Chris J Powell

OS Sunday – Not Quite Paranormal Activity!

It has been a while since I visited the world of BSD and as I prepare to set up a homebuilt NAS next week in my new home I figured it would be good to familiarize myself with the nuances and differences between Linux and BSD.  I chose to experiment with GhostBSD mostly because a brand new release had just come out that was based on the MATE desktop.  In the past, one of the things that had me steer away from BSD was that it felt…well Dated so I was intrigued by the use of MATE to form the backbone of the OS.


As usual I set up an Oracle VirtualBox environment to install the rather substantial 1.81 GB ISO.  The VirtualBox set up was as usual 4 GB of RAM and 20 GB of HDD space which should be sufficient to take a look around and poke around under the hood.  I was pleasantly surprised with both how quickly the Live CD booted but also how easy the installation was…7 clicks and about 10 minutes and I was up to the initial Desktop.

Looking at what does come with the GhostBSD ISO though, I must say that I am disappointed in the lack of installed applications, it feels minimalist to me and definitely not worth the bandwidth of 1.81 GB, in the past I have seen far more software included in Linux Solutions at half the size of this download, you see I am about to become VERY bandwidth conscious because for the first time in nearly a decade, I will not have unlimited bandwidth to play with!

Pulling back the covers of the wonderfully laid out MATE desktop though I really liked how it just works…no bells, no whistles just a functional Desktop…which no Offence to Microsoft, Apple and Canonical…as a user…that is all I want!

Looking to the included software:


  • Atril Document Viewer (PDF)
  • The GIMP
  • Shotwell
  • Eye of MATE


  • Firefox Browser
  • Transmission BitTorrent
  • Thunderbird Email
  • Pidgin Instant Messenger


  • OpenOffice 4.0

Sound & Video:

  • Brasero (Disc Burning)
  • VLC Media Player
  • RhythmBox

As you can see…the selections of default software are sparse and this would mean the need to dive into a new Package Manager to see if I could actually get the software that I consider mandatory for me to be able to use a system the way that I want to.

The first thing that I noticed when I opened the Package Manager is the trip back down memory lane.  There are no App Descriptions, no ratings and just the long file name of every package and solution that is compatible from the GhostBSD/FreeBSD repositories.  This was going to be a bit of a challenge and not what I was hoping for!  I was able to quickly locate the Chromium Package which is the OpenSource Google Chrome Browser which allows me to have the same tabs, favourites and access across all of my devices (this is handy as I often find myself switching from Desktop to phone to tablet to Chromebook and back to Desktop…so continuity is important to me)!

While the package manager option with GhostBSD was a Throwback, what really got me was the fact that I needed to reboot to be able to see the Applications that I had installed and no offence but this is 2014 and there is really no excuse for this anymore.

Overall, the system runs smoothly and quick…but the lack of included software and the need to reboot just to be able to use any software that gets installed beyond the slim pickings that come included with the bloated ISO…well lets just say this…I won’t be putting GhostBSD on a permanent install any time soon…in fact…before this post was completed I deleted the install and the ISO (and I almost never get rid of an ISO).  Back in the days when I would give OSes a “Donut Rating”…this quite possibly may have been one of the greatest disappointments ever and I think back to the last 2 hours and wonder what could I have done that was more productive than this?

That being said…I am off to continue to pack…and hopefully there will be no “Ghosts in my Closet”.



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