BSD: FreeBSD or OpenBSD on Desktop Why Not

Why not using a FreeBSD or OpenBSD OS on a desktop?

Well, simply because of the following…

Generally, FreeBSD and OpenBSD

The first consideration may be for those, who need to use Dropbox or other file-sharing cloud solutions known from other OSs (Microsoft OneDrive etc.)

Command-line-based Dropbox API does exist (for FreeBSD), but it is not the client known from other OSs. No alternative is provided for OpenBSD though (thankfully? hahaha).

The same counts for MegaSync which is “replaced” by megatools (FreeBSD) or megatools (OpenBSD).

GParted, a useful utility to manage disks, lacks support for UFS and ZFS partition types, for which it does not exist in the FreeBSD. On the other hand, users can live with a text-based gpart (FreeBSD) or fdisk and disklabel (OpenBSD).

The Adobe Acrobat Reader client is no longer available. Right, it is probably a possitive than a negative information 🙂 However, it may be a reason for someone relying on this SW.


Besides the above described issues, OpenBSD does not provide a proper nvidia drivers support due to nvidia’s pig-headedness and obvious shame & fear to make their lame coding publicly available. Note: Obviously, the same counts for Linux users where they are only provided a binary blob which is a priori insecure and not trustworthy. But some users do not seem to care much…

OpenBSD claims to be a “Multiplatform Ultra-Secure Operating System”, which may seem to be promissing particularly for desktop users. Unfortunately, it lacks any usable tabbed twin-panel file manager (TotalCommander-like, not MidnightCommander-like). It used to support Krusader, which was omitted in 2009 and which is not supported any more (it still exists as a 1.80.0p15-binary (qt3) version though). There are many variants available for Linux and FreeBSD users (such as Double Commander), not for OpenBSD though.

Wine is another package that is not supported since 2011 due to some discrepancies in licensing or whatnots. Forget about DOS- or Windows-like emulation…

VirtualBox is another one omitted. Hence OpenBSD cannot run VirtualBox as a host. But qemu can be used instead. Generally speaking, the OpenBSD developers do not like a 3rd party virtualisation technology much (as a high-probable subject of security issues and programming flaws). Therefore, a native hypervisor (vmm) is in the works…

The most important drawback for me as an every-day user of a web (WWW) is poor performance of available browsers. As a long-time Firefox user (using it from its very beginning), I observed that Mozilla team has “developed” a terrible monolithic freak since. It is full of useless and unremovable “features”. Such bloatware is still relatively usable within Microsoft’s, Apple’s, Linux-based and FreeBSD operating systems though. Anyway, I tried other available browsers, but the results are not acceptable:

  • Seamonkey/Firefox slow, choppy video and sound
  • Iridium/Chromium slow, choppy video and sound
  • Epiphany slow, failed with a Youtube error
  • Midori (with or without GTK3 support) super slow, failed with a Youtube error
  • NetSurf slow, black rectangle instead of a video
  • xombrero super slow, failed with a Youtube error
  • otter-browser slow, failed with a Youtube error

I figured out that HTML5/JavaScript performance is sluggish, laggy, choppy and in one word unsatisfactory. The probable causes for such behaviour is a combination of the following:

  • The very nature of OpenBSD, i.e. security in the first place (rthreads?)
  • Web browsers and their frameworks (WebKit etc.) are foolishly programmed.
  • HTML5/JavaScript responsive frameworks are foolishly programmed.

Some more updates on this topic can be found in Ted’s notes.

Sadly, the above makes OpenBSD completely unusable for everyday usage as desktop for me. I am not talking about a server/router though 😉

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