20100414

Times sure have changed. I just watched an episode of Star Trek called The Apple. In it, a community of people live under the rule of a machine called Val. This Val threatened the Enterprise and the landing crew; so they retaliated and destroyed Val. At first the citizens were not happy with this new thing. One of them complained in a way that reminds me of how people used to talk about Bill Clinton and are now talking about the federal government:

Citizen: But it was Val who put fruit on the trees, caused the rain to fall. Val cared for us.

Kirk: You'll learn to care for yourselves. And there's no trick to putting fruit on trees. You might even enjoy it. You'll learn to build for yourselves, think for yourselves, work for yourselves; and what you create is yours (italics mine). That's what we call "Freedom."


This article is actually about comparing Linux to FreeBSD.

I should mention that I am most comfortable administrating FreeBSD. If I wanted to administrate Linux I would load up some hardcore distribution like Debian or Slackware and build my system from it. I needed to run Linux until such time as FreeBSD would support the wireless NIC on my new laptop. There are three main branches of Linux: Red Hat, Debian and Slackware. Many distributions are built from those three. There is also a branch of Linux that springs from Gentoo and another collection of independents - built from scratch. I was most interested in the Debian group; but Debian itself has too steep of a learning curve for a guy who's loading it up temporarily. I tried several and finally found that SimplyMEPIS runs best on my hardware. To its credit, it doesn't INSIST on installing its own boot manager into the Master Boot Record (as does Mint and Ubuntu). I was able to install my own boot manager after installing SimplyMEPIS and FreeBSD onto the same machine.

Here are my impressions. First of all, my favorite video application, MPlayer, runs badly on both FreeBSD and MEPIS (and Mint). In each case I installed a prepared package of the software. I have the option to compile and install MPlayer on FreeBSD; but with MEPIS (Debian) I'm stuck with a package. Furthermore, MPlayer's sister application Mencoder is not available on MEPIS - and is almost certainly not available as an APT (Debian) package. It is available on FreeBSD.

A very good audio application called xmms is not available for Debian but it is for FreeBSD. Xmms has been updated to xmms2; but the only resemblence to the original is the name.

Xmms2 is designed to stream audio from a server. You cannot use it to play music resident on your own hard drive. There is no graphical user interface (GUI) that I can find. The Linux distributions do have a audio media player called Audacious. It works alright but has nowhere near the features of the old xmms!

It doesn't have a graphic equalizer nor does it have a feature of playing an entire directory of files (or, if it does it is not a straightforward process).

Another of my set of favorite applications that I always add early into any new *nix installation is Cantus. Cantus is a tool for adding tags to MP3 files. When I convert an audio CD to MP3 files I first rip them as WAVs and then convert the WAVs to MP3s. I need a nice tool for tagging the MP3s so I can use them conveniently on an MP3 player. Cantus is the best tool for the job.

Cantus can tag a whole directory of files at once; plus it can copy all the tags of one version (1 or 2) to the other in a single step. That's really nice since some MP3 players see only one or the other type; but not both.

Imagine my shock to learn that Debian has no Cantus package! Well, maybe Debian has something just as good and feature-rich. The only package that does anything close to Cantus and is available for Debian is an application called TagTool. It works just fine for tagging files - and many can be tagged at once; but if I want to duplicate the v.2 tags over to v.1 in a single step, forget it. It must be done one file at a time; hence, tedium.

If you love and adore TagTool, it is available in the FreeBSD ports.

I don't know if this helps much; but it sure helps me. Linux will continue to be an emergiency OS for me until such time as "FreeBSD is dying" actually occurs.