FreeBSD 8.0 was released in November with a number of improvements and various performance enhancements as our FreeBSD benchmarks have shown, but if the text-based installation process has put you off from installing this popular BSD distribution or other usability challenges, there's no reason to fear any longer. The PC-BSD project has finally come out with their stable PC-BSD 8.0 release that is derived from FreeBSD 8.0 but with much desktop-oriented love and its friendlier installer and package management system.
PC-BSD 8.0 (codenamed the "Hubble Edition") was released yesterday and is based upon FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE-P2 and it pulls in KDE 4.3.5 to provide a clean desktop experience by default. Beyond just pulling in the FreeBSD 8.0 code, PC-BSD 8.0 introduces a new system installer that is even better than before, support for running in a LiveDVD mode, an updated software manager, and support for 3D acceleration with NVIDIA's proprietary drivers on x86_64 installations. The new system installer largely looks the same as what can be found in PC-BSD 7.x, but there is a new installation option and that is to install FreeBSD or PC-BSD. Most of the code-base is shared between FreeBSD and PC-BSD, so now there is the user option of which *BSD to install from this GUI-driven installer. The updated software manager now allows browsing and installing applications directly. When it comes to the NVIDIA x86_64 support, due to improvements in the FreeBSD 8.0 kernel, it was now technically possible for NVIDIA to provide a 64-bit driver and they did just that now that the kernel was not blocking them.
KDE 4.3.5 found in PC-BSD 8.0 is an improvement over KDE 4.2.4 that is found in PC-BSD's 7.1.1 release from last year. Some of the other packages available in PC-BSD 8.0 include OpenOffice.org 3.1.1, Pidgin 2.6.4, Python 2.6.4, Qt 4.6.1, Thunderbird 3.0.1, VLC Media Player 1.0.4, and X.Org Server 1.6.5.
The installation of PC-BSD 8.0 went fine through its graphical "SysInstaller" program found on the 64-bit DVD ISO. After rebooting, we were immediately into the KDE 4.3.5 desktop that PC-BSD has customized and is not the stock KDE4 skin. Everything had gone smoothly and we had not run into any major problems. We have not yet benchmarked PC-BSD 8.0, but it is compatible with the Phoronix Test Suite and should perform at about the same speed as FreeBSD 8.0. For that, we recently benchmarked Fedora. Debian, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and OpenSolaris.
Download PC-BSD 8.0 at PCBSD.org.