Trying Out Eight BSDs On A Modern PC: Some Are Smooth, Others Troublesome
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 6 September 2016. Page 2 of 2. 20 Comments

OpenBSD 6.0: After successfully installing the just-released OpenBSD 6.0, when booting to it I would quickly lose my display and a few seconds later the system would reboot itself. Unfortunately due to losing the display quickly and not having enough time to be able to SSH into the box, no idea what was going wrong, but while the installer succeeded it didn't want to boot on this system. Letting the system continue for ~30 minutes, nothing else came on the screen.

NetBSD 7.0.1: NetBSD 7 was simply hanging on the "root device: " line during the boot process. Not sure if there's some easy workaround but a few minutes of Google searching didn't yield any immediate answers.

MidnightBSD 0.8: This FreeBSD-based distribution ran into problems even though it was the FreeBSD-based operating systems that generally worked fine on this system. When booting MidnightBSD 0.8, I would hit an "error 19" on mounting the MidnightBSD_Install.

PacBSD: PacBSD, formerly known as ArchBSD, was the last distribution I tried for this BSD benchmarking roundabout. It was a pain to get going with needing to assemble the PacBSD installation by hand, similar to Arch Linux, with not having an easy automated installer, but in the end I got it working. Some of the out-of-the-box issues I encountered when setting it up were PGP signature problems that were worked around, the PacBSD package search and Wiki being broken (but it appears this week they are transitioning to a new server, so I guess a temporary issue), and a few commands were running into problems due to ArchBSD references still being in the system for what should be referencing the respective PacBSD-named file.

Once the PacBSD system was installed and booting fine, I was a bit frustrated by the apparent lack of packages available in the PacBSD repositories. Even packages like OpenSSH and PHP appeared missing. When installing some packages like wget there were also some syntax errors in the packages. While fun to have the Arch user-land with the FreeBSD kernel, not quite a pleasant experience right now and took some beer to have the patience to get the system up and running for some benchmarking.

I'd recommend setting up PacBSD while enjoying a good beer... Fortunately, I was able to get PacBSD installed in just enough time before finishing off a bottle of Ayinger.

That's the eight BSD distributions I tested -- or in some cases, attempted to test -- on this Intel Xeon Broadwell-EP system built around an X99A WORKSTATION motherboard kindly sent over by MSI. Stay tuned for these out-of-the-box test results in the next few days on Phoronix. While we focus mostly on Linux benchmarking at Phoronix, our open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software is supported on BSD, Solaris, OS X, and other operating systems, even GNU Hurd. if you find all my benchmarks and articles useful that I write 7 days per week, 365 days per year, please consider joining Phoronix Premium, making a PayPal tip, or please not be an ad-blocker.

For those wondering what my personal most-enjoyable BSD tends to be ignoring any performance results, I am completely indifferent between FreeBSD and DragonFlyBSD. Over the years both projects tend to put out great releases, keep up with modern hardware support, and generally work out-of-the-box. Or if talking about desktop-friendly BSDs or something for someone new to BSDs to use, that would be PC-BSD or now known as TrueOS.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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