RealTime IT News

New Year, New Look For PC-BSD

UPDATED: Linux isn't the only open source operating system vying for the desktop; BSD in the form of the PC-BSD effort is too.

It builds on the FreeBSD 6.1 base with an operating system that is more tailored for desktop users.

Among the improvements in PC-BSD 1.3 is a new install wizard that allows for multiple users to be added at installation time. The new install wizard also provides advanced options for firewall, network and storage partitions.

The new PC-BSD also sports a new look and a new base system using the KDE 3.5.5 desktop. Developers have also updated the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) in version 1.3 for improved hardware access. But HAL isn't necessarily entirely reliable for PC-BSD 1.3 just yet.

The release notes for PC-BSD 1.3 warn that this is the first release of PC-BSD that incorporates HAL support for the media backend.

"Since HAL on BSD is relatively new, there still may be quirks with its operation on various hardware," the release notes state. The PC-BSD project got a major boost back in October when it was "acquired" by San Jose, Calif.-based enterprise hardware solution provider iXsystems for an undisclosed sum.

An open source project in and of itself can't really be acquired, so what it actually acquired was intellectual property and copyrights related to the development of PC-BSD and associated domains, as well as the brains behind the operation, according to Matt Olander CTO iXsystems.

Kris Moore, founder of the PC-BSD project, is one of those brains who is now working full time on the project.

"With the opportunity for me to work full-time on the project, this allowed us to tackle some of the larger programming challenges that we would normally have taken much longer to finish," Moore said. "Such as the new 'Services' menu, some features in the new installer and such. iXsystems has been a great help to us so far, providing the resources we need to make this latest release a reality."

FreeBSD, which is the base for PC-BSD, is also quite active on the development front. FreeBSD 6.2 was originally expected to be released in November but is now set for a Jan. 10 release. The current release of FreeBSD, version 6.1, was released in May.

"We are not tied to the FreeBSD dev cycle entirely, but we do try to stay as current as possible," Moore noted. "We are eagerly waiting for 6.2 here and look forward to updating the PC-BSD base to 6.2, as well."

Beyond just potentially being based on FreeBSD 6.2, the next version of PC-BSD, version 1.4 may have a few other goodies.

"Now that the system installer has been given a revamp, it will be time to sit down and plan out any new tools or utilities we may need to develop for the loaded system," Moore said. "Some ideas are already on the table, such as a Firewall manager, new Online Update manager, better X configuration GUI and more."