Larry the BSD Guy
My laptop cover always gets looks wherever I set up to work — usually at Firefly Coffee House in Santa Cruz, where once a five-year-old stared at my cover for literally three minutes. I timed him. But yesterday, I was at Aptos Coffee Roasting Company, not far from Cabrillo College, where I hunkered down while waiting for my daughter to finish her Japanese class (sorry, Firefly — but in my feeble defense, you are not open past six).
A father and son sat at a table nearby, laptops open and I assume they were working on things individually. At one point, the father got up and approached me.
“Is that Run GCC, like Run DMC?” He asked about one of the more prevalent stickers on the cover of my ThinkPad T500. We laughed about it, we introduced ourselves — his name is Roger and he’s a Java developer — and we started a conversation about what we were working on.
Then I got the question: “Are you running Linux on that?”
And for the first time in just over nine years, I had a different answer than the one I normally give: “No. On this, it’s PC-BSD.”
Roger was surprised. As a FreeBSD user on a server at home, he was surprised that I — or anyone else, for that matter — would run BSD for day-to-day use on a laptop. But here I am doing that, and I had a chance to let him know about the short time, so far, that I’ve been using PC-BSD.
Allow me to relate to you today what I told him yesterday: It’s a little different going from Linux to BSD, the learning curve is not very steep for those who are regular Linux users, one gets used to it quickly, and best of all is that there is a noticeable performance uptick in the hardware. I’m no Michael Larabel and I don’t have Phoronix’s array of equipment to do benchmarks, but the improved performance is something one can easily see when doing everyday work.
Linux was fast enough on this machine. But in street racing parlance, with PC-BSD I’m burning rubber in all four gears.
I showed him the Xfce desktop, which essentially makes it indistinguishable from Linux (and with the exception of not having the Xfce Elementary Dark icon set, it looks just like my former Korora setup). The AppCafe allows one to easily obtain software, which led to a Emacs vs. Vim discussion — we both prefer Vim — and the son incidentally was working on something in Vim when I went over to introduce myself. A wide variety of FOSS programs are available and run flawlessly on PC-BSD, just as they do on Linux.
That said, despite a few things I have to try to sort out — for example, it appears that the font in Firefox is something I can’t change (or it’s not completely obvious) and the fact that I’m trying to find a quiet mode for the GRUB startup because, well, the startup is somewhat intimidating — I get to paraphrase Rick Blaine at the end of “Casablanca” when describing my current daily setup: “PC-BSD, I believe this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”