on coming home

July 26, 2016

My first FreeBSD version was 2.2.8, for context, that was in the late 90s. I started running FreeBSD on my desktops back then, and even managed to get it onto a few laptops. I also build servers and firewalls and I loved the OS but eventually caved in and switched to a Mac (a shiny 12” MacBook) around the FreeBSD 5 days (that would have been the mid 2000s)

From really enjoying shiny GUI tools and working Wifi without patching my kernel, did I mention suspend/resume?, I started treating my Mac more and more like a traditional Unix machine. I went back to mutt, I never stopped using vim and more recently even switched my IM setup over to mcabber. I work inside tmux about 80% of my day and find it so much more productive than the shiny GUIs. I still love a graphical browser and a few tools like zoom that are a backbone of my remote work environment.

Over the years I went from seeing the Mac scene from lacking basic tools to having MacPorts and fink to getting a really good and current package manager with homebrew. I saw MacOS from being a fast, pretty UI that lacked a few things like multiple desktops to becoming pretty full featured but also less and less transparent. It went from being a nice OS that has enough FreeBSD under the hood to feel a bit like home but shiny to being shiny without any sense of feeling at home. It is a dull tool I have to use very day, no more love, no more passion, just a tool.

My laptop is up for renewal and I was hoping for nice new Mac hardware that has enough power to run a full screen FreeBSD VM in a proper hypervisor and give me good hardware with an OS I feel at home in plus an easy migration path. I tried veertu, Parallels and VirtualBox and decided to not wait for the absurdly secretive timeline of new hardware releases from Apple. I decided to go back to hacking drivers if I have to and to live with broken suspend/resume. I bought a boring Lenovo laptop and will report over the coming weeks about my adventures home in FreeBSD land.

Till my new laptop gets shipped I will continue to click through the error reports Parallels throws at me and continue to discover what FreeBSD has done over the past 10 years and love what I am seeing so far. It’s been a long time but it is good to be home again.