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PC-BSD 8.1 review

PC-BSDPC-BSD 8.1 was released on July 20, 2010, roughly five months after version 8.0 was released. Some of the suggestions made in the review of PC-BSD 8.0 have been carried out in this latest release. In fact, the changes were made within one month of that review being published. It is an encouraging example of how some distro developers respond to suggestions (or critical reviews).

While I still think that PC-BSD is not yet ready for the masses, it is coming along very well. This review will offer another detailed look at some of the good and bad sides of this FreeBSD-based distribution, with the attendant recommendations and suggestions for improvement.

Let me begin by looking at the bright side of this distribution. And as always, it has to start with the …


A review of PC-BSD 8.2, the latest stable release, has been published.

Installation: PC-BSD’s installer is one of the most intuitive graphical installers available on any distribution – Linux or BSD. It is both simple and fully featured. It is not perfect, does not have some of the bells and whistles of Anaconda, the Fedora installer, but it is a lot better than the Ubuntu and Mandriva installers. One aspect of the PC-BSD installer that I especially favor, is that at every step, there is a Back and an Abort button.

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PC-BSD's intuitive installer

Installations options are easy to understand. PC-BSD is built atop FreeBSD, and so the PC-BSD developer(s) have made it easy to install FreeBSD from the PC-BSD installer.

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Installation options on PC-BSD 8.1

Disk encryption with user-supplied passphrase, rather than the system-generated keys of older editions, is now supported.

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Encryption of the partitions with user-supplied passphrase

An obvious advantage of disk encryption is that on boot, the correct passphrase must be supplied before an encrypted partition or disk can be read. The image below shows the system requesting the passphrase for unlocking an encrypted /usr partition.

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Passphrase request on boot for unlocking an encrypted partition

Because the default configuration of PC-BSD has a user’s home directory under the /usr directory, and confined in a jail, encrypting the /usr partition effectively encrypts the user’s home directory.
df-h

ZFS is available as a file system option, and you could configure ZFS in basic (single-disk), mirror, and raidz formats. See how to install PC-BSD 8.1 on an encrypted ZFS file system

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