UbuntuBSD helps users escape systemd

A new Ubuntu-based FreeBSD distribution has been announced.


FreeBSD at FOSDEM, Brussels

Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya

Some members of the BSD community have announced an Ubuntu-based version of BSD called UbuntuBSD.

UbuntuBSD is based on the FreeBSD kernel rather than the Linux kernel that’s used in the main Ubuntu. It’s using the FreeBSD 10.1 kernel and is based on Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf.

UbuntuBSD uses the ZFS file system and comes with the lightweight Xfce desktop. Installing UbuntuBSD is quite easy, though it’s using text installer that you see in Debian or Ubuntu server.

It appears that the UbuntuBSD project is working on its own, without the involvement of Canonical or Ubuntu. But Ubuntu is a humongous community so there is a possibility that some Ubuntu developers may be involved with the project at some level.

I talked to Michael Hall, Community Manager at Canonical, to sense of what he thinks about the project. “I think it's a cool project and I'm looking forward to seeing how far they get with it It would certainly be an interesting addition to our already varied list of official flavors, if they can get there,” he said.

When I asked Hall if UbuntuBSD wanted to get some support from Ubuntu or Canonical he said that “they would be treated like any other project within the Ubuntu community. It might require more work than say Ubuntu GNOME, since we're so used to having the same kernel, but we will do our best to support them in their efforts.”

This is not the first attempt to bring a Linux distribution to FreeBSD. Developers have attempted to bring Debian, Gentoo and Arch to FreeBSD without much success. So how far will this project go will be interesting to watch.

Should you try it?

The main focus of UbuntuBSD is "escape from systemd." Personally I have no problem with systemd and have been using it on openSUSE and Arch Linux for a very long time now. In addition, all three enterprise distributions – Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise and Ubuntu – have adopted systemd as the default init system. So systemd is the future in the enterprise space.

That said, there are many people who are not comfortable with systemd and that’s the audience UbuntuBSD is targeting. But there are also Linux distributions that don’t use systemd.

Before you try UbuntuBSD, keep in mind that FreeBSD is less popular than Linux on the desktop, and as a result there are fewer packages available for FreeBSD. You will get access to some of the major applications, but not everything is available for FreeBSD. In addition, device driver support is also not on par with Linux, which now has out of the box support for a majority of hardware components.

As a long time Linux user, I am not sure if UbuntuBSD will interest me. I think this project is more for those BSD users who want the Ubuntu experience. It’s certainly an interesting project for BSD users.

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