So I spent hours at this today. Too much time, but I wanted to give this a fair shot. I can’t say whether GhostBSD is “not ready” for the desktop or whether I’m simply not ready for a desktop BSD, but I suspect it’s the latter, since it offers a lot of the same great things that many good Linux distros offer, including a nice graphical installer, minimal Xfce (or MATE) desktop, LibreOffice, a good choice of web browsers and very modern applications.
Tested on a very modest Dell Latitude laptop with Intel Duo-Core 2.00 GHz processor and 4 GB of RAM, wifi was never detected, even with my handy USB wifi adapter from ThinkPenguin. And the network manager interface didn’t even offer wifi as an option, even after updating over a wired connection, which brought me to a pre-release version of the next release. This is a rolling-release OS, so as expected, some of the software and configs may be troublesome until they mature on FreeBSD (on which GhostBSD is based). Hardware compatibility issues are very likely with much newer software on a pretty old relic like my laptop.
Updating took a lonnnnnnnng time, and absolutely every part of the process was incredibly slow. This might have been a slow Internet connection at their server for all I know, but I did find that netweork speed was much slower on Ghost than on any Linux distro I’ve ever used.
GhostBSD offers a nice graphical way to install software with over 30,000 titles to choose from! Massive repositories are available to FreeBSD users, which is awesome! Seamonkey was not among them, nor were some of the proprietary browsers you find in many Linux repositories. Seamonkey is considered “abandonware” by the maintainers of FreeBSD.
I found that as slow as it was, I could only add software titles one at a time. Selecting more than one or two would lock up the installer and bring my CPU to maximum and just leave it there for 45 minutes until I rescued it – by rebooting, since there wasn’t any way to even close the damned unresponsive Software Station.
If you don’t know what an application is by it’s name (it’s FreeBSD name, that is), you can mouse over it for a very brief “description” of it’s function. I would have gotten screenshots rather than pics from a camera phone, but the Xfce screenshooter isn’t included by default and wouldn’t install because it was part of a large batch of packages I selected before clicking “Apply” and locking it up. Very few USB utilities are offered in spite of the huge selection of excellent software. The Software Station, as it’s called in GhostBSD, is searchable, and I did discover some very cool stuff in there. I just don’t have hours and hours to download and install it over that stupidly slow connection. May as well just do dial-up for cry’n out loud. It also surprised my greatly that you don’t have to be root to install software! You have to be root to access certain software after installation, but not to install it.
GhostBSD is very sparse and minimal out of the box, deliberately so I’m sure. With no updates and installation programs running, it was pretty darn fast, but not as nimble, it seems to me, as MX-Linux, Debian, or Xubuntu. On those I can multi-task like crazy, select a zillion and twelve packages in Synaptic to install, and surf and chat and listen to music while they download and install.
Linux has really spoiled me I guess. But probably the best implementation of BSD ever is – MacOS!