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OliveBSD 1.0 live CD - a belated review

Date/Time Permalink: 05/28/06 07:32:59 am
Category: Reviews

OliveBSD SS1

A while back, I noted that OliveBSD, being virtually unknown (in the bottom 100 of Distrowatch's popularity ranking), would get a review from me. So the review is belated. OliveBSD released in February of 2006. But I'm very happy to have at least tried it!

This is my *second* visit to the land of BSD. My first was FreeSBIE, a visit which was fraught with perilous pitfalls. From that to this: OliveBSD is so well-behaved, I'm running it right now as I write!

OliveBSD, if I had to compare it to anything, would be somewhere between Damn Small Linux and Ubuntu. Olive is small and simple and practical. It focuses on exactly one tool for each task. And it snapped through a problem-free boot to full desktop on both my currently functioning PCs in under two minutes. And a crisp, efficient desktop it is, with IceWM as the sole window manager. Given that, the rest of the installed software policy is self-explanatory. Examine closely the menu I popped up in the first screen-shot... yes, this is *definitely* the work of an IceWM fan!

OliveBSD SS2

So OliveBSD is slightly spare on installed programs. Given the choice, I'd rather run a distro that runs like a racecar without a hitch but is missing a few programs, than to run one which includes the kitchen sink but has to be struggled with to get it to run at all. New packages are for second releases. For people curious about trying/learning BSD, I now have a live CD I can recommend with confidence. This is an excellent learning distro, and together with the OpenBSD FAQ, you'll be up to speed in no time.

OliveBSD is based in France. Note the website address on the default desktop background - and that I took advantage of the Google.fr default home page to find my blog and translate it into French just for kicks. Thus today, my nom de plume is "Peter de pingouin". I'll try not to let it go to my head.

OliveBSD SS3

Here again, I am struck by how little difference there is between BSD and Linux in terms of userland software. Hello, it's GNU as far as the eye can see, again! But pop open an xterm (or run xman) and explore the man pages (a full set installed! gasp!) and play in the console utilities - you'll be into some of the native BSD stuff there! Yeah, I'm wallowing in ksh and ReiserFS and daemons. I'd better not get too happy or I might BSD-fork myself. But mg kind of left me cold; it's Emacs without the Lisp, which is kind of like a hamburger without the meat. But it's comparable in *size* to vi.

So, why isn't OliveBSD flanked by screaming mobs of fans? Why is it dwelling in the bottom 100 on Distrowatch? Could be the same reason why Linux was such a rare sight ten years ago - not enough people have heard about it yet. I'll be watching with great interest for later releases, because this distro has places to go! I see no reason why it couldn't be as popular as Ubuntu, given time and momentum.

PS OliveBSD's default login is root - there is no other account unless you create one. Note from the screenshots that I was using the web while running as root. That is bad, naughty behavior, you must never do that, and for my risky actions I'm putting myself to bed without any falafel, hummus, or baba ganoush straight away.

UPDATE 5/10/12: It's come to my attention that the Olive BSD project has now gone bye-bye since I reviewed it in 2006. Pity. So for anyone wanting a copy for archive / historic preservation purposes, here is a gzipped ISO image. I used dd to copy it from the CD. Let me know in the comments if something went wrong with it (I have no mp5 checksum to go with it!).

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