A collection of FreeBSD desktop distributions that have taken the FreeBSD operating system in a new direction while still relying on the incredibly powerful and stable base operating system of FreeBSD. From integrated desktop environments, portable USB-based systems, to data recovery tools, FreeBSD has been used by a wide variety of open-source projects. This page hopes to highlight just a few of these projects:

MidnightBSD:

Novice – Advanced Users

Project Website

“MidnightBSD is a BSD-derived operating system developed with desktop users in mind. It includes all the software you’d expect for your daily tasks — email, web browsing, word processing, gaming, and much more.”

What Makes MidnightBSD Unique:

System attributes:

  • New window and login manager.
  • Initially forked from FreeBSD 6.1 beta.
    • In order to allow customization of ports and system configuration.
    • Includes syncs from later FreeBSD versions.
  • Fully integrated environment with a focus on stability and optimization for desktop users.
  • Scheduling, allocation, security, and app support are uniquely tailored for desktop users.
  • Less emphasis on server optimization.
  • Includes a range of tools and utilities, including:
    • ZFS
    • hast
    • OpenSSH
    • Perl
  • Imported features from DragonFlyBSD/OpenBSD/NetBSD
  • Improved security with ipfw and sudo.

User-end attributes:

  • New window and login manager.
  • Centralized system preferences.
  • Emphasis on easy to use graphical interfaces for new users.
  • BSD styled command line.
  • Graphical ports and package manager.
  • Large user community, including mailing lists and community forums.
  • Extensive documentation
  • Bugzilla for troubleshooting.

Notable Future Plans:

  • Expanded security capabilities.
  • Rewriting the package cluster system.
  • Maintaining and updating ports.

GhostBSD:

Novice – Advanced Users

Project Website

“GhostBSD is a simple, user-friendly operating system, based on the legendary security and stability of the FreeBSD operating system. GhostBSD provides all the benefits of the FreeBSD operating system combined with a focus on simplicity for newcomers.”

What Makes GhostBSD Unique:

System attributes:

  • Maintains the stability and security of FreeBSD
  • Optimized for modern workstations, desktop setups.
  • Massively simplified
  • Free and Open with source code on GitHub
  • Optimized codecs for multimedia files.
  • Project release as well as community releases.
  • A GhostBSD package repository with 30,000+ applications.
  • Slow moving rolling release
    • Can be updated by command line.
  • Switched to TrueOS in 2018
    • Built from 12.0-STABLE
    • TrueOS depreciated in 2020

User-end attributes:

  • Shipped with a simplified installer.
  • Choice between desktop environments.
  • Comes with pre-installed commonly used software.
  • Robust community controlled wiki.
  • Easy to contribute to the project/report bugs.
  • Community has full control of the GhostBSD community releases.
  • Community forums for GhostBSD and FreeBSD questions/discussion.

Notable Future Plans:

  • Possibility of a community release around the plasma5 desktop.
  • Movement towards a rolling release schedule.
  • Post TrueOS development.

NomadBSD:

Novice – Advanced Users

Project Website

“NomadBSD is a persistent live system for USB flash drives, based on FreeBSD. Together with automatic hardware detection and setup, it is configured to be used as a desktop system that works out of the box, but can also be used for data recovery, for educational purposes, or to test FreeBSD’s hardware compatibility.”

What Makes NomadBSD Unique:

System attributes:

  • Extremely low system requirements.
    • Can be run by computers with a 1.2GHz CPU and 1GB of RAM.
  • A fully integrated desktop environment optimized by the operating system.
  • Further executable programs with some settings adjustments.
  • Requires a more advanced USB, USB3 preferred.
  • The desktop environment is curated specifically for the OS.
  • Tons of support for using the OS as a test environment.
  • Minimal size while including a curated collection of applications.
  • Automatic hardware detection and setup.
  • Because of the boot process, can be used for data recovery.
  • Small development team, more unified vision.
  • Uses a live USB, allowing changes to be saved to a portable system.

End-user attributes:

  • Automated, simplified setup with limited device configuration.
  • Can serve as a tool for FreeBSD developers. (testing/data recovery)
  • Focus on easy to use, guided computing.
  • Innovative desktop features
  • New community forums created in March 2020
  • Extremely portable due to size/live USB setup

helloSystem:

Novice – Advanced Users

Project Website

hello (also known as helloSystem) is a desktop system for creators with a focus on simplicity, elegance, and usability. Its design follows the “Less, but better” philosophy. It is intended as a system for “mere mortals”, welcoming to switchers from the Mac. FreeBSD is used as the core operating system.”

What Makes helloSystem Unique:

System attributes:

  • Live ISO Builder.
  • Continuous builds with multiple experimental releases in addition to stable.
  • Low system requirements.
  • Bare-Metal operating system but virtual machine support.
  • Falkon browser included.
  • Minimal architecture, but each piece has improvements.
  • Custom launch: command.

End-user attributes:

  • Instantly boots into desktop environment.
  • No required set-up, but broad optimization/configuration settings.
  • Focused on an out-of-box FreeBSD experience.
  • Intended for Mac users looking to try other operating systems.
  • Global Menu bar for efficiency.

Notable Future Plans:

  • Significantly lowering RAM requirements.
  • More build builds for other processor architectures
  • Release for general use.
  • Intended for Mac users looking to try other operating systems.
  • Global Menu bar for efficiency.