# Geek # # Linux # # FreeBSD # # *NIX #

Migrating from Linux to FreeBSD

1. The Idea

I have been using Linux (mostly Gentoo) on my main computer for over 20 years, and OpenBSD on my routers for over 10 years.
I already tried FreeBSD as a desktop a few times (when 10.0 came out, when 12.0 came out), but always hit some snags that made me crawl back to Gentoo.

2. The Trigger

With Covid19, my ability to travel has been greatly reduced and as a result, some of my computers went 9 months without upgrades, leading to deep dependency conflicts.
On the one hand, I expect to keep on traveling less than I used to, hence I was looking for a more "integrated" system - which would result easier to update.
My profound disgust for systemd made it harder for me to find a suitable linux distro - hence I decided to give FreeBSD another shot.
If you want to discuss technical arguments for or against systemd, just google the flamewars...
My main concern are:

  1. It reminds me of regedit

    One central piece of software that is not the kernel but gets a say in everything.

  2. It does not follow UNIX philosophy (one small tool does one task and does it well)
  3. It is pervasive, as in many developers assume it is there anyway: it is becoming a dependency.
  4. This will cause distruption between Open Source projects (when KDE expects Wayland and Wayland expects systemd, then it might become tricky to run kde on BSD).

3. The Move

As I was going to have to migrate my data to a new fs anyway, I thought why not give zfs a try? With a few Tb of data, this was quite a long and expensive move, as I ended up buying more hard drives - enabling to always keep a copy of the data. Once the base install done, a few changes gave me the perfect desktop environment.

  1. Install graphic drivers and enable a few options in /etc/rc.conf

    quite straigt forward, might set my settings in another post

  2. Install kde/plasma

    This is likely to change to something lighter at some point, as kde seems to get closer to systemd - it is nice as a transitional step though, as it is the UI I was used to in Linux.

  3. Installing apps

    99% of the apps I'm used to was a breeze (yakuake, bash, firefox, libreoffice, gimp, inkscape, kate, nano, nginx, mariadb, youtube-dl, audacious, ...)

So at this point my system is running nicely for day to day work

4. The Changes

  1. Getting Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to work.

    This was an unexpectedly shitty part thanks to Google, but very insightful and turns up against them! See FreeBSD browser war 2021 for more details!

  2. "Thanks" to zfs, virtual machines and linux jails for browsers, ... I tend to use way more ram than I did before (32Gb seems fine most of the time).
  3. ZFS is addictive!

    Now that I started replacing my desktop rsync backup scripts with zfs send|zfs receive, I am considering to move other machines too. Sure, OpenZFS runs in Linux too, but according to Linux, it won't get native.

  4. I feel younger.

    In linux, I had my little habits, and wasn't really making progress anymore like I did during the first years. Switching to FreeBSD made me learn and work on a lot of new concepts

  5. I have to rewrite most of my system scripts. While this is tedious and time consuming, my bash skills have improved a bit over 20 years, making it more of an upgrade than a total rewrite - and an interesting topic for future posts!.

3. Conclusions

While FreeBSD's installation took less than an hour, its implications are much longer lasting:
- While switching to many browsers has radically changed the way I protect my private information, it will take me a long time to update all my old passwords.
- While migrating my files to ZFS was not very complicated, ZFS updated my concept of a backup... I now need to integrate these concepts in my workflows.
- I still need to migrate projects I am currently working on - and while I migrate them. Sometimes updating a tool means breaking Linux compatibility, triggering more FreeBSD installs... lets see where that gets me.
- It is somehow a weird coincidence that my urge to migrate to FreeBSD coincides so brilliantly with my urge of updating my website from wordpress to html (Ill need to migrate wygibtwys too).

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