Many versions have these problems
I think the FreeBSD system is a great system. I am writing these
comments as I run FreeBSD 9.0 RC1.
I use Linux a lot. I have played with Free BSD a bunch of times over
many years. When I first started, I noted, what I believed to be,
some very significant problems with the install / setup program. I
just worked around it, but this often caused me a lot of time on the
Internet trying to find ways around some pretty simple things. I just
assumed that it was an early draft of the setup routine and that it
would be fixed in subsequent releases. Now, here I am with 9.0 RC1,
and they are still present!
I believe these issues are a very significant barrier to use of
FreeBSD and would be easy to fix by someone involved with the
maintenance of it. I'm not kidding, I think this is a very
For this test I am running FreeBSD on a Mac using VMWare Fusion 4.0.2.
I will enumerate my observations as follows:
1. In order to escape the virtual machine (VM) you hit the control key
and the command key together. Both keys are supposed to be like the
shift key - they don't do anything by themselves, they modify the
behavior of another key. Hitting those two keys together should never
do anything unless they are pressed with another key. However, in your
install program the command key seems to exit the install. This means
that if I attempt to do something else on my machine I must hit the
control key together with the command key to move my mouse to my other
applications but doing so exits the FreeBSD install!
Your install program should ignore the command key when pressed by
itself or with the control key. Otherwise, it causes an abort of the
install if you attempt to do anything else on your computer.
2. On the screen "Distribution Select" the user selects his/her
desired distribution set. Selection requires the use of the space
bar. Now, this may be obvious to someone who does FreeBSD day-in and
day-out, and it would also be obvious to those familiar with the old
text based GUI's from the DOS days, but anyone else wouldn't have a
clue. Why don't you include a little comment on the screen telling
the to perform their selection with the space bar?
3. I now have the system installed and I am attempting to add packages. I
go into sysinstall. (Of course if I hit control-command in order to add
text to this commend sysinstall exits!)
Within sysinstall I go to Configure / Packages / FTP / Main Site. The
system responds with:
"Can't find the '9.0-RC1' distribution..."
or in the case of 8.0 I get
"Can't find the '8.0-RELEASE-P2' distribution..."
I had to change it to "8.0-RELEASE".
or in the case of 8.2 I got something like:
"Can't find the '8.2-RELEASE-P2' distribution..."
I had to change it to: "8.2-RELEASE"
In order to fix this one must go to Configure / Options and take off the
"-P2" or "-P1" from the end of that string. The FTP site then works.
How are people supposed to know that? No doubt this causes many
people to reboot and install Linux. sysinstall should do that
automatically when it communicates with your update site. I am
shocked that someone would have to research and fix this every time
they want to use the system, and that no one has fixed this for years.
Oh, and BTW, what should the string be for 9.0-RC1? I tried "9.0" and
"9.0-RC1" - neither work. (How can I install individual packages to
4. Within sysinstall, go to Configure / Packages / FTP / Main Site
This takes you to the "Package Selection" screen. There are two
buttons on the bottom. The one labeled "Install" is clear enough,
however, what is "OK" supposed to mean? Does it mean "Okay, I'm done
with my selection, go a head and install"? No. That's what "Install"
is for. After experimenting I see it means "Select the highlighted
package for further selection." I think that button would be a lot
clearer if it was labeled "Select".
This isn't the big problem though. The real big problem is that there
is no way (I can find) to exit the screen and return to the prior
menu. The only way to exit without performing an install is to hit ^C
and tell it to abort. Amazing. There should be some way to decide
that's not the screen you want to be on and be able to back up one
Assuming that screen is its own program and you can't backup, you should
have a button labeled "Restart" that just reloads sysinstall. Don't
leave someone stuck.
This problem (not being clear how to select, move forward, or move back)
is in many places throughout sysinstall.
5. Within sysinstall go to Configure / Packages / CD (with no CD present)
The system tells you no CD and take you back to the main menu. However,
if you go back to Configure it immediately it tells you no CD. You no longer
get the choice of FTP or the other ones. It locks in on CD. You have to
exit the program and re-start it to get the option back again.
These problems have been with sysinstall for years. It's the first
exposure people have with FreeBSD. I think these things would be
very easy to fix and go a long way towards minimizing the barrier to
entry into the FreeBSD world.
When installing the system or using sysinstall
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