After the disappointing “Practical C” published by O'Reilly in 2005 and the realization that the Technical University roughly an hour away from me doesn't put any emphasis on IT at all (no shit, most of their courses are targeting communication, media, and economics students, while the few electrical and electro-technical courses jump straight from mechanical engineering (!) to a tinsy bit of Java in practice!), I put my last hope on Wikiversity to close remaining knowledge holes.
The first computer my family owned was a heavy Fujitsu tower built in 2001 that came pre-installed with the operating system that many users fondly remember: Windows XP. For some reason, however, I wasn't that fond of XP when using it as a child, partially because it ran without an internet connection and also due to its very colorful desktop environment “Luna”, which was noticeably different from the design I became familiar with, namely that of Windows 95/98, which ran on my grandparents' PC.
As our machine could not receive any Service Pack updates due to lacking internet access, this computer remained with the very first version of Windows XP until the OS eventually bricked itself.
Right, I am either attracting incels like flies or I simply tend to spot them easier when browsing the web. Regardless of what specifically applies – and there's already no doubt that I do attract incels more often I can tolerate – and what else is a driving force behind this, there are quite a lot within the tech sphere. Perhaps too many that get along well with straight up sex-addicted autists and narcissists.
We all know what happened in the last weeks and I didn't want to address any of that on here, largely because I quietly moved to other services and blocked the rest to not get distracted. But, alas, this topic is unavoidable and a recent post on Hacker News made me change my mind, so here I am, back on my bullshit.
After some not-so-satisfying experiences with a few BSD's, I wanted to test something I am somewhat familiar with and came across a project anyone would suspect me of developing an instant dislike for: Mabox is a quite young distribution based on Manjaro, providing a customized Openbox environment and some additional tools for easier system customization. According to the project's homepage, this operating system aims to be fast, lightweight, functional, and stable – nothing beyond the common buzzword bingo, at least on the website's first page; the project's about page grants a little more insight:
Mabox Linux is based on Manjaro, featuring a customized Openbox window manager preconfigured to be ready to use.
It was inspired by CrunchBang, and uses some BunsenLabs utilities adapted for Manjaro.
Mabox Linux uses some of XFCE and LXDE components.
Mabox use jgmenu for main menu, sidepanels, exit dialog and screenshot tool.
Ignoring the broken English for now, Mabox appears to emulate one of the most popular “lightweight” distributions, yet with a different base. It should be mentioned that Mabox is not the only distribution attempting to provide a CrunchBang-like experience, however only BunsenLabs succeeded at reaching a “wider” userbase. Given that I use a lightweight distribution based on Arch Linux as my daily driver and already tested Manjaro last year, it shouldn't be too difficult to judge Mabox.
With its initial release dating back to 1993, FreeBSD is a fork of 386BSD, which was a fork of the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD, initially called “Berkeley Unix”) developed by the Computer System Research Group at the University of California, Berkeley from 1978 to 1995. Despite not really known by its name outside of information technologies, this distribution powers gaming consoles, such as the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 3 and 4, servers directly and via the distribution TrueNAS, and Darwin, the base for all operating systems developed and maintained by Apple, making it an “all-rounder” among operating systems.
It is said that FreeBSD shares many similarities with Linux, however main differences between the two are the project's scopes and licensing. While Linux is just a kernel with device drivers licensed under GPL 2.0, FreeBSD provides documentation and userland utilities alongside an own kernel and drivers, all licensed under a less-restrictive FreeBSD license that is incompatible with GPL, OSI, and Copyleft.
Taking both project's similarities into account, I assumed it would not be too hard to give FreeBSD a chance. My excitement, though, did not last long.
The OpenBSD project produces a FREE, multi-platform 4.4BSD-based UNIX-like operating system. Our efforts emphasize portability, standardization, correctness, proactive security and integrated cryptography. As an example of the effect OpenBSD has, the popular OpenSSH software comes from OpenBSD.
Experience tells me that any operating system introducing itself by highlighting its influence and listing a bunch of buzzwords, chances are high that the OS sucks and hardly fulfills any of its promises. It's especially noticeable among most Linux distributions based on Ubuntu, which effectively are just Ubuntu with a slightly modified desktop environment. Although BSD appears to be much less popular than the ecosystem that is Linux, there has been a minor wave of distributions based on FreeBSD that provide nothing but macOS-like desktop themes, as well (looking at you, helloSystem).
OpenBSD, however, has been around since 1995, initially being just a simple fork of NetBSD, a fork of both BSD and 386BSD. Being completely unfamiliar with BSD, I decided to take as little risks as possible and installed OpenBSD in a virtual environment only – as it would turn out, I made the right decision to not test it on bare metal.
Back in 2009, the antiX devs foresaw that usb flash drives would be the wave of the future for live Linux media. During the ensuing eight years antiX has been refining their live-usb technology striving to improve the live-usb experience and to find new and unique ways for making use of fast read-write live boot media.
Proudly calling itself “anti-fascist” and “systemd-free”, antiX is a Linux distribution not only aims to be used as a live USB system but also an extremely lightweight OS that can be run on very old machines such as “256MB old systems”. The rather bold claims don't end here, in fact “antiX can also be used as a fast-booting rescue cd and works extremely well running ‘live’ with or without ‘persistence’ on a usb stick or ‘frugal’ on a hard drive. Customize your own version with our live ‘remaster’ tools or create ‘snapshots’ of an installed system” with the project's so-called “antiX Magic”.
Describing itself as “Debian without systemd”, Devuan is another distribution targeting users dissatisfied with the software suite originally developed by Lennart Poettering that would replace SysV as the most popular init system for Linux distributions. With the initial announcement of forking Debian dating back to late-2014, the team behind Devuan believes that GNU/Linux is becoming more homogenized not just as a result of the rising popularity of systemd but also the GNOME Project providing the GNOME desktop environment:
We believe this situation is also the result of a longer process leading to the take-over of Debian by the GNOME project agenda. Considering how far this has propagated today and the importance of Debian as a universal OS and base system in the distribution panorama, what is at stake is the future of GNU/Linux in a scenario of complete homogeneization (sic!) and lock-in of all base distributions.
In short, this means that Devuan is supposed to be a “less-restricted” variant of Debian with free choice over init system and desktop environment. As this is more of a political justification rather than fears born out of potential technical implications, testing the OS myself was... rather boring, despite conducting this test in a badly-configured virtual machine.