unix like systems, and though they lag behind the latest/greatest they are fully functional. I've been using it as my only desktop OS for years, and I find it's a great first unix like OS.

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Ah, the man pages. :) And OpenBSD developers acpi hard work is one of the things that actually make it 1st choice to netbooks/notebooks. – nwildner Jul 11 '13 at 19:41

If you used and understood Arch linux, you will have zero trouble with NetBSD, except for the ps command line flags. All the /etc files are the same, the /etc/rc.d files are similar.

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As of about Nov 2012, this isn't as true as it used to be. Arch abandonded a BSD-like at-boot init, and changed to systemd. – Bruce Ediger Jan 20 '13 at 7:23

FreeBSD because it's the most user friendly. OpenBSD focuses too much on security to be truly useful to the average user. NetBSD's goal is to run on anything, but that doesn't make it user friendly. I can't speak anything about any of them really... But FreeBSD just sounds like a good, popular choice.

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How can you offer advice in one sentence, and then in the next say "I can't speak anything about any of them really?" Do you use any of the BSD's, or are you just talking about what you've heard? – gabe. Sep 15 '10 at 16:55
@Gabe I'm mostly talking about what I've heard, really though, the guy gives no criteria thus I make a recommendation based on my equally good opinion ;). – xenoterracide Sep 15 '10 at 19:01
Fair enough... lol (: – gabe. Sep 15 '10 at 19:14

The most mature one, though far from free is Mac OS X.

The low-level part is distributed for free as Darwin.

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