Frequently Asked Questions

How is PC-BSD® related to FreeBSD®?

PC-BSD® is a derivative of FreeBSD®, focused on providing a smooth user experience for both desktop usage (PC-BSD®) and server administration (TrueOS®). PC-BSD® is NOT a fork of FreeBSD®, it is simply a pre-configured FreeBSD® system with additional system management tools and utilities created by the PC-BSD® team specifically for FreeBSD® systems. Any FreeBSD® system administrator should feel right at home with a PC-BSD® system because under the hood everything is exactly the same (including configuration files/locations) - PC-BSD® just makes it simple to get a FreeBSD® system up and running with little effort on the part of the user.


How is PC-BSD® different from FreeBSD®?

There are some differences, usually related to package configurations or system installation settings, but PC-BSD® also includes a number of additional utilities for managing/configuring your FreeBSD® system as well.

  • Packages: PC-BSD® system are setup to use a separate PC-BSD®-specific package repository by default. This package repository is built from the exact same sources as the FreeBSD® package repository (the ports tree), but many of the desktop-centric build options for 3rd-party applications have been enabled by default (such as additional video codec support for the VLC media player - see the full list in the PC-BSD® sources). The other major change in the PC-BSD® packages is that they are all setup to use LibreSSL by default instead of OpenSSL - resulting in a much higher level of system security and preventing lots of the vulnerabilities that plague other Linux/Unix systems.
  • Filesystem: PC-BSD® uses ZFS exclusively for the filesystem, while FreeBSD® allows either UFS or ZFS. Requiring ZFS allows the use of several unique technologies within PC-BSD®: such as the PersonaCrypt user security/encryption system, and full-disk encryption with GELI (no unencrypted /boot partition as you get with other OS's).
  • System Management: PC-BSD® provides a whole host of command-line and graphical utilities for administering a FreeBSD® system. However, these do not "hijack" the normal FreeBSD® system administration methods in any way, so traditional FreeBSD® system administrators can feel right at home with a PC-BSD® system while people new to FreeBSD® can take advantage of the simplicity that the PC-BSD® tools provide for managing a system.

What is the PBI system?

Many years ago, the Push Button Installer (PBI) system was created to provide a self-contained package management system for FreeBSD®. With the advent/standardization of the pkg tool on FreeBSD® a few years back, the PBI system transitioned to a simple information overlay for the pkg database. This information overlay allows many of the features that users have come to expect of graphical application-management systems: application icons, ratings, screenshots, lists of similar/related applications, and much more.

What package/application management systems are available?

PC-BSD® uses all of the same package management systems that are available on FreeBSD.

  • Packages: pkg is the default package management utility
  • Containers: FreeBSD® has a very secure jails framework for low-level virtualization/restriction of anything that runs on FreeBSD®. In addition to this, there is an implementation of docker available in the package repositories if you would like to use that type of container system.
  • Linux Binaries: FreeBSD® has an extremely efficient Linux compatibility layer which allow the user to run Linux-compiled binaries directly on a FreeBSD® system (current compatibility: CentOS6)
  • Emulation: The Wine framework for running Windows applications is available in the package repositories as well as packages for many other types of emulation frameworks (dosbox, zsnes, atari800, e-uae, gens, mame/mess, pcsxr, etc...).
  • Virtualization: FreeBSD® currently has support for running VirtualBox, QEMU, and bhyve instances right now, with support for running Xen instances (with FreeBSD® as domain 0) arriving with FreeBSD® 11.0.

Are any other desktop environments or window managers available?

Yes. PC-BSD® will automatically install the Lumina Desktop Environment for new desktop systems, but the FreeBSD® community provides a number of other desktop environments and window managers. Some examples:

  • Desktop Environments: KDE, GNOME, MATE, CINNAMON, XFCE, LXDE, Enlightenment
  • Window Managers: openbox, kwin, metacity, i3, fluxbox, twm, icewm, etc...

Any/all of these environments may be installed on a PC-BSD® system via the package manager, and will automatically show up on the login screen in the list of available environments for the user. The PC-BSD® project is not responsible for the functionality/usefulness of any environments other than the Lumina Desktop Environment, and any issues/questions about these other environments needs to be directed either to the maintainer of the FreeBSD® port or to the project developers directly.