This is part of an ongoing series of reviews of FreeBSD 6.3 on the desktop.
Well, FreeBSD isn't as peppy as I originally thought. It's no worse than any other Desktop OS would be on this kind of hardware. AJAX-based web pages and applications are sluggish. Heavy media applications like VideoLAN VLC and Amarok run fine as long as they're the only things running. I'll admit, the slowness keeps sending me back to my happy MacBook on occasion. This might be easily resolved by building a new(er) computer from parts that aren't about 5 years old.
Yesterday, I got to spend some quality time with FreeBSD, though. Still enamored with the simplicity of Free's package management, I got gtkam to work quickly and easily to get some photos off of my Canon PowerShot A540 with ease. That surprised me quite a bit, but gtkam is definitely no replacement for my beloved iPhoto. FreeBSD had some trouble with one of my SD card readers, but I managed to get it worked out by making sure the card was inserted before attaching the reader.
I had to build VLC from source via the ports tree, and that took several hours but worked without any problems. Amarok is a slick audio player, almost as nifty as iTunes or Windows Media Player for my MP3 collection. It's just terribly bloated.
I'm also disappointed that secure shell isn't enabled by default. I needed to get some data from this machine earlier today, and was unable to reach it. It's alive, but SSHd isn't up and running. I guess I'm all for leaving as many services disabled as possible, but even OpenBSD asks if you want to enable SSH during the installation. That's not so much a gripe about FreeBSD on the desktop as it is about its network services out of the box, though.
I'm pleased, but I wish I had a little better machine to throw at the project. My relatively powerful notebook has spoiled me.