Subject: Re: Installing NetBSD experiences and help wanted
To: None <>
From: Cameron Patrick <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 06/22/2005 16:59:07
Jimmie Houchin wrote:

> I think it would be a great idea from an advocacy standpoint. In my 
> exploration I've read any number of posts of people claiming NetBSD as 
> one of the harder OS installs. And that's a shame. NetBSD has a lot to 
> offer people.

Yes.  To be fair, NetBSD's installer isn't _that_ bad.  It's nowhere
near as awful as Debian woody, for instance.  The monolithic kernel
means that most supported hardware JustWorks, something which the
Debian people spent a _lot_ of time doing for the sarge release.  The
partitioner is pretty swish, too: not pretty, but functional and makes
it easy to quickly set up partitions the way you like.  The installer
does a good job of quickly getting a working NetBSD system onto your
computer, which is exactly what it should do.

Unfortunately the installed system is very bare: possibly no working
network, no user account, no installed software.  The first few
moments of using a bare NetBSD system for me consist of "argh argh,
must install zsh and vim, need sane tab completion and editor" :-)

> When researching, I looked at the packages collection it looked
> mighty impressive.

Pkgsrc is very nice for building packages from source.  The binary
packages are a not so good; a lot of packages are uninstallable from
binaries.  Binary packages get removed from the archive when security
flaws are found, but fixed ones tend not to be uploaded in their
place.  Often packages depend on others which are not freely
distributable in binary form.  (In some cases the packages can be
configured to disable these dependencies at the cost of reducing
functionality.  IMHO there should be some mechanism to disable these
dependencies on the bulk-builds.)

Using pkg_add to install binary packages over the network is also a
bit fiddly.  It doesn't provide any kind of progress indicator and the
downloaded packages aren't cached anywhere.  This sucks for large
packages or when you have less than 100mbit to the packages mirror :-)
If only pkg_add was as nice as apt-get ...

> It even has things Debian, et al. don't. For example my favorite
> programming tool, Squeak. Squeak has a very free but odd little
> license from Apple. Therefore isn't considered "free" by the "free"
> or "open" software people. Ugh. Its freer than what they offer.

I'm a strong supporter of the Debian free software guidelines, sorry,
so I'm not going to agree entirely here. :-)  Having non-free software
readily available is great but I get a warm fuzzy feeling from my
Debian systems knowing that there are only three or four packages
on my machine which don't meet pretty strict criteria of freedom.

(Competely OT: I'm not sure what Debian's problem is with the squeak
licence, though, except for the "cannot modify fonts" part.)